Tag Archives: faith

Prayer, Hoping for a New World…

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 12, 2018

Rev 21-5 all things new

Prayer, Hoping for a New World…

Resentment. Oh, how pervasive it is!

Resentment, frustration, cynicism. And finally, resignation. What’s the use? What good will mere praying do? The structures of this fallen, imperfect world certainly seem to be set in stone. I’ll never be able to budge those structures, or practices, or attitudes, or groups. “Oh, well,” I say to myself, with a melancholy, half-cynical grin.

“And yet, you are Christian only so long as you look forward to a new world, only so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society in which you live, and only so long as you emphasize the need for conversion both for yourself and for the world.” [1] How much faith does Father Nouwen have! How much resilience and wherewithal did he harbor, deep within.

Sometimes, I do not see how I can continue to have this sort of hope, the hope in a new world that Father Nouwen so clearly had.

I saw several questions taken from Henri Nouwen’s writing, quoted today on social media. These questions arrested me, and started me thinking. (Are these the types of questions Nouwen mentions here in his book With Open Hands?) The questions run as follows:

“Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love? These are the real questions.”

Instead of feeling beaten down and defeated by the societal structures, common practices, and overarching attitudes of this world, I can concentrate on these personal questions. I might be able to use them in personal interaction. One on one, person to person. That is the only way I can try to affect change, anyway. One kind act at a time, one gentle word at a time. So help me, God.

Dear Lord, forgive me for my resentment, frustration and cynicism. I think. I hope. Amen.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 103.

Resurrection Sunday, For Us

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Jesus and empty tomb

Resurrection Sunday, For Us

I haven’t written any reflections last week during Holy Week. Yes, I was busy. Yes, I was under the weather. And yes, I had much too much on my plate. I feel badly, because I did not finish the daily readings from the apostle Paul. (I did do two readings last week from Colossians, and appreciated them very much. But, I did not do any others…mea culpa.)

I know I have a poor track record, doing daily devotions. (Perhaps I ought to think of it as a batting average? That way, one day out of three would still be an awesome batting average. Any major league baseball player would be proud of a .333 batting average. *grin*) In any case, God and I will continue to discuss my regular vs. daily prayer, scripture readings, and devotions. Of that, I am sure.

The last reading was from 2 Corinthians 5. Such a marvelous chapter! In almost every verse in this chapter I find a vivid image or stunning word or phrase that speaks directly to my heart and soul. From the tent Paul describes in the beginning of the chapter to the ministry of reconciliation that he closes the chapter with, this is—hands down—one of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away. See, everything has become new!” And, the three verses following, of course. Such wonder. Such glory. I cannot even begin to describe the magnificence of Paul’s words.

As Prof. Williams says, “Paul write perhaps his most powerful explanation of the importance of Jesus’ resurrection. His point is this. The resurrection of Jesus matters, Paul says, because without it our faith is futile and we are pitiable people….But not only that – it also inaugurates that new creation now, as a reality into which we are invited.” [1]

What an invitation! Imagine, Jesus inviting you and me into His presence, into His new creation. We may come freely, no strings attached. How awesome, how fabulous is that? Truly, a gift given to us all, freely. Thank You, Jesus. “Let us live in this world as foretastes of the new creation to come, a world guaranteed by Your resurrection life. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.” [2]

@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] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 92.

[2] Ibid.

Praying, Suffering, with Psalm 34

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 1, 2017

Psa 34-19 afflictions, script

Praying, Suffering, with Psalm 34

When I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in prison, the companion thoughts of suffering and deprivation also come to mind.

I could shake my fists, cry out to heaven and ask God, “Why?” Except, I do not think I would receive any sort of an answer. I know, many righteous people have been unjustly imprisoned throughout the centuries.

Looking at Psalm 34:19, “The righteous person must suffer many things; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Bonhoeffer also meditated and prayed at length over this verse. (I secretly wonder how much comfort he found in it?) “The righteous person suffers because of many things that for others seem only natural and unavoidable. The righteous person suffers because of unrighteousness, because of the senselessness and absurdity of events in the world.” [1]

Senselessness and absurdity. That is certainly true, and has been true for thousands of years.

And yet—and yet—“the Lord delivers him.”

God is always present, all over the world. The righteous person is always with God, no matter where, no matter what. Bonhoeffer had the unshakeable belief that “God allows him to suffer so, in order that he may learn to love God for God’s own sake. In suffering, the righteous person finds God. That is his deliverance.” [2]

I am afraid I am a far weaker person than Pastor Dietrich. I do not know whether I would have been able to suffer such deprivations as he did. I read his writings and am in awe of such faith and devotion. I pray that I may be able to display just a small part of Bonhoeffer’s resilience and faithfulness.

Lord, in Your mercy, help me in my journey through life with You, whether difficult or not. In times of suffering and pain, or times of calm and serenity, You are with me.

@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, 88.

[2] Ibid.

Practical Prayers of Agnes Sanford

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, March 6, 2017

healing prayer for you

Practical Prayers of Agnes Sanford

When I hear about (or, read about) someone who prays like Agnes Sanford, I tend to be skeptical—a bit. I also hope against hope that her example in healing prayer could be true. I must admit that I do not have lots of faith. A bit of faith, yes. Sometimes, even more than a bit. But, there are times when I say with the man who came to Jesus, “Help my unbelief!”

In the case of Agnes Sanford, I have to take the word of Richard Foster. He gave witness to the fact that he sat and learned how to pray from Agnes, many times. (And, I respect Richard Foster more than I can say.)

How scary to pray, and have God’s power in our words—that’s the Almighty God, who made heaven and earth, who created life and love on a cosmic scale. Yet, that is exactly what we do and say when we pray.

At first, we have the suggestion of praying for a simple, tangible thing first, such as relief from worry, or finding something lost, or the return to health of someone who is sick. As Ms. Sanford said, “How strange it is that people who fear to do this do not hesitate to pray for the most difficult objectives of all, such as the peace of the world or the salvation of their souls!” [1]

So right. Such an odd thing, to have little confidence in God in prayer: “if they have such confidence…that they do not dare to test their powers of contacting God by praying for an easy thing, it is probable that their cosmic intercessions are of little force.” [2]

Ooo. That hits home. That hurts, Ms. Sanford.

Dear Lord, gracious God, help me to have faith like Agnes Sanford. (Or, at least more faith than I do currently.) Thank You for Ms. Sanford’s excellent example, and grant that many may learn from her books and writings. Amen.

@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), 39.

[2] Ibid.

An Interview for Peace, and More

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, September 22, 2016

microphone-vintage

An Interview for Peace, and More

This afternoon, I had an interview. I was talking with several guys in a radio station control room. (WCGO-AM in Evanston.)

We all had earphones on, and were talking into large microphones. (All of that seemed a bit odd at first, but I got used to it.) The funny thing about this experience? It was just a conversation between me and two other guys.

The topic of the conversation was pointed towards peace, however. Yes, we went several other places, but that was the starting and the ending point of my interview. Peace. Yes, I did mention the Interfaith Gathering for Peace I had at St. Luke’s Church last night. (Just briefly.) However, I concentrated more on what is coming up this weekend.

I almost feel like a broken record, since I have talked about this and encouraged people to attend this for some weeks now. The Morton Grove Interfaith Walk for Peace. In such a diverse and multi-cultural community as Morton Grove, this walk lifts up our diversity and is a way to express friendship and fellowship towards one another. Plus, we will try to learn more about each other by walking together. Visiting different houses of worship, faith and culture.

An interview for peace. Actually, for peace’s sake. Let us all pursue peace. #PursuePEACE. God willing, we all can try, one kind word at a time. One act of service at a time. One friendly smile at a time.

@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.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-ers

PEACE = Loving One Another in Christ (Repost)

This repost is especially for the Facebook site “Pursuing Peace.” God’s blessings on all my readers today.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 17, 2016

IMG_0155

PEACE = Loving One Another in Christ

Today’s definition of PEACE is gentle, just like the person the definition came from. Anacelia Padrid gave the following definition: “PEACE = the result of loving one another in the Christian way.”

Anacelia is a member at St. Luke’s Christian Community Church in Morton Grove. When I asked her what she would like to write down for her personal definition, she got quite serious. Full of thoughtfulness. Then, she carefully wrote her definition on the sheet. Last, she gave an explanation of her definition.

She said, “It is in the Christian family that we have our love with one another, as our head who is God. Only through Him we are guided in the proper way.”

By this definition, Anacelia gives people no questions about her faith as a Christian. Some other people gave more general definitions, but this one is decidedly, definitely Christian.

I know Anacelia earnestly believes this Christian way of understanding PEACE.

I just gave a meditation (or, brief sermon) about PEACE at this evening’s Lenten service. The result of loving one another in the Christian way? Not quite my definition. I did, however, let people know Jesus offers to give anyone PEACE. I mean, anyone.

Jesus does not discriminate, as we think of John 14:27. Jesus promises to give us PEACE internally. And as an outgrowth of that inward emotion, we are invited to be instruments of God’s PEACE.

Anacelia, thanks for an additional insight. Blessings on you and your family.

@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

Acceptance and Faith—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 5, 2015

life is simple - we make it complicated

Acceptance and Faith—in Prayer

Oh, Lord. Acceptance! Accepting life on life’s terms. Accepting things as they really are, not as I wish them to be. And, not as I fear they are, either.

When individuals arrive in the doorway of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’ve heard all different kinds of reactions. Anywhere from “I can’t find any help here … “ to “I’ve found my kind of people!”

(Or, if you like, when they are ready to be honest, open and willing.)

A twin factor in a walk of early recovery is that of faith. People need faith that this program of Alcoholics Anonymous will work. Just like people need faith that God (or their Higher Power) is waiting for them, cheering them on.

And, perhaps the most important thing about the word “faith” is acknowledging that I have little or no power over how things actually turn out. That is surprisingly freeing. As I encourage those in recovery to place things (including their lives) into the hands of God as they understand God, there can be a sense of release and of turning it all over.

As the meditation book Keep It Simple says, “Throughout the day, I’ll think of the Eleventh Step. I’ll pray to my Higher Power, ‘Thy will, not mine, be done,’” [1]

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for acceptance and faith. It’s a relief to accept things as they really are, in this world. Help me to have the faith to turn things over to You. 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 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 5 reading.