Tag Archives: different cultures

Welcome for the Outsider

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, March 5, 2018

welcome, Scrabble

Welcome for the Outsider

What a statement. What a concept. For all that the apostle Paul is talked about as being misogynistic, and prejudiced, and this, and that, I come up against a passage like Romans 15:4-6, capped by 15:7.

I started out thinking about what Paul said in verse 4: “Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us.” I was struck by that, and thought about it for a while. Sure, there are lots of verses and passages in the New Testament that are instructive, encouraging, even uplifting to the heart. But, genealogies in the Hebrew Scriptures? Or, population lists of the various tribes? Or, passages in the Mosaic Law Code? How were those written to teach us?

Which led me to think of the many different cultures and nationalities surrounding the church where I work, in Morton Grove (a suburb of Chicago). This suburb is diverse in just about every way. I am certain that the different cultures and ethnic understandings cover a wide spectrum of ways of thinking. Which led me to consider the understanding of the Jewish mindset, in the centuries before the birth of Christ. I know they did consider genealogies and population lists to be important. Who am I to say that they are not important?

(And, what about things our culture says are important? I can’t legislate what others think, regardless of whether it is my culture or ethnicity, or someone else’s. Or, in some other century.)

All of which brings me to what Prof. Williams says in his reflection. “The hard thing, and the thing that Paul cared deeply about and strove to instill in his churches, is to do both at once: to be united as one body but also profoundly welcoming to the outsider.” [1]

What a profound idea. As Paul said, “Accept one another, then, for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you.” Dear Lord, I am convicted anew. Please, dear God, help me to accept people, accept individuals, coming from all over. Just as Paul had to deal with a polyglot society, so do I here is my setting. Help me—help us to reach out and provide “a place where there is a welcome for all and where there is unity. Amen.” [2]


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 89.

[2] Ibid.

In Which People Strive Towards Peace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, June 21, 2016

peace, work for justice

In Which People Strive Towards Peace

What a wonderful opportunity for me to find out about social justice and the viewpoints of the different faith streams, last week.

As I thought about last week’s panel discussion at the mosque in Morton Grove, I could not help but think of the diverse people we had in the fellowship hall. A cross-section of friends and acquaintances not only from Morton Grove, but also Niles, Glenview, Des Plaines, Skokie, Evanston, Wilmette, Lincolnwood, and Chicago.

Many people at the discussion talked about the wonderful presentation the panel gave. All of these five different faith streams say such similar things about social justice. Social justice holds such a close kinship with peace and peacemaking.

I see such similarities between the faith streams. So many diverse people from such different cultures and disparate places. So many people striving towards peace, hope, harmony, and social justice.

So many striving toward peace. God willing, may we continue to pursue peace—and social justice.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Forgive Me—I Did Not Introduce You

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 19, 2015

autumn leaves on a bridge

Forgive Me—I Did Not Introduce You

Many of the prayers in this section are prayers of people from traditionally English-speaking countries. Or, prayers of Church Fathers and Mothers, prayers of Saints, translated into English. However, I am intrigued by those prayers that come from vastly different cultures, distant places, far removed from the sociological and cultural place I call “home.”

The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” (Prayer 355, page 109) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled Penitence. It is titled “Prayer from Polynesia.”

“Lord, today You made us known to friends we did not know,/And You have given us seats in homes which are not our own./You have brought the distant near,/And made a brother of a stranger,/Forgive us, Lord … /We did not introduce You.”

O, how poignant and tear-filled! How deep the pain that is felt; it spills over into the endless emotional pit. Powerful emotions and feelings churn within me. Yet—and yet—positive feelings flow over some of these words like a waterfall.

Dear God, these words from half a world away wash against me. Sometimes quiet and affirming, but other times knowing, nudging, concerned as a dear grandparent. And, the last two lines of this prayer? Not shaming, not demeaning, no! But at the same time, instructive. Giving gentle counsel. Almost, entreating.

And, I received admonishment. Gentle, to be sure. But, sure and certain. I do not introduce You to others as much as I have the opportunity. I see that. This prayer holds up a clear mirror to me.

Forgive me, Lord. Please, gracious God. Look with both forgiveness and favor on this poor sinner. Thank You for Your help and patience. Help me to look with love on all others, to those who do not yet know You, and an extra portion of thankfulness on those who do.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 109.

Christmas Music for Everyone

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 14, 2013

I hear Christmas music on the cd player as I write this. Choral, a capella. Complex chords and harmonies. These aspects of the music make my heart sing. The winning combination of beautiful music and meaningful words helps my heart to worship, too.

Since I am a classically trained musician and have a bachelor’s degree in church music, music has been and still is an important feature of my life. My avocation and my deep joy, as well as an aid to worship. Sometimes music can bring me to tears, and the next minute can lead me to worship and praise. Especially at this time of year.

A great deal of Christmas music was written with the church in mind, or at least, based on the Gospel accounts in Luke and Matthew. (I know there are some fun songs, secular songs, but I’d like to focus instead on the sacred music.) Composers and songwriters in many diverse cultures have tried their hands at writing Christmas music—and Advent music, too. Diverse songs like “Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming” (German, Michael Praetorius, 1609) to “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” (Traditional West Indian Carol, popularized by Harry Belafonte in 1958).

Different cultures portray the Holy Family in contexts that are familiar to them, too. Many people are familiar with the olive wood nativity scenes, carved by Palestinian Christians and imported all over the world today. But I’ve also seen a Kenyan nativity set with animals native to the Kenya bush. And a Peruvian nativity with everyone dressed in traditional Peruvian garb. And—to me—the familiar Advent calendars with the northern European features.

One more recent Christmas carol comes from the mid 20th century. The words by Wihla Hutson evoke the differences in how children all over the world see the baby Jesus. “Lily white,” “bronzed and brown,” “almond-eyed,” “dark as they.” The Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. He was born into this world to identify with us. And we can identify with Him, just as much.

This Advent period is a period of waiting for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. However we may see Him, however the Holy Family is presented in our culture or setting or church tradition, we are to wait with eagerness. With quiet and prayer. With expectation in our hearts. And in one of my favorite ways, with music to assist us in this waiting time.

Let’s pray. Dear God, Gracious Lord, this Advent waiting time is a time of expectation, but it’s also a time of preparation. Help me to prepare my heart to receive You. Forgive me for closing the door on others who don’t see You in the same way as I see You. Forgive me for being so narrow-minded and thoughtless. Thank You that You came into this world for everyone. For each child, for each adult, for each senior. Help me to look on those who are different from me with Your eyes. Emmanuel, God with us, all of us. Thank You, Jesus.