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Thoughts for Thursday

When we pray for another, it is not an attempt to alter God’s mind toward him. In prayer we add our wills to God’s good will… that in fellowship with Him, He and we may minister to those whom both He and we love. (Henry Sloane Coffin, Joy in Believing, 1956)

Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy
never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come,
knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we
can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP pg 831)

 

A dear friend once commented that during our worship service, the prayers of the people is the closest we come to being Christ like. 

When we gather together to pray for each other and for the world we bring the Kingdom of God ever closer. 

I find myself sometimes struggling in prayer for others. I get specific, praying that this or that will be solved or this job will happen or that thing will be resolved. Sometimes I think I know what the outcome should be, and it ends up not turning out that way but being perfectly alright. Maybe something happens that I hadn’t even thought of.

I like just saying people’s names or being otherwise non-specific. Sure there are outcomes I would prefer for certain situations, and I definitely make that known, but who am I to know what is best? I trust that God is “doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for”. 

So the next time you tell someone, yes I will pray for you, don’t feel like you have to dream up a solution to their problem, or pray for a certain outcome. You can simply lift their name up to God, join your own will to His, and trust that God knows what the best outcome is for that person.

And God hears your prayer anyway, no matter what you end up saying. 

Thoughts for Thursday

You know that if you get in the water and have nothing to hold on to, but try to behave as you would on dry land, you will drown. But if, on the other hand, you trust yourself to the water and let go, you will float. And this is exactly the situation of faith. (Alan WattsThe Way of Liberation, 1983)

cat treading waterThis is me, lately. Struggling to control myself and the water and demanding gravity and fighting the current. It has been so hard to let go, to trust. Stress is everywhere, weighing me down like lead shoes. My prayer is for help in letting go, in trusting God. Help me float, Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

 

Quote

Thoughts for Thursday

We have some strange thought that God has predestined everything, that God has willed everything like it is. God’s will is in process, and you’re in the process with God. God works with us, and God works for us.

-Michael Pfleger, U.S. Catholic, July 1992

Thoughts for Thursday

“Just a Bit of Coloured Paper?”

I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, “I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!”

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, them map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

-C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity

Thoughts for Thursdays

These are some of my favorite TfT entries from 2013. 

[3/21/13]
Happy the Man
by Horace

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite or fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

[5/23/13]

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

[5/30/13]

“…If we are called by God to holiness of life, and if holiness is beyond our natural power to achieve (which it certainly is) then it follows that God himself must give us the light, the strength, and the courage to fulfill the task he requires of us. He will certainly give us the grace we need.”

Thomas Merton, Life and Holiness

[8/22/13]

Prayer is not a monologue. It speaks to God and to the community. In the last analysis, religion is not what goes on inside a soul. It is what goes on in the world, between people, between us and God. To trap faith in a monologue, and pretend that it resides solely inside the self, undermines the true interchange of all believers.

–David Wolpe, In Speech and in Silence: The Jewish Quest for God, 1992.

[10/10/13]

Often we know the lonely and fail to reach out in love. We may be shy or find it hard to show love. We may feel that we are being insincere if we try. Then let us accept ourselves as we are–God’s imperfect instruments–and pray that he will use us despite our shortcomings.

Mother Teresa, 1980

Reflection: Fruits of the Spirit

Last summer I went to an orchard with my sister in law to pick peaches. It

sisinlaw

was a beautiful day, sun shining, but not too hot in the early morning. We picked heaps of peaches, ate some straight off the tree, sticky sweet juice covering our fingers and running down our forearms. It was bliss.

One thing I noticed while eagerly searching out the best fruits: those trees were not perfect. Some were gnarly, some were broken and bent under the weight of the heavy fruit, and some didn’t seem to be bearing much fruit at all.

In Sunday School growing up we had a neat little tree on the wall, perfectly brown and evenly sectioned off, with each fruit of the spirit on its own branch. Most of the kids could recite the fruits (even if we didn’t exactly know what they meant). When I read that passage from Galatians as an adult some of that Sunday School lesson still sticks with me: it is important to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit to inherit the Kingdom of God.

But now I wonder, what about the preceding passage?

9 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.  (Galatians 5:19-23)

 

I don’t know about you but I’m definitely guilt of some of those works of the

peach-tree

flesh (I have yet to be accused of sorcery…) Jealousy? check. Anger? check. Envy? check. Enmity? check. It goes on. Yet I also believe that I bear the fruits of the Spirit too. Do they cancel each other out? Or because I am guilty of some of those flesh-works, does that mean I won’t inherit the kingdom?

I do my best to let the Spirit guide me so that I can live a loving, kind, joyful,

peaceful life. But I’m also a human being, with faults and fleshliness and those things can get in the way.

Back to those trees: those gnarly, ugly, fruit-bearing trees. I may not be a

beautiful, straight, evenly sectioned off Sunday School tree, but I still bear fruit. And you can’t eat tree bark. (Well you can, I just wouldn’t recommend it.) I do my best to grow tall and strong, to nourish myself with the things that will help me bear the sweetest fruits, but I’m still not perfect. And you know what? I am still a beloved child of God.

And so are you.

peaches

The Good News of Roger Ebert

roger ebertWere I to compose a catechism out of quotes by famed film critic Roger Ebert who died yesterday, it might look something like this.

On the well-lived life: “I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”

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