Tag Archives: salvation

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 7, 2017

Psa 62 word cloud

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Have you ever wondered about young pastors—or ministers? Still in training, some pastors need time to practice their craft. In some churches (and seminaries), a pastor-in-training is called an intern, or student pastor. The typical job of a pastor is multi-faceted, and a person sometimes is not fully skilled at every aspect of the pastorate until some years have passed.

Just so with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer held a position as a pastor-in-training for a number of months. While serving as assistant pastor at a German-speaking church in Barcelona, he preached this particular sermon on Psalm 62. The psalmist in verse 1 calls for a time of silence before prayer and meditation: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.” And Bonhoeffer paraphrases: “Teach us something about the silence of the soul, the soul that waits for God.” [1]

Sure, Bonhoeffer had definite ideas about meditation and how much scripture means to be practicing both prayer and meditation. “Being silent means unable to say anything more; it means that a strange but dear hand has placed itself upon our lips to make us be still; it means giving ourselves totally—capitulating to the overwhelming power of the Other.” [2]

Even at this early date in Bonhoeffer’s ministry, this sermon shows how an assembly of men and women can be ready for in depth learning. “To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively, and be ready to obey.” [3]

Dear Lord, help me to be attentive to Your voice. We want to go a long way with You today. Help me to sit with You, walk with You, and follow in the way You want me to walk. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 48.

[2] Ibid, 49.

[3] Ibid.

How Shall We Meditate?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bible with flowers, drawing

How Shall We Meditate?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had excellent advice on prayer and meditation. His suggestions to the seminarians at Finkenwalde were so pertinent.

His depth of experience in meditation and prayer provided such substance, especially the way in which Bonhoeffer taught how to meditate and pray using Scripture. “There is free meditation and meditation that is bound to Scripture. We advise the latter for the sake of the certainty of our prayers and the discipline of our thoughts.” [1]

Bonhoeffer’s suggestion to have all the seminarians meditate on the same passage of Scripture really intrigued me. Not only were the same few verses of the Bible meant to speak to each individual’s heart and mind and spirit, but moreover, the seminarians would then have the opportunity to share with each other. They might be able to discuss the passage even further, and really chew on, or meditate over the Word of God.

He gives instruction on prayer, too, as the seminarians compose themselves for the morning time of meditation. “If during meditation our thoughts move to persons who are near to us or to those we are concerned about, then let them linger there. That is a good time to pray for them.” [2] Bonhoeffer was quite serious both about prayer for others and continued prayer for the salvation of our own souls.

His call for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon all who meditate that day is an excellent reminder for all of us. The Holy Spirit enlightens us on a regular basis, giving us deeper insight into the text.

These few insights merely scratch the surface of prayer and meditation instruction, as far as Dietrich Bonhoeffer is concerned. (My sneaking feelings of inferiority are rising within, again. Note to self: this has got to be the result of my re-reading this superb book…)

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 24.

[2] Ibid, 25.

St. Ignatius and God’s Guidance

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 4, 2017

St. Ignatius of Loyola, statue

St. Ignatius and God’s Guidance

When I saw the next name (and excerpt) in this anthology, I got excited. About eleven years ago, when I was heavily immersed in different forms of prayer and spiritual disciplines, I happened to pick up a copy of The Spiritual Exercises written by St. Ignatius of Loyola. I had several conversations about the process with my spiritual director at the time, and I went through the exercises that summer. The prayers, readings and contemplation were vivid experiences for me.

Ignatius of Loyola had quite a life. First as a courtier and soldier, then wounded, transformed by spiritual reading and prayer, renewed by a vision of God, he was revitalized as a soldier for Christ. He earned degrees and scholastic honors, and swore vows to Pope Paul III. His vision for spiritual formation, education and spreading the Word of God remains one of the most influential in history.

The excerpt here is from “Rules for the Discernment of Spirits.” The information is presented with great clarity and directness. (I did note several instances where women were slighted. I put that down to the prevailing societal norms of Ignatius’s day.)

I wanted to focus especially on two sections. First, where St. Ignatius defines spiritual distress: “this is the name I give to whatever in opposite to the foregoing—darkness of soul, disquiet of mind, an attraction to what is coarse and earthly, all restlessness proceeding from different temptation and disturbances;” [1] As he says, such distress does, indeed, destroy faith, hope and charity. I know—from experience—how damaging such spiritual distress can be to the interior life. And, not just the interior. Ignatius mentions the soul being “listless, apathetic, melancholy;” I know the outer self, the physical body can also find itself listless and apathetic. (This is one of the symptoms of clinical depression, too.) Ignatius amazes me with his perceptive observations concerning many different spiritual, psychological and physical manifestations. Amazing.

Second, in his several descriptions of the enemy of our human nature. One in particular struck me. As Ignatius describes the enemy as military commander “in his attempts to overcome and seize the object he has set his heart on…Similarly, the enemy of our human nature makes a tour of inspection of our virtues—theological, cardinal and moral. Where he finds us weakest and most defective in which pertains to our eternal salvation, he attacks at that point, seeking to overthrow us.” [2]

Ah! How true. How well said. Certainly, the enemy and his minions lay siege to my weakest sensibilities, prowling around the walls of the city of Mansoul, ready to set the siege ladders and infiltrate at my personal, private weak points. Brrr! Just reading his description sends chills down my spine.

Dear Lord, thank You for my re-acquaintance with Ignatius of Loyola. Help me continue to learn more, and follow Your ways and paths. In the mighty name of Jesus we 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 292.

[2] Ibid, 294.

What Does Make Christmas?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas stained glass Luke 2

What Does Make Christmas?

The holiday season is coming to a crescendo. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow will be a wonderful service at my church, and lots of warm and fuzzy feelings. Christmas carols sung, special music at the service, candles lit, closing with “Silent Night.”

Yes, all of those things, and more, are wonderful. Special. One of a kind, even.

But, Henri Nouwen’s words in today’s Advent meditation bring me up short. “Somehow I realized that songs, music, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and many sweet words do not make Christmas.” [1]

So, what does make Christmas?

I feel like Charlie Brown at the Christmas pageant rehearsal. “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” I know Linus responds, “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” He then recounts the Nativity narrative from Luke 2. Except—it doesn’t penetrate into Charlie Brown’s head. Yet.

I realize—intellectually—that “Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine….it is into this broken world that a child is born who is called Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, Savior.” [2] Feelings do not come into the equation. It is, in fact, something far beyond all feeling and emotion, as Fr. Nouwen says.

Yet, God wants all of me. All of us. Intellect, physicality, emotions, and feelings, and all. The salvation of the world is, indeed, God’s doing. God wants to save all parts of us. Not just emotions and feelings. Thank God. Thank You, God.

@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), 50.

[2] Ibid.

Through Two Women

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, December 12, 2015

Icon of the Visitation

Icon of the Visitation

Through Two Women

It’s true. The Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are heavily male-centered. When I think of the events listed in both testaments, the bulk of the activities involve men (with the occasional boy). Even the few women listed are almost always spoken of in relation to a man: Abraham’s wife, Sarah; Judah’s daughter-in-law, Tamar; Samuel’s mother, Hannah; Mordecai’s cousin, Esther; Aquila’s wife, Priscilla; Jesus’ mother, Mary.

Today’s reading in this Advent meditation is about Mary, though. Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. Henri Nouwen says, “God has come to [these two women] to begin the salvation promised through the ages. Through these two women, God has decided to change the course of history.” [1]

Not only does God shake the earth and change history through these two women, but God does it in a way that lifts up community, togetherness, and friendship.

Yes, Mary helped Elizabeth become more understanding of what it meant to be the mother of “the prophet of the Most High.” (Luke 1:76) And, Elizabeth not only aided Mary in learning more about what it meant to be the mother of “the Son of the Most High,” (Luke 1:32) but also to draw together in community. In friendship. In relationship, one with another. Yes, both were pregnant. And both assisted each other in a positive, encouraging, helpful way.

Today is the feast day of our Lady of Guadalupe. Whether we observe this feast day with special thanksgivings or acknowledge it as a day to remember Mary, the mother of Jesus, I suspect Fr. Nouwen would encourage us in carrying out the Advent Action of today’s meditation. “Offer gentle assistance to someone in your environment who is in need: of praise, of a good word, of day-brightening laughter.”

@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), 28.

Center, Praise God for the Rock of Our Salvation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 25, 2015

ROCK on Christ the solid rock

Center, Praise God for the Rock of Our Salvation

The Rock. Something quite solid about that Name of God! Solid, good foundation for me. And, for anyone else following at home, my word of the day, my Name of God for today is Rock.

I had difficulty concentrating or “getting down to business” today when I was praying. But once I got there, I did have an impression to report. I saw (or, felt) “Rock” as a refuge, or a place of respite and safety. This is not usually what happens when I pray. Quite the contrary! But that’s what happened today.

Yes, the verse that was mentioned in the list of Names of God is 1 Corinthians 10:4. And yes, this verse refers to the Rock being Christ. Which Rock? The Rock in the wilderness, the Rock that the people of Israel drank from during their wanderings for years.

Dear Lord Jesus, whether You are seen as the Rock from whom the miraculous water flowed in the wilderness, or the Rock of safety, of refuge, it doesn’t matter. You still are my Rock of salvation. Thank You for this passage from 1 Corinthians.

Thank You for the strong impression I received about You and Your character. You do keep us safe and secure. Just like a building’s foundation, just like the Rock in Psalm 18:3—“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.”

@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

You Shall Call His Name Jesus

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 18, 2015

JESUS you shall call Him

You Shall Call His Name Jesus

For today, the Name of God is taken from the Gospel of Matthew (among other places). My word—Name of God for today is Jesus.

Matthew 1 has Joseph, Mary’s betrothed husband, finding out about Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph wishes to be as considerate as possible, and decides to break off the engagement quietly. An angel intervenes.

I wonder how speechless I would be if an angel came to me in a dream? And not only came to me, but gave me specific instructions and encouragement? I mean, specific to my precise life decisions and future life course? I cannot even imagine how speechless, amazed, awe-struck, even groveling in the earth I would be.

Yet, that is the exact situation Joseph found himself in.

As reported by Matthew, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

So. That was the Name of God I chose to use today for Centering Prayer. I had a fruitful time of prayer! (Much more fruitful than yesterday, for example.) Jesus. Joshua. Yeshua. Jesus saves. Salvation. All of that and more were going through my head. I felt much more connected than scattered as I prayed.

Thank You, Lord Jesus for coming into the world, being a Mediator between me and God, and providing me with salvation. What a marvelous thing You did. Thank You, thank You.

@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