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Tag Archives: prayer
I am sitting in the library at my school waiting for the machine to warm up so that I may laminate some posters, and it has me thinking about all the time in our lives we spend waiting for lights to change.
The most obvious is waiting for traffic lights. The red light interrupts our journey and sometimes seems to go on for ever. I expect we would find a direct correlation between how much of a hurry we are in and the slow change. Of course there are people who don’t wait, they just rush heedlessly through that red, or speed up for the yellow. Many times, more due to the alertness of the other drivers, this works out for them, but it can often lead to crashes which, in the end, make them far later than they would have been.
We wait for the light on coffee makers to let us know that our caffeine is ready. Again, when in a hurry, people often sneak their cups in the flow. This is so common that many manufacturers have designed pots that sense when the pot is removed and pause in the brew cycle. Those sneaked cups have two effects; they are much stronger than a regular cup from the pot, and they make the rest of the pot weaker for everyone else.
When picking up my daughter at closing time at her work, I wait for the lights to turn off. When I want to go to a store I wait for the open sign to light up. On New Year’s Eve people wait for the lights to come on in the Big Apple to announce that the new year has begun. At the end of a long sleepless night we may watch for the sunrise. And we Christians watch for the Son-rise on a whole new earth and heaven.
And so we wait. Given how often we have to wait for things, you might think that we would have gotten really good at it! Infants and young children, in Freud’s Id stage, don’t yet understand that they may have to wait for gratification. As adults we are much better at waiting than when we were young, and yet…
I guess the way we handle waiting depends on what we do in the meantime. Drumming fingers, constantly checking the clock, or pacing will do nothing but build stress and waste time. If we take the time to do something els the time may pass without us really noticing. We could use the time for a prayer for those people in our lives who need God’s special help.
There is really no way to cheat on waiting for Christ to return. We aren’t supposed to just stand still looking up at the sky, we are meant to make use of the time to make the present earth as much like the kingdom of heaven as possible. As we wait for this light to change, let us pray as Jesus taught us.
Our father in heaven
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
As most people on the Eastern seaboard know, hurricane Irene has been developing and then moving northward for several days now. In her wake she has been leaving destruction, cancellations, power outages and deaths. They have been broadcasting warnings to prepare for emergency survival for days now. In areas used to hurricanes and tornadoes I imagine everyone takes the warnings very seriously. In New Brunswick, where the storms are almost always downgraded and getting tired before they reach us, I think a lot of people talk about the upcoming bad weather but then don’t really do anything much to prepare. Boaters take precautions to ensure their boats are neither smashed against the docks, nor set loose from moorings. One of my friends on Face Book said we are supposed to be making 72 hour survival kits and practicing escape routes, but I only heard of one person actually stocking up on water and groceries.
This reminds me of the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9). God had warned people that they needed to make changes, repent and live according to His laws. They didn’t. He warned of consequences. They ignored Him. Only Noah listened and took the directions God gave to prepare for surviving the storm. Everyone else went about their everyday lives, taking time out to gossip and laugh about Noah and the huge boat he was building in the middle of dry land. As you know, however, Noah and his family were the only ones to survive the flood of which everyone had been warned! Why didn’t the others listen? Why do most of us still not listen when we are given advance warning?
Clearly Irene is not a storm of the magnitude of the one which caused the Great Flood! It is not going to rain for forty days, and forty nights. If we are ignoring the warnings about this storm, though, what greater warnings may we likewise be ignoring? Are we so comfortable and complacent that we don’t realize the dangers our souls face in the midst of our modern societies? If you have been hit by hurricane Irene (or tropical storm) I pray that you are safe and unharmed and surrounded by your family. For those still in the path, take reasonable precautions and then maybe take some time to watch the rain and the trees swaying in the wind, remember that we have been warned, and pray that we are ready to hear and heed your warnings about upcoming storms in our lives so that we may, like Noah, be prepared and, with God’s help, survive!
It is August, and in New Brunswick that means it is corn season. I love corn season! There is nothing to equal the taste of a freshly boiled corn-on-the-cob rolled liberally in butter and salted to perfection! Let’s pause and give thanks to God for creating such an amazing food!
OK, so my problem is that some years ago I began to have problems digesting corn. I love corn, but corn doesn’t love me. I won’t gross you out with details, suffice to say that I am now at the point where I know for a fact that I will suffer significantly if I even eat a tiny serving of niblet corn and a fresh cob is really out of the question. But then I start to think or say, “it is sooo good !”…”maybe this time it will be ok”…”what is a little pain anyway?” The end of this story is probably quite clear to you already. Of course, I end up eating the corn and I enjoy it so much at the time.
My village has an annual corn boil at the community hall around the corner from our home. What I should do is not even drive by the hall on corn boil night. Most of the year I don’t have any real problem avoiding eating corn. The only other challenge is the corn chowder at the fall bazaar.
We all have our issues like this. Things that we enjoy so much even though they’re not good for us. Of course many of those issues are a fair bit more important, dangerous, unethical or even illegal. That is why in the Lord’s prayer it is so important that we have the line, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.”
One of the things that happens when you travel is that you end up sleeping in strange, that is to say unfamiliar, beds. They may have firmer or softer mattresses, different sheets and blankets, and perhaps more of an issue, different pillows. Pillows come in all levels of firmness, some are stuffed with feathers or down, some with synthetic filling, and ours are filled with buckwheat hulls. In some hotels they realize the importance of choice of pillow to the extent that they provide a variety of pillows and even label them as to firmness. No matter how nice the bed may be, when you get home to your own bed, and settle your head down onto your own pillow for the first time there is such a feeling of comfort.
Today one of the lectionary readings was the story of Jacob in Bethel. Jacob is on the run after cheating his brother out of his father’s blessing. He is out in the middle of nowhere and overcome with exhaustion he settles down on the ground with a rock for a pillow. He falls into a deep sleep and dreams of a ladder to heaven. I have slept on some pretty uncomfortable pillows in my travels, even down to a little pile of clothes under the end of the sleeping bag, nothing came close to a rock! What was he thinking? Did he not have any other options?
Hard and uncomfortable as that pillow was, Jacob slept well and God spoke to him through his dream. Do we need a rock pillow, hardship, or fear for our lives in order for us to hear God’s message? I don’t think so. Sometimes it is easier to remember to pray when things are going badly or we are in pain, but God is there for us regardless. When we are curled up in our own beds with our own familiar pillows under our heads we will still be able to hear the voice of God if we listen carefully.
Photo by Daehyun Park find on flickr
I think it is safe to say that there are still prophetic voices out there in the world today, probably not being paid much attention. I think it is also clear that there are many people who get their five minutes of fame by predicting doom over one issue or another and they seem to be paid a great deal of attention.
I got the idea for this post a while ago while watching When Harry Met Sally with my daughters. As he states himself, Harry has a dark side. Particularly in the early part of the movie Harry makes many pronouncements which, while not necessarily without basis in reality, would suck the enjoyment out of almost any moment! For instance;
Harry Burns: You take someone to the airport, it’s clearly the beginning of the relationship. That’s why I have never taken anyone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship.
Sally Albright: Why?
Harry Burns: Because eventually things move on and you don’t take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me, How come you never take me to the airport anymore?
Sally Albright: Its amazing. You look like a normal person but actually you are the angel of death.
Later he and Sally actually discuss this tendency to the dark side;
Sally Albright: I have just as much of a dark side as the next person.
Harry Burns: Oh, really? When I buy a new book, I read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.
A doomsayer is “one given to forebodings and predictions of impending calamity” (http://www.merriam-webster.com) Harry, is a doomsayer! Another good candidate for the title of doomsayer would be Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh;
“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.”Why, what’s the matter?””Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.””Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.”Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”
If predicting calamity is what it takes to be a doomsayer, then why do we not have a section in the Bible after the Pentateuch and Psalms and Wisdom Literature called Doomsayings? If you read the beginning of many of the stories in the books of the prophets, they begin with warnings of catastrophe about to befall the people of Israel who have strayed from the ways of the Lord in one way or another. Predictions of pandemics, military defeat, destruction of the Temple, and being taken into captivity abound! I’m not sure I’d be in a hurry to invite a prophet to dinner at my house for fear they may have just such a message for me.
A prophet is,“one who utters divinely inspired revelations: as a often capitalized : the writer of one of the prophetic books of the Bible b capitalized : one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God’s will <Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah> 2: one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; especially : an inspired poet 3: one who foretells future events : predictor” (http://www.merriam-webster.com)
The fundamental difference is that a prophet is divinely inspired. The messages prophets share with the people around them are the words of God. Some prophets in the past were pretty unhappy to be called upon to give the message they were told. Jonah really didn’t want to help out the people of Nineveh and even ran away, but that didn’t end well for him and he delivered his message in the end. There are stories of prophets hiding in caves in the wilderness to avoid crowds who were out to get them. In 1 Kings 19 we read about Elijah, having challenged the prophets of Baal and won, ran away to a cave on Mt. Sinai to hide from Queen Jezebel who had vowed to kill him.
Regardless of the message a prophet may carry to us, our problem remains. How can we tell when we are hearing from a true prophet and not a doomsayer? Recently there was an individual who “prophesied” the coming of the rapture. He claimed that the date and time were to be found written in Bible. Many people were convinced by this prediction, some even selling all they had. Many took it as a joke and there were many photos posted on Twitter of people’s clothing laid out as if they had just vanished from within them.
Our best hope is to look to the Bible to determine validity of such claims. “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32) This is also stated in Matthew 24:36 and echoed again in Acts. If our doomsayer of the day had really been speaking words from God, he would have known that the hour and the day would not be written in the Bible.’ Through study and prayer we seek the truth of God.
A while back I went out for coffee with a good friend. During the course of the conversation we touched on many subjects. She was sharing with me that she had been going for Reike treatments (is that the correct term?) for a while and she said she had an amazing experience at her last session. She shared the following story with me, and asked as well that I share it with you;
My wish is to have peace and taking part in a Reiki experience has given me this sense of peace and serenity.
My last two experiences have been quite different from my earlier sessions. During these session I encountered my angel. Initially, I saw two glowing lights moving around each other as if they were playing joyfully with one another. I felt happiness and an immense sense of joy, an almost childlike sense that only the present moment mattered. From the lights, a presence developed as an outline. The outline gradually became more visible until I could see a hooded figure there with me. I could not see his/her face. During this time I could see part of a wing that was a vibrant white in color. The energy that was present was very strong and real.
I can’t remember much else regarding this encounter but the feeling that I wasn’t alone. It was as if I was at another level compared to the earthly one. The message that came from this was to enjoy life, have fun and laugh. And more importantly, that I am not alone because my angel that is a very strong one at that is with me at all times. This in turn gives me strength during my spiritual journey called life. Is it possible that this other level is the spiritual parallel place of holiness?
Angels, are they real? I’ll look into this in a future post with help/reference to Calvin’s Institutes.
Photo credit to Miemo Penttinen, miemo.net