Tag Archives: rubbish

Consider Everything Loss

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 26, 2018

Phil 3-7 consider things loss, circle

Consider Everything Loss

I am afraid I haven’t been the best at following the Lenten scripture readings for this past week. Yes, I managed to do a couple, but I did not read every day. God knows, I have struggled with Lenten disciplines and spiritual disciplines in general, for years. That is no excuse, I know. But, I don’t want to cover up the problem and just ignore it, either. Dear Lord, what do I do?

What is available to me is to dig in to the readings for today. (Actually, the bible reading for two days ago, Saturday, and the reflections for Sunday.) Some years ago, I used to really dig in to the letter to the Philippians as well as the life of the apostle Paul. Being interested in the subject material is no problem, in other words.

Paul had lots of reasons to boast, and to be such a puffed-up so-and-so. Hebrew of the Hebrews, he knew his Jewish lineage and high position. His pedigree was without a single black or negative mark. As a Pharisee, Saul knew he had beaten everyone (or almost everyone), and demonstrated his religious “super-power,” spiritually speaking.

And yet…from Philippians chapter 3, Paul says “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” After delineating his impressive religious pedigree, he makes a statement like what I just quoted. Wow! I keep shaking my head at words like these. But, wait! There’s more.

Paul uses a crude word in the next verse. He says, in brief: “I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” The New International Version translates the word “garbage.” Other translations have “rubbish,” “dung” and “refuse.” The original Greek word is skubala. I don’t know how much Paul was given to humor in his personal interactions, but I can definitely read this as wry humor—while being perfectly serious in his communicating of this deep concept. It is as if all of the worldly and earthly attainments or privileges that Paul—and the rest of us—have painstakingly put together or scratched and clawed for are measured and found wanting before the amazing, glory-producing magnificence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rowan Williams follows this up with a thought-provoking question. “Paul recognized that he followed a King who surrendered his privileges, became a slave and died a shameful death. What privileges do we enjoy? Can we, like Paul, ‘count them as loss?’” [1]

Dear Lord, what a series of statements by Paul. Help me not to get puffed up or too proud of myself or my accomplishments. Keep me right-sized. Help me keep my eyes on the prize of the upward calling. Let me focus on Christ only, remembering His glory on the mountain of Transfiguration. Gracious God, with Your help, I can do all things through Jesus Christ my Lord.



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), 88.

Sweep the Rubbish from Within Me

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Sweeper -  Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1889)

The Sweeper –
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1889)

Sweep the Rubbish from Within Me

As I pray through these petitions, I sometimes revisit places deep within. As I read through this petition, some memory deep within me started twitching. I mean, something far back. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I intuitively know it is there. (The memory, I’m groping for.)

What came to mind? I had a vague remembrance of the time I spent in the Lutheran Church, about the time of confirmation. I took confirmation classes with about six or seven other young people, in seventh and eighth grades. That was every Wednesday afternoon, after school. I loved my introduction to theology and bible study, as well as Luther’s Small Catechism. I ate it all up. (I also was a quiet, serious, nerdy-acting girl.)

Like I was saying, this particular petition resonated with something from that time period in my life. Way back. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” (Prayer 351, page 108) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled Penitence.

The subtitle on this specific prayer is “an African schoolgirl’s prayer. It reads as follows: “O Thou great Chief, light a candle in my heart, that I may see what is therein, and sweep the rubbish from Thy dwelling place.”

Lord, it mentions a “schoolgirl.” How old was she? Was she serious of heart? Searching for You? Yearning to find out more about the Bible, and theology? Was she at all similar to that child I once was?

As African theologian Kwame Bediako suggested in his book Christianity in Africa, African believers often start from a vastly different theological, cultural and sociological place than I did, as a believer growing up in a Lutheran church, in an urban area in the United States.

Although I am startled a bit by the schoolgirl naming God as “great Chief,” I shouldn’t be. (Dr. Bediako told me not to be.) Then, I am deeply moved by the analogy of “light[ing] a candle in my heart.” Lord, that is exactly what I would want to do! Of course I would want to “see what is therein!” And, the request to “sweep the rubbish from Thy dwelling place?” Oh, that strikes home. (*deep, deep sigh*) That request goes straight to my very young self, and I find myself curving in. Protecting the heart, what is deep inside of me.

Yet, Lord, I really do want to bring all this stuff before you. I want Your help to clear out the unwanted or unwelcome rubbish from inside of me! Please, gracious God. Heavenly Father. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my earnest prayer.


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] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 108.