Tag Archives: remember

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

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 7, 2013

I must be getting older. (News flash!) No, seriously. Sometimes, I find myself reflecting on the past with some fondness and nostalgia. And then there are the times I reflect on the past with sadness and grief. Like today. I read in the news that today was the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Fifty survivors of the attack gathered there today, along with many other people. Looking back. Remembering. Grieving the deaths of so many, at Pearl Harbor and in the rest of the war. I thank God that my father and his three brothers came back after World War II to their wives. They raised families and led fruitful, productive lives.

Just today, I saw several photos through email and on Facebook, displayed by some friends of mine—all proud grandparents! These photos showed busy toddlers, happy babies, curious children. Almost all of these children are looking forward to the holidays (except for the youngest babies, of course). They and their families are looking ahead. In expectation and excitement.

On the other end of the spectrum are my older teenagers. They are “too old” for the wide-eyed wonder of the coming holiday. Yes, they both acknowledge the coming One. They intellectually realize this season is, indeed, a special time. However, they are more in the “meh” or “whatever” camp, trying to stay outwardly calm and unflappable. (All for outward display purposes, of course.)

So, here I am, in the middle. Looking back, and looking ahead. I need to pray all the more earnestly. I am trying to follow an Advent devotional booklet, with some success. But, outward circumstances are dragging me down. God, please help me to a sense of wonder. Give me a sense of Your presence, each day. Help me follow You.

Let’s pray. Dear God, help me take the necessary and needed time to be with You. As I look back, I remember all those who have lost loved ones in the service of our country. Looking ahead, I remember all those with children (and grandchildren) who are gladly awaiting the holidays. Thank You for this Advent time of waiting. Please, God, be with me as I intentionally set aside time each day to pray and wait upon You. Amen.

Passing Through – Sojourners and Strangers

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, November 23, 2013

The last Sunday of this liturgical year is at hand. Tomorrow, the church where I worship celebrates a special Sunday. This church is steeped in both the Lutheran and the German Reformed traditions, so tomorrow is “Totenfest,” or the day the church remembers all members (and in some churches, friends of the church, too) who have died since the last Sunday of the liturgical year, 2012.

So the church remembers. The recently departed are still fresh in many people’s memories. But not only people depart. The year departs, too. The close of November is the close of the growing season, where the growing things out of doors lose their leaves, shrivel, dry up. Or, go into hibernation and stasis, until the spring comes again. This is a quiet season, a contemplative time. So it is with Totenfest tomorrow, too.

Psalm 39:4 says, “Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days.” Such sober thoughts are a bit challenging. Not the first verses suggested for beginners at this business of prayer and meditation. However, this season and tomorrow’s commemoration of Totenfest encourage us to meditate on verses like these.

Perhaps a verse from the Apostle Paul will be more accessible. “For we are well aware that when the tent that houses us on earth is folded up, there is a house for us from God, not made by human hands but everlasting, in the heavens.” (2 Cor 5:1) Here, Paul talks about our temporary housing, the tent that can (and will) be easily disassembled. We can meditate on the time when our measure of days comes to an end, and look forward to that house from God, where we will dwell with our God forever. No longer sojourners, passing through. We’ll have a real home-coming, to our everlasting, heavenly home.

Let’s pray. Dear God, we remember those who have passed through this life, especially those who died this past year. We celebrate their life and commemorate their blessed memory. We pray for those who mourn, who grieve not only the passing of loved ones, but the passing of the year. Help us to remember that our measure of days is in Your hand, and that You will surely welcome us into our everlasting, heavenly home. In Your mercy and peace we pray, Amen.