Tag Archives: worship

Pouring Out My Soul to God, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 23, 2017

Psa 42-3 tears, my food

Pouring Out My Soul to God, and Psalm 42

What do you do when you are all alone? Alone, and heartsick, lonely and soulsick. As Bonhoeffer said when thinking about this psalm, he was all alone. Feeling alone can turn a person inside out with sadness. So, Bonhoeffer poured out his soul to the Lord. And, the Lord came to his aid.

Since he was feeling to lonely and alone, he said “the greater will be my longing for the fellowship of other Christians, for common worship, common prayer and song, praise, thanksgiving and celebration.” [1]

While I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s next suggestion, I don’t go along with it…totally. He stresses that his readers ought not to allow heaviness and disquiet to overwhelm the soul. But, sometimes depression overwhelms a person. People sometimes juggle things like anxiety, loneliness, worry and concern.

I know Jesus tells us some things about how to deal with many negative emotional feelings and psychological tendencies. However—sometimes, life gets too heavy, too overwhelming. We might need a little help from our community. We can use some common understanding and caring. God, not only from our families, our friends, and our communities of faith, but from You. I know I depend on You, dear Lord.

Still, from time to time, I do feel all alone. God, please ground me on You and Your help, Your word, and Your promises. Thank You for listening, dear 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

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 57.

Worship and Devotion with Andrew Murray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 27, 2017

worship, definition

Worship and Devotion with Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray was a well-known missionary leader in the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s. Both his mother’s and father’s faith traditions were varied. As he grew and started working in ministry in South Africa, their influence caused Murray to be ecumenical. His influence grew, especially because of his many devotional writings. (Two of which I have read.)

Murray called his readers to a sincere, devout, daily devotion to God. As Murray and his readers worship God regularly, he gives them an analogy. (This was particularly striking to me.) “There is no more wonderful image in nature of the glory of God than we find in the starry heavens…A photographic plate fixed below the telescope will reveal millions of stars which otherwise could never have been seen by the eye…What a lesson for the soul that longs to see the glory of God in His Word. Let your heart be as a photographic plate that waits for God’s glory to be revealed…The plate must be exposed for several hours to receive the full impression of the farthest stars.” [1]

What a marvelous insight. As I am still before God, God will imprint God’s glory—the stars, and whatever wonderful insights and impressions—upon that photographic plate that is my heart. Then, I will be able to more fully appreciate and apprehend God’s magnificent works and ways. Is there any other response to make, other than to hide my face in awe and wonder and sigh, “How great Thou art!”

Further on in the reading, Murray writes these words, requesting our Lord Jesus to teach us to pray. (I cannot understand why he wrote them, since he was so connected to God…but, there it is.)  “Blessed Lord Jesus! O my Lord! You are the Great Intercessor. You alone pray and hear prayer for the sole purpose of glorifying the Father. Teach me to pray at you do.” [2]

Ah, such a request! Even more so, coming from such a man who strove mightily to do the very best he could in service, as well as to evangelism. And, especially in prayer and devotion. Dear Lord, gracious God, teach us to pray with one fraction of the intensity and fervency of Andrew Murray. Please, dear God. Fulfill this earnest prayer. 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), 272.

[2] Ibid, 274.

Worship Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 24, 2017

worship word cloud

Worship Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Fr. Hopkins was born in England, studied at Oxford, and converted to Catholicism. He became a Jesuit priest, serving as teacher, scholar, preacher and administrator. He was also a poet, and wrote to document and celebrate God’s glories in nature.

Two short poems are included in this excerpt. In the first, Fr. Hopkins talks of grandeur at the beginning: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” “Shining,” “flame out,” “greatness.” This is Hopkins’ starting point. However, things soon get messed up from there. Sadly, “seared…bleared, smeared” come next in the downward procession. “Smudge“ and “smell” are certainly unpleasant words and thoughts.

What kinds of things do these two overarching images mean to you? The first, pleasant and even wondrous. The second word? Irritating, perhaps even weary, come to mind. The poem makes me think of the height, length and breadth of the night sky: showing a number of different kinds of emotions.

And, the complete stanza:
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.” [1]

 

Dear Lord, gracious God, praise to your name. My words are so paltry and poor, they can barely stand on the same page with Fr. Hopkins and his words of grandeur and power. Thank You for poets who write so beautifully. 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), 266.

Worship with Charles Wesley’s Hymns

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 22, 2017

O for a thousand, words and cross

Worship with Charles Wesley’s Hymns

Ah, Charles Wesley. That great writer of hymns! He and his brother John were also the founders of a renewal group within the Church of England that later became the Methodist denomination.

As a church musician and lover of traditional hymnody, I have loved the Wesleys’ hymns for decades. I was excited to see Charles Wesley figure into this collection of spiritual giants, and excerpts from their writings. I read the complete, additional stanzas that Charles Wesley wrote, on the anniversary of his “second birth.” As I read this oh-so-familiar hymn, I could not but help but sing it as I read. (To the tune of AZMON, of course.)

I knew Wesley had written lots of verses for this hymn, and had even read several more than most hymnals usually print. However, this reading is the most complete I have yet seen.

He begins the first verse with praise to God. (As is perfectly appropriate.) The second verse makes mention of his anniversary! That “glad day the glorious Sun/of righteousness arose; on my benighted soul he shone/and filled it with repose.” [1]

I, too, feel as if my soul is benighted, sometimes. (Even after I know I have a relationship with God.) However, the third verse comes to my aid! “Sudden expired the legal strife,/’twas then I cease to grieve; my second, real, living life/I then began to live.” [2] Here at last I am comforted with the understanding that Jesus has, indeed, paid it all. He has cancelled the legal debt I owed, and set me free. I no longer need to grieve or be afraid.

So, then, I can sing with Christians from all over the world, for centuries, “O for a thousand tongues to sing/my great Redeemer’s praise! The glories of my God and King,/the triumphs of his grace.” [3] Indeed, His blood can make the foulest clean—and I believe Jesus’s blood covers my sins. Praise His name! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Jesus. Amen. 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 259.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 260.

Worship with Evelyn Underhill

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 20, 2017

worship cursive

Worship with Evelyn Underhill

When I read about Evelyn Underhill, I get overwhelmed. I feel very small, indeed. She was such a talented academic, knowledgeable in the nature and forms of Christian worship. But, even more so, she had great understanding in the practical-theology end of worship and spiritual formation. (I can’t even begin to compare myself to her…)

Miss Underhill wrote classic texts on worship and mysticism. The provided excerpts on several aspects of worship are soul-stirring, indeed.

“…we are called to worship because this is the only safe, humble and creaturely way in which men can be led to acknowledge and receive the influence of an objective Reality.” [1] This deep action of the soul, as she calls it, has been found to be a reality in many people’s lives, worldwide. The impetus to worship transcends racial lines, cultural differences, differing climates and places of gathering.

“Worship, then, is an avenue which leads the creature out from his inveterate self-occupation to a knowledge of God, and ultimately to that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul.” [2] If I read Ms. Underhill’s writing correctly, she says that worship is a means of getting me out of my own head and focused away from self-occupation. I need to have something outward to direct my attention and understanding towards… If I can stop focusing on me, myself and I, that can only be beneficial.

The second part of the above statement: “that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul.” How high and lofty a statement this is. When I think of worship, I do not often concentrate on such ineffable thoughts. True. (Guilty as charged.) However, just because I rarely think of such thoughts does not make them false. Ah, “the beatitude of the soul.” I just taught a bible study sequence on the Beatitudes, so I do understand them a bit better than I did before. I understand this quote a bit better, too.

Miss Underhill, I wish I could get closer to the true heart of worship. Thank You for Your great writing and example. Dear God, gracious God, thank You for loving us far more than we deserve and caring for us even when we run away.

@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] [1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 254.

[2] Ibid.

Follow the Bell in Prayer and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 12, 2017

bells-photo

Follow the Bell in Prayer and Meditation

As I read today’s segment from How to Sit, I noticed the elegance Thich Nhat Hanh used to describe the process of following the bell.

No matter what you were doing, the sound of the bell invites you (and me, all of us) to direct our attention to the immediacy of the bell. “Every time you hear the bell, you stop everything you are saying, doing, or thinking…go home to the present moment, to the here and the now.” [1]

Being alive in the here and now contains within itself a happy promise. There are so many wonders in this life, and not just intellectual or physical. Spiritual, too.

This whole lesson demonstrates the summoning of the faithful to worship. It doesn’t matter whether they are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Sikh.

Differentiating such ideas is only to the good. When I follow the sound of the bell, I find myself centering in the promises God gives us in regular attendance at worship services.

Dear God, thank You for such good advice on prayer, meditation, and how to sit still, quiet and expectant. 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 58.

Christmas Music for Everyone (#BestOf)

Christmas Music for Everyone

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 14, 2013

I hear Christmas music on the cd player as I write this. Choral, a capella. Complex chords and harmonies. These aspects of the music make my heart sing. The winning combination of beautiful music and meaningful words helps my heart to worship, too.

Since I am a classically trained musician and have a bachelor’s degree in church music, music has been and still is an important feature of my life. My avocation and my deep joy, as well as an aid to worship. Sometimes music can bring me to tears, and the next minute can lead me to worship and praise. Especially at this time of year.

A great deal of Christmas music was written with the church in mind, or at least, based on the Gospel accounts in Luke and Matthew. (I know there are some fun songs, secular songs, but I’d like to focus instead on the sacred music.) Composers and songwriters in many diverse cultures have tried their hands at writing Christmas music—and Advent music, too. Diverse songs like “Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming” (German, Michael Praetorius, 1609) to “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” (Traditional West Indian Carol, popularized by Harry Belafonte in 1958).

Different cultures portray the Holy Family in contexts that are familiar to them, too. Many people are familiar with the olive wood nativity scenes, carved by Palestinian Christians and imported all over the world today. But I’ve also seen a Kenyan nativity set with animals native to the Kenya bush. And a Peruvian nativity with everyone dressed in traditional Peruvian garb. And—to me—the familiar Advent calendars with the northern European features.

One more recent Christmas carol comes from the mid 20th century. The words by Wihla Hutson evoke the differences in how children all over the world see the baby Jesus. “Lily white,” “bronzed and brown,” “almond-eyed,” “dark as they.” The Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. He was born into this world to identify with us. And we can identify with Him, just as much.

This Advent period is a period of waiting for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. However we may see Him, however the Holy Family is presented in our culture or setting or church tradition, we are to wait with eagerness. With quiet and prayer. With expectation in our hearts. And in one of my favorite ways, with music to assist us in this waiting time.

Let’s pray. Dear God, Gracious Lord, this Advent waiting time is a time of expectation, but it’s also a time of preparation. Help me to prepare my heart to receive You. Forgive me for closing the door on others who don’t see You in the same way as I see You. Forgive me for being so narrow-minded and thoughtless. Thank You that You came into this world for everyone. For each child, for each adult, for each senior. Help me to look on those who are different from me with Your eyes. Emmanuel, God with us, all of us. Thank You, Jesus.

@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