Holy Exuberance!

From Longing to Pray by Ellsworth Kalas:

Israel built into its calendar occasions for exuberance. There were not only the annual feast days — all but one of which were celebratory — but every week there was the Sabbath. And the Sabbath was something to be celebrated…. Exuberance can’t be programmed or scheduled, but a schedule can provide a setting in which exuberance is more easily born or nurtured…. And it is the very essence of religious ritual. We easily decry “empty ritual”; the Old Testament prophets did so with vigor. But if the ritual is empty, that’s our fault. Rituals provide the magnificent setting in which the jewel of holy exuberance can shine. (Kalas 54-55, emphasis added)

Psalm 98, from The Message – An example of “holy exuberance” if there ever was one!

Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!

He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.

God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.

He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God’s work of salvation!

Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.

Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
With everything living on earth joining in.

Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!”
And mountains harmonize the finale—

A tribute to God when he comes,
When he comes to set the earth right.

He’ll straighten out the whole world,
He’ll put the world right, and everyone in it.

 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
    so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities.

 

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)

Self Care

We will get through this. Be sure to take a prayer break whenever you need one… maybe even while social distancing in a patch of dandelions! May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)

Just Name The Place

Chapter 5 of Longing to Pray, by Ellsworth Kalas, is all about the places, schedules, and body language that provide the scaffolding from which we hang our friendships. We may meet a group of friends each month at a specific restaurant at a time certain, knowing that when we meet, everyone will lounge comfortably in his or her chair, slowly enjoying good food and even better friendships. We look forward to it, we aren’t in a hurry to leave, and we certainly aren’t thinking of other places or people. We settle in and enjoy the time we have together.

Right now, we aren’t able to make that lunch date. None of us. We’re trying as hard as we can to protect everyone we know (and even those we don’t) from contracting and spreading the coronavirus. Just a couple of months ago, we had no idea that our usual get-togethers – be they lunches, church, or even boring work meetings – would be our last for a good long while.

And because we never really thought about them ending… well… we sort of took them for granted, didn’t we?  Once all this “social distancing” is over, I bet we don’t do that again for a very long time. But… we’ll still have to be on the lookout because we’re apt to forget how blessed we are all over again. We are human after all, eh?

Dr. Kalas asks us to think about all those places and times that we share with friends, and how those things add to our friendships – especially our friendship with God. Do we have a favorite place where we meet with God regularly? Do we “hang out” and pray leisurely? Or, are we checking our watch, making our grocery list, daydreaming between sporadic scripture reading?

Are we giving God the same considerations we would give to our dearest friend? When was the last time we had a leisurely lunch with God rather than merely firing off a quick “text-message prayer” to check in?

Dr. Kalas writes, “Since you and I are human creatures, our human circumstances affect even our spiritual moments—including especially the moments of friendship, both human and divine.” (p.48)

Remember: God is always available. It’s up to us to set the place, the time, and the pace.

Psalm 62:5-8

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us.

Glory Be To Our Father!

Sometimes, I need to talk to God; but more often than not, God wants to talk to me. That’s not a concept I grew up with. Prayer meant me doing all the talking, saying what I was thankful, needful, or sorrowful for. It wasn’t explained as being a two-way conversation. But, the psalms tell us a different story.

I’m learning God wants to enter the dialogue.

Join me today in clearing the crowded mind, finding a quiet place, and simply spending time in conversation with God. Give him thanks. Praise him. Then take a few minutes and sit in silence. Every time you pray, you are sharing time with God. Let prayer become a moment of holy relationship spent in the presence of the Father, listening to his words meant only for us to hear.

Psalm 29:3-9

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
    Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
    with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
    the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
    and strips the forests bare.

And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

Immanuel

God is with us.

I ask that you meditate on that one thought today. Take refuge in it. No matter where you are or what your circumstance, God is present. You are not alone.

“To recognize that the Psalms call us to pray and sing at the intersections of the times — of our time and God’s time, of the then, and the now, and the not yet — is to understand how those emotions are to be held within the rhythm of a life lived in God’s presence.” (N.T. Wright, The Case For The Psalms)

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
     he leads me beside still waters;
  he restores my soul.
   He leads me in right paths
     for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
     I fear no evil;
  for you are with me;
     your rod and your staff—
     they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
     in the presence of my enemies;
   you anoint my head with oil;
     my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
     all the days of my life,
   and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
     my whole life long.

 

prayinghands-300x209Our heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray thee so to guide and govern us by thy Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget thee, but may remember that we are ever walking in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (Book of Common Prayer)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)

 

Show Some Love

Mark 12:28-31

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 

During the current COVID-19 outbreak, here are a few ways to show yourself and your neighbor some love:

  • PRAY
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, and maintain 6 ft of social distancing if you are around others. Do not shake hands. Social distancing is extremely important to protect our neighbors from being infected. You do not have to be actively sick to carry the virus or pass it to others!
  • Cover coughs and sneezes, then wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. Immediately throw away used tissues.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Don’t forget those cell phones!
  • PRAY

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)