God I love life. I love how wine becomes the blood of Christ and bread breaks into His broken body. Jesus, the Christ, the Living Lord and Loving Savior sits at our table and becomes our banquet. Heads bow. Hands open. We sip. We chew. We remember. . . . . what He did, what He is doing and what He will always do. Starving souls are satisfied. Weary hearts find rest. I love watching water drip down the head of an infant on an altar. God begins the conversation and declares across the universe, “This one is mine. I knew him before he was born. I formed him in his mother’s womb. Nothing absolutely nothing can take him away from My love.” And, the people of God respond. “We promise to live lives that will lead him to Your love.” I love how a man and a woman come together in holy union and end up reflecting the image of God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit become One. A relationship is created to create. Likewise, man and woman become on. And a relationship is created to create. A relationship of giving, not taking. A relationship of receiving, not demanding. I love how God’s breath created a universe that takes our breath away. Its magnificence makes words meaningless. You are amazing, God! Thank you for life . . . . a glimpse of eternity with You. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
We crave to keep our comfort zones. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. Everyday for sixteen years I have driven past Rodeo Drive blissfully oblivious to a “world of without”. As I cling to my things and yearn for yet more, God interrupts my “world of with”. He does it brilliantly. He chooses to use something that is precious to me. Children. They dance into my world through The LANDers, our church’s after-school program for children who have no adult supervision after school. Three of these priceless treasures are brother and sisters. The brother joyfully jumps out of his seat whenever help is needed. His younger sister eagerly runs into my arms the minute she lays eyes on me with the biggest hug and happiest “Ms. Leslie!” Their older sister looks and sings like an angel. When the day ends all three, aged 8-12, join their two high school sisters and sleep in one room. Five children share one bedroom in a dilapidated two bedroom trailer. They inspire and convict me. Crash my comfort zone, Lord. Crash it! Open my eyes to the poverty I comfortably cruise by. Break my heart. Please break it. May their basic needs loom larger than my unneeded wants. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us. Help us to not fear uncomfortable. Help us embrace the scratchy, rough circumstances you place in our world as opportunities to see something we’ve not been able to see. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
Catastrophes. Crises. Concerns. They insist on being a part of our days. They are exhausting. Distracting. Anxiety producing. Had any of those lately? I sure have. You can’t control them. And you want desperately for them to not control you. But they refuse to be ignored. They tug at your heart and taunt your expectations. “I thought things were okay.” But they’re not. “Everything seemed great.” But it’s not. And so we worry. Fear manifests itself in high blood pressure and sweaty palms. We wonder how things will possibly work out. Solutions sneer and stand beyond our grasp. Then suddenly, unexpectedly enters God. The enormous, all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present God makes His presence known to you and to me. And the demons of despair tremble. A promise shouts across the universe. “ALL THINGS – ALL THINGS” – ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE THE LORD!” Romans 8:28 A new reality reveals itself. God is in control. Perfect Love proclaims, “I love you. I’ve got your back. And the ones you love? I’ve got theirs too. Trust me. Keep talking with me about it. I will give you strength to persevere. Wisdom to see what others can’t. And a peace that passes understanding. I will use this for good. As wretched and wrecked as this situation seems, trust Me. I will use it for good.” Help us, Lord. Help us look to You in trust, rather than to circumstances in fear. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
It tastes better than a cup of coffee, a glass of warm milk, or a hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream. A couple of nights ago I realized regretfully that I had forgotten to attend our Study/Prayer Group. Totally bummed I continued the myriad of tasks before me as a gnawing anx began tugging at my soul. Breaking away from my ‘to do’s’, I went outside to walk and wonder. “What is it God? What do you want me to hear?” A spiritual practice came to mind from a recent reading. Centering Prayer. The early desert mother and fathers (ie. 4th century women and men monks who totally captivate my admiration) practiced contemplative prayer as a lifestyle. Today centering prayer provides a means to encounter their transforming experience. I’ve heard about it. But never tried it. That night I tried it. No amount of M&Ms and Diet Coke could have brought the peace and pleasure I experienced in 20 amazing minutes. Recognizing my complete lack of culinary skills this is one of the best recipes I could possibly share with you. Centering Prayer Serves: one weary soul PRESET a timer for 20 minutes CHOOSE one of the words below or your own sacred word of one or two syllables. God, Abba, Jesus, Mary, peace, shalom, prayer, love, stillness, joy … SIT comfortably with eyes closed. and silently, slowly repeat your word. WHEN a “thought, feeling, impression, memory or external stimulus attracts your attention gently return to the sacred word…as if the word were a feather floating softly onto a pillow.” (The Tree of Life, Models of Christian Prayer) SPEAK slowly the Lord’s Prayer at the end of the twenty minutes. YIELDS: one refreshed, centered soul submitted to the Holy Spirit It’s twenty minutes, Lord. It feels impossible. Stir in our hearts a way to do what doesn’t seem doable as we seek to be what we haven’t been for Your glory. We adore You, O Christ, now and forever.