Tag Archives: difficult

In Which I Attend Worship on Thursday

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 21, 2016

worship, light

In Which I Attend Worship on Thursday

Thursday is a different kind of evening to have a worship service. An occasional service, at a Protestant church. I am not thinking of a regularly scheduled morning Mass, or a noonday service on a weekday. (For example, at a large church in a busy downtown area.)

However, this particular event was a different sort of service. Outside worship experience, too.

A service that highlighted the middle of things. The middle of summer, the middle of life, other types of midpoints. As Dante might say, midway through this journey of life.

There are good midpoints, not-so-good middles, bittersweet stopping points that are nearer to the end than what is first thought.

What do you think of middles? What kind of midpoints am I experiencing? Are things nearer now to the beginning, or the ending, or do we just not know?

All good questions. Valid, and thoughtful.

I appreciated the prayers, the hymns, the worship. The pastor—a new friend. The others who led the worship. All in all, a meaningful opportunity to gather in fellowship and in worship.

We are all in the middle of things. In medias res.

Gracious God, thank You for being right there, in the middle of things, right by our sides.  Thank You.

@chaplaineliza

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

The Externals of Christmas

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jesus and children drawing

The Externals of Christmas

Somehow, the externals of Christmas get in the way. You know. Last-minute presents, decorations, short visits, running errands, waiting in line. The externals take away from important things like praying. Worshipping. Making time for God. Loving my neighbor.

As Henri Nouwen mentions in today’s Advent reading: “How hard it is to remember…the difference between the urgent and the important.” [1]

I am afraid I am unfamiliar with Pѐre Thomas. (Nouwen mentions him in today’s reading.) Pѐre Thomas wants his readers to spend the days before Christmas in prayer. Such a difficult task!

I strive to pray more, and I fall down on the job. I try, and try, and try again. Alas, I cannot keep this discipline of prayer. Forgive me, Lord.

“Christ wants to be born in us, but we must be open, willing, receptive, and truly welcoming.” [2]

Isn’t that the key, Lord? The key to so much of living? The way of following Jesus?

Dear Lord, gracious God, help me to follow You. Lead me in Your way. Give me patience and understanding with those who have different views, and who come from different cultures. Thank You for many myriads of people—all made by You—individuals with differences. Lead us out of darkness and blindness. Lead us into Your Light. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

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] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 38.

[2] Ibid.

Pray in the Presence of God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 10, 2015

Matt 22-26 greatest command

Pray in the Presence of God

I try to remember God. Really, I do. But—it’s so difficult, sometimes. I forget. God slips my mind, sometimes. How can that be, I ask myself? (!!!) Forgive me, God.

Reading in the Advent book of reflections for today, Henri Nouwen talked about forgetting God. About how humans here on this earth, here in this plane of existence, pre-empt my attention and my direction.

I need to direct my thoughts to God, to give as much as possible of my heart, soul and mind to God. Not to have my heart, soul and mind redirected. I know, I know. It is so simple to just allow it to happen. To allow my heart, soul and mind to drift away from God.

Nouwen’s words cut me to the quick: “Jesus’ claim is much more radical. He asks for a single-minded commitment to God and God alone. God wants all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul.” [1]

For the Advent Action of the day, I am advised to go through the “old tapes” that play inside my head, those “tapes” that do not allow me to acknowledge God’s love for me. “Pick one ‘tape:’ a resentment, a belittlement, a loss, and pack it away permanently in exchange for the shelter of a loved and loving God.” [2]

Dear Lord Jesus, You love me. You really do. And, You want me to be all I can be. You want me to give all—that is ALL—of myself to You. Help me to be willing to be willing. Help me as I wait for You and Your coming. It’s in Your name I pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

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] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 24.

[2] Ibid, 25.

Wait Patiently, In Expectation!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 30, 2015

PATIENCE God is not absent

Wait Patiently, In Expectation!

How often have I seen a small child (or, even, a not-so-small child) complain, “I want it now!” and, “Are we there yet?” And even, “Is it ever going to be time to go in?”

Ah, how difficult it is to be patient, sometimes.

Fr. Nouwen quotes the author Simone Weil as saying in her notebook, “Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.” I have learned to be wary of expectations. Wishful, pie-in-the-sky expectations, or dreary, down-in-the-dumps expectations. Either way, runaway expectations can be poisonous and completely unhelpful.

Sure, in the short term, expectations can be positive. Even long-term goals, prudently set, can be beneficial, too. Watch for hopeful, helpful expectations. A good thing, certainly, within limits.

But, what if—like a small child—I stamp my foot and just can’t wait through the weeks of Advent for the Christmas holidays? Or, what if an acquaintance of mine is in a snit because of faulty holiday expectations?

Well. Nouwen tells us in this reading that patience comes from a Latin word “patior,” which means “to suffer.” The root of the primary word is a negative one! Yet, Nouwen showed us how this “bad” word can become positive. “What seems a hindrance becomes a way; what seems an obstacle becomes a door; what seems a misfit becomes a cornerstone.” [1]

Dear Lord, help me to open my eyes. Help me view the “not-quite-rights” as Your much beloved children. Dear Lord, gracious God, keep my mind focused on things of You. Let me view the challenges and difficulties of life instead as way stations in my journey through life.

@chaplaineliza

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] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 4.

Help Through the Hard Times

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, November 17, 2015

daisy growing through difficulties

Help Through the Hard Times

Recovery can be a difficult thing. A hard time. Challenging, and stressful. It isn’t all a walk in the park, to be sure. And watching a loved one battle addiction and alcoholism? That can be difficult, too.

I attended a talk and a brief panel discussion led by an acquaintance of mine, tonight. She is one of those who is (and has been) dealing with a loved one’s active addiction. Getting clean time, and then slipping back into the horrible trap of addiction. Over, and over, and over again.

But, that’s one situation. One personal acquaintance.

The hardship and heartbreak can be multiplied and compounded, time and time again. And then, finally recovery takes hold!

Friends, I have news for you: recovery is not easy. Simple, yes. Easy, no. One bright spot? We do have a Higher Power, ready and able to give us a hand. Help through the hard times. We have other people who are on this same journey. (It sure is easy when we know we are not alone.)

Help is ready to come our way, through friends—through the We of the Program, and through the God of our understanding.

Today’s prayer as listed in the meditation book Keep It Simple: “Higher Power, help me through the hard times. Help me trust in Your love and care.”[1] Good words, God! Lord, in Your mercy, grace and love, hear our prayer.

@chaplaineliza

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] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 17 reading.

Center on “In the Beginning, God”

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 11, 2015

GOD in the beginning, God - grey

Center on “In the Beginning, God”

Let’s start at the very beginning—a very good place to start. The first chapter of Genesis. The first verse. “In the beginning, God—“

I’m choosing a Name of God found in the Bible, my word of the day. My Name of God for today is God. Elohim, one of the Hebrew words for God or Lord.

I departed from my usual habit of simply meditating and centering in prayer of that Name of God, and looking up the verse afterwards. No, I was curious as to exactly what was going on with this Name of God. So, I checked out several different translations of Genesis 1:1, as well as several different commentaries.

Specifically trying not to get too much information in my head, I earnestly tried to limit my reading to only the first verse in Genesis 1. And, even that might be construed as too much. (For Centering Prayer, anyway.) I refreshed my memory concerning this Hebrew word. A noun in the plural, I had forgotten that Elohim/God takes singular verbs. (Such as “my God IS” instead of “my Gods ARE.”)

Again, I tried not to get too hung up on the words. I was able to mostly pray and meditate on the Person and Name of God, as found in Genesis 1. Yes, in my mind I saw a windswept plain, huge in size, shape and loneliness. Elohim was over the earth, and created—brought form into the planet.

Suddenly, Aslan the Lion sprang into my mind, singing Narnia into being. (A narrative representation of the beginning of Genesis, thanks to C.S. Lewis and his book The Magician’s Nephew.) I liked this image! (This is one of my favorite books in the Chronicles of Narnia, too!)

I felt comforted, held by loving hands (paws?) as I watched everything being created. I knew it might be difficult thing for others, though. However, this centering prayer time was set aside for me. For my personal use and encouragement.

Thank You, God! Thanks for this wonderful source of encouragement and strength.

@chaplaineliza

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

Centering on Bread of Life

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 4, 2015

BREAD OF LIFE brass trivet

Centering on Bread of Life

Today, I’m departing a bit from the spirit of Centering Prayer. (Yes, already.) I intended for each day in the month of September to choose a name of God found in the Bible. The Name I’ve chosen for today is a phrase. (I’ve got to ask people more familiar with Centering Prayer. I think that’s okay, but I’m not sure.)

In any case, the phrase for today? My Name of God for today is Bread of Life.

This Name of God seemed so fitting for today. This Sunday is the first Sunday of the month. And, in the church I serve as pastor, Communion is observed on the first week of the month. Bread of Life? Jesus. Jesus? Bread of Life.

Initially, I didn’t have problems entering a prayer space. I am usually finding this aspect of prayer straightforward. However—keeping my mind centered on the word for the day? That’s where the difficult part comes in. Today was more difficult than usual.

I knew that Jesus said “I am the bread of life” in the Gospel of John. (I knew that straight off. I didn’t need to look that up.) Although I couldn’t remember all the specifics about the passage, I had some context on which to base my meditation. Yeah, frequent non-Bible related thoughts came up.

However, one Bible-related—even bread-related—thought came up a few times during my prayer. Manna. God gave the people of Israel manna in the wilderness. God gave us Jesus, the Bread of Life, to us in our wilderness.

What an awesome thought!

As I prepare for and look forward to Communion Sunday this weekend, I can keep that thought prayerfully in my mind and heart. Thanks, God! Thanks for the marvelous connection. Thank You for the opportunity to celebrate Communion with this congregation. And, thanks for Jesus, the Bread of Life.

@chaplaineliza

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