Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Prayer of Rest and Forgiveness

Dear God,

We come to you in thanksgiving. May our hearts and minds rest in you. We thank you for stillness. As we sit in your space give our bodies rest from a week of work, school, and play.  Clear our minds of all the clutter we've filled them with this week.  Help us to give away all of our thoughts that we may think only of you.  We pride ourselves on our independence and how well we take care of ourselves, this might not be all bad, but relieve us of that pressure so that we may rely wholly on you.

Thank you for taking care of us even when we don't recognize it.  Help us to see you for all that you are to us.  More than a good idea, more than a set of values, you are the God who created us and longs to draw us close.

Forgive us for the space we create between you and ourselves.  Forgive us for ignoring you because we're so content with the way things are.  Forgive us for the hurt we cause each other because we're so wrapped up in ourselves.  Forgive us for misrepresenting you and causing others to doubt you.  Forgive us for our overconsumption.  Forgive us for turning negative when things don't go our way.

We know that you are with us, may we remember this and let it drive our words, thoughts, and deeds, daily.  We preay for our world, that we could truly find peace and understand how living together should work.  We pray for our country, that we could make wise decisions with civility.  And we pray for our church, that we would bring your light into this world, reflecting the glory of the God whom we serve.

Break our hearts for the things that break yours God and give us a submissive spirit that we might be shaped into the men and women that you have intended for us to be.  We ask all of this in name of our Savior who taught us to pray, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And, forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.  Forever, Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Really Pat?

You may have heard the news about Pat Robertson's latest offensive comments.  This time it didn't target gays or foreigners, but the diseased.  In a recent television appearance, Robertson replied to a caller asking about how he should adivise a friend who had decided to see another woman because of his wife's advanced Alzheimer's. 

I grew up fundamentalist, so I think I know the answer here.  Tell the friend to stop, ask forgiveness, and love on his wife until death.  From birth to seventeen years old, I attended a good old King James, Bible Believing, Independent Baptist Church, three times a week, every week.  That makes over 2500 sermons before I even became an adult, and most of them had something to say about sex, drugs, and/or rock and roll.  Don't take me the wrong way, the people of that church showed love and care with their actions, but the message out of their mouths came clear.  Adultery and Divorce are wrong.

I've never been a big fan of Robertson, but I thought he would at least get this one right.  But no, he said "I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her."  He admits that marriage is until "death" but then says that Alzheimer's is like a living death.  So that makes it ok I guess.

This is so wrong, and the reason why I believe Christians (yes, I am one) need to understand the source behind their convictions.  For starters, our nation is great, and I love family, but let's be clear.  I believe in a man, who I also believe was a God (the God even).  That this God-man lived on this earth and suffered death at the hands of his creation.  Miraculously, he didn't stay dead.  He returned to this earth until ascending into heaven.  If you're not a Christian, that sounds foolish.  If you are, it probably doesn't sound foolish enough.  If you really believe that (and I do) its a pretty big deal.  Bigger than a pledge or blood relationships, or all of the legalistic morass we let ourselves get bound up in.

Let's look to some reason.  If said wife has "lost her mind", we might conclude that she is no longer "like the living", therefore a covenant relationship like marriage may be voided on those grounds.  She is less than human, not deserving the same right to expect faithfulness from her husband as one who possesses full mental health.  If that's the case, then how can you argue that a fetus in the womb possesses full life that can't be violated.  Is the potential of life more valuable that the fulfillment of life embodied in its final journey to death?  Does the fetus deserve any more the right to birth than a person deserves the right to maintain full dignity and humanity even unto death?

Too much self-serving logic going on here.  Of what value is life?  Can we argue over it's beginning at conception or birth while we sit idly by watching execution take place?  How did a discussion of Alzheimer's take us to capital punishment?  Shane Claiborne wrote just today a defense of Grace in the face of death.  Should we dismiss the Psalms and get self-righteous over the fact that King David, guilty of murder, should have never been allowed to live long enough to write them?  Should the bulk of the New Testament be rejected because the writer, Paul, would have willingly accepted the penalty for his crimes if his conversion had been true?

We need to think!  Humanity, infused with the very breath of God is exceedingly deep, but we flippantly decide who is deserving and who doesn't have the privilege to the rights of that humanity.  We are too ready to set our minds firm on issues of abortion, death, the right to life, and dying with dignity when these issues deserve deep and mindful consideration and soul-searching. 

But unfortunately for many, it's just a whole lot easier to find out what Pat thinks about it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Prayer for Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dear God,

When words fail to meet our need to express our desires for you we are grateful that you know us even better than we know ourselves.  When we can’t even know what we should be asking from you we are thankful that you have known what we need even before we were born.  We come to this place today to connect with you.  Bless us with the knowledge that you are in this place, that you are with us.  May our worship be pleasing to you.

We come today with an acute mindfulness of this date, ten years past the day our world changed before our eyes.  Even today we try to make sense of what happened and our reactions to that day, both collectively and individually have yet to find an end.  Help our children to understand the significance of what they can’t remember, to know that comfort and safety are gifts to show gratitude for and not to be taken for granted.  As we pray and hope for comfort and safety for our children, we also recognize the value of struggle; as we struggle in this world may we do so together, walking step by step with you.

May you lead us to forgiveness God.  We may never know how much debt we owe to you.  The trials you’ve led us through in this life that we’ve failed to attribute to your hand or the trials to come in eternity that according to your promise you have overcome.  As we pray for our children we offer the same prayer for ourselves.  Your grace has brought us safe thus far, may we understand the significance of what we can’t remember, to know that your sacrifice in the body of Jesus has brought us from a living death into eternal life.  With this measure of forgiveness let us know that nothing is unforgiveable to us, the children of God.

You are a God of beauty, of restoration, of making good out of ugly things.  We reflect today on the ugliness of September 11 and pray that through your spirit we can turn this tragedy into a victory of love over hate, peace over war, sacrifice over selfishness, humanity over evil.  You have given no less to us, from us no less is expected.

We want this God, to walk in the light of forgiveness and mercy, but we know that it can’t be done from our own strength and will.  May we follow your will on this path.