A FRIDAY MEDITATION ~ Speak Peace

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” ― John Lennon

A friend posted a meme on Facebook of a stick figure sitting cross legged on the floor in meditation pose.  He has one eye closed and one eye open. The caption reads, “I feel peace. I feel calm. I feel a hole in my sock.” I responded because I understand this problem and he suggested that it might be a meditation subject.  I wasn’t sure how, but it’s true, sometimes my meditation time has so many “holey” distractions, I can’t be still.

A Soul Friend wrote that we might pick a word to help focus us for the year.  That’s a great idea, and I thank her for the reminder. A focus word is very helpful in our prayer and meditation, but it can be helpful in everyday life, as well.  I couldn’t come up with one until yesterday when I picked the word, “PEACE.” I like this word because it helps me with distractions. I speak peace to worries, to pain, to anger, fear and whatever. It helps me quiet my mind and listen to Jesus or to just be present to and with him.

There is another issue into which I need to speak peace. For several years, I have predicted a revolution. There has been a deep-down sense that there would be one.  The world is in turmoil. Our nation is in turmoil.  We have a new president, and you know that up to this time, it has not gone smoothly.  Revolution has already begun and we will see, if we are looking, what God will do with it. Jesus followers are already revolutionaries, and he is our example of what we are to do.  If we need a refresher course, the place to start in the Bible is the book of Matthew.  I looked up “Jesus said…” on Bible Gateway and all but one reference was from Matthew.  The other was from John. As the revolution takes place, we will need to speak peace to many things. As Jesus followers, we may not always be able to be passive. There are times we may need to resist.  It has always been so.  Read and see.

There are at least three scripture passages from the Old Testament that have come to me the last few days.  The first is in Jeremiah 6:16 – “This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

Joshua 24:15 – “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

And Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” 

In addition to reading the Book of Matthew, I have been meditating on these verses. They help me with focus. It is in being still to know God that I find the “hole in my sock” distractions so often, lately.  But it is also what I need the most.  How else will I know what my particular marching orders are.  In stillness, I can say, “Lord, what will you have me do?” and, many times, hear an answer.  And it is here that I hear him say, “I love you; you are mine.” But, I may need to speak “peace” repeatedly to all those holes as I wait for stillness to come.

As I have said, today we have a new president – Donald Trump. Jesus followers are to pray for him regularly. See 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Every day is recommended. We are to pray even if he might not have been who we wanted or whether we agree with him. I offer this prayer.

  1. For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to [Donald Trump] the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. – Book of Common Prayer, p. 820; #19

In peace, we pray to you, O Lord.

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A FRIDAY MEDITATION – A blessing year

Perhaps everything terrible is, in its deepest being, something that needs our love.”—Rainer Maria Rilke

There are so many images and thoughts coming to mind today.  I don’t know how or if they will fit together. We will begin a new year in two days.  I hope and pray that it will be a much less chaotic year than this passing one.  I think if I were asked what I wish for this next year, I would be likely to answer, as many contestants in beauty pageants do when asked, “World Peace.”  An aside – my granddaughter tried to get her daughter, then two, to answer this way when asked what she wanted for Christmas.  I don’t know that she ever convinced her to say it. But seriously, isn’t that what we all want?

Perhaps, though, we could answer that we want a year of blessing.  We, in our congregation, have been studying about the power of blessings. We have had teachings and sermons about this. Our Sunday book study read and discussed Russ Parker’s Book, Rediscovering the ministry of Blessing. So did Trinity’s chapter of The Brotherhood of St. Andrew.  I recommend it, highly.

Early in our presidential campaigns, I suggested that we bless both of our candidates whether we liked them or not. I believe that those blessings meant something.  I believe that blessings have power. I believe that is what we need to do.  I believe it makes a difference.

Another aside – In a few days, we will have a new president.  Some of us are delighted and some of us are not. That doesn’t matter. We are told in the Bible to pray for our president – 1 Timothy 2:1-4, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” See, World Peace!

Back to blessings, should we not also be giving blessings to our president? Some of us are delighted by this prospect.  Some of us are not. It doesn’t matter.  We just do it.  I have been since the election. My blessings for our president are especially for wisdom, for a discerning heart, and whatever else enters my mind at the time.  Will it make a difference?  I believe so.  I know it will in me. Giving blessing changes a person. (btw – the person we bless doesn’t have to be present.)

Giving blessing could bring light out of the deepening darkness of our world. It may be a tiny light, but it is light nevertheless. Of course, maybe it’s a flood lamp.  Years ago, we took a trip and went into a cave.  Once there, the guide turned out the lights. Talk about darkness.  After a few minutes, he lit a match.  One tiny match.  So much light, you wouldn’t believe. If we lit several matches, can’t you just imagine…

Barbara Brown Tayler tells a story about blessing in her book, Altars in the World. Briefly, she told of a friend of hers who had a nightmare so frightening that he didn’t sleep well for years.  He didn’t have it every night, but he feared that he would. In the dream, “a malevolent being showed up at the door of her friend’s house wanting something.”  Every time he tried to find something to kill it or try to kill it, every time he killed it, the monster got larger.

“On night, in the dream, it occurred to him that what the demon wanted from him was his blessing.”  That was the only thing that would end its agony and make it leave. So, in fear and trembling, he opened the door and began blessing the creature.  Once was not enough.  He had to say it repeatedly in as many ways that he could think to bless. Barbara writes, “It was as if the demon could not get enough…It was as if no one had ever blessed it before.”  Her friend finally said for the hundredth time. ‘I bless you in the name of the Christ, now go in peace.’ Making a sound like a kitten, the demon turned around and never came back.”

We all need blessing.  Every one of us. We all have our own inner monsters.  How healing would it be if we were to bless each other?   Perhaps, the demons inside of us would go away, too.

We can use Fr. Nigel’s blessing for a starter.

May you be filled with the very love of the Lord. May your heart be at peace.  May your Soul be content.  May your body and mind be without pain. May worry be a thing of the past.  May you have abundant life in and through our Lord.  May his healing Grace rest on your shoulders.  Amen. ~ Fr. Nigel W. D. Mumford+

Grace and Peace to you. Have a blessed and blessing New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Revolution

In Christ alone alone my hope is found.  He is my light, my strength, my song.This Cornerstone, this solid ground; firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.  My comforter, may All in All.  Here in the love of Christ I stand.~ Stuart Townend, Keith Getty

Wow!! There has been entirely more than enough emotional content to process for me over the last two years and now add this. Two or three years ago – I don’t remember, I predicted a revolution in our country. I didn’t tell many people, but I kept feeling that this was going to happen. I believed it was a message from God, but I didn’t have any urgency that I should run out through the streets with this nor shout it from the housetops. I thought it was so I would be aware. I didn’t know when this would happen, what would bring it about, or how it would look, but the message kept returning. The last few days of the presidential campaign, I also had a niggling thought that the election would turn out the way it did. And there you have it – history repeats itself. Revolution!

Revolutions are most often violent and bloody. They are always messy. There is almost always an imbalance of power. There are levels of fear, frustration and anger that fuels this. There is a belief that some people are being ignored by the Power and a strong feeling that there aren’t any other ways to even things out and give balance. America has previously had its share of revolution – the American Revolution, Indian uprisings, the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, etc. Along with this, as often happens, we have civil war – brother against brother, family against family, friend against friend. All of us are somewhat afraid and many of us are angry. Revolutions are divisive.

So are you ready for the question? Several people have asked me a similar question over the past three days. It is, “What is a follower and apprentice of Jesus to do in times and situations like these?” What is our response to be?

If we are followers and apprentices of Jesus, we are to do what the master did. This comes to mind – Jesus read this aloud in the synagogue and said it was about him. (From Luke 4:18-19) – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” If these are Jesus’ marching orders, then they are ours as well.

In the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5, 6, 7. – Jesus tells us to be salt and light, don’t retaliate, turn the other check, pray always, love and pray for your enemies, forgive, don’t be anxious or afraid. The Gospels tell us how Jesus carried this out as he modeled it for us.

Then, from our Baptismal Covenant – we, or our parents and godparents for us, promised to do these things:

“Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?”

“Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”

“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”

The answer to each is, of course – “I will, with God’s help.”

An article I read this morning asked the question, “Where are the peacemakers?” For this, we should look in the mirror. This is our calling. We can NOT hate or create violence in the name of Jesus. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

So once again, history repeats itself but God does bat last.

Whether we celebrate the results of this election or mourn, we will need to listen to one another. And that will lead to our reaching out, as the Body of Christ to all those who need us in every corner of the land. – The Episcopal Café

For His Sake – Donna

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Blessings not Cursings

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving spirit may so move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the people of this land], that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. ~ Prayer for Social Justice, The Book of Common Prayer

Ugh. I wasn’t going to write about this – the political stuff running rampant – the hateful, fearful rhetoric surrounding the political campaigns which will most likely continue for some time.  I wasn’t going to do it. But what is a follower of Jesus to do about this? How do we respond? How do I respond?

“Bless instead of curse.”

The phrase wanders around in my head as I sit with the question.  We know that we are to pray for our leaders no matter who gets elected.  Even when it’s hard.  Even when we don’t want to. I think it was Frederick Buechner who said, “Go where your best prayers take you.”  If we do that where will we go?  What will we do?  What will I do? Does it not depend upon what our best prayers say?

“Bless instead of curse.”

Does that mean that I am not get caught up in hateful speech no matter what we believe or about whom we believe it? I think so, even though I may not agree with what they do or say. Recently, I have been praying for God to bless our presidential candidates. I pray that God will touch each of them with his holy spirit and guide them in the days to come.  I pray for God’s will to be done in their lives. The Book of Common Prayer gives this prayer, “O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders [and potential leaders] of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.” The people are to respond, “Lord keep this nation under your care.”  Or we can say, “Amen.” We can start here.

“Bless instead of curse.”

Today while praying I heard God say, “Now you bless them?” Oh! That puts a different slant on things, doesn’t it? What is an apprentice of Jesus to do, here? Does it just mean that I/we say, “Bless so and so?” Donald and Hillary in this case and it is this case. How do I do this? Jesus not only said bless and not curse, but do good to them, also.  What does that mean?  It doesn’t mean, “Bless your little heart, you pour little misinformed one.”  But I believe it means that I am to bless them with all good. Oh boy, do I have my work cut out for me. Maybe you, do too.

Will blessing make a difference in the outcome? I hope so. I pray so. I believe that’s why God said so. But I know it’ll make a difference in me.

“I bless you with knowing the joy of the Lord that is your strength.

I bless you with knowing joy in his faithfulness in profound and life-giving ways.

I bless you with remembering times when he showed you his faithfulness.

I bless you with enlarging your spirit to know profoundly and deeply that your Father is pleased with you.

I bless you with receiving the truth of your identity, legitimacy and birthright.

I bless you with knowing who you are in your Father’s eyes and in drinking deeply of the joy that he has in who you are.” ~ Sylvia Gunter, Blessing Your Spirit

Grace and Peace, Donna

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Changes and Doubts

RESURRECTION CHANGES THINGS

Jesus himself appeared and stood among the eleven and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? … Luke 24:36-38

The weather has been just about perfect the past few days, hasn’t it?  Trees and flowers are blooming, clapping their hands with joy and singing alleluias!!  The birds join in.  Listen! We hear it softly at first. “The Lord has risen indeed.  Alleluia.”  Then louder – “THE LORD HAS RISEN INDEED!  ALLELUIA!”  All creation sings along.  So, why do we have doubts, today?

The disciples had this problem, too.  Only a few had witnessed the crucifixion, but there were witnesses.  Mary, and some of the other women, had been there and seen it all.  Mary had stayed by his tomb, and she said that she had seen him alive.  Others saw the stone had been rolled away and angels told them Jesus was no longer dead but had risen as he had said he would. There were rumors that he had appeared to others, too. But could it be true?  Maybe so.  Then what’s the problem?

I was touched by this reflection from Laura Darling in 50 days of Fabulous about two years ago. So much so that I am going to repeat it.: “Why do doubts arise in our hearts? Because you were dead, that’s why! Not only merely dead, but really, most sincerely dead. May I say it again? Dead. Not resting. Not stunned. You had passed on, ceased to be, expired. You were bereft of life, you had kicked the bucket, you had shuffled off this mortal coil. You were dead and buried, and we were never going to see you again. That’s what death means, you know. It means separation. It means all last chances are gone. It means there’s no chance for anything to be any different between us.

“And now here you are, and it’s not a delusion, and you’re not a ghost, and you’re eating a friggin’ fish. So forgive me if I’m a little wigged out here, but that’s not how life is supposed to go. It’s supposed to go in a certain direction. It’s supposed to allow for no revisions. What’s past is past, what’s done is done, what’s gone is gone, what’s dead is dead.

“I’ve got to tell you, Jesus, you have broken those rules so badly I don’t even know where to put them anymore. I don’t think there’s any charity that would take them, you’ve messed them up so badly. And now that those rules about the past and the future, death and life, you and me, are in the rubbish, I’ve got to ask you, what else are you going to change?”— (underline, mine)

What else is going to change, indeed? I’ve had many changes in my life this year.  I know Jesus has been involved in them. I’m sure in your changes, too. So, why do we doubt? Why do we wonder if it is really Jesus showing up in our lives?  Did he not say he would?  We could miss, in this story, that Jesus shows himself to the disciples while they are doubting.  Their doubts didn’t keep him away. Nor do ours.  What are our doubts today?  Where is Jesus showing himself? What is changing? What is he resurrecting in you and me?  Because, resurrection changes things.  Alleluia!

Come, young and old from every land – Men and women of the faith;
Come, those with full or empty hands – Find the riches of His grace.
Over all the world, His people sing – Shore to shore we hear them call
The Truth that cries through every age: “Our God is all in all”!

~ Keith and Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Four letter words and stuff

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9

Moving is a four letter word. I am trying to get rid of some excess stuff in order to simplify my life, and seriously…..am I really going to do anything with this pile of fabric that has sat on the same shelf in the exact same spot since I moved here eight years ago?  And since it came with me, the shelf it probably sat on for at least 5 years before that.  Most likely the answer is “No.” So why keep it?  It’s not that decorative.  My daughter-in-law and granddaughter might want some. Then how about that huge container of left over yarn? Uh…

There are two boxes of books from a book club obtained when I neglected to send back the card to say that I didn’t want the book?  I haven’t read them and I don’t want to read them.  What’s more, I finally came to that conclusion.  They are practically brand new except they may be 20 years old. Well, I love books but really – give them to the library.  They love books too.

How did I get so pack rat like?  I don’t know.  But wait – didn’t my siblings just clean out my mom’s house while I watched, because the floor was so full of stuff that I couldn’t keep my balance without light. The lamps had gone in an estate sale. I did come home with very little—a keepsake or two, something for the kids and a couple of grandkids who wanted one.  But, I did bring home pile upon pile of photos and historical documents for the amateur genealogist in me. Sigh.

I’m getting rid of furniture that I do not like or that is not comfortable.  William Morris an English textile designer said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” One or the other.  Maybe both. My husband wonders…but he’s both. What about the stuff I love?  If I really love it, I’ll keep it, but my “loves” are changing.  I feel transformation happening within. I want more space and less stuffed closets. It is a good Lenten spiritual exercise to sort and get rid of things that are no longer useful, or that do not make you happy and peaceful, in order to make space in your home and in your spirit. I saw a suggestion to give away one thing out of your closet for each day in Lent and I have more than met expectations in this, but there is still more that can go. I already feel freer and lighter with more room for God.

Why am I writing when I’m up over my ears in boxes and we’re not finished packing? When the moving van will come on Wednesday and I don’t have a home to put the stuff in I did keep? Well, because it’s what I do…There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I don’t think it’s a train.  Any day now, we will know if the only door for housing that has not been slammed in our face, before we even have a chance to go for a looky-loo, is the one which God will tell us to go through and unpack. This, also, is a Lenten exercise in trust and patience for sure.

Lead me Lord, lead me by your Spirit.  Make your will clear for my future.  For it is you Lord, you the wounded healer, who makes my heart sing and my feet dance for joy.  Fill me Lord, fill me with your Spirit ~ Spirit of love, Spirit of joy and peace. Be my rock, be my rock of refuge, of courage and strength for my journey. ~ Finians’s Readings, Celtic Daily Prayer

A FRIDAY MEDITATION -God is Enough

Let nothing disturb you, Nothing frighten you; 
All things are passing; God never changes;
Patient endurance Attains all things;
Whoever possesses God Lacks nothing;
God alone suffices. ~ Teresa of Avila

Hasn’t the weather been wonderful today?  Yesterday, too.  Most of the snow has melted except for the huge piles left from clearing roads, etc.   I was beginning to think I would never see the ground covered in any color but white, again, but there is hope for spring. Before long, buds will begin to swell on trees and early blossoms will begin to appear, and Dave and I will be living somewhere else.  Happy Lent by the way.

How is the move going?  You might ask. We are still waiting on a price for the house.  The appraisal is in the works.  We are in the countdown, now, so we are looking at whatever else is out there.  We were going to look at two that we had driven past, but when we called the realtor, both, in addition to one other, are under contract.  Last word to me from God on the subject was “Pack.” Seriously? I feel like Abraham.  Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you…’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” (Genesis 12:1, 4). In other words, God said, “Abram, ‘Pack’ your bags and hit the road.  I’ll tell you, where and when to unpack.” So, I’m sorting things, getting rid of some, and awaiting word from the movers, the house seller and looking for other possibilities. Is this moving project really a God thing?  You’re probably asking that question by now as well.

Teresa of Avila is my “go to” girl for the last few days.  I’m reminded of a story….aren’t I always? Teresa was born in 16th century Spain. As a child she always wanted to do something great for God so she, eventually, became a Carmelite nun after the death of her father who was against the whole idea.  She has many interesting life stories, but I love the one that has been told over and again.  While Teresa’s spirituality was a deeply reverential one, she had a wonderful sense of humor. This humor shows a kind of playfulness in her relationship with God. Once, when she was travelling to one of her convents, Teresa was knocked off her donkey and fell into the mud, injuring her leg. “Lord,” she said, “you couldn’t have picked a worse time for this to happen. Why would you let this happen?” The response, she heard was, “That is how I treat my friends.” Teresa answered, “And that is why you have so few of them!” What a relationship.  I can relate to this story at the moment while I’m trying to keep my humor intact.

Once, Teresa said, O God, I don’t love you. I don’t want to love you. But I want to want to love you.”  One wonders what was happening during this time.  Then, maybe she was woefully aware of her own shortcomings and lack of love.  Perhaps, this is a prayer of longing and a request for help. Amen.

I taught a class on discernment last year using the book DESIRING GOD’S WILL, by David Benner to spark our discussion. He made the distinction between Willingness and Willfulness.  Do I want my will or God’s will?  I might say, “God I don’t do your will.  I don’t want to do your will. But, I do so want to want to do your will.”  Willingness, not my own willfulness. I want to do God’s thing in this because when I do my own, I usually end up wishing I hadn’t. Well, I have been told to pack, so I better get to it, patiently.

“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and everyone of you.” ― Teresa of Avila