Tag Archives: helpful

Miss Sayers, Law, and Grace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 14, 2017

grace and mercy crssing

Miss Sayers, Law, and Grace

Dorothy L. Sayers is one of my favorite authors—hands down. I found her mystery books when I was a teen, and saw the BBC adaptations shortly after. Marvelous characters, witty dialogue, and impeccable writing. (And, that was just her mystery novels.) However, she was much, much more than “only” a mystery writer. A medieval scholar, essayist and literary critic, she was well able to accomplish any literary task that came to hand—with brilliance. Daughter of an Anglican clergyman, she dove into the study of theology.

This excerpt comes from her theological essay called “Creed or Chaos.” Here Miss Sayers discusses societal sinfulness. She understands her own sinfulness well.

“…An intelligent understanding about sin is necessary to preserve the world from putting an unjustified confidence in the efficacy of the moral law taken by itself.” [1] Miss Sayers is quite firm: as she said, law is “always prohibitive, negative, and corrupted by the interior contradictions of man’s divided nature.” [2] She has a decided view of humanity as sinful and depraved.

Looking at myself, for instance. I also have a decided view of my depraved human nature, in my sinful self/Self. I realize that moral law AND God’s law both would condemn me to an eternity separated from God.

Yet, there is grace. Miss Sayers is equally firm about God’s grace. “The law must be rightly understood, or it is not possible to make the world understand the meaning of grace.” [3] Grace. Amazing grace. (As I also think, mercy plays a large role in this drama, too. Otherwise, there is little reason to keep on keeping on.)

Dear Lord, gracious God, what a marvelous reading for a Good Friday night. When I was already considering my sinfulness tonight, discovering Miss Sayers’s article was a gracious, helpful and loving thing. Thank You for her deep insight. Thank You for Your grace and mercy.

@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), 236.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 23, 2017

candles-and-cross

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

As I read this short excerpt from How to Sit tonight,[1] I couldn’t help but be reminded of my chaplain internships. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of strong emotions, and how the regular practice of prayer and meditation helps many people manage their emotional state. In all of my chaplain internships, we were shown several helpful ways of dealing with strong emotions (which included prayer and meditation).

Sometimes, strong emotions can carry a person away, devastate them, send them to the heights of ecstasy, or infuriate them beyond all measure. Problem: how to manage yourself and your emotions if you have a really, really strong emotion going in with you? (Believe me, at times in my chaplain internships, as well as my work as a chaplain, I faced some wild, intense emotional situations.)

Thich Nhat Hanh highlights the regular practice of prayer and meditation as a great help to remaining on an even keel, in situations with strong emotion. (I suspect this practice would be a bit easier for someone who had an affinity for quiet, contemplative, meditative prayer and meditation.) I have experienced this firsthand. I know how valuable deep breathing can be, as well as the use of meditation and mindfulness. I can attest to the helpful nature of regular, concerted prayer, for myself, my family or friends, or in intercession for the loved one of someone who asks me for prayer.

My chaplain internships were so worthwhile. (As is my practice of prayer and meditation.) God, thank You for providing such opportunities for me to learn about these wonderful practices. Each and every one. Lord, in Your mercies, hear 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 72-73.

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

baked-goods-photoMatterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 14, 2016

 

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

I found myself in the basement of a church this afternoon with a dozen other people, getting ready to serve at a soup kitchen. Marvelous operation. Worked like clockwork.

The tables, chairs, tablecloths and vases with flowers were already on the tables when we got there. We volunteers got out some serving utensils and set up serving stations for soup, bread, and beverages. We unloaded the back of a car piled high with breads, cookies, and various other baked goods and set them out on several banquet-size tables. Cheryl, the manager of the soup kitchen, made sure that all the volunteers were assigned to cover all of the various stations.

And then, the guests started to come in. The food kept coming out of the kitchen. The guests went down the line, and out to the tables. I kept busy, getting the guests drinks. Asking if they needed anything. Going back and forth, trying to be as friendly and helpful as I could.

We all did have an opportunity to sit for a bit and have a bite of dinner. (Which was superb!) I sat at a table with several guests, and enjoyed having some conversation with them.

I noticed some people did not meet my eyes, but instead kept their eyes lowered. I noticed some guests moved slowly, and a few even needed assistance walking. Or carrying their plates. Or both. I noticed after sitting at the tables for a time, and getting comfortable, some people really became engaged and animated.

How good to be of service, again. (I have not served at a soup kitchen for several years.) I so appreciate the First United Methodist Church of Des Plaines for hosting Bessie’s Table. Thanks to my fellow members of the Des Plaines Ministerial Alliance, who volunteered tonight. Thanks to all of the regular workers for giving of their time and talent. And, thanks to Cheryl, the manager of Bessie’s Table.

Dear God, I pray for all those in that church basement tonight. Encourage hearts, not only of the guests who were at Bessie’s Table tonight, but also of the volunteers and workers. For some, it might have been the very first time they had the opportunity to work at such a place. Please, God, help it not be the last. I pray for the guests, their loved ones, and for each situation each one finds themselves in. God, come alongside and comfort. You are our Refuge and Strength, always present in time of trouble, and when we have need. Thanks, God.

@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

 

Being Of Service—and in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 19, 2016

 

don't wait for people to be kind - show them

Being Of Service—and in Prayer

I took the opportunity to be of service today. In several ways.

Yes, I was a chauffeur for an acquaintance of mine. Driving around to several different places. Yes, it was needed. And yes, appreciated, too.

Then, several more ways of service. Too complex to go into now, but, yes. I did go out of my way to do a number of things, today.

I look upon this as being of service, or being helpful, or doing what I can with what I have. I don’t begrudge it! Certainly not.

Yet, I know several others who would begrudge it. The couple people I have in mind would never even think of doing such a thing. (Or, do them with a total quid pro quo attitude. You know, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” sort of thing.)

How sad. They never can know the joy of helping someone simply for joy’s sake. Or, for grace’s sake. Or, for mercy’s sake. Not expecting to be paid back in some way, or for some sort of mental bidding or reciprocity contest.

Oh, and those several situations I dealt with, today? I prayed for them. The people involved, and God taking care of these situations. God be with them. All of them. (And, God be with those sad people who are not in a mental space to take the opportunity to help others.)

@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

PEACE is Resting in God’s Plan (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 – Monday, February 22, 2016

 

peace in sand

PEACE is Resting in God’s Plan

Next person in my journey towards PEACE, today.

In my continuing efforts to pursue PEACE, I talked with several members of the Bethesda Worship Center in Des Plaines, Illinois, yesterday.

I had the opportunity to talk with a number of people in the congregation. One woman, in particular, gave her personal definition of PEACE considerable thought. After some reflection, this is what she said.

Nancy Nalbandian’s definition: PEACE is resting in God’s plan for your life, even when your future seems very uncertain.

She elaborated a bit more. (I did tell her that this particular personal definition is quite definite. And, personal!) Nancy considers the most important part of what PEACE means to her is the resting part. Moreover, “PEACE is trusting that God will work everything out in due time.”

This definition necessitates a belief in a personal God. I have such a belief, and so does Nancy. I know not everyone who reads this blog has such a belief. What I am interested in is whether this kind of belief in God or in a Higher Power, and is helpful to a wide group of people.

God willing, this blog post connects and draws many people together. Please, dear Lord, hear our words and earnest 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

Praying for Better Times

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, August 13, 2015

everything will be okay

Praying for Better Times

I read in the news today of horrible things. Of fires, and murders, and stabbings, and of even worse things than those. (In all seriousness.)

I’m afraid it is a little difficult for me to be cheery and chipper. Miss Suzy Sunshine I am not, today. Not after reading such terrible news, today.

Tonight, I guess I particularly needed to read the Evening Prayers from www.dailyoffice.org. That’s my set routine for the month of August, anyhow.

The Psalm reading for tonight was Psalm 4. It is more hopeful and helpful than not. One verse in particular went straight to my heart today:

“Many are saying, “Oh, that we might see better times!” *
Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O LORD. “

Dear God, You are with us, in better times and in worse. You help ease us through difficult times or sad times. And, when times are particularly grim, we can always depend on You. On Your presence with us, in the darkest valley.

It doesn’t matter whether dark valleys are physical (like two people with brain tumors I know) or economical (like a friend’s loss of a job), or emotional (like an acquaintance’s divorce—which I am praying may finalize soon!). 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.

Visit the website http://dailyoffice.org/ to find out more about Morning and Evening Prayer!

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

Sacred Impulse = Soul Impulse

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 25, 2015

sacred space - autumn tree

Sacred Impulse = Soul Impulse

Boy, could I relate to this chapter in Handbook for the Soul. What Jacob Needleman led off with was exactly what my former associate said, on a regular basis. Basic physiology and psychology all during the 20th century claimed that there was no (or, at best, very little) credence in the idea of Soul or spirituality.

My former associate—in a tiny program which had as a major component video/computer/distance learning—saw helpfulness in the narratives of the Bible, regardless of the faith tradition or belief structure held by the curious one. People haven’t changed over the centuries–and the Bible is chock full of narratives highlighting struggles and development of the Soul.

Needleman spoke further, concerned that the connection between each person’s Soul and the sacred impulse were not being named. “Widespread signs throughout the world indicate that our modern culture has left something out. That ‘something’ is the Soul.” [1]

It’s true that the search for a deeper knowledge of the Soul has been going on for a long time; but Needleman suggests that Western civilization could be on the brink of re-learning about Soul. Widespread, enthusiastic interest in all kinds of areas? Noted, thank you! That foundation of Soul needs to be nurtured, developed. And what is one of the best ways to develop that nurturing sacred place within? “To find other people who have the same kind of aim and associate with them. . . Together, you support the search for nourishing the soul.” [2]

Truth, love, service, meditation, silence. These are a few of Needleman’s top ways to (re-)integrate the Soul. Would you like to embark on a journey for Soul? For the sacred within? God willing, yes. I’ll strive to get closer to You, too, God.

@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.), 156.

[2] Ibid, 158.