Monday, November 15, 2010

Meditation for Morning Prayer at Convention

Lectionary: Psalm 133; Isaiah 63:7-9; Acts 20:28-32

En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espiritu Santo. Amen.

It’s been interesting these last few days exploring the concepts of fear and love as presented to us by Dr. Lemler (our featured speaker at convention). As often happens with me, these reflections kept bringing to my mind the words from a song. The song is by Dar Williams, an indy artist, and the phrase that kept running through my mind was: “Go ahead, push your luck, find out how much love the world can hold.” (Album: Green World, Song Title: After All)

Yesterday, the Bishop reminded us that we are "called to leave behind our fears.” To do that, it would help to understand and learn to recognize the many faces of fear. There truly are many faces of fear, but we’ll just look at three of them now.

1. WE FEAR BEING WRONG – which is why we fear what is different from us. How you dress, how you pray, the color of your skin, whom you marry… if you are different from me, which one of us is right? And how can I make you wrong?

2. WE FEAR PAIN AND DISCOMFORT. Ours is a world of quick fixes. Got a headache? Take a pill. Thank God too. I’m glad that I can take a pill when I have a headache! But that isn’t the way of spiritual life… 40 years in the desert… 3 days in the tomb. Christians are called to wait through the discomfort and trust in God who is already working to redeem and whose grace is enough.

3. WE FEAR DYING – which is strange for a people who profess to believe in the resurrection. Still, we fear dying. But as we heard from the Psalmist: “the ordained blessing of the Lord is life evermore.” Life in God, life in the eternal presence of God is the promise for us. But to know this life, we must die to ourselves. We must be willing to lay down whatever “practical atheism” lingers in our lives (as Dr. Lemler said) and trust God.

So, how do we do that? Risking yet another quote from Dr. Lemler, we “use what we’ve got” and build our spiritual muscles. In the Book of Common Prayer, on page 461 is a prayer called “For Trust in God.” I commend it to you. It’s a great way to start the day, every day. Also in that section, which is the section called “Ministration to the Sick,” is a prayer for the sanctification of pain – ours and others – which sets the pain apart and helps us discover its holy purpose.

We need to remember: it isn’t all about me (I really, really want that video we saw yesterday, the "Me-Church" video). When someone attacks us, or reviles us, or breaks relationship with us, we must respond with love first, then prayerfully reflect on which face of fear we are seeing in them so that we can be instruments for God’s love to transform their fear into faith.

Jesus said, Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you – as Ruby did that day on the sidewalk by her school. (Note: This refers to a story the Bp. told in his sermon at our Eucharist last night) We know this. We know what we’re supposed to do. Jesus said, When someone slaps you on the face - what do we do? Finish it for me (the preacher invites the listeners to respond): ‘turn the other cheek’ (they say). Right – we know this stuff.

Wait in the discomfort and trust God who is already working to redeem.

Finally, we need to remember the cost of Christian discipleship (as the Bishop said yesterday). When we proclaim by word and deed the Good News we know, when we carry Christ’s love into the world, we become lightning rods for fear. Drawn by the light of the living Christ in us, people will come to us, their faces reflecting their fears, hoping to be set free from the fear that binds them. We can’t do that, but God can – in and through us.

So - go ahead, push your luck, find out how much love the world can hold.

I began this meditation using words that honor one half of my half-breed identity: my Spanish half. I will close now using a prayer that honors the other half: my Irish half. It’s the Prayer of St. Brendan. If you can, if you are comfortable - take a deep breath, close your eyes, and receive the gift offered by this prayer:

Lord, I will trust you.
Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with you.

Christ of the mysteries, I trust you
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in your hand.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, and somehow
make my obedience count for you.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank You Again....Cheri