I visited 93 year old Bob at the hospital last week. I sat holding his hand for about ten minutes. Then he spoke. He told me he didn’t want to keep me from my afternoon plans and would I please leave. Since it was hard to understand him, I reiterated what I thought he had told me and he said, “Yes, it’s time for you to go.” I told him I loved him, and left. He died twenty-four hours later. I wasn’t surprised.
I’m tired of talking and thinking about prayer. When I say that I mean, stop talking and thinking prayer. Let go of different meditations and ways that others have written about. Do what my heart tells me to do when I shut my eyes, take a few deep breaths, and settle into God’s presence. That’s all I’m going to say about it. See where your heart takes you.
I’m back again, grappling with the news. What am I grappling with? Fear.
Fear, the title of Bob Woodward’s recent book, sums up whose fear I’m talking about. Everyone’s! Trump’s and all his allies; me and all who are of my persuasion.
I know that I can only manage my own fear, but how can I do that when I hear of hate talk that includes guns?
“It’s all about guns, stupid,” I tell myself. But does that mean I get a gun, fight fire with fire, fight guns with guns?
No! As a Christian, I know better than that.
Thankfully, after acknowledging my fear, God appears and I hear, “It’s all about love, stupid.”
I pray that I can pray for my enemies, which means praying that love enters everyone. Everyone includes those with guns, and people like me, who aren’t violent in physical ways, but who are violent in their judgments and in their anger of those who doesn’t agree with us.
The other day four of us from church gathered to watch the movie, The Shack. I had read the book when it first came out in 2007, but I couldn’t get into it. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit personified as regular everyday people felt too literal and dogmatic, too defined and limiting for my United Church of Christ upbringing.
Watching the movie twelve years later, however, opened my heart. I was ready to let go of the complexities of the Trinity and receive its simple, unified message of love through my willingness to choose to forgive, trust, and hope--Hard to do but the model of support is there.
Christianity (and Judaism) is a faith of the Book. We know about Jesus through stories told in the four Gospels. It make sense, therefore, to build on those gospel stories through the stories of others.
I am one of the many (at least 100, maybe 200) intercessors with the Iona Community Prayer Circle. Every two months I receive the prayer requests for Group One, the group to which I am assigned. There are twelve groups and approximately 12 requests per group.
I am also one of thirteen intercessors (from all over the world) who have agreed to receive emergency requests that come into the head office in Glasgow and can’t wait until the next group mailing.
Over the years we have become prayer friends, praying for needs that go beyond the Community requests, namely for our friends and families and sometimes for ourselves. It is heartwarming to receive the different words that someone from Australia or Scotland use to ask God for help or give God thanks.
Recently an intercessor from England offered this: I am getting somewhat elderly (85) and have mobility problems so am no longer able to play an active part in church/community life, and feel that intercession is a small offering I can still make.
As far as I am concerned, this is no small offering. It may be one of the most consequential and vital ways an older person (in fact, anyone) can contribute to peace and love in the world. What if everyone prayed for peace?
My morning reading includes a daily section from Around the Year with Emmet Fox (1952). Fox was so wise, so forward thinking. I could quote him every day, and never run out.
Fox affirms my belief and coming to know that God has called me to pray for people. I continue to reread and ponder the following. I encourage you to do so, as well.
Prayer does change things. Let us be perfectly clear about this. Prayer does change things. Many people say that prayer is a good thing because it gives us courage and fortitude for meeting our troubles. They say that prayer often gets a man out of difficulty simply by giving him self-confidence which he would otherwise have lacked. Of course, this is not spiritual Truth. The fact is that seeing the Presence of God where the trouble seems to be does not merely give us courage to meet the trouble; it changes the trouble into harmony.
Prayer heals the body by changing the tissues, and it does this by first changing the mind which forms them. Prayer brings man his salvation by changing his nature fundamentally; not by making the best of him as he can be. The body, the environment, the universe itself, is plastic to our thought; and it always reflects our sincere belief. Emmet Fox (1886-1951)
I’m reading When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Rabbi Harold Kushner. First published in 1981 (revised edition, 2001) Kushner wrote in response to the death of his fourteen year old son Aaron in 1977 of a condition called progeria, “rapid aging.”
I read the book when it first came out but am now rereading in preparation for the message (we stay away from calling it a sermon) I will be giving at church on March 3rd. In searching for the book on my library’s on-line catalog, I keyed in the wrong title, a common mistake that Kushner addresses in the preface to the revised edition.
“I met a lot of people who tell me that they have read my book, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? I politely point out to them that the book is not titled “Why” but “When.” The really important question is not why bad things happen, but where will we find the resources to cope with them when they do happen.”
Both questions are important. Responses to ‘why? delve us into the nature of God, an essential conundrum that I believe, wittingly or unwittingly, we address on our faith journey. The ‘when’ moves us forward to cope with real matters in our life. The ‘why’ and the ‘when’ have to
My church ‘sermon’ is developing into a message about importance of questions we ask, And so, I will end this blog with two ‘why’ questions: Why not jot down your God questions? Why not read Kushner’s gem of a book?
I just had to share this with my prayerdiary friends about a post on www.acottagebythesea.net.
Would you believe this? I was selected as one of two the blog stars for December 2018 by Lonely Planet for my 12/28 post “More Signs of a Solitary Traveler.” “LP Pathfinders: what did you write this month [December]’ in our Travel Bloggers and Pathfinders forum.”
Thanks to everyone who submitted their wonderful travel tales from December 2018! A big congratulations to the following blog-stars who made it into this month's new-look round up:
You can check out the round-up in full, including why these blogs were selected, here: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog/2019/01/17/pathfinders-best-blogs-instagram-shots-and-videos-from-december-2018
Well done everyone! Keep up the wonderful travel writing and we look forward to reading more of your posts next month.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the ‘role’ of those of us blessed to be positive, optimistic, and to see all things, good or bad, in the light of hope, love, and possibilities for GOOD. Everything that happens is grist for the mill. No matter what is before us, we can work through to a positive win/win solution. It takes time, effort, and commitment, and even moments of falling short in order to keep it going, but we do. I believe I have a part to play, and a choice in moving forward with love, or in joining in hate (gossip, schadenfreude, etc.). I don’t’ believe this is of my own doing, although I am aware of the benefits inherent in the time and place of my birth. What I’m emphasizing here is disposition.
My faith and my church community help me fulfill this ‘role’. Grace doesn’t offer any excuse, nor get me off the hook; rather it obliges be see my role as to live a life of service. I admit I fall short all the time, but I try my best to keep the purpose in front of me.