Prayer


Today’s sermon, at least in draft.  I’m looking at excerpts from Psalm 37 (in verses 1-10):

 

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to preach on today.  I looked at the second half of the gospel and it made me think.  Most of Jesus’ parables seem, to me, to have Jesus saying outrageous things – like abandoning 99 sheep to find one lost sheep – as though they were normal, rational actions.  And certainly my response to who would serve someone working for you all day first is that, of course, I would.  Yet I suspect (without actually knowing) that, in this case, Jesus’ story actually reflects the norms of his (very stratified) society.  I looked at the first half of today’s gospel and thought:  wasn’t it C. S. Lewis who quoted this passage?  Didn’t he say that, of course, non of us take this literally?  And then he wondered (in it’s aftermath) if World War II might have been averted if only we Christians had been more faithful in our prayers.

Prayer.

Prayers.

I’ve always meant to preach on the Psalter.  We know, on one level, that it’s poetry (or, since it was likely meant to be sung in some fashion, song).  And, as poetry, it’s my impression at least, most people don’t seem to take the psalter very seriously.  But the Psalter is known, in tradition, as the prayer book of the Bible.  And in monastic tradition, it is the backbone of the daily offices.  The psalms are recited together in community, slowly, again and again, day after day.  Monastics talk about being slowly ground down and formed by this recitation of the psalms. (more…)

Does Jesus live in you?

I found myself asking that question repeatedly during this past week.  How does Jesus presence show itself in my life?

That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?  That Jesus, somehow, takes life in our lives?

I use, in my personal prayer life, The Saint Helena Breviary.  A breviary is simply a book of offices, in this case Matins, Diurnum, Vespers and Compline (- in English that’s just Morning Prayer, Noon Day Prayer, Evening Prayer and End of Day Prayer).  The Order of St. Helena is named after the Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, who is supposed to have found a remnant of the cross Jesus died on during excavations she oversaw in Jerusalem.

She built a shrine with two principal buildings where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands.  It consisted of a large basilica used for the Liturgy of the Word, and a circular church known as “The Resurrection” with its altar placed on the supposed site of Jesus’ tomb.  In the courtyard connecting these two buildings, to one side, you can see the Hill of Calvary.  The shrine was dedicated on September 14, 335.  Since then, September 14, yesterday, has been know as Holy Cross Day.

As you might imagine, Holy Cross Day is a big deal (more…)

This is from my clergy writing group:

There is a stillness, sometimes …

There is a stillness, sometimes, in the midst of life …

There is a stillness, sometimes, in the midst of life, every day life, that is like being reborn or renewed.  And this stillness dies in the clutter of my busyness, my refusal to sit still, or at least to live in the awareness of what I am actually doing that needs to be done …
Maybe it’s the dishes – which I usually power through, my mind focused, not on what I am doing, but rather on what I may be doing next.
So I am unaware.
Merely busy.
No silence.
No stillness.

There is a silence sometimes – and I miss it.

This might have been how I should have ended last Sunday’s sermon (David’s Sin).  I ran across it today in Celtic Daily Prayer (it’s Ignatius of Loyola day in their calendar, and this was linked to the brief biography there):

O God,
I cannot undo the past,
or make it never have happened! (more…)

Part of me wishes there were simple, clearcut answers.

This morning, with my prayers, I read two things I believe are both true. And there is, to say the least, real tension between them.

I read an excerpt from Harry Emerson Fosdick’s The Meaning of Prayer that talks about helpful prayer only being possible because of the development of character. “[Our] iniquities have separated between [us] and [our] God.” I find myself thinking about Hauerwas when he talks about character: how we live in the ordinary course of our lives determines how we will react, without even thinking about it, when defining choices must be made. (more…)

I’ve seen variations of the second and third paragraph of the following prayer, without the first paragraph (which I’ve never seen before) attributed to St. Francis.  But seemingly this comes from Malcolm Muggeridge in Something Beautiful for God (about Mother Theresa).  Anyway, I think the first paragraph adds something:

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.  Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love give Peace and Joy. (more…)

Well, I haven’t been saying much of late.  That’s partly because I’ve made the switch – I bought an Apple desktop (iMac) for my home computer (as my old home PC slowly dies).  And a fair amount of time and energy is being spent on learning to use the Apple, and in slowly figuring out how to transfer some programs (and many files) from the PC to the Apple.  (I’m trying not to simply move what’s on the PC to the Apple.  That’s what I’ve always ended up doing in the past.  And it’s accumulated a lot of junk over the decades.  I want the junk gone!)

I’m also doing a lot more reading of a spiritual nature.  Sometimes it’s sections or chapters of books.  But mostly, I have four books about the saints, and their writings, and the writings of the early church for when I say Matins (Morning Prayer) at the church office, and I have another four books on the saints and selections from spiritual writings for when I say the offices at home.  (No, I don’t use them all every day.  But I’m actively using all of them.) (more…)

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