Kingdom Building

“What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.” – N.T. Wright

Holy God, you have called us to follow in the way of your risen Son, and to care for those who are our companions, not only with words of comfort, but with acts of love. Seeking to be true friends of all, we offer our prayers on behalf of the church and the world. Guide us in the path of discipleship, so that, as you have blessed us, we may be a blessing for others, bringing the promise of the kingdom near by our words and deeds. Amen. (Revised Common Lectionary)

Time of Lament

From N.T. Wright, “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.,” Time Magazine Online, March 29, 2020.

“The point of lament, woven thus into the fabric of the biblical tradition, is not just that it’s an outlet for our frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why. The mystery of the biblical story is that God also laments. Some Christians like to think of God as above all that, knowing everything, in charge of everything, calm and unaffected by the troubles in his world. That’s not the picture we get in the Bible.

“God was grieved to his heart, Genesis declares, over the violent wickedness of his human creatures. He was devastated when his own bride, the people of Israel, turned away from him. And when God came back to his people in person—the story of Jesus is meaningless unless that’s what it’s about—he wept at the tomb of his friend. St. Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit “groaning” within us, as we ourselves groan within the pain of the whole creation. The ancient doctrine of the Trinity teaches us to recognize the One God in the tears of Jesus and the anguish of the Spirit.

“It is no part of the Christian vocation, then, to be able to explain what’s happening and why. In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead. As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell. And out of that there can emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness, new scientific understanding, new hope.”

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)

 

Hallowed Ground

How much more ought we to cherish and marvel at the fact that for nearly two thousand years people have prayed this prayer. When you take these words on your lips you stand on hallowed ground.”  N.T. Wright, The Lord and His Prayer

Matthew 6:5-15 (NRSV)

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And do not bring us to the time of trial,
        but rescue us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.