The invitation yesterday began with reading the wonderful story of Jacob's angelic dream (Gen. 28: 10-22). The prayer exercise was beautiful, too. But I could never add to this.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Today's invitation begins with a reading from one of the Pauline letters in which Paul describes the church at its best. We are asked to pray for the church.
This is an invitation I can embrace whole-heartedly. Indeed, sometimes I take the church directory and read through it as a prayer for the congregation at Clarendon. Other times I simply give thanks for this community and for being blessed enough to work with them as friends and colleagues in ministry.
This evening I spent an hour with five fascinating folks who will be joining the church next month. (A sixth new member, another fascinating guy, was off sailing around Antigua. Why did he not need a chaplain for that trip?!?)
Clarendon is certainly not perfect; no church is. But it is full of grace and joy and faith and passion. My prayer is one of profound gratitude.
I missed a blog date yesterday. Ironically, the invitation was to read Psalm 51, with its beautiful and prayerful desire to have God "create in me a clean heart." So, I suppose this would be confession and pardon time.
On the other hand, I did not post anything yesterday because when I got off a conference call at 10:00 p.m. I forgot. Truly, I was feeling spirit-filled from the phone time spent with colleagues working on the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq's April 29-30 DC public witness. It was prayerful time.
Indeed, it opened with this prayer from a New Zealand prayer book:
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.
So, I suppose my prayerful reflection on Psalm 51 leads me to seek God's blessings on our efforts to create a clean heart in the midst of the nations that we might learn to beat swords into plowshares and study war no more.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Today's invitation includes reading John 14:16-26. I added a verse before that and several at the end to complete a pericope.
It is one of the more beautiful and enigmatic passages in the New Testament, and it includes what I've always called the goo goo goo joob theology of John: "I am in my father, and you in me, and I in you" ... and I am the walrus. Or was it, "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together"?
Despite the silliness, I do love the extended meditation on love in which this passage falls. Just a few verses earlier (13:54) Jesus says, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have love you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
The setting for that commandment in John is the last supper, and from that comes the tradition of Maundy (or, mandate) Thursday.
I could not begin to follow the suggestion to set aside an hour in which to ask the guidance of the spirit on every single decision. The suggestion raises a host of questions for me that lead to theological detours and cul de sacs down which I'm not interested in traveling right now.
But, Jesus' words in John do remind me that the entire point of the Jesus movement is to give every hour to love. If we are guided by love -- if we ask ourselves in every decision "what would advance the cause of love" -- then I believe we are living at one with the spirit of love, just as Jesus did. Then, well, we are all together ... goo goo goo joob.