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Showing posts from April, 2018

Re-joice Part 1

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re·joice  rəˈjois/verb ~ feel or show great joy or delight. What are you feeling right now?  In this very moment are you sensing the stirring of the sacred or perhaps some sadness or numbness or nothingness?  Our emotions are fickle and fragile.  One moment we can be in the valley...the next whisked away to the mountains....only to encounter or experience something that takes us back to the depth.
Is the point of life to be on a level plateau...never too high or too low?  Weathering what wanders our way?
Is the point of life to ride the roller coaster of letting everything push/pull us one direction or another?
Or is the point something a bit deeper and more complex?
Because maybe joy doesn't come only from outside but also inside us. Maybe joy is a kind of fuel that feeds us...gift of God's grace...but also something if we are alert we can train ourselves to see and sense.
Think of it this way...since 2001 we have been taught that if, "You see something, say something&q…

St. Francis Prayer ~ Final

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We have reached the end...both of the prayer and St. Francis' final thought.  He ends by reminding us that in dying we are born to eternal life.  Which I am sure, your thought might be, "Thanks for that uplifting reminder on this Friday!"

We don't talk about death very much today.  Yet, death is a part of every day.  We don't always see it or name it that way.  But today, I am shedding skin cells that have died.  I am witnessing leaves fall from branches.  I eat food that was harvested from the ground.  I hear stories about grief and loss.  My kids are growing older.  Each day brings grief.  Yet, in the blur of modern day, where we will distract ourselves with our cell phones the second we stand in line, we don't always see the death around us.

Sometimes the deaths are of a relationship or a position.  When we quit a job, there is grief.  When we have to go to the doctor, there is grief because our bodies are not as immortal as we think.  All around us creat…

St. Francis Prayer ~ take eight

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The next set of petitions are ones that I think feed and flow together.  Grant that I may not seek...stay with me on those words.  What do you seek right now?  Some are seeking a cure from an illness.  Some are seeking stability in a world of sinking sand.  Some are not sure and feel restless because of it.

What are you seeking??

I love the scene in Harry Potter where Harry and Dumbledore are standing in front of the Mirror of Erised ~ which is "Desire" spelled backwards.  And when you look into the mirror it will show you your heart's desire.  Harry wants to see his parents who died protecting him.  (Sorry...spoiler alert there).  But Dumbledore sees a pair of warm socks.  I think somewhere between those two desires most of us find ourselves.  We do desire big things ~ peace for the world and equality and justice.  But, we also desire small things ~ food on the table, laughter, and being loved. (Maybe that last one should be categorize in the "Big Things" cam…

St. Francis Prayer ~ take seven

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As we have turned and tuned our lives toward this prayer over the last few weeks, we have sought to be open to the Presence of One who is there in all times and places.  One who invites us to be part of the great symphony being composed and conducted by God.  One who leaves us from hate, injury, doubt, despair, and darkness, into a new reality.  Not that everything is amazingly awesome in the new reality (or what we call in the Lord's Prayer, "God's Kingdom).  We know all too well that the part St. Francis asks us to turn from is still part of what is around us and even within us. 

Which is to suggest there is light and darkness...sadness and joy in this very moment.  It is not either/or it is always both/and.  Too often we eschew the prayer practice of crying.  Too often we think Christianity is only about being "Shiny Happy People" all the time.  That if we are jazzed up on Jesus juice life becomes amazing.  Preachers can try to sell us on this kind of consum…

St. Francis Prayer ~ take six

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Hopefully (building on the theme of the last posts) by now you are starting to sense that this prayer is not meant only as a prescription but a description that can work and wiggle into our lives.  We can read this prayer time and time again, like water over a rock, slowly letting it smooth the rough edges of our souls.  We let this prayer turn and tune our lives because the soundtrack of society blares and blasts too much hate/injury/doubt/despair/darkness - and we long for and thirst for another way.  Not that love/pardon/faith/hope/light are opposites, but as a response that might grow within us as a gift of God.

When I arrive at the doorstep of praying to bring light to darkness, I am reminded of the spiritual, "This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine."  I am able to let my light shine because the One who is light shines on me in amazing ways.  In Florida, we sometimes joke about being, "Solar powered," because if it is grey/gloomy for too many …

St. Francis Prayer ~ take five

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We want to plant ourselves in peace.
We long to let love be the fruit that grows from our words.
We long to let pardon be a practice we engage in for the sake of ourselves and the world.
We long to let faith be the verb that feeds and fuels our lives.

Five posts into this prayer, we can start to feel overwhelmed.  This is a lot.  This runs counter to what seems to come naturally and normally to us.  It can feel like "oughts" and "shoulds" that shut down dialogue rather than encounter it.

Or, in short, we might feel some despair.  Again, it is important to say that despair need not be the opposite of hope, but an element of hope.  Hope is not some prize we can tightly cling to or control.  Emily Dickenson was right, "Hope is a thing with feathers."  That phrase means hope is flighty and free and far from our ability to force it to conform or contort to our way.  Hope will visit us, we pray it might even reside within us, but it is not something we can pic…

St. Francis Prayer ~ take four

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St. Francis is looking to turn and tune our lives toward peace ~ perhaps that is what is at the center of this whole prayer and the petitions that follow (like ripples from a stone dropped in the water) radiate from there. 

He invites us into the Jesus ethic of love - of self; of neighbor; and even of enemy or the one who is sowing seeds of hate.

He invites us into the way of pardon or forgiveness.  After reflecting on this petition of the prayer in the last post, I read this by Ron Rolheiser, "The struggle to forgive is our greatest moral, psychological, and religious challenge.  Most everything in us wants to protest to the call of forgiveness.  When we have been wronged and hurt by people close to us and systemic injustices, everything in us CRIES out.  A thousand emotions rush, run through our whole bodies."  Rolheiser is right...forgiveness impacts our whole bodies from mind (where our thoughts object) to our nervous system and emotions to our hearts which long for jus…

Prayer St. Francis take three

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We want our lives wrapped up in the movement of God...which makes a sound of peace.
We want to point our toes toward love...which the world might never understand.

Next line proclaims that where there is injury, we might sow seeds of pardon.

This is the language of forgiveness.  Like the word, "love" we held up to the light last time, "forgiveness" is equally misunderstood.  We think of forgiveness, conflating it, with forgetting or letting someone off the hook.  Yet, forgiveness is really about not carrying around a grudge more than anything else. 

Stop for a moment, who is that person who just said something to you recently that like a record is stuck on repeat?  Who do you have a whole speech composed in your mind for the next time you see them?  And then...have you ever actually said that stuff?  Or do you, like me, often just push those words down deep and put on a smile saying, "Oh it is sooooooo good to see you," through clinched teeth? 

So often …

Prayer of St. Francis take two

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So, we have asked/prayerfully pondered so far on questions such as...
                         Who/what is the Lord of life...where is your center?
                         How can God move through your life?
                         What kind of sound is your life making?

What I love about this prayer is St. Francis goes on to offer this laundry list of what peace sounds like in our lives.  Peace sounds like where there is hate, we sow love.  Or when someone goes low, we go high.  Or when someone strikes us on the cheek, we turn the other.  As much as our country confesses to follow Christ...we struggle mightily to turn the other cheek.  We justify this by saying, "This isn't how the world works!"  Or, "We would appear weak."  Or, "We shouldn't just stand by silently in the face of abuse."  All of that is true. 

The world does promote might makes right...send in the military...destroy your enemy before they destroy you...never realizing that the…

Prayer of St. Francis take one

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The above prayer is attributed to St. Francis and is viewed as the saint of animals and ecology.  He is said to have preached an entire sermon to birds, including inviting them to confess.  With Earth Day coming up, the environmental crisis continuing, and our uncertainty about what/how we might respond in ways that will make a difference, the prayer of St. Francis seems a great place to begin in living our Easter-ing faith.

It is easy to rush and race past the first line, "Lord make me an instrument of they peace."  Notice that first off, the prayer is asking, expecting, even inviting God to do something in our lives.  How often do we expect God to show up in the course of the day?  We might say God is everywhere, but we don't always live that way.  There is the old joke about the church and the bar that sat next to each other and had an adversarial relationship.  The church people prayed something would happen to the bar...the bar own scoffed sarcastically in response…

Eastering Faith

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On Sunday, I suggested that rather than a noun, our celebration of Christ's resurrection is better as a verb.  Rather than Easter...perhaps we should think of "Eastering" faith.  A faith that both moves and meditates on God's work among us/in us.  A faith that prays with its legs/hands as well as our hearts in quiet moments.  A faith that celebrates but also knows the concern for those who are crying.  Eastering faith...I believe is summarized well in the Prayer of St. Francis.

Lord, make me a instrument of Your peace.  Peace here is more than an absence of violence, rather an embracing/encompassing shalom - or wholeness/connectedness.  I also love here that this isn't just about what we can will or work we have to do...this is something God does/has done for us.  To make us...mold even...mend us into an instrument of peace. 

What would that instrument look like?
Is it a guitar?
Is it a drill?
Is it something a doctor would us to help/heal us?
Is it something th…

Total Praise

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On this glorious, grace-filled Easter Sunday, there is a joy that hovers/hangs in the air.  I want to share our choir singing Total Praise from a few weeks ago.  It is a song that moves my heart and speaks deeply to my soul.

May the sacredness of this day sing to your heart as we celebrate God's grace facing even death itself.  As we celebrate that even in a tomb a trace of grace was more than enough to bring life.  As we celebrate brokenness is never the last word.  It is my prayer this day will linger in your life long after the jelly beans are gone...may this day continue to linger even after fireworks light up summer sky in July...may this day sing to your heart after summer vacations and when school resumes...guiding us all the way to the end of this year.  For indeed, every day holds an Easter promise.  Every day holds the possibility of us Eastering our faith, sharing and shining the light of God wherever/whoever we are.

Grace and peace everyone ~~