Tag Archives: hope

More Devastation. More Prayers.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 8, 2017

Psalm 23-4 though I walk through valley shadow death

More Devastation. More Prayers.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer certainly faced a great deal of devastation in his life, as well as the lives of those he was close to, and the lives of those in the congregations he served.

I suspect he knew well the words of Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” Although that verse was written so long ago by King David, remembering the times when he was so very afraid (yes—afraid for his very life), that verse echoes and re-echoes down the crooked pathways of time. Sometimes through dark and fearsome valleys, sometimes through pelting storms and fiery trials. Yet, King David’s words ring true, for many, many people throughout the ages.

I know those words from Psalm 23, personally as well as professionally. I have pulled them out of my Bible in emergency rooms, in the intensive care unit, in living rooms, even sitting on street corners or in waiting rooms. People have spoken these precious words from Psalm 23 along with me. Other times, people have been too choked up to even utter a word, and silently allowed these words of comfort to wash over them.

Dear Lord, whether in grief, or pain, or anger, or trauma, we hurt. We cry out. We question. We wonder, “WHY?” (And, there is rarely an answer. An answer that satisfies, that is … )

Gracious God, You have said You would be right by our sides, even though we go through those extremely difficult experiences. Even though our parents—or siblings—or spouses—or children die. Even though we lose our homes, or limbs, or jobs, or even countries. Even though we may become refugees or homeless or incarcerated or even suicidal. Dear Lord, You have promised to remain with us. Right by our sides. Perhaps even holding our hands, through the trial or torment.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that “the answer of God to the world that nailed Christ to the cross [was] blessing…. The world would have no hope if this were not so.” [1]

Only a love that extraordinary could possibly encompass my fear and suffering and hopelessness. And, encompass the griefs, pains, angers, traumas, and all of the countless sufferings of all of the rest of the world. God provides hope where there is no hope. God comes alongside when it seems as if there is nothing left. Thank God. Thank God for being there through Hurricane Harvey, and with Hurricanes Irma, José and Katia coming quickly. Dear God, help us. Please.

@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, 89.

Heaviness of My Soul, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 27, 2017

psalm 42-11 help of my countenance

Heaviness of My Soul, and Psalm 42

Have you ever been full of doubt? Downhearted, depressed and hopeless? Completely lost, with everything collapsing around you? Yeah … me, too.

That was what I dealt with for years. (Seriously, yes.) For years, I would struggle to pray, struggle with my doubts, and especially struggle with any knowledge that God was remembering me, at all. It was almost a daily struggle, for many, many months. For years, at times.

That was how the psalmist felt, too. (This psalm was written by one of the sons of Korah, so we are not sure exactly who wrote it.)

Our psalmist was of two minds as he wrote this. Sure, he told about his assurance in the Lord, and how he trusted in God. He wrote of how much the Lord would help him, and how he would pray to God regularly. On the other hand—he also poured out his heart, and confessed his doubts, his fears, his heaviness. He would mention how much his enemies oppressed him, and how far away from him he felt God was. (Yes, very far.)

And, yet … and, yet …

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes “Whoever has found God in the cross of Jesus Christ knows how mysteriously God hides himself in this world, and how, when we believe him farthest away, he is just there beside us.” [1]

Some might call this a paradox, others might say it is the mysterious, sometimes unfathomable nature of God. Note the closing verse of Psalm 42: “Put your trust in God; for I will yet give thanks to him, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.”

I have trust in Bonhoeffer’s closing in this mini-commentary: “He will be the help of your countenance; because he knows you and loved you before he made you, He will not let you fall. You are in his hands.” [2] I take heart in this assurance. Pastor Dietrich affirmed this blessed truth. He certainly had a good deal of challenge and hardship in his life. However, he made it through his struggles and trials. Bonhoeffer continued to thank God for being there for him and with him.

Dear Lord, help me do the same. Please, Lord.

@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), 60.

[2] Ibid, 61.

How Should I Then Pray?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, November 26, 2016

jigsaw-puzzles-615x200-ehow-images-800x800

How Should I Then Pray?

A new year. Yes, tomorrow begins the liturgical year again, with the first Sunday in Advent. That season of hope and expectation, where we wait for the birth of the Christ Child with baited breath. Well, not really. That is, not everybody does. Even in the church.

I feel like I am running as fast as I can, and I still haven’t caught up. I don’t have a chance of catching up. (Alice, I fully sympathize with you in your conversation with the Red Queen.) The turning of the seasons is getting faster and faster all the time.

These two seemingly disparate things are connected. So many people are scattered and fragmented—including me. Pulled in many different directions. It is increasingly difficult to focus on one thing (even when it’s so important, as the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ). That is, when there are so very many things calling for my attention.

Dear Lord, help me to slow down. Help me to sift through the urgent and important, and focus on the one thing that I need. The one thing that gives me nurture and strength. My relationship with You, dear Lord. Help me bring my other needs, pains, joys and concerns to You, too, because then I will not be distracted. Gracious God, in Your mercy, hear my 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

Unabashed Prayers—for the Cubs

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Unabashed Prayers—for the Cubs

chicago-cubs-win

At long last, after 108 years, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. Holy cow! Hey, hey! Holy mackerel! Cubs win! Cubs win!

The Cubs and their dry spell of over a century have been legend in the annals of baseball, and even in the wide world of sports. These past seven games—and especially Game 7—have been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, of absolute rapture to the depths of despair, to be sure.

However. Now this brash, young team full of hope, this winning-est team in major league baseball, has achieved the pinnacle of their sport. The 2016 World Series. Fly the “W” flag!

Lord knows, I have tried not to hope too much. I have seen my hopes and dreams dashed time and again, with many, many other Cubs fans, in many, many other seasons.

But, I tell ya, pinch me. It can’t be true. (Can it? Is it?)

I think it is. Hell is freezing over, right this minute.

God knows that I try to pray for a good, clean game, when I am asked to pray for a sporting event. I pray for both teams to do their very best, and for there to be as few errors, or penalties, or mistakes as possible. Except—I have been praying for the Cubs, the last few games. It’s not that I dislike the Cleveland players. Certainly not! That team is absolutely an excellent team. If the Cubs had had to play against Cleveland during the regular season, I am afraid they might not have had quite as many “wins” to their credit.

But, I digress. Yes, I prayed for the Cubs. And, the Almighty looked with favor upon our boys in blue. Thank You, God.

(I do pray for the celebrations tonight, and into tomorrow. Please, Lord, don’t let anyone get hurt. Keep people safe. Help everyone celebrate in a fun, excited way, and help us welcome the Cubs back to Chicago with open arms. Lord, in Your mercy and grace, 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

Peace, and Personal Definitions

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2016

Personal Definition sign

Peace, and Personal Definitions

What is your personal definition of peace? What is peace, to you?

I have been gathering these personal definitions together for months. Getting a sample of peace here, a more complete picture of peace there.

Gathering some from here, there, and in every sort of illustration. Here is a quote from the June 7 article by Lee V. Gaines, pertaining to the Peace Vigil in the Chicago Tribune: “Jones said during the months of Lent she also asked her congregation to share their thoughts on the meaning of the word, and then started posting their response on a blog she created earlier this year.

“’People really appreciate my asking them what their personal definition of peace is, what their idea of peace is, so that’s what I’ve been doing,” she said.

“[Morton Grove Village Trustee Janine] Witko said an event like this is especially important given the divisive and polarizing discourse on display during the current election cycle. She said Morton Grove is an example of an incredibly diverse community living in relative harmony.”

I am thinking about all the definitions I have gathered together. What should I do with them?

Still thinking. Asking for suggestions of all of you! Send them to me, please. God willing, I will come up with another great idea.

@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: The Peace Vigil and School Children

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 5, 2016

Definitions from Gemini Jr. High School

Peace: The Peace Vigil and School Children

I remember the Morton Grove Community Peace Vigil last Wednesday with great appreciation. Yes, the Peace Vigil accomplished its purpose wonderfully. It was a simple event. Some of the diverse people in our community had a chance to get together, think about peace and harmony, and seek to continue the conversation of peace. And, we did it! It happened.

In particular, I remembered the great opportunity I had to talk with young people at Gemini Jr. High School in Niles. And, the welcome and courtesy I received from Principal Rich Groeling and all his staff and faculty members. (Thanks so much, again!)

Since I had a number of different personal definitions of PEACE from Gemini School, I made a simple poster where I displayed a bunch of these personal points of view. An informal display stood near the entrance to the Peace Vigil, and a large number of people slowed down, looked at the various definitions, and discussed the points of view.

Wonderful chance to have the participants at the Vigil discuss PEACE. And young people have such great ideas! Innovative, too. Excellent job, all the way around.

Morton Grove and its surrounding communities are indeed quite diverse. Culturally, ethnically, in terms of religion, and in several other ways. Great opportunity to embody the melting pot that is the United States.

Why not have positive interaction? Hope and harmony, instead of divisiveness, alienation, anxiety and fear? That is my sincere hope and prayer. God willing.

@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: Cooperation, Understanding, Acceptance

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 26, 2016

peace, dove stained glass

PEACE: Cooperation, Understanding, Acceptance

I continue a series of posts from Gemini Jr. High School in Niles. (Again, a big thank you to Mr. Rich Groeling, Gemini’s principal!)

What an opportunity to engage with the young people! I encouraged them to make a sign with their personal definition of PEACE. This was a chance to listen to viewpoints on PEACE.

First, Reuben’s definition: “Peace is cooperation and understanding and long lives.”

Next, Sarah’s definition: “Peace is acceptance of everyone around you, regardless of your own personal beliefs.”

Truly, cooperation and understanding are part and parcel of any kind of clear communication. And, if we inject “peaceful” into that equation, we find something high level negotiators long for. (Thanks, Reuben.)

The second definition is similar, in several important ways. Acceptance is key to liking ourselves! Liking ourselves, accepting ourselves—go hand in hand with liking and accepting others. Here is the best part: if I have a relationship with others around me regardless of their (and my) personal beliefs, then I truly am pursuing peace. Breaking down walls, and extending openness and positivity. (Superb definition, Sarah!)

With young people who think like that, I have hope for the future.  Amen!

#PursuePEACE

@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