Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

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.

Christ, and Him Crucified

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 15, 2018

St. Paul, Guercino_stpaul3.jpg

Christ, and Him Crucified

Sometimes, Paul’s words are just that—wordy, pedantic, with run-on sentences. He did not craft parts of his writings with meticulous care. (Which of us in email regularly crafts the words we use with great care?) Some of Paul’s letters were, I suspect, written in some haste. At least, not given the great amount of care with which Paul wrote the letter to the Roman church. I’m reminded of the quote from Jane Austen, paraphrased, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” Brevity and clarity in writing sometimes take considerable time and thought.

At times, Paul gets really excited. His subject matter, of course, is often weighty and even exalted—if not transcendent. Seriously, why not get excited about such things? This is only natural. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” As Prof. Williams says in his book of reflections, Paul is a passionate man, speaking passionately about this subject so meaningful to him and what has become his whole life—Jesus Christ, crucified, resurrected, and ascended. [1] Spreading the Good News, to Paul, has become his primary, even sole purpose in life.

Going back to Prof. Williams and his in-depth look at Paul the man, one thing stood out to me. “It is always worth remembering that Paul didn’t know he was writing the Bible; that is to say that, when he is writing (or rather dictating) his letter, what we have is a flow of argument which, because Paul is an emotional man, sometimes gets so tangled in its expression that a sentence breaks off and you have to start all over again.” [2] His construction can be wordy, or labored, or even in sentence fragments. And, this is the apostle Paul in all his imperfect humanity. Like all of us, Paul was not perfect, and certainly admits as much a number of times in his letters.

I have very much enjoyed renewing my admiring acquaintance with Paul, both through the book of reflections Meeting God in Paul as well as through the readings Prof. Williams has chosen for daily readings. Dear Lord, I pray this can lead me to journey closer with You not only in Lent, but also throughout the rest of the church year. In Christ’s crucified, risen and triumphant name I pray, 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] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 19.

[2] Ibid. 20.

Martin Luther and #Reformation500

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 29, 2017

Martin Luther stained glass

Martin Luther and #Reformation500

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran minister, theologian and seminary professor. I am not certain, but I suspect he might have been pleased to celebrate with much of the Protestant world this year. Celebrate what? Martin Luther and his posting of the 95 theses, of course.

Today is a festive day in the church. Reformation Sunday, the last Sunday in October every year when we remember the bravery and determination of Father Martin Luther, Professor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. He was brave and determined for nailing up the 95 theses (or, grievances) against the Catholic Church on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on All Hallow’s Eve, October 31, 1517.

500 years! A huge anniversary, indeed. I care very much about this celebration. I was baptized and confirmed a Lutheran and spent two full years studying Luther’s Small Catechism in confirmation preparation. Yes, Martin Luther and his theology are important to me and to my personal history of faith.

I’ve preached on the five “Solas” (or, “onlies”) of the Protestant Reformation throughout the month of October. I started the month with Sola Scriptura, then Soli Deo Gloria on October 8th. Solus Christus on October 15th, Sola Gratia on October 22nd, and today—Reformation Sunday—my text was Romans 3:28, and I preached on Sola Fide. These phrases are the hallmarks of the Reformation! I was so pleased to research these important scriptural ideas and preach messages on them to commemorate such a foundational event.

The posting of the 95 Theses was not supposed to cause a rift in Christianity. No, Martin wanted to reform his beloved Church from the inside. However, due to many internal and some external reasons, it did not happen. Luther founded the denomination that bears his name to this day. (Also, several other streams of Protestants sprang forth at this turbulent time of the 1500’s. Sadly, many bloody battles were fought over religious and theological differences. This has not stopped today. However, new cries for ecumenism have been heard for the past few decades. After several hundred years of separation, now, at least, there are also calls for joining together.

Perhaps fractured Christianity might come closer together, in our time. One can dream. One can hope.

Let us pray, using the words of President Abraham Lincoln (adapted): “Grant, O merciful God, that with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as You give us to see the right, we may strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the world’s wounds….to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all the world, through Jesus Christ our 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

Praying Through a Blue Christmas Service

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 19, 2016

blue-christmas-tree

Praying Through a Blue Christmas Service

Tonight was cold, bitter, and generally a rotten evening for driving. Especially given the cold weather and horrible traffic.

However, the Blue Christmas service at my church served as a small, gentle, quiet island in the general holiday rush-rush and busy-busy.

Ever read Psalm 77? Not usually read in services during the lectionary year. It talks a lot about how frustrated—even angry the psalmist is. (God knows. But, God can take it.)

Knowing the pain, hurt, even grief of living through another holiday season, seems so poignant. Readings to light each of the Advent candles, plus brief times of silence. All meant to allow a place and a space for quiet reflection.

All of this Blue Christmas service was made easier by Pastor Kevin. I appreciate him so much. He co-led the service with me. Thanks to him for his kindness, especially since an elderly relative of mine died last week. (Come to think of it, I particularly could use a Blue Christmas service right about now.)

In one of the leader’s parts tonight, I invited those present a time to offer up the loneliness, the sad and dark memories, and the anxiety and fear to the one whose birth we quietly await…Jesus Christ. I wished those present a time to find hope and peace in this service and comfort in knowing that we are not alone.

Whether we grieve, have pain, or have difficult memories, whether we celebrate or not—dear Lord, in Your mercy, be with us all this night,.

@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

Waiting is Spiritual?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, December 8, 2015

waiting Advent word cloud

Waiting is Spiritual?

Hurry up and wait. That’s what my father told me life in the Army was like. At least, that’s what it was like for him in World War II, in northern India. The unit he was assigned to would often need to hurry up! Fall in! Pack up! And then, wait. And wait. And, wait some more.

I am so glad I don’t need to face the privations and horrors of war. I cannot even imagine what that would be like. But, I have friends who assist refugees. Yes, some of these refugees come from countries where there is little war or conflict. Refugees come to the United States because of economic difficulties.

But by far, many more refugees are fleeing active conflict. Fearing for their lives, their loved ones’ lives, or both. Having political or ideological differences with the ruling party. Glad and relieved and sad and grieving. Oh, and angry, too. Leaving a home they often will never see again, a country where they never can return.

These are people who truly know what it is like to hurry up and wait. Hurry! Scurry! In fear for their lives sometimes. Masses of refugees being assigned a number. Not a name any longer. Waiting in some sort of holding area, for a long time. Hurry up and wait.

What was it like for the Holy Family? I know we haven’t gotten there yet, in terms of the Christmas story line. But after the coming of the Wise Men, the Holy Family fled to Egypt. They were refugees, for a long time. They had to remain in hiding, fearing for their lives. And especially, fearing for the life of the young child Jesus.

In terms of where I am at, still in the time of waiting. In Advent. I realize that my sense of waiting pales in comparison to the waiting and the patience of God. Henri Nouwen mentions “if … God in Jesus Christ is waiting for our response to divine love, then we can discover a whole new perspective on how to wait in life.” [1]

Dear Lord, help me learn to wait, to be patient and have some of Your patience. Help me be open and willing to assist those who also wait. To come alongside of those who are despairing. Help us all come together as we all wait for You. In relationship with You and in relationship with each other. Lord, in Your mercy, hear 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] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 20.

God Our Advocate. Centering Prayer.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ADVOCATE 1 John 2-1 KJV

God Our Advocate. Centering Prayer.

I used Centering Prayer today! I also prayed in ways with words, especially since I was doing intercessory prayer. As a small church pastor, I have regular circumstances come up where I need to focus specifically on parishioners, friends of the church, and other situations. In other words, I spent some time with God today, in prayer.

As mentioned yesterday, for the month of September, I will choose a name of God found in the Bible. I’m using that for my word of the day. My word—Name of God for today is Advocate.

When I centered with this Name of God, I did not have long to wait before two words surfaced. “Righteous” and “peace.” I am not sure how these words apply to me yet. I’ll keep ruminating over them. If I find out, great. If I don’t, then that’s okay, too. They are two excellent words that came into my mind.

I am purposefully not looking up the verse I cite before doing Centering Prayer. I want to be true to the concept of using one word and sitting with it. Ruminating on it, and rolling it around in my mind. Seeing whether it will resonate. It is only afterwards that I looked up the passage, and discovered further depths to this Name of God.

As found in 1 John 2:1, the Apostle John tells his readers they have an Advocate in heaven: Jesus Christ the Righteous One. Just in case anyone happens to sin, we have someone who will speak in our defense and on our behalf. (Excuse my levity. Of course everyone sins. We are all human.)

Oh, another thing that surfaced on the rolling video screen of my mind as I contemplated the word Advocate? Different scenes from two different Joss Whedon television shows. More random stuff. I’m used to that sort of thing when I ruminate and contemplate, though. It’s difficult for me to get my mind to calm down. However, with practice, it gets better. Watching that internal mental video screen can also be fascinating. The wide-ranging internal connections and word association football going on in my mind, I mean.

God, thanks for this great word association, today. Thank You for being my Advocate. I know I need it, on a regular basis.

@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

Pray, Celebrate, Keep Coming Back

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, August 29, 2015

keep life simple

Pray, Celebrate, Keep Coming Back

Once more, I prayed through the Evening Prayer from www.dailyoffice.org on my laptop this evening. Just like last Saturday, I noticed one piece of the service, in particular. In the Collect for Saturday: “Grant that as we sing your glory at the close of this day, our joy may abound in the morning as we celebrate the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

I particularly noticed this sentence last week, it seems, out of the clear blue sky. Last week, I subbed for a pastor friend of mine, who was on vacation. And, celebrated Communion. This week, I led a Communion service at my church. A special Communion—or, Eucharist Service, for people who have a Christian concept of God as their Higher Power.

Higher Power? Isn’t that a Recovery concept? Well, yes, it is.

This Communion Service was (and is) for those in Recovery and for those who find the 12 Steps useful in their personal lives. And, who also have a Christian concept of God as each one understands God. (I have led this service on three occasions, and we’re planning for a fourth, next month, on Saturday, Sept. 26.)

The Paschal mystery part of the prayer? That part intrigued me, again.

As someone who finds the 12 Steps useful to my way of living life, I tried to incorporate these principles and way of life into an ecumenical Communion service. All the while, the Paschal mystery was bubbling away, on the back burner of the stove in my mind.

I remember what I found out last week. The Paschal mystery hearkens back to the narrative of manna in the wilderness. God was faithful in supplying the manna for huge numbers of the nation of Israel! As well, God is faithful in expressing love, caring and help for all those who are on the path of Recovery.

I’m keeping it simple. One day at a time.

@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