Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Prayer for 3-31-15: Always Again

Dear God:

I remember one of those times I was holding my head in my hands.
My heart was in my throat and beating so fast it was making it difficult to breathe.
My heart was beating so hard it felt like it was rocking my body.
I had failed.  
I had failed, badly.
My failure had caused other people pain and I was so sorry and so ashamed and it was so clear that any sense of worth was spilling at my feet like loose change.

I could talk about how things got better. I could talk about how important that moment was. I could say all these things but,
what is also true,
is that, well…

We are all time travelers of sorts and these are times we visit everyday. As I remember this one, my heart leans towards the places it was at this moment and starts to do some of the things it did. These moments are not in the “was.” This moment is always with me.
Lent comes when it comes. Its not just forty days once a year but a part of
along with sabbath and Easter and funerals and baptisms and all these other things that mark the times as broken and beautiful. Lent comes along and we are at the table as our love and our betrayal and our failure and our hope and our pain share bread and wine in the presence of genuine belly laughs and smiles forced around gritting teeth.
This, we find, is what wholeness is. Healing becomes integration.
This is the truth that sets us free and defeats the fear of death eventually (though not forever).

I remember one of those times I was holding my head in my hand and, then, taking a deep breath. I remember sitting up, looking around and sighing. I remember looking up, stretching my back, tipping back my head, placing my hands on my knees, and getting ready.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday Prayer for 3/17/15: Deathly

 Inspired by John 12:20-33

From http://pixgood.com/empty-space.html

Dear God:

As the sun starts to remain in the sky just a little bit longer every day,
Lent comes along and says,
“Not yet. Not quite yet.”
So, in spite of the light, I settle down into the darkness and am reminded that

I will die,
I will fail and
I am human.

And then come the questions;

What will I do with this life?
Will I live and wonder as fully as I can?
Will I be faithful and loving enough to risk failure over and over again?
Will I roll around in my humanness and

I settle into the darkness; drawn away from all those shiny things that call me like a moth to the flame. I settle down into the darkness and feel my own heartbeat, hear my own breath and smell my unwashed skin.  I settle down into the darkness, leaving other things behind, left outside this Lenten space. I settle down into the darkness of “the less” as room is made for so

I will die,
I will fail and
I am human
and for now,
I will live,
I will risk and
I am.

I am.

I am.

I am.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday Prayer for 3-10-15: How can I say thanks?

Inspired by Psalm 107

Dear God:

Someone once told me that its almost impossible to begin to understand the Psalms until after you have turned 34.  The idea was that you had to have been desperate enough
and hurt enough
and have had screwed up enough
to understand that the Psalms were more than dramatic hyperbole;
that people could feel so low that being lifted up


I am coming up on 47
(and I remember thinking 40 was the age people stopped being happy and fun)
and one of the parts the Psalms teach that I still struggle to live with is gratitude.  

I have had grace wrap around me like a blanket.
I have love in my life almost everyday.

I rarely attribute these things to God in a real way. I prayed for them, even.
The Psalmist sings - sings - about what God has done. I do not but,


I want to.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thursday post for 3/7/15: No justice? No passing the peace.

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

This is how Lent begins.  We have the opportunity to be marked with ashes and these words.  We’re reminded that we have this life - this one life - to pray and serve and to live fully.  We have the opportunity to reflect on how we get in the way of living in to this faithful life.  We’re reminded that we’re called to make sure that we don’t get in the way of our sisters and brothers having the same opportunity, too.

It feels as though Lent started early this year.  Even though the problems exposed were far from new, the events in Ferguson, Missouri reminded us how far we are from the kin-dom of God.  We have a political, religious, economic and social system that was initially built to perpetuate the values of those who were white, heterosexual, Christian, American and male supremacists though enslavement, genocide, economic oppression, religious oppression and social engineering.  Its a system that establishes a supremacist ideal of logic, beauty and physical ability that considers those who don’t match up as insane, ugly and physically deficient.  Its a system that is so weak in its initial premise that it requires forced or underpaid labor to uphold it.  Its a system that only sees the value of what is natural in the profit it can bring.  It is a system that incarcerates, tortures and sometimes kills those who won’t serve it’s ends; those who rebel against it; those involved in crimes it does not authorize; and anyone who comes close to threatening it.

I walk in to Lent knowing that I am complicit.  No, I’m not always conscious of how I’m complicit but that’s a form of privilege, too.  No, I’m not always the most direct perpetrator of the most heinous of these actions but - through my taxes and the way I spend my money - I have funded them.  No, I don’t speak in favor of any of these actions - I frequently speak against them - but I’ll sometimes choose the comfort of an even more deafening silence.  No, I didn’t start these systems but I am frequently willing to receive the benefits these systems dole out.

These systems are the children of the systems that conspired to torture and kill Jesus.  This isn't all of what Lent's about but its a large important part of what Lent's about.

I know that for many people, giving something up during Lent or doing something differently is an important part of living into Lent.  Sure, for some folks these practices resemble New Year's resolutions more than anything else but I also recognize that for many others giving up something - also known as fasting - is a deeply moving spiritual practice.  Even for those folks choosing to do something different for Lent its a choice to make room for God or deeply living into our humanity.  Both practices set aside things filling up our lives so that more room can be made for a practice of experiencing God and listening to God's leading.

Many of our churches have within their worship services a Prayer of Confession followed by the Words of Assurance and then the Passing of the Peace.  What if, for the rest of Lent, we used the Prayer of Confession to focus on our complicity with systems of oppression and fasted from the Words of Assurance and the Passing of the Peace?  What if the time normally used for these things was used for sharing ways people can resist these systems or to drill down more deeply into one aspect of these realities?  What if white churches reflected on their complicity with racism?  What if affluent churches reflected on their addiction to money?  What if this time was left as an aching space in which instead of asking for God's assurance, we ask for God's help?  What if this was an act of protest by churches to reject comforting words when so many are in need for us to be partners in liberation? We would fast from assurance as a reminder that too many are never assured.  We would fast from passing the peace as a reminder that for too many, peace has been denied.

Within church tradition, one way Lent was recognized was by not using the word "Alleluia" during worship; a word that celebrates God's presence.  Some churches even have a service during which they "bury the Alleluia" and Alleluia doesn't return until Easter.  Fasting from the Words of Assurance and the Passing of the Peace would be inline with this tradition.

This fast wouldn't exclude giving comfort to those who are suffering or sharing peace with those who need it.  It would be a way to, corporately, recognize we have a long way to go and need Christ's help to get there and living in to the spiritual discomfort.

Think about it.  Pray about it.  Try it. No justice?  No passing the peace.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday Prayer for 3/3/15: Fiercly

Inspired by Psalm 19

Dear God:

I remember the first time I saw the Grand Canyon.
It was a full moon on Halloween.  We came through the forest and, suddenly, there it was; all dressed in grandeur and awe; darkness lit by silver.  I did not believe it.  It was far too big.  It was far too wide. With the thumb and index finger of my right hand I pinched the skin on my left.

I remember another time when Ron talked about the stars.
Several of were laying on the desert floor and he talked about immensity and time and distances.  My two hands held on to the earth as I leaned out into the universe and looked around.  It kept me up that night.  It was so big and we were so small and, still, it didn't make that moment any less important.

I remember holding my son.
It was awhile after he was born and the fact that I'd had something to do with this life in my arms really started to sink in.  This was life right there in my arms and it was delicate and strong.  I studied his eyes and he studied mine.  They were wide open and infinite.  It didn’t matter that there were billions of these; this one precious child.

And there was that day I felt as though I was in the womb of God.
That day I felt You seeing the beauty and awe in me.
That day I felt You seeing me in the vastness of the universe but still important.
That day You, as Life itself, reminded me I was life itself.