Monday, May 31, 2021

Lord's Prayer

 


During the month of June, we will dig and dive into the Lord’s Prayer.  This prayer is surprisingly short.  Fifty-eight words in Matthew’s version.  Luke streamlines and shortens this prayer even more to thirty-eight words.  Just to be clear, my word count for this morning is already over thirty, and I have barely begun to introduce and invite you into exploring/examining/experiencing anew this prayer. 

Perhaps I could use a few lessons from Jesus on brevity!

There are a couple of practices I pray everyone who is reading this meditation will engage in the coming days.  First, scholars suggest that our earliest ancestors would pray the Lord’s Prayer at least three times a day (morning, noon, and night).  That might seem like too much of an advanced assignment for this summer!  So, I am inviting you to pause at noon everyday and say a version of the Lord’s Prayer that sings to your heart.  This week, I will share with you a variety of versions of the Lord’s Prayer you might consider praying at noon each day.  Second, when you pray these words, I encourage you to slow down.  Savor each word.  Let each word sink and settle into your soul.  We can rush through the Lord’s Prayer or shift to autopilot without really realizing what we are saying/praying/asking. 

In this sparse and scant prayer, I think every single word matters.  In the coming days, you can pray a different version every day.  You could pray one version for a few days leaning in and listening to the particular words.  You could write your own version (as you will see later this week, Ben Franklin did just that!).  You can sing the Lord’s Prayer.  You can learn the American sign language version of the Lord’s Prayer (there are tons of versions of this on YouTube).  Or let loose your inner artist to creatively come up with how you will engage the Lord’s Prayer throughout June. 

I pray this experience will awaken you to God’s presence and experience the connection of the Spirit as we pray the Lord’s Prayer every day at noon together.  In fact, why wait?  You can begin this prayer practice today.  At noon, before you have lunch, take the time to pray these ancient words trusting that every person who has read this meditation today will do the same. 

Prayer: May the One who seeks relationship with us, surrounds and sustains us, whose presence is more than we could ever capture or contain direct our hearts to be caught up in grace.  May we taste the goodness of God at each meal; may we release that which hurts and harms us, and may that relief help us find ways to set down the hurts and harms we hold toward others.  And may you and I have a peace that surpasses our understanding but compels our lives.  Amen.

(By the way, that was eighty-seven words in that prayer…I still have editing work to do!)  Grace and peace everyone!


Friday, May 28, 2021

It's Me O Lord Standing in the Need of Prayer

 


 

As we wrap up and wind down this week of dipping our toe into the pool of prayer, I want to share a prayer from one of my favorite authors, Joyce Rupp.  It is entitled, Beckoner.

 

You tap at the window of my heart

You knock at the door of my busyness

You call out in my night dreams

You whisper in my haphazard prayer.

You beckon.  You invite.  You entice.

You woo.  You holler.  You insist:

Come! Come into my waiting embrace.

Rest your turmoil in my easy silence

Put aside your heavy bag of burdens

Accept the simple peace I offer you.  Amen and Amen!

 


Thursday, May 27, 2021

It's Me O Lord Standing in the Need of Prayer

 


Here we are on day four of digging and diving into prayer.  I wonder, what question do you have about prayer?

Seriously, you can post a question to the comment section.

Or, you can email me.

Or call me.

One caveat, I probably will not know the answer! 

I am not super spiritual answer dude.  The more I discover, the more I realize how much I don’t know.  But part of prayer is not just the right ways to convince God to do what we want, what is often called “Vending Machine God.”  I realize I totally date myself with the image of a vending machine that you feed dollar bills into rather than just swiping and sliding your credit card!  Remember trying to get the dollar bill smooth so the machine would accept it and you could get your M&Ms?

Part of the joy of questions is they set us in a direction.  Your question is a quest – which is the root of the word.  Your question about prayer gives voice to a place you are curious.  Your question about prayer offers you an insight into where you want to experience and explore more.  Prayer is like the ocean or space, two frontiers that we have barely even begun to learn about!  There is so much of both water and galaxies of stars that are beyond us.  That is part of the joy.  Likewise, there is a vast variety of ways we can connect with the Creator that we have not even begun to exhaust or encounter.

What is your question?  

Prayer: Questing, questioning, quenching God who lives in the mystery of the unknown, meet us and motivate us to dive into prayer deeply today and every day with you.  Amen. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

It's Me O Lord, Standing in the Need of Prayer

 


Do you remember a prayer you learned as a child?  Maybe the one, “Now I lay me down to sleep”?  By the way who thought mentioning death in a prayer a child say before going to bed was a good idea?!?  Or maybe a Sunday School teacher taught you ways to pray with your fingers (your thumb for those closest to you, your pointer finger for those struggling, your third finger for leaders, your ring finger for those celebrating, and the pinkie for places/people far away).

Recall, remember, or can you still recite the earliest prayers you learned.  Feel free to share these in the comment section.

Did you learn new ways to pray as a teen?  How about as an adult?

I believe we never stop learning about prayer.  Just as my relationship with my wife and family is constantly evolving and emerging in new ways, so too can my connection with the Creator. 

I used to think about prayer as sitting still.  Now I find prayerful moments holding a camera in my hand outside taking photos. 

I used to think about prayer as monologue words, a sort of litany and list to God about what was in my heart (because I assumed God didn’t already know?).  Now I find silence and stillness for God to get a word in edge ways OR just being in God’s quiet, caring presence.

I love and am convicted by C.S. Lewis who said, “Prayer doesn’t change God, prayer changes me.”  Or to quote the beautiful hymn, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standing/sitting/kneeling/walking in the need of prayer”.

Continue to spend time going through your mental file cabinet, the places in your heart, the experiences of your soul to recall the richness of what the word, “prayer” can point toward.

Prayer:  Holy One, open us to a mystery that is saturated and soaked with Your presence every hour today.  Amen. 


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

It Me O Lord Standing in the Need of Prayer


 

Yesterday I invited you to ponder your understanding of prayer.  Today, I want you to conjure in your mind a favorite place where you prayed.

For extra credit, you could post a picture!

For me, one of the sacred sites of prayer growing up was at the camp in Iowa, Pilgrim Center, where we had an outdoor chapel.  The benches were hewed from oak and cedar trees.  The pulpit was made with rough bark.  You looked out over a lake.  Across the water, on a hill stood an old, rugged cross.  The mosquitoes on an Iowa summer evening at sunset thought it was a feeding fest when we gather for vespers.  In that sacred setting prayer wasn’t about words I spoke to God; prayer was an experience and encounter with the Holy.  We would sing the camp song, Pass It On, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.”  Or Kum-ba-yah. We would pray the Lord’s Prayer with the birds nesting in the trees chirping and chiming in with their song.  We would laugh, cry, and open our whole lives to God.  It was prayer from beginning to end.

Today, I find holy ground around our church campus.  The Sanctuary, Chapel, and Memorial Garden make me feel like Moses in Exodus 3, calling me to take off my shoes for I am on holy ground.  The labyrinth and Wendling Terrace are becoming sacred as we gather each Sunday to worship in those places and your presence is evoking and provoking and blessing these spaces. 

As Elizabeth Barrett Browning says, “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries…”

So now, maybe you want to post a picture of an ordinary plot of grass in your backyard.  Or a common chair in your living room.  Or the kitchen table. 

What makes holy ground holy is that you recognize and realize God meets you there, even amid unwashed breakfast cereal bowls and spilled drops of coffee.  All of earth is alive with heaven might be a prayer posture for you and me this day and this week.

Prayer: Help these become more than words I read, but a way I live this week, O God.  Amen.


Monday, May 24, 2021

It's Me O God Standing in the Need of Prayer


During the month of June, we will turn our attention and intention toward the Lord’s Prayer.  To prepare our hearts, heads, and whole selves for the experience/encounter, I invite you this week to start to swim in the waters of prayer.

First, what comes into your mind when you hear the word, “Prayer”?

Maybe your hands folded, and head bowed?

Maybe a preacher droning on and on with a laundry list of names or concerns? (I can resemble that remark!)

Maybe disappointments or disheartened moments when a prayer was unanswered?

To be honest about our initial encounters, experiences with prayer is the place to begin.  We can also connect prayer to the themes/threads we have been weaving together during the month of May.

Prayer could be a part of the art project called, “Your Life”.  Prayer could involve an actual canvas or with words spoken/sung or through an activity like gardening or walking or through sitting still and silence. 

Prayer is a connection to the Creator in whose image you are made.

Second, prayer – thanks to St. Sarah in the Bible – could be laughter.  I encourage you to practice that form of prayer many times this week.

Third, prayer could be admitting the Aaron moments (like in Exodus when Aaron makes a golden calf) in my life when I do or say something I immediate regret and want a rewind button to go back in time.  Prayer has been called, “A long loving look at the real.”  That means, the good and bad and ugly of life.  Notice, it is a loving look, not a guilt ridden look, at the real!

Fourth, prayer could be lifting every voice to sing in celebration of the vast variety of the Spirit and the ways the Divine delights in diversity.

Prayer can take so many shapes and shades, but in the end is about you finding pathways that give expression and experience the sacred stirring in your life.

One of my favorite quotes about prayer comes from Father Barry who says, “The primary motive for prayer is love, the love of God for us and then the arousal of our love for God.  We pray to come to know God as well.  Who is God for me and who am I before God?” Prayer is never a solitary act but rather an act of solidarity with the sacred.

Prayer is what helps us feel fully alive.

Today, consider your descriptions and definitions of “Prayer”.  I would love to read your comments on what the above meditation stirred within you.

It is my prayer that God will move in our midst in the coming days, awakening us to a relationship with the Holy that is humming and hovering around us.  May this relationship so move our hearts and guide our lives that by the end of June we sense a change (even slightly) to the question, “How is it with your soul?”

Prayer: Holy One, help me today pray and mean the words, “When Your peace like a river attends my soul…I shall say, ‘It is well.  It is well.  It is well with my soul’.”  Amen.


Friday, May 21, 2021

Undertaken by God's Glory

 


Another week winds down, O God.

Another month about to wrap up and to be forever bound in Your embrace, Eternal One.

The colors of my life continue to be painted upon the canvas.

Yet, I know I do not hold the paint brush alone.  

Your grace guides my hand, Your voice sings to my heart, Your presence awakens my creativity.

I know it is easy to over-function; to let my Type-A personality point out all the things left undone.

I know it is easy to turn to the promises of Madison Ave, to listen to the advertisements that if I just had the right ~

Car

Clothes

Cosmetics that would erase or ease these wrinkles...

Maybe then life would be amazing.

We are caught in a cycle of, "I consume therefore I am."

Break us out of trying to be perfect or please everyone.

Break through the ways we turn toward the Gold Calves that promise easy answers.

Break down our defenses that we would rather have things our way...so that Your way O God would enter in, disrupting and disorienting us from the patterns that cause hurt and harm.

We need Your wisdom this day and every day.

Let loose the truth of that I am an artist made in Your image, laughter is a prayer, and sometimes I can learn the most in moments I make mistakes.  May these truths continue to guide me in the dwindling days of this month and each day this weekend. 

Amen.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Undertaken by God's Glory

 


What was something joyful that happened in your life so far in May?  

Did you happen to have a chance to connect with family or friends face-to-face in ways that you have not been able to in over a year?

Did you venture outside, now fully vaccinated, without a mask?

Did you notice God moving in slow, subtle ways that enlivened your spirit?

Over the last few days, there have been several holy moments in my life.  My kids received recognition which cause my heart to warm.  I am exploring professional opportunities through a preaching class and with writing.   

Gratitude, and her sister, joy, are hovering and hanging around my life.

I also recognize and realize that this is not the case for every single person reading this morning meditation.  I hold the hurts and harms from grieving those who have died to friends who share the constant pain of discrimination to fear of the pandemic that we are not out of the woods yet to just feeling like you languishing.  Adam Grant just wrote a fantastic piece about this, you can click here to read.

I believe that doing an emotional check in every day (sometimes several times a day) is a faithful prayer practices.  Ask yourself, what are you feeling?  Is there a surge of spirit?  Do you feel a bit numb?  Was it a struggle to get out of bed or did you leap out knowing that today is brand new (and tomorrow is too)?  

Checking in with yourself is one way to name and notice what is going on.  It is a way to catch up and connect with your soul.  Sometimes we move too fast for our soul to keep up (I think many of us did pre-pandemic!).  Now, having been introduced into another way of being, we have the opportunity to construct our lives in different ways.

This month, in church, I have named that for me the building blocks of life right now are:

1. You are an artist painting on the canvas/creating the art project called, "Your life".

2. There is joy and laughter is a prayer to God, thanks to Saint Sarah in Genesis 18 for this insight. 

3. There are Golden Calves that still call out to me and want me to dance - giving my attention and allegiance to it rather than God.

I pray these truths might provoke and evoke something for you.

I pray there is more than a trace of God's grace every second this day.

Blessings ~ 

  

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Undertaken by God's Glory


Some nights the beauty of a sunset lets loose with all the crayons from the crayon box.  
Some nights the glory of God is painted in orange and yellow and red smudged together in sacred ways.
Some nights the clouds can't hold back or put at bay God's presence.
Some nights call out, "Pay attention...this sunset will never happen like this ever again."
Some nights the world is alive and cause me to feel more alert.
Some nights you just need to take out your camera and capture the moment on your phone.
Some nights I stand in the middle of my street aware of how time moves too quickly and with every sunset another day of life comes to a close.
Some nights the mystery and marvel of the moment brings a tear to my eye.
Some nights I am undone by God's glory and feel the need to share.

What might happen tonight?

Will I notice the sun setting or be too busy with my tasks?
Will I spend time outside in God's creation or stuck inside sharing time with a screen?
Will I look for God in surprising ways, realizing if yesterday the sacred showed up in a sunset, today the holy might appear as a caterpillar creeping on the sidewalk or a comment my wife makes on our walk that can strangely warm my heart?
Will I think I have it all figured out or realize how much I don't know?
Will I look at where I missed the mark that day or where I sense God's grace or be open enough for both?

Now, I hold this fragile, fleeting moment from last night as a reminder to pay attention prayerfully and patiently today.
Now, I hold this fragile, fleeting moment of right now, remember God is here.
Now, I hold this fragile, fleeting moment lightly, because if I cling or try to control, time can break like an egg when I am not careful.

This present moment is all I have and all I have is this moment with God.  May this truth ground and guide me every moment today.

Prayer: May these words, O God, leap from the screen to the hearts of every person who encounters these words above.  Amen. 

 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Laughter's Healing Art Part Three



I love this picture of the squirrel.  But, I understand fully if you think that my morning meditations have become like the Jack Hanna show.  I understand if you are thinking, "Wait, is he going to do animal posts all week long?  How many meaningful insights can I get back looking at a frog or a squirrel?"  Or, perhaps you are just grateful you didn't pay any money for this or have completely stopped reading.  

Here is why this picture awakens joy and laughter's healing art.

I had pulled into the parking lot of the church, with a head full of agenda items to accomplish.  I was ready to take on the day and minister to people with God's love.  Then, I saw this squirrel hanging out, looking a bit like the Karate Kid balancing himself on a post in the crane position.  Only this particular squirrel is eating a nut s/he happened to find at the church.

Yesterday, I encouraged you to pay attention to what is around you.

The next step is to pay attention to what is stirring within you.

I saw this squirrel as a reminder of our care for creation.  The holy call to serve and preserve creation.  Our church campus is alive with frogs and squirrels and bugs and a beautiful black snake I see every now and then sunning on the sidewalk.  I thought about St. Francis preaching to the birds one time.  No, I didn't actually test or try out any sermon ideas on this particular squirrel for which s/he seemed relieved.  

This squirrel, like the frog from yesterday, made me smile.  When you or I sense joy, I believe God shares the joy with us.  God delights when we pay attention to the vastness and aliveness of the world - God delights when we sense our connections.  Science speaks of a web of interconnectedness.

Today, I invite you to pay attention to what you see and hear and smell.  I invite you to take a moment to notice and note (or even write down) what you are experiencing.  How did seeing a particular creature or flower or part of the world awaken a thought or insight within you?

The 16th Century Reformer, Martin Luther said, "“If you could understand a single grain of wheat you would die of wonder.”  Today, I invite you not just to understand, but to be open to what God is doing around you throughout this day God has made.

Prayer: May I rejoice and be glad in the holiness that is unfolding before me and within me each moment today.  Amen. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Laughter's Healing Art Part Two



A few weeks ago, I preached a sermon about a frog that found its/his/her (not sure on the specific pronouns the church frog prefers) into our office bathroom.  

Then a few days later...

I look up and see this frog on a window of my office.

Either this frog and I have bonded in some Ecclesiastes 4 sort of way. (Which you can click here to read the verses I have in mind)

Or this frog would like to join our church.  Which would be great because, you know, "Whoever and wherever you are on life's journey, we welcome you."

Or there is a Moses-like plague of frogs going on at the church and I (like Pharaoh) am missing the point.

Or the frog is secretly recording my every move and reporting back to the Moderators of the church what I am doing.  This last one is a bit far out there.  But to be honest, you are reading a meditation about a frog, so we might have already left any kind of rational and reasonable land of thinking awhile ago.

I have talked before about the prayer practice of paying attention.  I could have missed this frog (the one I saw in the bathroom was a bit more obvious).  I could have been staring at my screen or so wrapped up in my to-do list that I missed Kermit (that's right, I named him/her and I am sticking with the name).  

To be sure, I miss traces of God's grace and unconditional love all the time.  I miss moments when God appears like the Trinity to Abraham and Sarah.  I miss the movement of God because of the perpetual motion of my own life.  

Today, I invite you to prayerfully and patiently pay attention. 
Scan and survey what is surrounding you.
Be open to what God is up to in your life.

And if you happen to see a frog, that will clearly be a God moment.

Prayer: God hop and hover and hum in our lives today in meaningful and sustaining ways.  Amen. 

 

Friday, May 14, 2021

God's Song to Us

 


I wonder, what was one new insight that awoke within you this week?  What is one phrase from our hymn/poem/prayer of the week that has been stuck on repeat and replayed in your mind all week long?  Did you discover any challenges as you let these words sink and sing to your soul?

As we wind down and wrap up another week, reaching the middle of May, I pray the meditations this week have stirred something in you.  I pray my words have provoked and evoked new thoughts.  I pray you might even be living into new actions in these days.  More importantly, I deeply pray that God’s presence has been felt swirling around you every day.

Prayer: Claiming and naming God, You call us, “Beloved” through the waters of baptism.  With every drink of water, each time we wade in the water, every shower or washing hands help us remember You.  In countless moments today remind us that we are soaked and saturated by Your baptismal care.  Continue to call us into a covenant with You that makes all the difference and makes us different.  In the name of the One who taught us the way to life, Jesus the Christ, Amen. 


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Letting the Easter Light In

 

The words we are dancing and dwelling this week come from the hymn, “I was there to hear your borning cry”:

I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.

God was there when you were baptized.

God is here with you in this moment.

God promising to go before you as your life unfolds and unfurls from the COVID cocoon. 

I often have thought that our church doesn’t talk about baptism enough.  We have come to see baptism as a one and done sacrament (sacrament meaning that which is a tactile and tangible sign of God’s invisible grace/love).  Unlike communion, which we celebrate once a month, our other sacrament is only experienced when we are fortunate to have a child or adult baptized.  Then, we can feel more like spectators than active participants.  I describe the covenant of baptism is a promise to:

To live among God's faithful people;

Be open to the word of God and participate fully in communion;

Live and learn the faith through your words and deeds;

Read scripture;

And nurture a relationship with the living God through worship, prayer, and love.

Or to say that simply: community, communion, calendar, content, connections.

Take these five words as a way to explore your life today.  How are you living in community with others?  When was the last time you broke bread and sipped sweet juice in remembrance of Jesus (remembering you can do this every time you eat)?  How is your calendar letting your light shine through what you say and where you pour your energy?  To whom are you pouring out your energy (remember the invitation from Tuesday to write to a younger person)?  Have you let the content of scripture interrupt and interpret your life?  And how is worship, daily prayer, and letting loose God’s love going this week?

I know that is a lot of questions and may feel like the daily devotional today is an AP class.  But, God doesn’t give us a grade…not even pass/fail.  God gives us opportunity and life. 

I invite you to let these words roam around your heart.  I invite you to remember your baptism, to put some water on your fingers and trace the sign of the cross on your forehead.  I invite you prayerfully to ponder how God’s prayer heard in this hymn for you might both comfort and challenge you in these days.

 

Prayer: Rejoicing God move in my heart and whole life today with a wisdom I need beyond my own.  Amen.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

God's Song to us

 



We continue to hold the hymn, “I was there to hear your borning cry” as our light to see our lives this week.  Hear now the third verse:


In the middle ages of your life,
not too old, no longer young,
I'll be there to guide you through the night,
complete what I've begun.
When the evening gently closes in,
and you shut your weary eyes,
I'll be there as I have always been
with just one more surprise.


This verse sings to my life right now.  I wonder, how is God guiding me through the night?  How does God help me through those moments when I cannot always see the next right step?  Or I have stumbled and fallen?  What is God seeking to complete that God begun years before?  What is that one more surprise God has up God’s sleeve?

No matter how many birthday candles were on your cake last year, God sings this verse to you.  As author Jon Acuff says, “Today is brand new and tomorrow is too.”  Yet, we don’t always live this way.  We get caught in cycles of cynicism and criticism and thinking that pointing out the problems is the best way to show our intelligence.  We dehumanize people with comments on social media and then retreat to our preferred media bubble/echo chamber to reinforce that “those” people/the other side has it all wrong.  Then, as adults, we idealize youth as being the ones who will fix all the problems we were not able to resolve in our lives.  Each night, we shut our weary eyes, do we have a sense of what God is up to?  Do we stay open to God’s surprises and sacred stirring amid our to-do lists?  Do we desire to be caught up in God’s work rather than our own?

If this verse is God’s prayer for you today, what difference do these make?  How can you stay open to what God is doing through good moments and difficult ones?

Go back, slowly read these words as your prayer for today.  And may these words sing you through every waking second this day.  Amen.


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

God's Song to Us

 



We are leaning in and listening to the powerful, profound prayerful poetry of the hymn, “I was there to hear your borning cry” this week.  We are opening our hearts to hear this as God singing these words over our life right now.

I want to hold close to your life today the first verse;

I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.
I was there when you were but a child,
with a faith to suit you well;
In a blaze of light you wandered off
to find where demons dwell.

I invited you yesterday to think about God singing this to you.  Who was God for you growing up?  Was God the old, white guy with the white flowing beard and a robe to match?  Was God seen as loving or vengeful?  Did God seem distant?  Were You encouraged to deepen your relationship with God?  Or was God not talked about at all in your home growing up?  I wonder if our image of God can become stagnant or stay stuck in sameness over the years, rather than (as this hymn suggests) God who grows and move.  Or put another way, God as the ground of being in which we can grow and move.  Both may be true.  Just as the earth’s soil is alive and constantly changing, so are we.  And if we are in the image of God, God need not stay stuck in one image or one word or one way of being throughout our lives.   

I am particularly taken by the next to last line, “In a blaze of light you wandered off.”  My children are no longer children.  They morphed, seemingly overnight in the blink of an eye, into young adults who are about to wander off to college.  They are about to fly away from the security of the nest my wife and I have surrounded them with.  To be sure, there were days (especially when they were two or three), high school graduation looked like an eternity away.  Even as people said, “Enjoy this now, it goes too quickly,” that can be hard to do when you are sleep deprived and working long hours at your job and trying to potty train!  Yet, I realize that the blaze of light when we wander off happens to all of us, not matter our age.  Perhaps the pandemic or witnessing the ways we discriminate or the stress and strain of life of this last year has caused you to feel like you’ve wandered off from God.  Maybe falling out of the rhythm of weekly worship or feeling confused has caused a riff between you and the divine.

Each of us lives in the mixture of past, present, and future.  Faith, I believe, is elastic and expansive and can embrace our understandings from when we were young to today. 

Finally, I invite you today, to think about a child you know.  This might be a grand or great-grand child, a nephew or niece, a neighbor’s child, or your own.  A child you know and send that child a text or a note telling him or her your love and support and care; tell a young person something you are proud about in him or her.  Our children are growing up in a world of a pandemic and polarization and problems that are vexing to us as adults.  Problems that will not be easily solved.  We need to cheer our children and youth and each other on in our daily living.  Come to think of it, trying to encourage everyone you encounter today to let his/her light shine might be the best prayer to live today.

Prayer: Holy One, embrace us with a grace we need and then empower us to let Your grace loose in our lives this day.  Amen.


Monday, May 10, 2021

Immersed in God's Grace

 


This week, I want to invite you to open your head, heart, and whole life to the hymn, “I was there to hear your borning cry.”  This is often a hymn we sing at baptism, and thus we associate these words as only meaningful to parents.  This is missing a meaningful moment that could make a difference. 

This is God singing to you.

God was there to hear your borning cry.

God was there when you wandered off to explore, experience, and encounter the world with all its beauty and brokenness.

God is here right now wherever you are in life.

I invite you first to read these powerful words as God’s prayer, God singing these words softly to your soul meeting you where you are right now.

I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.
I was there when you were but a child,
with a faith to suit you well;
In a blaze of light you wandered off
to find where demons dwell.


When you heard the wonder of the Word
I was there to cheer you on;
You were raised to praise the living God,
to whom you now belong.
If you find someone to share your time
and you join your hearts as one,
I'll be there to make your verses rhyme
from dusk 'till rising sun.

In the middle ages of your life,
not too old, no longer young,
I'll be there to guide you through the night,
complete what I've begun.
When the evening gently closes in,
and you shut your weary eyes,
I'll be there as I have always been
with just one more surprise.

I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.

In the waters of baptism, God claims us as beloved.  In the waters of baptism, God seals our souls with a grace we need to face every day.  In the waters of baptism, God infuses and imprints upon us an unconditional and unceasing love that is gospel truth for how we live – if we let that truth ground/guide us.  Now listen to the above beautiful YouTube Version as a centering prayer for this week.


Friday, May 7, 2021

Letting the Easter Light In

 


As we wrap up and wind down another week, I have one more exercise for you.  This one is I pray you will find helpful. 

Make a list of everything good in your life right now.  Make this a game.  After you exhaust everything that comes quickly to mind (family, friends, breakfast, meaningful morning meditations – just to name a few!); try to go deeper.  For example, the cup of coffee this morning, the rays of sun peaking beautifully over the horizon, the music you can play right now.  Keep going since you have momentum and challenge yourself to exercise your creativity muscle.  Name something so small, subtle you usually miss it – like that new salad mix I found that I am really enjoying.

That is it.  You can think back over the last week or month.  What is good that you encountered?  List the people, places, experiences, encounter, interactions and events for which you are grateful. 

And I wonder if as you look back, you might see something that you initially thought was less than amazing, but ended up being a blessing.  A moment that your first response, reaction was frustration, but the moment ended up teaching you something.

I wonder, how long can you make your list today.

This is a powerful prayerful exercise to awaken your artist, because we need to name and notice traces of grace.  We need moments of recognizing what is happening – patiently paying attention.

I pray this exercise today opens your eyes, hearts, soul, and whole life.  And even more so, I pray you will notice what God is up to in the art project called, “Your life” right now.  Amen.


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Letting the Easter Light In

 


We have been playing with, pondering, pursuing, and practicing the truth of Genesis 2.  One of the first, foundational, formational truths of Scripture is that from the very beginning God commits to relationship.  Many will say that God is relationship in the form of the Trinity – the Creator, Liberator, and Sustainer. 

God is at work co-authoring and co-creating the art project called, “Your Life”. 

So here is my invitation to patiently pay attention today:

Where does God appear in your story today as Creator?  Maybe as you walk in creation or as you pick up that paint brush tentatively to try to paint on canvas or as you write or find yourself in conversation.  You can do it!  Or to try to pen a poem.  You can do it!  Or to use that bread machine you haven’t touched in years.  You can do it!

Where does God show up as Liberator?  Maybe in words you speak from your heart.  Maybe in setting you free from the negative soundtracks in your life.  Maybe in your work for justice.

Where does God appear as a Sustainer, giving you strength when you are at the final tread of your proverbial rope?  Or allowing yourself the grace to step off the treadmill of life and not measure today by how many things you crossed off your to-do list.

Pay attention to God as a character in the narrative life today.  And may God, who is a verb – an active source and ground of being in your life, be experienced and encountered in beautiful ways today.  Amen.


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Letting the Easter Light In

 


How did your list of naming and noticing your cloud of witnesses go yesterday?  Did you discover some names of people whose quiet support meant the world?  Did you recognize people whose force in your life was not for good?  It is amazing how our brains create a soundtrack of the negative voices and can dismiss the positive ones so quickly.  Why is that?  Why do we let the cynic and critic be seen as more intelligent than the compassion and caring ones?  We have the power to lean in and listen, to decide what we give authority to.  We do have a choice which voices have veto power on our words or actions.

So, today, I want you think of one moment from yesterday.

Being stuck in traffic.

Going to the doctor, dentist.

Standing in a store.

Talking to a friend.

A real, embodied experience.  Next, write a one-page story as a pessimist about that experience.  You could start, “The heat rose from the engine of my car and the engine of my soul as I was late for my appointment.  ‘Of course,’ I thought!  ‘This always happens to me.’  I fiddled with the radio to distract me from my frustration.  I checked my mail.  I fidgeted as I fumed that if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” 

You get the idea.  Let loose with your inner critic.  You might even want to name your inner critic, give him/her a face and a body and a personality. 

Now, I want you to tell the same story as if God was at work in your life.  You could start, “I am always saying, I need to slow down.  Quit rushing and running everywhere.  Life isn’t a race to be won, there is no metal at the end of the day for crossing everything off my to-do list.  So, here I am stuck in traffic.  No better time than the present to try out that prayer practice of paying attention.  God, is there something I need to hear?  I fiddle with the radio and the song comes on that soothes my soul.  I sit there wrapped in the warm of a melody like a warm blanket.  I am no longer frustrated but fascinated stir within me.  I realize that I could have missed this song if I too quickly pushed the next preset button on my radio.”

I hope you get the idea here.  Moreover, I hope you have fun with this playful and prayer activity.

May the God who stories, co-authors/co-creates, the art project called, “Your life” stir within you today.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Letting the Easter Light In

 

I want to continue to invite you to explore, embrace, expand, and encounter your inner artist.  This exercise comes from The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus.  He encourages us to think of the voices who have informed and impacted your life – good or bad. 

Make the list right now.

Parents and grandparents; aunts and uncles; sibling or cousins – family who influenced you.

Teachers.

Preachers.

Friends.

Now, look at the list, for each person, ask how has the words of this cloud of witnesses left a soundtrack in your soul?  Again, in positive ways and painful ways.  Perhaps the teacher who cheered you on and the one who scolded you for coloring outside the lines.  Perhaps one of the above people encouraged you to pursue your passion, to stay open to your curiosity.  Perhaps someone else responded to your career choice by saying, “For the love of Pete, you’ll never make any money doing that!!”  The point is to interview the list of people to see the good, the bad, and ugly in the relationships that formed and fashioned us. 

Naming and noticing who were the cheerleaders and critics helps us in many ways.  First, we start to see the role nurture (or lack thereof) played in our lives so far.  Second, we can ask, why give more power to the armchair quarterbacks?  Why let someone else having editing power over the artistic project called, “Your life”?

Take time today to practice patient attention.  To be open to God who is meeting you in the presence tense of this moment.  Right here where you are, right now in this moment.

By the way, today is Star Wars day, (“May the fourth” sounds like "May the force be with you"), so may the force of God’s grace and love be with you now more than ever.


Monday, May 3, 2021

Letting the Easter Light In

 


This week, we will explore, embrace, and encounter our inner artist, seeking to expand our understanding of the theological truth that you are made in God’s imaginative image.  We will continue to work silencing the soundtrack in your mind that is telling you, “You are not an artist,” because those words are both harmful, hurtful.  The truth is we are made in the image of God, formed from dust with Divine DNA all over us.  We need another story and narrative.  We need to see that your whole life is an art project.  We need to come to live with a curiosity amid the uncertainty.  This week is a celebration and constructing on the truth that art can awaken us to our soul and how our soul loves to create.  God is the original artist who sought to awaken us, breathe life into us, so that we could collaborate and co-create with the Holy.  Kirk Byron Jones says Creativity is what happens when freedom and joy come together.  Creativity is not just what God does.  Creativity is who God is.  Therefore, made in God’s image, we too share those inventive powers with God. 

One step in exploring creativity is to practice patient attention.  So often in our world, we are too caught up in multitasking.  For example, are you listening to music or have the news on in the background as you read this?  Are you also constructing a grocery list?  (Which, by the way, you probably need more chocolate.) Are you thinking about a past wound when you tried to create art or a future fear?  Our minds are so busy.  To practice patient attention is that in this moment, right now reading these words, there is more than enough to stir and swirl the artist within you.  For example, when I keep saying the word, “artist”, if you can cease the negative soundtrack telling you otherwise, where does your creative spark say, “Well, I’ve wanted to try…” 

What?

Writing a book?

Composing a poem?

Testing out some new recipes?

Gardening?

Painting?

Photography?

Learn another language?

Artists supplies come from more than just craft stores.  The creativity in you will be expressed in a multitude of magnificent ways. Where does the still small voice long for a stage and spotlight, even for just yourself?

Practice patient attention, means we are leaning in and listening to God’s creative voice more and more, letting the wisdom of our artist’s soul get a word in edgewise.

Listen…right now.

Lean in…closer.

Open your ears and hearts to where God’s creative spark is prompting you to go.

May the creative presence of the One in whose image you are formed burn brightly today.


God's Calling - We don't have it all figured out

  A few weeks ago, I offered the analogy of the Slinky as a serendipitous example of the ways calling can go off course and still end up in ...