Tag Archives: welcome

Patience, Possible, Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 27, 2018

prayer candles

Patience, Possible, Pray.

Father Nouwen makes it sound easy. Well, if not easy, then straight-forward.

I know very well that I sometimes am all of these unpleasant things he talks about. I hate, I don’t forgive, I clutch worldly things or attitudes to my chest and turn away from the obvious invitations and overtures God in making to me. Yes, God. Guilty as charged. Yet, Henri Nouwen does make the process of prayer sound easy. (Or, straight-forward, whichever is more applicable to me at the time.)

Yet—before I get down to the serious business of praying, Nouwen tells me there is a caveat. “You must have patience, of course, before your hands are completely open and their muscles relaxed.” [1]

Patience? Seriously? Is this trait an absolute necessity? Because if it is, I do not think I will get very far in my walk with God. Or, my continuing conversation with God, either.

In the very next paragraph, however, Fr. Nouwen rephrases that absolute, and turns it into a conditional suggestion. He even acknowledges our human frailty. He says, “You can never fully achieve such an attitude, for behind each fist another one is hiding, and sometimes the process seems endless. Much has happened in your life to make all these fists….At any hour of the day or night you might clench again for fear.” [2]

Ah. Now you have it. Fr. Nouwen lays out the clear dilemma of prayer and the human experience. I have such fear and trepidation in my heart. I am filled with such anger, or shame, or even revulsion. Or, God forbid, I find myself chock-full of self-righteous judgement. Any or all of these can hinder or even totally stop my conversation with God.

What do I do about all of these horrible emotions and character traits that are so deeply rooted inside of me? Nouwen says, “What is possible is to open your hands without fear, so the other can blow your sins away…Then you feel a bit of new freedom, and praying becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world and the people around you.” [3]

Dear Lord, is it possible? Can I actually be welcomed into Your presence even though I am chock-full of all of these yucky emotions and character traits? Thank God, indeed.

 

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 8.

[2] Ibid, 9.

[3] Ibid, 10.

@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

Breaking Down Barriers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 8, 2018

Philemon title, bible

Breaking Down Barriers

There are many separations or barriers between people today. Barriers of race, gender, color, class, birth, finances, status. Another way of looking at it is right side/wrong side of the tracks, rich/poor, have/have-not. Much less in terms of language(s) spoken, dialect or accent, educated or uneducated. What are we to do? What was Paul to do?

From what I could tell from some reading about Paul and his time and culture, Paul knew very well about these different kinds of cultural statuses and society structures. Sometimes, he would uphold them, and sometimes not. (I apologize beforehand to all Pauline scholars who may read this, and correct me. I fully enjoy learning more! So, please, let me know if I am mistaken.)

Prof. Williams talks about exactly this fact in one of his short chapters in Meeting God in Paul, starting with the mountain of a verse from Galatians 3:28, “There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” “Here is Paul saying that there is something you can belong to in which all these different kinds of status are completely immaterial.” [1] Wow. What a statement for Paul to make, given the fairly strict rules and mores of his society. There was a little latitude and wiggle room, but not very much.

Reading this chapter of Williams’ little book, I was struck by the little book (actually, personal letter) of the apostle Paul to Philemon. Paul had obviously been friends with Philemon before, and was communicating long-distance. Philemon’s runaway slave Onesimus had become acquainted with Paul in the distant town, and—by Paul’s own account—was now like a son to Paul. Now, Paul was writing to Philemon on Onesimus’s behalf: “11 At one time he was of no use to you, but now he is useful[b] both to you and to me.” (And, yes, I think Paul loved the word-play—“Onesimus” meant “useful.”)

Paul was breaking down barriers. Jesus broke down barriers, too. And, much more so than Paul. How marvelous that Jesus just plain disregarded societal structures and barriers, and welcomed everyone. We see Paul striving to do the same thing. His statement in Galatians 3 (as well as a similar one in Colossians 3) shows us that he is striving toward welcoming all, no matter what.

Dear God, thank You for Your extravagant welcome, breaking down all barriers.

@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] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 29.

Welcome for the Outsider

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, March 5, 2018

welcome, Scrabble

Welcome for the Outsider

What a statement. What a concept. For all that the apostle Paul is talked about as being misogynistic, and prejudiced, and this, and that, I come up against a passage like Romans 15:4-6, capped by 15:7.

I started out thinking about what Paul said in verse 4: “Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us.” I was struck by that, and thought about it for a while. Sure, there are lots of verses and passages in the New Testament that are instructive, encouraging, even uplifting to the heart. But, genealogies in the Hebrew Scriptures? Or, population lists of the various tribes? Or, passages in the Mosaic Law Code? How were those written to teach us?

Which led me to think of the many different cultures and nationalities surrounding the church where I work, in Morton Grove (a suburb of Chicago). This suburb is diverse in just about every way. I am certain that the different cultures and ethnic understandings cover a wide spectrum of ways of thinking. Which led me to consider the understanding of the Jewish mindset, in the centuries before the birth of Christ. I know they did consider genealogies and population lists to be important. Who am I to say that they are not important?

(And, what about things our culture says are important? I can’t legislate what others think, regardless of whether it is my culture or ethnicity, or someone else’s. Or, in some other century.)

All of which brings me to what Prof. Williams says in his reflection. “The hard thing, and the thing that Paul cared deeply about and strove to instill in his churches, is to do both at once: to be united as one body but also profoundly welcoming to the outsider.” [1]

What a profound idea. As Paul said, “Accept one another, then, for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you.” Dear Lord, I am convicted anew. Please, dear God, help me to accept people, accept individuals, coming from all over. Just as Paul had to deal with a polyglot society, so do I here is my setting. Help me—help us to reach out and provide “a place where there is a welcome for all and where there is unity. Amen.” [2]

@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] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 89.

[2] Ibid.

New Year’s Eve/Day Prayers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, December 31, 2016

people-in-prayer

New Year’s Eve/Day Prayers

This is a marvelous way to use our church doors in prayer in this new year.

Come with me, back to the doors of our sanctuary. We can offer prayer, asking that these doors welcome many visitors during the coming year and that all who come through the doorway be blessed.

I am going to write on our church doors with prayers for all who will come through the doors this year (worshipers, visitors, brides and grooms, parents bringing babies to be baptized, families and friends coming to bury their dead, members of community groups which will use the facilities).

Please, I encourage each of you, each household, to repeat this in your own homes.

God of doors and homes, bless this place (or, home) this year and every year.

Bless all who come and go through this door, both those who live here and those who visit.

May all who enter through this door come in peace and bring joy.

May all who come to this door find welcome and love.

May the love and joy in this place overflow and spread into the community and the world. [1]

 

@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] http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2013/11/new-years-day-years-b-c.html New Year’s Day, Including children in the congregation’s worship, using the Revised Common Lectionary, Thanks to Carolyn C. Brown, 2013.

A Very Welcome Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 17, 2016

pray-praise

A Very Welcome Prayer

When I read this prayer several days ago, I was struck by it. Almost, charmed. I love Fr. Thomas Keating, certainly. But this prayer, in particular?

I see the Welcome Prayer as healing. Also, nurturing. I see the Welcome Prayer as cleansing and almost abrasive (in a steelwool cleaning pad kind of a way). And, I see the Welcome Prayer as humbling and gentle; when I pray it for myself, I mean.

Here it is:

The Welcome Prayer as written by Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk:

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions.

I let go of my desire for power and control. I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure. I let go of my desire for survival and security. I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within. Amen.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

 

A Very Welcome Prayer  #matterofprayer #socialjustice

PEACE: Morton Grove Community Peace Vigil

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, June 1, 2016

PEACE: Morton Grove Community Peace Vigil

Peace Vigil sign

Tonight was the night. The night of the Peace Vigil.

I was in fear of no one showing up, especially with the downpour and otherwise heavy rain that fell several times in the last week! Thankfully, we were able to change the venue to inside the Morton Grove Civic Center (from outside and behind the Center). The grassy area was still very soggy. I can just imagine what that might have looked like with all those people tramping on the grass. Churning the grass into mud. I shudder at the thought.

I especially would like to thank Ralph, the Village Administrator. Such kindness. He assisted me with so much in the past few weeks. Also Paul, the director of Public Works, and the several other Village employees who helped. Not to forget Mayor DiMaria, who was wonderful enough to open the Peace Vigil and welcome everyone who attended.

And Janine, Dilnaz, Jill, and Donelle. Appreciate all the encouragement, support, and downright coordination that happened over these past few weeks.

Right now, the Peace Vigil is a bit of a blur. I will probably run through it in my head a number of times, and critique it over the next few days. Right now, it is enough to say that the Peace Vigil accomplished its purpose wonderfully. It was a simple event. Janine, Dilnaz and I wanted to get some of the diverse people in our community together, think about peace and harmony, and seek to continue the conversation of peace. And, we did. It happened.

Morton Grove and its surrounding communities are indeed quite diverse. Culturally, ethnically, in terms of religion, and in several other ways. Great opportunity to embody the melting pot that is the United States.

The choir, the conversation, the community—all marvelous. Thank you to all who attended.

Dear God, thanks for a spirit of openness, of encouragement, and of friendship that was here in this Peace Vigil tonight. Thank You for assisting me in organizing and coordination. I am grateful, thankful, and humbled at the marvelous response and participation.

Bless all who attended, and give their families and loved ones comfort.

@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

Immanuel. God with Me, and with You

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 24, 2015

IMMANUEL God with us stars

Immanuel. God with Me, and with You

Christmas Eve service can be special, moving. This year was no different. I had the joy of programming the evening service. Setting the scripture readings, and the special music, as well as the hymns.

Because this service was concentrating on Luke 2, this service concentrated on the Baby born in Bethlehem. All the music was set specifically for the Baby Jesus, too.

The Advent meditation for Christmas Eve reminded me of this, too. The Baby Jesus came into the world. Henri Nouwen speaks in this entry, about the Baby coming into the world of humanity.

Immanuel. God with us. I am not alone, and neither are you. After the weeks of Advent, Christmas is finally here, too. God has broken into this fallen world. Amen. And, let us welcome Him into our hearts.

@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

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net