Tag Archives: thanks God

Beginning a Meditation on Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 15, 2017

Psa 119-1 those who are blameless, road

Beginning a Meditation on Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is a psalm that talks about the Word of God. Scripture, the Law, God’s decrees, His way, commandments, statutes, promises, and more. Each verse of this acrostic psalm mentions God’s Word in some way. What a natural passage for Bonhoeffer to write about and concentrate on, since he was so devoted to praying and meditating on the Scripture.

How sad it is that Dietrich Bonhoeffer only finished commenting on 21 verses of this lengthy psalm. Yet, these beginning verses (of 176 verses, divided between the 21 Hebrew letters, 8 verses in each section) give us so much of Bonhoeffer’s feeling and heart for this wonderful psalm. Such an expression of the unknown psalmist’s love and devotion to the existing Scripture of that time.

He wrote this meditation in 1939 and 1940, when he was a teacher of seminary students once more at an out-of-the-way vicarage and again in Pomerania.

Speaking of verse 1, Bonhoeffer concentrates on beginning the life with God. “God has once and for all converted me to himself; it is not that I have once for all converted myself to God. God has made the beginning; that is the happy certainty of faith.” [1] Yes, indeed, all of us are addressed as those who are walking on the way with God. We are all on the journey.

Happy are they—these words speak of the happiness and blessedness of life in the law of the Lord. It is God’s will that it should go well for those who walk in his commandments.” [2] Ah, Bonhoeffer admits there are certain Christians who wish to show that they are more spiritual than God…that they are super-spiritual and holier-than-Thou. Renunciation, suffering, the Cross, all of these are part and parcel of their lives. And, it is true that some people’s lives in this world are not all that easy. Yet, these super-spiritual Christians “lose the full joy of their Christian calling and deny God the thanks they should give for his great friendliness toward us.” [3]

Yes, God’s rich gifts to each of us encompass so much more than anyone can ask or imagine. Thanks be to God, who gives to all abundantly.

@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, 95.

[2] Ibid, 100.

[3] Ibid.

Breathe, Center, Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, January 14, 2017

bench-snow-water

Breathe, Center, Pray.

Breathe. Just breathe. Big breath in, big breath out. Slowly.

This suggestion works for so many things. When you are afraid or fearful. Or, when you feel anxiety creeping up to get you. Perhaps, if you are angry and you need to cool down. Or, when you would like to calm yourself and focus.

As I said, this really does work. Slowing the breath seems to lengthen out time. Another suggestion? Keep track of your breaths. Slowly, slowly. Don’t cry or speed up or—especially—if you wish to find calmness, stillness, serenity, even.

If we pay attention to breathing, we can get down to the very foundation of life. The overarching principle remains the same.

Breathe. Calm yourself. Slow down and let yourself fill with all good things as you breathe in. Slow down further, breathe out, and let go of all anxiety, fear, anger. Let go, and breathe out everything negative.

Now you are in a much better place to connect with God. Reaching your Higher Power can happen at any time, true. However, breathing deeply, in and out, certainly helps us to center and concentrate.

Now, center. Now, pray. Now, serenity. Thanks, God.

@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

Meditate, Pray, Be Present.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, January 12, 2017

present-moment-mindfulness

Meditate, Pray, Be Present.

“The quality of our presence is the most positive element that we can contribute to the world.” [1]

Rushing around and trying to get things done can be counterproductive. If I am striving to rush-rush, hurry-hurry, all the time, I can’t possibly pay full attention to what is right in front of my nose.

I’ve watched people scurry around, like chickens with their heads cut off. People have various motivations. (Money is a powerful motivator. And often, quite necessary. But, that necessary?)

Power and control are two more familiar motivators. Oh, so familiar! And, who wouldn’t want to put “accomplishment!” down as yet another motivator of activities? Of purpose? Of

Even worthy, spiritual people who meditate and pray regularly can be off-kilter in their motivation. As our author says, even super-spiritual people can get off track and act like a person who doesn’t know the first thing about being spiritual. Or meditation. Or prayer.

I know something about the quality of presence. I’ve experienced it. I’ve learned a great deal from chaplain work. There in my interactions, sometimes, I desperately needed to center myself and rely on presence. Less-anxious presence. And, people expressed their gratitude and thanks, if not to me, then in letters sent to the pastoral care department.

The ministry of presence is also useful—sensible—needful—in my current position, as a small church’s pastor. Also, in the other parts of my life. I owe a great deal of thanks to the people in my life who staffed those hospitals and care centers, as well as those who added to my practice in developing the Ministry of Presence. Even though sometimes, it can be difficult, and challenging. Even well nigh impossible.

Thanks to them all. And most of all, thanks to God. Alleluia!

@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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 25.

Just Sit There—and Pray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 10, 2017

sit-in-pew-praying

Just Sit There—and Pray

“Don’t just sit there—do something!”

These words, above, are not the best of advice. I have found that I do better when I take my time, and consider my actions. Thich Nhat Hanh has much better advice: sit, and do nothing. (At least, initially. And, sometimes, more often that.)

Non-action is already an action. (So, there.) Plus, as the good monk says in the book “How to Sit,” “The quality of the action depends upon the quality of the non-action.” [1]

I sincerely try to avoid anger and worry. If I have even a little of anger and concern inside, I find it gums up the works.

It’s part of my One-Day-At-A-Time way of living. I don’t always succeed in living this way, but ODAAT certainly helps me in being mindful. This way of thinking I have always found to be positive. Just taking my time, being thoughtful, thankful, and mindful.

Thanks, God! Great suggestions.

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 21.

@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

Praying, Pursuing Peace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lord teach us to pray

Praying, Pursuing Peace (Psalm 34:11, 14)

A psalm of confusion, of gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise. This song of David’s features prominently in the “thanks, God!” section of the book of Psalms.

11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

This psalm was written remembering when David was in a really tight spot. Surrounded by enemy warriors, he feigned madness. Had spittle coming down his beard. Probably disheveled clothes and hair, too. Wild eyes, jerky motions. I can just see him in my imagination. (David must have been a fabulous actor.)

Cut to the end of the story: King Abimelech kicked David out of his walled city. David must have been greatly, greatly relieved.

At this time in David’s life, when he was on the run from King Saul, he did not have much opportunity to pursue peace. He probably wanted peace above all things! In verse 14, above, he mentions the craving for peace. His deep desire for peace. Pursue it! Run after it, full bore! Added to that, he advises his readers to depart from evil. (David must know human nature pretty well, with that kind of insight.)

What about me? Do I fear the Lord? Do I listen to God’s words and God’s people? Do I always flee evil? What about doing good? Am I in the habit of seeking—much less, pursuing peace? What about you? Can you answer these questions I just asked myself?

Good questions, God. Thanks for bringing me up close and personal with these serious questions. I still haven’t figured out all the answers, but I know that’s okay with You. As long as we are thinking about the answers, and striving to do the very best job we can. Thanks, 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.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE: Experiencing God’s Presence

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 8, 2016

IMG_0290

PEACE: Experiencing God’s Presence

This is the last day (for a while) I’m going to be visiting St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights. As I’ve mentioned before, I am grateful I had the opportunity to engage with anyone who came up to the table I had set up on one side of the large lunchroom.

I set up a small sign on one side of the lunch room, and stood by the table. Waiting. I didn’t have to wait long. I had young people come up to the table pretty consistently, all the time I was there. I made up two small hand-held signs, as well. One read “Personal definition of PEACE” and the other “What is PEACE to you?”

Not a great big number of people came up to my table. However quite a number sat still (even stopped eating and talking) when they read my signs, from a distance. I was glad I could have a thoughtful, positive effect, causing them to think. And, maybe talk about PEACE.

Today I have the opportunity to present Fr. Corey’s personal definition of PEACE. Fr. Corey Brost is the principal of St. Viator’s, and a wonderful person. I asked him, initially, if there were a group of young people at the high school who I could ask about their views on PEACE. He was kind enough to invite me to all three lunch periods.

Fr. Corey’s personal definition: “PEACE is experiencing God’s presence in the midst of personal and societal upheaval.”

He did not have much time at all to talk after writing out the definition, but he reminded me, “Peace is in the midst. Never replacing God’s presence.”

It’s true that a lot of things can try to rob us of peace. Or, replace peace with something else, something far inferior. Thank you, Fr. Corey, for reminding all of us that God offers us the peace that passes understanding. Peace that will guard our hearts and minds, no matter what. In the midst of the storm as well as on sunny days. God is always present, by my side, even when I can’t see or feel. (Thanks, God!)

(Tomorrow, I am excited to begin a series of personal definitions of PEACE from people who attend the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove! Stay tuned.)

@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

In Which I Pray for God’s Kingdom

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Matt 6-33 seek first the kingdom

In Which I Pray for God’s Kingdom

I’ve always wondered exactly what I’m praying for when I pray for God’s kingdom to come. (“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”) I’ve been reading bible and theology books for several decades. I do have a bit clearer idea about God’s kingdom now, than I had years ago.

Priorities. I think a good piece of it concerns putting God first in my life. In my work, and my other activities. Of course, it’s not the whole of the meaning of God’s kingdom. Whole books and dissertations have been written on the meaning of that phrase, and considerable disagreement about various viewpoints, as well.

As for me, I would like my life to be a little less cluttered. I think a simpler life would help me to draw closer to God. Yes, work, family, activities and friends are important. Just not all-important. Not like seeking after God.

Dear Lord, this is important, isn’t it? If I put God first, everything else falls into place. Just like a jigsaw puzzle. Lord Jesus, You were right. If each of us seeks Your kingdom and righteousness first—and makes that of primary importance—then “all these things will be added to you.” That is, everything else in our lives gets sorted out. Not perfectly, but You never promised me that, did you? No matter what else is going on, I can seek You. Find You. Walk with You. Thanks.

@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