Tag Archives: encouragement

Remembering. Praying. Again.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 12, 2017

prayer stained glass, Balliol College, Oxford

Remembering. Praying. Again.

So much to pray about. So much to break our hearts—not only in the past, on September 11, 2001, but recently, with the natural disasters and devastation of the past few weeks.

At the church where I am pastor (St. Luke’s Christian Community Church in Morton Grove, a suburb of Chicago), I hosted a regularly-scheduled monthly Interfaith Gathering last night, the second Monday of the month. We held an informal time of remembrance of 9/11. And, towards the end of the hour, we also lifted thoughts, hopes and prayers for those who are in the midst of natural disasters right now.

Last night, I read several paragraphs from a contemporary article found in the edition of TIME Magazine, published on September 14, 2001. Just three days after these horrific events. Here are a few sentences: “Terror works like a musical composition, so many instruments, all in tune, playing perfectly together to create their desired effect. Sorrow and horror, and fear. The first plane is just to get our attention. Then, once we are transfixed, the second plane comes and repeats the theme until the blinding coda of smoke and debris crumbles on top of the rescue workers who have gone in to try to save anyone who survived the opening movements. And we watch, speechless, as the sirens, like some awful choir, hour after hour let you know that it is not over yet, wait, there’s more.” [1]

I encouraged people to remember, back to that Tuesday in September 16 years ago, and the aftermath. I invited them to turn to their neighbors, and talk about something that is strongly imprinted on their minds from that time. The heroism of the first responders, the loss of someone dear to you, the trauma of the idea of attack, the unity of many people throughout this country. Whatever was significant, I invited people to share. And, share they did. Such a buzz of conversation, as significant experiences and feelings were shared among this diverse group of people from different faith traditions and different backgrounds.

This is why I continue to host the Interfaith Gatherings. This sharing of our human-ness, our commonality, and what binds us—different individuals from different families and different places on the globe—together. We are all human. We all breathe the same way. Our hearts beat the same way. Our digestive and circulatory systems are the same.

Yet, we all live in this world where such natural calamities happen. Not only that, many of us live in communities where many people are cruel and heartless and thoughtless in their treatment of others. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said when considering Psalm 34:19 and 1 Peter 3:9, “You belong to God in spite of all. It is in this way that we respond to the world that causes us such suffering. We do not forsake it, cast it out, despise or condemn it. Instead, we recall it to God, we give it hope, we lay our hands upon it and say: God’s blessing come upon you; may God renew you; be blessed, you dear God-created world, for you belong to your creator and redeemer.” [2]

In the face of such a time as this, Pastor Bonhoeffer brings words of blessing and hope. What a blessing to anyone who strives to follow God, even through such challenge, difficulty, and sorrow. Even pain and suffering. Thanks to Dietrich Bonhoeffer for his bittersweet words of blessing and encouragement, even while imprisoned by Nazi Germany.

@chaplaineliza

 

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] http://time.com/3313113/if-you-want-to-humble-an-empire/?xid=time_socialflow_twitter&utm_campaign=time&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social  “If You Want To Humble an Empire,” article by Nancy Gibbs, TIME Magazine, September 14, 2001.

[2] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 89.

A Funeral and Psalm 90

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Psa 90-1 our dwelling place, words

A Funeral and Psalm 90

Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached at his grandmother’s funeral. (Such a sad occasion.) Bonhoeffer must have been a person of strong constitution to preach a heartfelt sermon like this. Moreover, judging from what he said, his grandmother (Frau Julie Bonhoeffer) was quite a strong person, as well.

The text for this funeral sermon was Psalm 90, an appropriate text, to be sure: “Lord, You have been our refuge from one generation to another.” This psalm has been a comfort and an encouragement to many, many people over the centuries.

Bonhoeffer was so grateful and thankful for the last days his grandmother had with her family. He talked about the final time at some length, and how aware she was until her last moments.

It makes me think of the deaths of several people I knew who died recently: full lives, touching farewells; all the way around, lives well-lived. He adds about his grandmother, “she held fast in her sickness, too; resigning herself to the will of God, bearing what was laid upon her, looking steadily and clearly at reality, doing whatever was required, quietly and without complaint, accepting what could not be helped.” [1]

What an attitude to have as she exited this life.

“Satisfy us by Your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life. Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us and the years in which we suffered adversity.”

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

@chaplaineliza

 

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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 69.

Seeking Guidance with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April 30, 2017

guidance, compass

Seeking Guidance with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King was an African-American Baptist minister, assassinated in 1968. He also was a civil rights leader, an eloquent preacher, and proponent of dignified social action with the creative weapons of love and non-violence. He believed in taking the biblical stories and transforming them into God’s prophetic voice for the present, turbulent times. [1]

I was especially struck by Dr. King’s statement: “I believe firmly that love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good will and justice.” [2] Love is a transforming power, indeed!

The creative weapons of love and non-violence were indeed innovative, attention-getting, and peaceful. These creative, innovative weapons were accepted by a widespread group of people, mostly people of color—but not all. In today’s parlance, a number of allies (white folks) stood with the civil rights movement.

God’s hand was clearly in the civil rights movement, in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The prophetic voice of God was heard not only throughout this country, but around the world. Alas, today many people of color are still fearful. (Or, newly fearful.) This is because of several reasons, including the rise in xenophobia, racism, and generalized fear and anxiety. Many people find themselves fearful of the rise in xenophobia and racism, coupled with random acts of vandalism and violence.

I urge those who are frightened and anxious to come together, gather to pray and meet together in groups. If enough people gather together, and refuse to retaliate with hate and anxiety, there will be a strong, vital group expressing encouragement and love.

I close with this call for prayer from Dr. King: “We ask people everywhere to pray that God will guide us, pray that justice will be done and that righteousness will stand. And I think through these prayers we will be strengthened; it will make us feel the unity of the nation and the presence of Almighty God.” [3]

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

@chaplaineliza

 

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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 279.

[2] Ibid, 280.

[3] Ibid, 281.

In Which I Serve at a Blue Christmas Service

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, December 14, 2016

blue-christmas-snowflake

In Which I Serve at a Blue Christmas Service

This evening was the Blue Christmas service at my sister church, Epiphany UCC in Chicago. Touching service. So effective, in many ways.

This quiet time in the church happened to occur on one of the coldest evenings that I’ve experienced for a long time. We had a small congregation. I do hope they received a blessing from the service.

It was a challenge to lead worship and to deliver several readings tonight, especially since my father-in-law died on Monday. Yes, I could relate to feelings of grief, fear and anxiety, anger—I could feel them, strongly.

There were two parts in the service that were particularly poignant: candle-lighting, and writing names on ornaments. Any members in the congregation who wished to, could come forward .

So, could we support grieving people? What about people who have lost a dear one? What about people who are overwhelmed by all the rushing of the holidays?  And, refugee families? They all need support and encouragement. i

Dear Lord, gracious God, bless all those who are hurting and grieving this evening. Give them comfort and support. Encourage all who mourn or are hungry or who are overwhelmed. Thank You for walking at our sides, for praying with us, and being Holy Comforter for those in need of comfort. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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

Gentle Prayers for Peace at a Home-Going

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 12, 2016

praying-hands-stained-glass

Gentle Prayers for Peace at a Home-Going

Today was a busy day. The Interfaith Gathering for Mutual Support and Prayer happened this evening and everything was very encouraging. Cold, frigid weather outside, but everyone was warm and supportive inside.

I praise God for such a good beginning. We will be meeting together again on the second Monday night of January, Jan. 9th.

Except—that was not all for today, or tonight.

My elderly relative died quietly tonight. In hospice for a number of days, this loved one drew the final breath and crossed into the loving presence of our God.

A good many thoughts and feelings are going through my mind and my heart.

Dear God, thank You for the supportive, encouraging meeting this evening. Dear God, thank You for the support and encouragement my elderly loved one received over these past few weeks. As I watch a new thing coming to life, in the beginning of a new interfaith idea, I also grieve over the gentle death of my loved one. Please comfort all who grieve this night. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

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

Gentle Prayers, Remembering Prayers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 31, 2016

lord-teach-us-to-pray

Gentle Prayers, Remembering Prayers

When I was small—four, I think—my grandmother moved in with us. I remember feeling badly that my sweet grandmother could not live on her own any longer. My mom and her siblings agreed that Grammy ought to come to live with us. Except—I did not really know how to pray. Yet.

I was the youngest of a large family. I remember Grammy trying vaguely to teach me to pray. Gentle prayers were a possibility, but Grammy was not in the kind of mental frame to teach anyone how to pray. Looking back on the next few years of my childhood with an adult’s point of view, I think they are hardly positive, considering the sad downhill journey of my grandmother.

Gentle prayers helped me, eventually. And, I know writing helped, too. After my Grammy died of complications from stroke, I remembered her with great fondness. I wished so much that we could have a relationship. Not a full one. Gentle prayers, remembering prayers kept those things about her in my mind

Here is a poem by Ray Bradbury. More of the same sadness.

O dear sweet dead, come home and welcome here.
Lost in the dark but always dear.
Do not wander,
Do not roam.
Dear ones,
Come home, Come home.

~Ray Bradbury

Remembering my loved ones. May they experience God’s comfort, encouragement and love. May those who have passed into God’s presence rest from their labors.

@chaplaineliza

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

Prayer and Blessing Animals

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, October 1, 2016

blessing-of-animals

Prayer and Blessing Animals

This is the third year I have blessed animals on the first Saturday of October. I love it! Praying for our furry friends. What a blessing to me.

St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals. It is because of him that we do this “blessing of the animals.” Not that blessing of animals is not a good idea. On the contrary! Yes, it is a marvelous opportunity to come to a place where I have the opportunity to see unconditional love in action.

Why don’t I show others that kind of unconditional love?

Very few people in the world have been able to love with an unconditional love. When I read sections of the Bible, I am amazed at the violence, Yet, I am also amazed by the love in those pages.

I consider animals and their love for us to be exactly what Jesus would like us to do. Please, God, help me to love others with as much faithfulness, as much support and encouragement. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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