Thursday, 25 May 2017

Restore

(Journaled April 2, 2017)

Lord and Father God, dear Jesus, Holy Spirit...

You know my messed-up heart.

Please forgive me for all my wanderings and rebellions and fears and my love of the world's recognition.

Forgive me, please, for not worshipping You.

"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and restore a right spirit within me."

"Lord God, be merciful to me, a sinner."

Please forgive me and restore me ... Thank you.

Monday, 22 May 2017

liturgical church


(Journalled March 26, 2017)

I've been reading and talking to people about Eastern Orthodoxy lately.

I'm feeling a bit nervous about it, as it brings up so many memories of teachings I heard in my childhood about the "dangers" of churches that use "icons" and look back to "tradition" and "the church Fathers" and depend too much on intellectual (deep study) and so on and so forth (and rites and rituals and mysticism and the spiritual disciplines)--all those arguments I heard over and over against Roman Catholicism when I was young (I don't ever remember hearing anything about Eastern Orthodoxy one way or another, though).

But at the same time, I long for some ritual...and deep thinking...and the long history of the church...and community (that goes deeper that breakfast together and some discussion once a week on Sunday mornings). I love liturgy and written/group prayers that have long, deep roots and branches that pull together all believers through time and place.

There was a time when I thought "house church" was the answer...and I still think aspects of it are valuable...but oh, I miss group prayer and songs/praise and liturgy, and yes, even some "authority" as in spiritual leaders/ fathers/ parents who are examples and mentors.

But I'm wondering ... What about the "confession" part (Well, maybe we Protestants need more focus on that, anyway, eh)? And veneration of Mary.

(And in the Roman Catholic Church the whole purgatory thing? ... And great wrongs of the past like the Crusades and Inquisitions and wealth of religious Christian institutions ... and cover-ups of things like clergy paedophilia... and cozy relationships between state and church...and oppression of huge groups of people...and forcing of cultural customs in the name of the church with little or no recognition of "free will" or the value of other cultures and traditions...)

But maybe a lot of that stuff isn't Christianity anyway. Maybe it's institutionalised religion in cahoots with the state's power and financial and political machinery? How do we separate the two, though? How do we truly live in this world yet not be of this world and its kingdoms and power and religious structures...under the overarching power of the "prince of this world" ... or is he even the prince of this world anymore if he was conquered at the cross by the blood of Jesus? ....but it sure looks like he is plenty active (and without a doubt, alive)...but the again, how much of it is just US, weak, flawed humanity?

Oh, dear God, please show me Your way. And help me trust You...even with all my doubts and confusion (and yes, sometimes anger...and disbelief...)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

speaking evil of those we disagree with

(originally journaled March 26, 2017)

Every time I listen to or read the news ... or watch those forensic crime documentaries on TV with hubby ... I just sit there and wonder how, how, how on earth people can be so depraved and evil? How do people move from "little white lies" and "arguments" and stuff to really cold-blooded murder and extreme violence ... and religious extremism, too?

It bothers me just as much when I hear "good Christians" name-calling those who believe differently and/or want them tossed out of the country or whatever.  It bothers me just as much--maybe more--than hearing about criminals committing murder and all. Because--"good Christians" should know what the Bible (and Jesus!) teaches and should be led by the Holy Spirit ... yet it seems so much of the time that we're led (cheerfully, without any real thought about it) by our own beliefs, desires, whatever--and unfortunately, I might well add, by the enemy...because surely Jesus wouldn't approve of or set an example of those kinds of attitudes and speech and action.

Am I right about that? (Not to mention I know very well that I'm guilty of it, myself...)

Monday, 15 May 2017

Good--God--Moments

(originally journaled February 5, 2017

I was listening, in the middle of the night, to radio programming from Australian Broadcasting. They interviewed a family of dairy farmers who is sticking it out and loving it, while dairy farmers all around them have been losing money and giving up. But this family is determined to stick it out because they love farming and they love the land ... and they said they have hope because of their Christian faith--and they expressed that so clearly, confidently, happily.

But then there were other news reports about so many dark events in news worldwide ... and I found myself wondering (again) how the world can be such a dark, evil place .. but then thinking about daily life and all its little bright spots. True, there are a lot of people living in really bad situations like refugees in camps and people stuck in war zones, and persecutions from groups like ISIL. But even then, we hear of people in those situations who find small, happy moments in the midst of all of it.

I guess when we live in a relatively safe place like Canada, we fail to notice the small, good -- God! -- moments because there are so many of them that we tend to take them for granted. Good reason to read the Psalms again -- and the way they show faith and hope in dark circumstances. The battle goes on. I was wondering about why it goes on when Jesus has won the "war" -- but of course the enemy is bitter and has his own "hope" I suppose.

But in the end, as the dairy farmer lady said, we have hope because "all things work together for good..." in the end--and as she also said, "There is such liberation and hope in that!"

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Deeper with God

(originally journaled February 1, 2017)

As I've been praying about "launching out into the deep" over the past nearly a year (!), I've felt discouraged because I've kept expecting that at some point I'll have some kind of great emotional experience--and I haven't. I've felt gradually more confident that God loves me and has forgiven my wanderings, and because of that, I have a greater (but not overwhelming, because I still have moments of doubt and worry, and questioning) sense of peace.

But this morning I realised God is taking me deeper with Him ... but "deeper" isn't a fuzzy-wuzzy or yippy-yahoo kind of emotional experience. Just like in a human romantic relationship, the initial "thrill" mostly wears off, but as you keep at it "for better, for worse..." you come to know and love and be comfortable and attached more and more. So it is in relationship with Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit--God. There are joyful moments of "delight," even of "thrill," but the deep knowing, acceptance, assurance, love, caring, comfort is really worth so much more.

Thank You! Amen!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

prayers 11


(Over the past few days, I've been sharing some of my "daily prayers." Some parts are in my own words, some are quoted from other sources. I'll be leaving out personal names and details. Today, the final instalment, is #11)

"Be mindful, Lord, of thy people bowed before thee, and of those who are absent through age, sickness, or infirmity. Care for the infants, guide the young, support the aged, encourage the faint-hearted, collect the scattered, and bring the wandering to thy fold. Travel with the voyagers, defend the widows, shield the orphans, deliver the captives, heal the sick. Succour all who are in tribulation, necessity, or distress. Remember for good all those that love us, and those that hate us, and those that have desired us, unworthy as we are, to pray for them. And those whom we have forgotten, do thou oh Lord remember. For thou art the Helper of the helpless, the Saviour of the lost, the refuge of the wanderer, the Healer of the sick. Thou, who knowest each man’s need, and hast heard his prayer, grant unto each according to thy merciful loving-kindness and thy eternal love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."*

“Oh God, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive; receive our humble petitions, and, though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sin, yet let the pitifulness of thy great mercy loose us, for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.”*
“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. The Lord bless us and keep us, the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us, and give us peace, now and forevermore. Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us, Lord have mercy upon us. O Lord, save thy servants that put their trust in thee. Amen.”*

Glory, glory, hallelujah, now I lay my burdens down. Please take them now, in Jesus’ name, Amen. Thank You for Your light and easy burdens, instead.  Thank you, Lord, for your Joy, Love, and Peace. Thank You most of all for YOU! Praise You, Lord! And thank You that You long for relationship and love with us, Your humble and weak (and undeserving—but still so loved by You) creation and servants. Please help us, help me, to respond to You with love and joy and trust and faith in You. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen. I love You, Lord. Thank You. Praise Your Holy Name. Amen. Joy!

* Quoted prayers are from the Book of Common Prayer Canada (Anglican--1950s edition)

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

prayers 10


(Over the past few days, I've been sharing some of my "daily prayers." Some parts are in my own words, some are quoted from other sources. I'll be leaving out personal names and details. Today is #10)

I pray for families of my tutoring students—for the students, parents, and siblings, for health issues and relationships, for jobs and education, for losses of family members, for disabilities and learning differences. I pray you will use me to point them to you, and that your Spirit will draw them. Thank You for new students you are providing.

I pray for people with depression and other mental health issues. Please wrap Your arms around us all and drive out the darkness with Your Light! I pray for all people and families affected by dementia. Oh dear God, please help them. Please, Lord, be especially close to all those who suffer in these ways, directly or indirectly. In Jesus’ name.

Thank you, Lord, that you are close to all those who are suffering; help them to learn to turn to and trust in and lean on you. Please use their circumstances to draw them to you. Make rainbows out of their storms. Thank you, Lord. Bless them, love them, care for them—I know you do! Your will and purposes be done.  Help me to accept your will in these things, and to trust your love and mercy. Thank you for suffering that draws us to you and matures us and makes us able to understand and have compassion and help others and lead them to You and Your love. Help us to understand the work you do in us through our suffering—and how our relationship with you grows stronger and how we see your love for us and others through it all. Amen and Amen.