#MondayPrayer: Speak true

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Image source.

Dear Lord,
Sometimes it’s so hard to trust that You know best.
Hard to trust that You’re good and kind and faithful and just.
That You’re true. That You’re real.
The world is as convincing as a politician, and as full of promises. Promises that in times of hardship, difficulty, pain and uncertainty – oh, the uncertainty! – look if not better, then at least more likely.
And You never were a politician.
Never said what the “It” crowd wanted to hear.
Never stood with the powerful or the perverse.
Never wavered from the Kingdom way You proclaimed.
Father’s Son, You always spoke true
(and good and kind and merciful)
calling, inviting, encouraging.
Speak to me today. Speak to me of trust.
Speak to me of truth: Your truth.
Speak to me of mercy over judgment
and repentance over sin
and love over apathy, anger, and hatred,
of patience and gentleness and self-control.
Speak to me the good words of obedience
and faith, of resurrection life, of You, Your Spirit, and our Father.
Speak, Lord. It’s Monday, but Your servant is listening
(or trying to, anyways.)
Amen.

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Hope against all hope: a #MondayPrayer

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Lord oh Lord oh Lord…

As You invented the seven-day week model, I hold You personally responsible for Mondays. A big part of me wants to hold you responsible for this Monday in particular; for everything from my bad night’s sleep to floods in India to the real possibility that I’ll check Twitter at some point today and see that North Korea and the US’s posturing men children leaders have started a nuclear war. I want to hold You responsible for the prayer request I received from a woman in a terrible situation. I want to hold You responsible for me.

This is very unfair of me I know, and hardly deserved. Still, sometimes the gulf between knowing something and feeling something is nigh insurmountable. I think You know about that gulf: after all, against all caution, You created us and hoped… Someone’s clearly an optimist.

I think it’s that hope I need most this week: hope against all hope. Hope against all hope that sleep will be caught up, that Tuesday won’t loom as large, that cooler heads will prevail, that the places that need sunshine more than rain will get it and that the places that need rain rather than sunshine will get it too. Hope that a married man will come to his senses or fall down a hole (either will do). Hope that I could be less of a Dumpster fire (I did say hope against all hope).

I need Your hope. The whole world needs Your hope.

Praying for it today, Lord, and for Trump’s Twitter app to crash.

Amen.

#CoffeeTimePrayer: Fertile ground

 

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Image source.

 

Once when I was a young teen my friends and I were playing the 30 Seconds board game. At one point a person on the opposite team quickly had to explain something to their teammate; we stuck our fingers in our ears to stop us from overhearing. Unfortunately, our nefarious plan to eavesdrop failed when they asked us, “Can you hear us?” and yours truly shook her head “No”!

In Matthew 13:16-17, wedged between the Parable of the Sower and its explanation, Jesus told his disciples, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it” (NRSV). Because we have seen and heard Jesus through the Word and the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we can’t shake our heads “No!” when we clearly hear his voice! We don’t have the excuse of thorny or rocky or weedy ground to explain our lack of faithful yield, because we “[hear] the word and understand it” (verse 23).

If like me you often find yourself shaking your head “No!” when Jesus talks to you, don’t be discouraged! In Proverbs 20:12 we read, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye—the Lord has made them both” (NRSV). Rather than condemn ourselves for our lack of yield, we can ask the Spirit of God to restore our sight and to heal our hearing, to see him and to hear him so we can be fruitful ground for the Kingdom seed.

Prayer: Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear you. Amen.

#CoffeeTimePrayer: Hope alights

Brown Bird on a Branch

Winston Churchill called his depression a “black dog”. It was something that dogged his steps, leading him to avoid balconies or railway tracks for fear that he wouldn’t be able to resist suicide.

If depression is like a black dog, then hope alights like a bird. It flits from tree to tree and garden to garden. One of the joys of bird watching is how transient individual birds are even when they’re nesting in the area. To see them is to appreciate them, for the sight might be rare.

Hope is hard when we’re having “black dog” days. We can become so preoccupied with the creature pursuing us that we forget to keep our eyes open for hope. But hope is perched above us. Sometimes it’s hardly visible, but it’s always worth the trouble to look for it. Like God, it might just surprise us.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:5 NIV

Lord God, help us to find the hope of you in our darkest days. Amen.

Looking Lectionary: Easter 5A

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Reading: John 14:1-14

“From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:7b)

To have seen God! We Christians have a tendency to romanticize the fact that the old prophets, like Abraham and Moses, had face-to-face encounters with God; “If that had been us,” we lament, “we wouldn’t have doubted half so much!” But for your average Jew, the sight of God was unimaginable. The great I AM was shrouded in tabernacle and temple and the Holy of Holies: visited once a year, glimpsed only by a man set aside for the job in holiness and righteousness.

So when Jesus told his disciples that they knew the Father and had already seen him? This was a big deal. A hold-your-breath moment. Staggering. It’s perhaps unsurprising that Philip asked, tentative, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” For Philip and the rest, it could not compute that they had somehow seen the Father without realising it – this was the God who set Moses’ face aglow with his presence. How could they have missed it?

We see things through the filter of our minds, both on a physiological and psychological level. Our unconscious filters out details it deems unimportant, so there’s truth to the fact that we struggle with seeing things objectively when even our observation is suspect. Add our psychological filter – biased to self and relating everything to the self before “plugging it into” other perceptions, and it’s obvious that our “sight” as such is compromised.

Jesus’ disciples, Jews that they were, had learned to see – or not see – God in a particular way; one that didn’t account for the incarnation of God the Father as the Son. That God would thus reveal himself – his heart, his mind, his very character – in a man named Jesus was astounding. It’s why Jesus went to such pains to drive the point home that if the disciples had seen him, known him, then they had seen and known the Father; moreover, that even as the Father dwelt in Jesus, and Jesus in him, the disciples and believers would come to dwell with God in his house. John, in his wordy way, closed the loop between believers and God, a loop that had been open a long time.

Nowadays we have the benefit of the revelation of Jesus Christ. In relationship, we see the whole of the Trinity revealed in Jesus: the Father he revealed, and the Holy Spirit left behind as a constant revelation. But I wonder if religion sometimes “shifts” our sight away from this incomprehensible, astounding vision of God’s heart to something that fits more comfortably within doctrine and liturgy and an hour on Sunday; and if we aren’t poorer, blinder, for the difference.

Jesus is “the truth, the way, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Apart from Jesus, our vision of the Father is foggy, limited; woe to us, then, if we lose sight even of him: this Nazarene with his compassion and his dusty feet, revealing God’s love in diseased skin touched, blind eyes healed, stooped backs righted, dead people raised.

Understood this way, we come to dwell in this vision of God, this reality of who God is; and this reality is his kingdom, come.

Blessings for your week,
Lee