Tag Archives: fellowship

Prayer While Losing Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, September 26, 2018

rain on windowpanes

Prayer While Losing Heart

When I read this reading, the bottom dropped out of my stomach. Oh, such a sad thing, to be so self-sufficient, and yet so alone. Father Nouwen must have known someone who was like this. (Or, perhaps even he was like this, now and again.)

When someone grits their teeth and tries really hard to go it on their own, I look at that person and am divided in my thoughts. Yes, I acknowledge their persistence and perseverance. Going it all alone can show signs of strength and stick-to-it-ive-ness. I honor that. Truly.

However…when someone presumes that they absolutely must do it on their own, or else they lose some of their person-hood…”with this mindset you will become weary and exhausted from your efforts to prove that you can do it alone and every failure will become cause for shame.” [1]

My sneaking suspicion is that Father Nouwen might be writing this about himself. Either that, or about someone he knows very well. Oh, I do hope that who ever he was writing this about found some sort of assistance and help from even one person. What Nouwen writes about sounds so lonely, and weary-making. Someone’s sense of honor is not so easily impugned. Asking for help every once in a while is not a threat.

This so sadly reminds me of the Paul Simon song “I Am a Rock.”

“I am a rock, /I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain; /And an island never cries.” [2]

I hope and pray that the one Father Nouwen wrote about found someone to share their burdens with, and someone to pray with. What is more, God will surely send fellowship into the lives of God’s people. All we need do is ask.

@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), 87.

[2] “I Am a Rock,” Paul Simon, Simon & Garfunkel album Sounds of Silence (Columbia, January 17, 1966)

Grateful, Thankful Prayers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 24, 2016

harvest-candles

Grateful, Thankful Prayers

It has been a thankful, grateful past few days. First, a wonderful opportunity to gather together for a beautiful service on Wednesday night. Yes, the Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve service happened, for anyone who felt especially thankful. (And, even for those who did not, but were trying to feel thankful.) So interesting and heartening to come together, to be thankful. What an opportunity to see and hear from different faith traditions and religious leaders.

Yes, what happened in the service was wonderful last night. However—I thought one of the best times of the night was the time of refreshments after the service. Almost all of the people who attended the interfaith service came to the fellowship hall afterwards. And, you should have heard the talking, laughing, and otherwise mingling together going on. Such a friendly, welcoming, wonderful thing!

Today’s turkey dinner (which was superb, by the way) was a family affair. Small, cozy, and welcoming. All of my children—now grown—were here with me. Truly, a time to be grateful and thankful for all that God has given to us.

Dear Lord, Giving God, we give thanks for the beauty of Your world, and for the holiness of Your temple. We give thanks for the fruits of the earth and for the labors of those who harvest. We pray for all those in need, who hunger and thirst because they have limited resources. Provide not only for us in our abundance, but also for the relief of all who are in need, here in the Chicago area, as well as throughout this world. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of Your great bounty, Lord. We give You thanks and praise, to the glory of Your Name. Alleluia, amen!

Peace to all at this thankful, grateful time of the year

@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

PEACE: God’s Love Within

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, August 16, 2016

God brings peace

PEACE: God’s Love Within

This post includes a second definition of PEACE from Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church. But, before we get to that, I need to tell a bit about the Englewood neighborhood, and Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK). This excellent group has a dinner outreach called Take Them a Meal. Several people from Morton Grove traveled to the south side of Chicago to provide for the dinner, two weeks ago.

The weather was quite warm—and so was the fellowship and community! Heartwarming, too.

As the dinner outreach packed up, Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church started to set up on the same street corner. They have an outdoor worship service every Wednesday night during the summer. That church has a regular outreach to the Englewood community.

I greeted several of the church members, including the associate pastor, Frederick Schells. A kindly man, he gave me his view of peace right away. Pastor Frederick’s personal definition: “PEACE is the love of God within you.”

As I asked for him to elaborate, he said, “Peace has to be recognized from within.” He talked about the importance of God in each individual’s life, and how the presence of God is a foundation for peace.

The presence of God can be a comfort and encouragement for many, especially when going through difficult or challenging times. The Gospel of John lets us know that Jesus promised peace—His peace. Not as the world gives. Not fleeting or temporary, but permanent. Everlasting peace.

Praise God. Thank You for Your peace.

@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-er

PEACE: Community, Family Dinner

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, August 12, 2016

peace sign stones

PEACE: Community, Family Dinner

This post includes another in the series of definitions of PEACE. But, before we get to that, I need to give a little background. Several people from Morton Grove travelled down to Chicago a week and a half ago to participate in a dinner outreach called Give Them a Meal. Run by Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK), this is a generous act. An opportunity to be kind, to anyone who comes to the table.

When I was helping at the dinner, I asked one of the Mothers Against Senseless Killing for her personal definition of PEACE. Tamar’s personal definition: “Peace is family dinner—dinner with your community. Fellowship.”

Tamar is a straight-forward, no-nonsense person, instrumental in the outreach Give Them a Meal. When I asked her to elaborate on her personal definition, she was clear. Almost forceful in her enthusiasm. “This is it. People eat dinner together, get to know each other. This is what it’s all about.”

She wants to bring the neighborhood together, and provide an opportunity for community and fellowship. Table fellowship, where individuals can become friends.

This can be a powerful, life-changing act, breaking bread and sharing a part of themselves, a part of their very lives. Yet, such a simple act of friendship, too.

Thank God for this meal outreach. Bless all those who share in the meal, either daily or on an occasional basis. Bless those who faithfully serve, donate, and pray for this outreach. Dear God, we pray not only for the Englewood neighborhood, but also for the whole city of Chicago. For all of the suburbs, too. Bring PEACE to these many neighborhoods. And, stop the senseless killing, we pray. 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 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-er

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

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

Make the Door of God’s House a Gateway to God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, October 10, 2015

University of Chicago snowgram, 2-1-15

Make the Door of God’s House a Gateway to God

Doing. “What doing?” Years ago, I remember my toddler daughter asking me, or her Auntie Sue, or her Grandma. That little piping voice, so curious. “What doing?” So interested in everything. I ask myself today: What am I doing? What—more importantly—am I doing for God? And, on God’s behalf?

Today’s prayer is about Doing. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Thy Kingdom Come” (Prayer 211, pages 73-74) [1] I am going to put the whole prayer here, because it touched my heart in so many places. It moved me in such interesting ways.

“O God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship, narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife.

“Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling-block to children, nor to straying feet, but rugged and strong enough to turn back the tempter’s power.

“God make the door of this house the gateway to Thine eternal kingdom.”

The editor of the Book of Prayer mentions this prayer being inscribed on the door of St. Stephen’s Church, Walbrook, which is located inside the City of London. Bishop Thomas Ken is listed as author. The prayer is also found in the King’s Chapel Prayer Book (from King’s Chapel, one of the oldest churches in Boston).

So, yes. This prayer has a pedigree. But, this prayer is also inclusive, welcoming, encouraging, and strengthening.

Inclusive, because all humans need love and fellowship. Welcomed, because envy, pride and strife ought to be dis-invited. Encouraged, so that all who stray feel the warmth and love of Christ. Strengthened, since God and God’s power are more than enough to banish the tempter’s power.

Dear Lord, gracious God, help me to focus on the ideas behind this prayer, and not simply mouth the words. Help me follow through with the actions written here, and be filled with Your presence and Your love and mercy for all of these, the least of these. In Your mercy, Lord, hear my 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] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 73-74.

The Divine in You, the Divine in Me

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 29, 2015

Moonrise over water - photo credit Bell of Compassion

Moonrise over water – photo credit Bell of Compassion

The Divine in You, the Divine in Me

This chapter of Handbook for the Soul opened with several challenging paragraphs. Not exactly difficult to understand, but my take-away message was pretty much what I used to title this post.

I had difficulty connecting with Betty Eadie. At first. Yes, she talked about several things I have a great deal of interest in! Near death experiences. Spiritual understanding. Quiet place within. But—can I say that her foundational premise is one I can’t truly grasp? (I think I can.)

However, that’s not the end of it! I mean, the end of Eadie’s chapter. After the initial page or page and a half, I got on board. Really and truly.

Eadie started talking about the different ways different individuals use to get in touch with that quiet place within. Or, openness. I use many of these same ways. To get in touch with God as I understand God. I have noticed that several of these are widespread, all over the world. In many different manners of approaching God, or the Eternal One, or the Divine Spirit. Or, whatever your people or group wishes to call this One.

“Our relationships with other people can also help us grow in spiritual understanding,” [1] said Eadie. So, what I get from this is that growing in spiritual understanding is not just a solitary activity. No, we require relationship. That is friendship and fellowship from like-minded others. (Even not-so-like-minded, if that’s the case!)

I hope my relationships with many are responsible for bringing some peace and serenity into this world. God willing, that’s my 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] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 182.