Tag Archives: thanks God

Centering on Bread of Life

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 4, 2015

BREAD OF LIFE brass trivet

Centering on Bread of Life

Today, I’m departing a bit from the spirit of Centering Prayer. (Yes, already.) I intended for each day in the month of September to choose a name of God found in the Bible. The Name I’ve chosen for today is a phrase. (I’ve got to ask people more familiar with Centering Prayer. I think that’s okay, but I’m not sure.)

In any case, the phrase for today? My Name of God for today is Bread of Life.

This Name of God seemed so fitting for today. This Sunday is the first Sunday of the month. And, in the church I serve as pastor, Communion is observed on the first week of the month. Bread of Life? Jesus. Jesus? Bread of Life.

Initially, I didn’t have problems entering a prayer space. I am usually finding this aspect of prayer straightforward. However—keeping my mind centered on the word for the day? That’s where the difficult part comes in. Today was more difficult than usual.

I knew that Jesus said “I am the bread of life” in the Gospel of John. (I knew that straight off. I didn’t need to look that up.) Although I couldn’t remember all the specifics about the passage, I had some context on which to base my meditation. Yeah, frequent non-Bible related thoughts came up.

However, one Bible-related—even bread-related—thought came up a few times during my prayer. Manna. God gave the people of Israel manna in the wilderness. God gave us Jesus, the Bread of Life, to us in our wilderness.

What an awesome thought!

As I prepare for and look forward to Communion Sunday this weekend, I can keep that thought prayerfully in my mind and heart. Thanks, God! Thanks for the marvelous connection. Thank You for the opportunity to celebrate Communion with this congregation. And, thanks for Jesus, the Bread of Life.

@chaplaineliza

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Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Communion-Colored Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, August 22, 2015

little lamb

Communion-Colored Prayer

I prayed through the Evening Prayer from www.dailyoffice.org on my laptop this evening. I noticed one piece of the service, in particular. In the Collect for Saturday, a portion of this prayer read as follows: “Grant that as we sing your glory at the close of this day, our joy may abound in the morning as we celebrate the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

This part of the Saturday prayer always seemed to just “be there.” Never particularly standing out for me. I know I come from a Reformed tradition that doesn’t ordinarily observe Communion (or, the Eucharist) on a weekly basis. The congregation I serve observes Communion on the first Sunday of the month. (I wonder whether that frequency colors the way I view the Collect for Saturday? Interesting thought. I will need to meditate on that for a while.)

However, tonight this part of the prayer—the Paschal mystery part—stood out for me. Front and center, as my dad used to say.

I was so curious I went to the Episcopal Church’s website and looked up Paschal Mystery. Here’s some of what I found. “Paschal means pertaining to Easter (the Pascha) and to its antecedent the Hebrew Passover. The Passover has the promise of redemption and the gift of freedom at the Red Sea. In the NT, the Paschal concept includes Jesus’ death and resurrection, the ascension and gift of the Holy Spirit, baptism, the calling of a new people from every nation and language, and participation in the mystery through eating and drinking with our Risen Lord.” [1]

Wow! That’s most of what I preached in my sermon tonight!

I filled the pulpit for a pastor friend who’s away on vacation this week. I preached on John 6, the bread of life come down from heaven. This statement on the Paschal Mystery from the Episcopal Church hit most of the highlights. Also, I had the opportunity to celebrate communion tonight with the congregation I visited.

I think the combination of the sermon I preached, the Scripture passage I read, and the opportunity to observe communion all contributed to my particular notice of this Collect for Saturday. All three of these factors helped me to reach more deeply in my prayers tonight. To come before God in a different way this evening.

Thanks, God, for a new appreciation of the Paschal Mystery. Truly, I had never really reflected on that particular phrase, until tonight. Dear Lord, help me to bring that appreciation and joy into my worship of You tomorrow morning. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Visit the website http://dailyoffice.org/ to find out more about Morning and Evening Prayer!

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] http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/109399_14976_ENG_HTM.htm

Praying a Lament to God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, August 14, 2015

prayer candles on blue cloth

Praying a Lament to God

The rhythm of the nights fall into place. It has been two weeks now that I’ve read the Evening Prayer (or Compline) from the website www.dailyoffice.org – and much of the nightly readings are the same. Yet, some of each reading is different, too.

Although much of the daily prayers are the same, each night has a different psalm portion. And, each night has a different scripture passage, too. Short, almost pithy, in comparison to the lengthier scripture readings from the Morning Prayers.

I was intrigued by the short, two-verse snippet from Jeremiah tonight. So intrigued, that I went to an online commentary to find out more about it. Turns out that instead of a prophetic word from the Lord, Jeremiah chapter 14 was more of a lament.

Rev. Bryan Findlayson writes in the Lectionary Bible Studies, “The people of Israel are His; they belong to Him. Yet, the Lord is aloof, distant from his people. So Jeremiah asks, why is the all-forgiving-one estranged from His people? Jeremiah cries out on behalf of the people, “do not forsake us!””

Dear God, so often, Your ways are clouded in mystery. At least, I have often found them so. I have cried, along with Jeremiah, “Do not forsake me!” I’m sorry. I know I ought to put my trust and faith in You. But, I just can’t, sometimes. Dear God, please give me faith and trust enough. Thanks for listening! And, thanks for answering.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Visit the website http://dailyoffice.org/ to find out more about Morning and Evening Prayer!

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Tempted? The Hour of Trial.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 26, 2015

train tracks diverging

Tempted? The Hour of Trial.

I am tempted, regularly. It almost doesn’t matter what the temptation is. I don’t think temptation ever goes away, completely.

As I have been doing for loads of interactions, for many months, I have been striving to answer the difficult questions. Or, at least, help people, come alongside of people who have a problem with temptation. Just as much as I am able to, Lord. And, just as much as I have difficulty, too.

“Preserve me, God, from the hour of trial./May I keep Your word of patient endurance.” [1]

God, sometimes it’s just You and me against the world. At least, that’s what it feels like! I need to be encouraged and strengthened against temptation, regularly. Thanks, God, for being there for me, and with me.

@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] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 187.

How Deep is My Faith?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FAITH bible

How Deep is My Faith?

I’ve known that Hebrews 11 is the “Faith chapter” of the New Testament for quite some time. Yes, I know that many devout believers practically swear by this chapter. Oh, it makes So-and-so so firm in his faith. Or, So-and-so depends on the stories she hears from Chapter 11, and tries to make her behavior like several of the saints found there.

When Hebrews 11:1-3 got put into psalm format, when our two authors turned this into a New Testament psalm similar to those in the book Praying the New Testament as Psalms, I found a whole new appreciation for these verses. “God, You are faithful – faithful forever./You cannot deny Yourself.” [1]

Here’s another familiar passage to me. Until it was turned into a Psalm, that is. That gave me a new twist on things. The verse: “May Your word abide in me forever;/believing in the one whom You sent.” [2] This modern-day retelling of these few verses come from John 5:37-38.

A fresh way to express the sentiment and feelings. Faith expresses trust in a person’s relationship with God. Do I have faith? Do I have trust? Do I believe in Jesus, the one whom God sent?

Dear God, You are faithful, indeed. Not only to me, but to everyone. That faithfulness is totally in Your character. 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.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 70.

[2].Ibid.

Encourage the Heart—in Word and Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 7, 2015

encourage each other water

Encourage the Heart—in Word and Prayer

Who doesn’t get discouraged from time to time? And sometimes, more discouraged than others. I very much needed today’s New Testament psalm on Encouragement from the book Praying the New Testament as Psalms.

I suspect this is why God chose some to be positive, encouraging bright spots in God’s congregations. Yes, God has given me insight and some facility with words. I often try my best to put down words that are true, honest, loving, and—of course—encouraging.

I was particularly touched by this verse from the psalm on Encouragement: “Much joy and encouragement stem from love,/setting at rest the hearts of God’s holy people.” [1] Wow. A great deal to unpack from just these two verses.

This book’s authors (Fr. Desmond O’Donnell and Sr. Maureen Mohen) went to the little book of Philemon for this verse. I had almost forgotten about Philemon—such a little letter, tucked away after 1 and 2 Thessalonians. A letter of admonishment and concern as well as love and encouragement, written by the Apostle Paul to his friend and co-worker Philemon.

Ain’t it the truth? (In most cases, that is.) Joy and encouragement do flow out of love, and are the natural next step. And, don’t joy and encouragement calm people down? Yes, these feelings can get people excited, too, but the excitement is more happy-excited, rather than upset or even riled.

When I think of the term “setting hearts at rest,” serenity comes to mind. And that can only be a good thing. Thanks for such wonderful thoughts and images, 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] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 64.

Journey to Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 27, 2015

birch wood path

Journey to Soul

Journeying. Traveling. All of us, each of us is on a journey through life. Some are more aware of the fact that each of us has a soul. Some, less so. Our souls are on that journey, too. (According to Benjamin Shield, the author of today’s chapter in Handbook for the Soul.)

I loved the image that Shield gave us in this chapter: that of Michelangelo freeing his marble sculptures from the stone that encased them. “All he needed to do was chisel away everything that was not the completed sculpture, and it would appear. This is the nature of the soul—perfect, yet hidden. Our ‘marble’ can be chiseled away by the passionate desire to know our soul as well as its obstructions.” [1]

Can one “know” the soul? Or, is it best to hold the soul lightly? As I might wear a loose garment? As Shield says, “being completely present with an open heart and open mind.” [2] I see this as being in the ‘now.’ Being open, with no expectations, no preconceptions, no baggage from yesterday. (Or, realistically speaking, as little as possible.)

Clearing the mind is a good way to attempt being completely present. Breathing is another good way. But what if I am focusing too much on negativity? Self-judgment? Especially if I am reactive towards any person, place or thing in my life? The best way to shake off all of this “past remorse or future insecurity” is to let go.

Letting go. I know how to do that. I’ve done that for a number of years, already. Good to know. I appreciate different takes on similar subject matter. Different riffs on the same theme. As Shield said, “Don’t be fooled into thinking you are alone on your journey. . . . It is simply that we take different paths along our collective journey toward the same destination.” [3]

It’s a relief knowing that. As I said before, good to know, God! Thanks! (And I am not being snarky, either!)

@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] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 171.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 173.

God Was with Paul and Barnabas. God Is with Me, Too.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 20, 2015

difficulties overcome

God Was with Paul and Barnabas. God Is with Me, Too.

Our God is acknowledged as very present, and a refuge in times of trouble.

Whatever happens, whenever I can help out, God will be with me, too. Just like God was with Paul and Barnabas in their difficult times, in Acts 13. But, it didn’t start that way. No, Paul and Barnabas went to and fro at first, freely witnessing to the power of the resurrection. A portion of the people listening to them were described as jealous of God’s power and success, too. So, they started to persecute Paul and Barnabas.

There is no pleasing certain people. Whatever happened, God was there in the past. And God will be there, at our sides, right now. Whether stilted, difficult, or downright angry, some people keep stirring up trouble and problems.

Intellectually, I keep telling myself that the power of God will help me! Experientially, that’s another matter. Doubts come up in my mind. Anxious thoughts, fears, even angry thoughts. But God can smooth that all out. God can overcome, even though. Thanks, God!

Let’s come to God in prayer. Dear God, thanks for being there with me. Thanks for being present amidst my doubts and fears. Thanks for helping me to say, “The Lord is risen, indeed!” But, God, not everyone believes this. Help me to keep on striving to communicate God’s love, even though things are not going my way. Thanks, again, for being a refuge and a strength to me, even through difficulties. 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 sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Love One Another—in Prayer?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, April 8, 2015

LOVE one another John 13-34

Love One Another—in Prayer?

You know how something just jumps out at you, and grabs your attention? That’s how it was with me and a couple of verses from the liturgical daily prayer book. Earlier, I read an extended passage from John 13. Yes, I appreciated parts of this whole passage. However, verses 34 and 35 made a particular impact on me.

Our new command from Jesus? Love one another. By this, everyone will know that we are Jesus’ disciples.

Gosh, I guess people have been messing that one up for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Just recently, I talked with a good friend of mine in another state. She told me about a medical situation with an older relative, and another family situation where things might change pretty drastically. Both are things my friend needs prayer for! (As well as her family, too!)

I know that God is listening, sure. But, I also understand that this command to love one another gives many people a belief structure to grab on to. Loving God is in a vertical direction, it’s true. However, loving other people is very much on a horizontal plane. Praying for my friend and for /her family is a loving thing to do, for sure!

What is loving? How do people show love God’s love today? Dear Lord, gracious God, help me pray for my friends and acquaintances when it is needed. Lord, thanks for the blessings You give to us each day. You are so generous to each of us, one day at a time. Each day, each night. Thank You for Your wonderful example. Help me—help us to let others know we are Your followers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #38 – Can I Open Up?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 2, 2015

ocean shore and shells

Day #38 – Can I Open Up?

I am guilty, I admit it. I have quickly responded “I’m fine!” to the question “How are you?” Even when I was not, really, fine.

Sometimes, I knew that the person asking was only looking for a quick answer. Even, a superficial answer. Merely passing the time of day. Occasionally, I suspected the person asking me the question was making acceptable or expected social noises. (You can feel in your gut and know deep down when that happens. I don’t need to spell it out.)

But sometimes. Sometimes. The person was truly, honestly looking for information. Wishing for a connection. Striving to develop that relationship. And I? I was having none of it. Or, perhaps even worse, I just did not have time.

Mea culpa, Lord. Mea culpa.

At least I regularly show others that I am interested in their extended answers! When I do the same thing, ask the same questions, I sometimes get the long answer from my conversation partner, and that’s okay. Sometimes, it is more than okay. Showing emotion and crying and letting down one’s guard? Totally okay, as far as I am concerned.

Goodness knows that I have sometimes been guilty of it, and answered back in a dismissive or evasive response. Or, simply been too busy to engage.

My current job does complicate things, though. I am a pastor at a local church. I do try to be accessible, open, affirming, nurturing, and interested in everyone I meet. I really do try! Yet, I need to maintain some degree of professionalism. Remain warm and engaged, with a healthy dose of empathetic understanding. Plus, balance that with some basic relational, psychological and emotional engagement principles. It is a juggling, balancing act, to be sure!

Thank goodness that I have some good friends and acquaintances outside of my work. I especially appreciate the people I am now connected to through the Internet. Through Facebook, and Twitter. Two particular groups of people allow me to be honest, open and genuine. I can engage in lively debate, friendly (sometimes snarky) banter, and downright foolishness, if I want to! I feel I can lay down my cards on the table, and don’t need to be as careful of professional boundaries. What freedom!

So, yes. I have been aware of the ubiquitous “How are you?” and the tepid response “I’m fine” for the past few years. And God is working with me, with that. God really is. I know. I do appreciate the reminder. Good to be brought back to what is important in life. Again. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .