"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate on behalf of my congregation faithfully. I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and gentleness. I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, cynicism, discouragement, and self-importance. I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful* in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ* before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
1) "...by the will of God;" "...faithful in Christ Jesus;" "...grace to you;" "...Blessed be the God;" "...who has blessed;" "...every spiritual blessings;" "...chose us;" "...before the foundation of the world;" "...holy and blameless before him in love."
2) my first observation this morning is of the pinch of shame I feel as I ask for what I need, knowing I still need to ask. Anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, cynicism, discouragement, and self-importance are constant companions; constantly causing me pain, and shame; constantly revealing themselves when I least want them around; constantly hanging me on a cross of my own making. Recently, cynicism and discouragement in particular. I'm reminded again and again that one meets one's destiny on the very path one takes to avoid it. And so I continue to hold my shadow traits up in prayer. "Holy and blameless" is definitely part of the Parousia, and not the here and now. In this life, I will not be holy and blameless, but need to work with what I have been given. "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do," Christ says of the soldiers who nailed him to the cross. But I feel such resistance to "forgiving" those parts of me that hang me on a cross on a daily basis. And what's more, I'm inclined to hang other people on the cross who also reveal those traits. It's an ever lasting cycle of condemnation. "Grace and peace," "Grace and peace," "Grace and peace."
3) What is the invitation in all this? To let God be God. To acknowledge the cynicism and discouragement, but not condemn them. To let the sadness that invokes simply be. And to hold it all up in silent prayer.
Breathprayer: "Grace... and peace."