Tag Archives: sadness

In Which I Listen to Christmas Music

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, December 16, 2016


In Which I Listen to Christmas Music

I enjoy listening to music. I mean, really enjoy it. (I do have an undergraduate degree in music. So, there.)

I have eclectic tastes in Christmas music, too. Love me some Leroy Anderson, Irving Berlin, and Vince Guaraldi. Also, I am a big fan of Baroque music (Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, anyone? Of course, the first part of Handel’s Messiah. For that matter, all three parts of it.).

Currently, my favorite music I listen to on the CD player happens to be a Christmas jazz instrumental collection. Also, I am seriously considering buying another Christmas CD—a capella, five voices. Wonderful blend, jazzy and innovative arrangements.

I suspect I know what some people are asking. Listening to music…that is just background noise. But, not for me. For me, it can be much more.

Sometimes when I am listening to music, I feel a joy inside, or awe, or deep sadness. I swing, or strum, or just rock out. It doesn’t matter where on earth the music came from. The musical language can even transport me to a galaxy far, far away.

Can I pray when I am listening to music? Not always, no. Sometimes I simply enjoy the music for its own sake. But, sometimes, the music echoes deep within. And, yes, I pray. I thank God for the particular piece I’m listening to. (And, I mean, really listening. I listen to the melodies, harmonies, and various instrumentalists and vocalists. I listen to the interplay, polyphony, sometimes the conversation between various groups of instruments.)

Amazingly, at times the music moves me ever so strongly. (I was going to say, “strikes a deep chord,” but I thought I would skip that pun.) And, sometimes I pray wordlessly when I listen to music.

Dear God, thank You for music. Thank You for artistic expression, which is a gift of Your ever-so-dynamic creative impulse. Creative God, thank You for the many different compositions, styles, expressions and arrangements of praise to You. I’m especially thinking of Christmas music. It doesn’t matter whether the music was written in the Renaissance, or Classical era, or the twentieth century. Innovation and beauty mix and meet, intermingle and interplay. Thank You for such a marvelous expression of creativity. No matter what else happens to me or my loved ones, no matter what is going on emotionally or what a bumpy road I may be on. I love listening this time of the year, especially because of the marvelous, glorious music. Simply, thanks.



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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

In Which I Pray for a Friend

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 25, 2016

PRAY I always hug them with my prayers

In Which I Pray for a Friend

Here I am, at the New Wilmington Mission Conference, which is totally awesome! Such a wonderful gathering of people interested in mission and outreach. Not only from all over the country, but from all over the world.

Yet, I am also far away from a good friend who will be having a medical procedure tomorrow.

I have heard heart-warming (and sometimes heart-breaking) stories about individuals in far-flung places this week, as well as churches just planted, churches in difficulty, and some churches under opposition. Also, I heard great hopefulness about believers having great joy despite trials and poverty, conflict and being refugees.

So much sadness mingled with joy. Yet, I have concern in my heart about my friend. Far away.

I can’t be there. Yes, I can pray. (And I have already, and will continue to pray.) But, I would like to be there for the family. I know how it helps to have encouraging and supportive friends nearby. Able to run errands, and visit in the hospital or care center. Sometimes just to sit and keep loved ones company, or pray, or be silent.

The concern in my heart is real. I want to ask God to be with my friend. Would you pray with me?

Dear Lord, gracious God, You are the great Physician. You know us from head to toe, every hair on our heads, and every cell in our bodies. Heavenly Healer, I pray for my dear friend right now. I pray for the medical procedure tomorrow, for the medical team attending, and for You to give abundant wisdom and understanding in this case. I pray for the hands of the staff to be caring and capable, and for the healing to come. Holy Spirit, I pray that You come alongside of all who love and care for my friend and the whole family. Support and encourage all of them in this challenging time—healing time. Thank You for loving and caring for all of us—especially my good friend. In the healing name of Jesus we pray, amen.


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

The Joy of the Lord

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 28, 2015

refiner's fire

The Joy of the Lord

One of the so-called mortal sins is acedia—sadness of heart or resignation. Close cousin to depression. I know depression. I have friends and acquaintances who are quite familiar with almost constant sadness of heart, depression, even despair at times.

How is it that we here in the United States can live in such a materially rich time, yet feel so empty? So desperately sad? Boredom doesn’t even touch it. The deep feeling goes much further to the soul’s interior than just that.

Yes, it seems like an insidious disease, almost an unseen plague. And those who are not afflicted do not, and cannot, possibly understand the deep pain. The desperate fear and anxiety. It is truly an inside job. On the interior.

Monastic literature had more than a nodding acquaintance with acedia, though. I feel deeply for those so afflicted, in the centuries past. I pray they had some relief.

Relief can come from God, to some extent. (Not to the exclusion of everything else, though! Please, listen to your doctor or therapist. Please, please.)

As I was saying, joy—deep and abiding joy—can come from God. God delights in giving joy to God’s children. One of the compilers of this book of December meditations writes, “The joy of the Lord has gone through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross.” [1]

No easy joy, here, however. A biblical illustration, from several places in Scripture. It is through difficulty and distress that deep emotion goes through fiery trial, as if through a refiner’s fire. We can understand that, to a greater or lesser extent. Let us praise God for God’s presence with us. We celebrate Emmanuel—God with us, indeed, through the poverty of the manger and the distress of the cross.


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] God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, trans. O.C. Dean, Jr., compiled and edited, Jana Riess (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2010), 72.