Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sabbath Prayer part 1


Days pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles.  Fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing.  Let there be moments when your Presence, like lightning, illumines the darkness in which we walk.  Help us see, wherever we gaze that the bush burns, unconsumed.  And we, clay touched by God will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder, "How filled with awe is this place."    Prayer from Jewish Sabbath Prayer Book

There are moments that I can feel like I am sleepwalking through the wonder of this world.  There are moments when the din of the twenty-four hour news cycle diminishes and distorts my ability to notice the Good News that God is here...right here...and also right by you as you are reading this post.  It is easy for me to get caught in the vicious cycle of my own to-do list that I miss moments when God is suggesting I stop.  Stop trying to be super spiritual answer man...although I really think the outfit for that super hero/heroine would be awesome.  Stop trying to think I can think my way out of everything.  Stop trying to be all things to all people...darn that perfectionism voice singing in my head.  Stop.  Just stop.

Whatever else you might think prayer is...prayer is stopping.  Ceasing.  Just breathe and be.  It amazes me that so many people today gravitate toward meditation, mindfulness, and even yoga.  As Christians we have failed to teach and tell people that our prayer practices in their most ancient and authentic form have more in common with Buddhist meditation than the laundry list; let's ask God to fix everything understandings that we often associate with prayer.  Prayer is slowing down to God's grace-filled pace.  Prayer...as CS Lewis said...doesn't change God, it changes us.  But when was the last time an opening prayer in worship lingered much longer than the few seconds after it was spoken?

One of the reasons why I find the above prayer so compelling is that it speaks truth in ways that help me slow down.  There is so much in the above prayer.  I love the initial, opening line.  It is a recognition that we cannot stop time.  It flows on like a never ceasing stream.  It causes me to stop.  Think about your day so far.  The hours that have landed you to this one, holy precious moment.  What about yesterday and the day before that?  What are the events still lingering and leaving an impression?  I am talking about the good...like spending time laughing with my family at Monte Python.  I am talking about the bad...like having to cut down tree limbs and my back is still aching.  I am talking about the ugly...that time I might just have said something I instantly regretted at the last church meeting.  Gulp!  Those days.  Those very human, beautifully messy, days.  Our days are our life...our life is made up of days.  And beginning there with prayer is right where Genesis 1 begins with God.  So, it seems to be a good place to pause, to stop, to cease and let God pull up a chair alongside you to see what you've been up to.

Now, amid those events and experiences that made up your day, was there a miracle?  Usually, we think of a miracle as something outside the realm of reasonable explanation...and usually with a heavenly light shining down...perhaps a verse or two of Handel's Messiah being sung.  But what if, a miracle is simply seeing the world and your life in a new light?  How about the moment when my wife today said to me, "It's better to forgive yourself for a small blow up, than to let it simmer until it eats away at you.  Better to feel the emotion."  So good!  Or how about sitting here, working on this blog that I pray in some way tethers our two lives together?  Or how about a good piece of dark chocolate I am going to eat when I finish?  It doesn't have to be a Disney production to be a miracle.  In fact, the more I notice the miracles in every day...the good and even in the bad and ugly...the more I start to sense that God's grace isn't just a trace...it is an impression upon every day.  But, it begins with stopping...breathing...being...and listening for God.

Of course, chocolate doesn't hurt either.

Grace and peace

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