Tag Archives: reflection

Remember, Ashes to Ashes

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Penitence - Larry Poncho Brown

Penitence – Larry Poncho Brown

Remember, Ashes to Ashes

Rush, rush. Hurry, hurry. I’ve been doing so much already, it seems like a day-and-a-half has been packed into just a few short hours. Yes, most of what I’ve been doing today is quite necessary. But what does God want from me today? I really ought to slow down and check in with God. See what I need to do to help my spiritual self stay right with my Higher Power.

Today marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of preparation before Easter. Today is also Ash Wednesday, a day of holy penitence, confession and absolution. I take the Lenten observance of the cross of ashes on the forehead as a serious, penitential act. But I find I’m not acting like it today. Sure, I’m doing necessary stuff, busy stuff. But I need to slow down. Do some inward reflection on my habitual thoughts, words and deeds. And most importantly, I am advised to do some inward reflection on the state of my soul.

First, before I can even confess my sins of thought, word and deed, and then even ask for God’s forgiveness (much less accept it into my heart and mind), I need to slow down enough to focus on spiritual things. I need to attend to things of God, and not to be distracted by the world. Or even by needful, necessary things that take my eyes off where they need to be. God, help me focus on You, on your forgiveness, grace and mercy.

As I turn to inward reflection, meditation and prayer, I also reflect upon Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. After all, He is the reason that I am here, in prayer. His words to us—to me—to come to Him with our—my heavy burdens. It is Jesus who gives rest to the weary, the sinful, the world-worn. To those burdened with care, with worry, with anger, with unforgiveness, with resentment. God invites me to release all those negative, worrisome mental states and attitudes. God blesses me with the forgiveness of those sinful thoughts, words and deeds of commission (what I’ve done) as well as omission (those I have neglected to do).

Instead of merely writing about confession, forgiveness and pardon, all intellectual-like, let’s actually do it. Let’s pray.

Dear God, We confess to You that we have sinned. Each of us has stubbornly turned to our own way, like those sheep Isaiah talks about. Forgive me, God. Wash me clean, make me white as snow, dear God. Have mercy on me—on us, in Your loving-kindness. Thank You for the Good News of the Gospel, and for the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. God, in Your grace and mercy, hear our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like a Refiner’s Fire

refiner's fire

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, December 23, 2013

Like a Refiner’s Fire

It’s almost Christmas Eve. I want to scoot ahead to the time of the Christmas celebration, but we aren’t there yet.

Today, in my Advent reflection, I read Malachi 3:1-3. I was especially struck by the words “For he is like a refiner’s fire . . . and he will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver.” Yes, I am still waiting, as the practice of Advent encourages me to do. I am watching and waiting for the messenger of the covenant to prepare the way before me, true. But I’m afraid of that other image, too.

I understand the image of the refiner’s fire in principle. But I do not like going through the fire. It’s the being-refined-part that I object to. It hurts! Ow! What gives, God?
I’ve been there, especially in the past number of months with my employment situation. (or difficulty with, or total lack thereof) I understand that I am supposed to reflect God. I’ve heard the analogy of a silversmith melting silver in his shop. He knew that the molten silver had all the impurities taken away when he could see his face in the silver. Gee, silver must really get hot for that to happen! I guess that‘s similar to my situation(s). I earnestly am trying to be faithful, and to follow. Even when the situation’s too hot to handle.

Help me wait for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. Soon! Very soon!

Let’s pray. God, I try to follow You. I know You are there by my side, and Your purposes are good and gracious. I know You want me to be faithful, too. Even when I forget You’re there, or get angry because things aren’t going my way, or just get sick and tired of waiting for You. God, forgive me. Help me to continue to wait. Be with me when things get too hot to handle. Protect me when I’m being tried by fire. God, thanks for Your constant presence through every situation, even in this almost-Christmas, still-waiting time. Amen.