Thursday, September 21, 2017

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-peace & prayer


We all want peace.

I’m even willing to say that we need peace.

Consider Isaiah 1.16-18…
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
   remove the evil of your doings
   from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17   learn to do good;
seek justice,
   rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
   plead for the widow.
18 Come now, let us argue it out,
   says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
   they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
   they shall become like wool.
Listen up:  God is merciful and kind; what God wants is for us to be at peace. Our brokenness is made whole by the goodness of God.

Sure, perhaps this is easy to believe on an individual level. But what about the world, right? Everywhere we turn we hear of war or rumor of war. And if the faux news reports aren’t adding fuel to the fire of hate, violence, and fear, then chances are they are reporting on what seems to be the earth turning in on itself. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires range alongside us as a result of our neglect to properly care for the earth. Things are changing; there’s no doubt about it.

To say September has been an overwhelming month is an understatement. Where do we turn for answers? Where do we look for love? How is peace ever going to be achieved? There’s so much angst in the world I'm willing to bet most of us, even the most Reformed Presbyterians, offer up a Hail Mary for some relief.

Fortunate for you I have the answer to peace.

You ready?

Start within.

While we may not be able to control the actions of others, we can control our own. If we want peace, we must begin with making peace in our own lives.

Think of it this way, okay?

Almost everyone has had to perform at some point in life. Whether it was for a recital, a game, or speech, practicing was a part of the process leading up to the performance. If we wanted to perform well, it began with how we practiced. The same goes for peace. If we want peace in the world, we start with cultivating peace within.

How do you do that you ask?

Easy:  pray.

Take the time to be with Divine Love. Like, really take the time. The way you take time to sit with your beloved or your best friend. When we do this, we will arrive at the door leading to peace. (See Revelation 3.20)

This peace is the Divine within you.  It is the same peace Jesus offers to the disciples in John. Remember? Jesus said to them and us:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Christ dwells at the center of who we are and the longer we remain there, choosing the ‘better part,’ the easier peace will come into our lives because God, by the Spirit, transforms us into Christ and we become agents of peace. Of course, this can’t happen until we “argue it out” with God. Who, by the way, will always have the last word which will be…
blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Do you want peace?

Start close in. Take the first step towards God’s mercy and love. God will lead you to where you need to go:  yourself.

After all, that’s where the Holy dwells...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Primary Prayer

Hey, let's do something a little different with this midweek reflection.

Instead of me writing a lot of words you get bored with, how about we pray together. You, me, and the occasional wanderer on the internet. Whether you are by yourself or use this meditation with your family or co-workers, this pause in the day to pray joins us with all the faithful of every place and time. How wonderfully comforting is that?
It won't take long, I promise. Then again, take as long as you need. Prayer is essential to our life as God's people. Especially since prayer is that moment in the day, and in our lives, where we allow God to be God in us. Or as Father Thomas Keating (the guy who wrote the book we are reading for Sunday's [09/17] book group) said, "Prayer is primarily a relationship."
So, beloved friends, this is an invitation (or a pastor's note if you need one for your boss or spouse or teacher) to put down your phone, set aside the report, or walk away from your sweet child who is finally napping, and pray. I'll help you. We will pray together.


Opening Prayer
O God, come to our assistance. O God, make haste to help us. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and forever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Psalm
Psalm 96
1 O sing to the Holy One a new song;
   sing to God, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Holy One, bless God’s name;
   tell of God’s salvation from day to day.
3 Declare God’s glory among the nations,
   the Holy One’s marvelous works among all the peoples.

Scripture Lesson
Exodus 3
God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." He said further, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Holy One said, "I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them…

What made the ground holy?
Are you hiding your face from God?
Where do you find comfort in this story about God’s promise?

            Relax for a few moments and let go of the morning. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths until you feel your body relaxing.

Blessing of Self
            I affirm and celebrate myself for…


Poetry as Benediction—Fire in the Earth by David Whyte
And we know, when Moses was told,
in the way he was told,
“Take off your shoes!” He grew pale from the simple

reminder of fire in the dusty earth.
He never recovered
his complicated way of loving again

and was free to love in the same way
he felt the fire licking at his heels loved him.
As if the lion earth could roar

and take him in one movement.

Concluding Prayer & Lord’s Prayer
New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us the desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors, and give us eyes to see the risen Christ in all those we meet. We pray this through Christ, who taught us to pray saying, Our Father…

            God said, “I have come down to deliver you…”
                        May God the Father/Mother bless you.
                                    May God the Son walk with you.
                                                May God the Spirit lead your lives with love.

See, that didn’t take too long!

Have a great weekend.

PS—Below is the entire poem from above. I hope you enjoy.

 And we know, when Moses was told,
in the way he was told,
“Take off your shoes!” He grew pale from the simple
 reminder of fire in the dusty earth.
He never recovered
his complicated way of loving again
 and was free to love in the same way
he felt the fire licking at his heels loved him.
As if the lion earth could roar
 and take him in one movement.
Every step he took
from there was carefully placed.
 Everything he said mattered as if he knew
the constant witness of the ground
and remembered his own face in the dust
 the moment before revelation.
Since then thousands have felt
the same immobile tongue with which he tried to speak.
 Like the moment you too saw, for the first time,
your own house turned to ashes.
Everything consumed so the road could open again.
 Your entire presence in your eyes
and the world turning slowly
into a single branch of flame.