things I have learned lately

O God of Every Nation

O God of Every Nation is a prayer that appears as Hymn #289 in the book we use at my church.

The author, William Watkins Reid (1923-2007), served in World War II as a medic and concluded his time in uniform as a prisoner of war. He won a hymn contest with the text in 1958.

O God of every nation, of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation with your almighty hand.
Where hate and fear divide us and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us and heal our strife-torn world.

From search for wealth and power and scorn of truth and right,
from trust in bombs that shower destruction through the night,
from pride of race and station and blindness to your way,
deliver every nation, eternal God, we pray.

Lord, strengthen those who labor that all may find release
from fear of rattling saber, from dread of war’s increase;
when hope and courage falter, your still small voice be heard;
with faith that none can alter, your servants under-gird.

Keep bright in us the vision of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious when truth and justice reign
and Christ shall rule victorious o’er all the world’s domain.

I may have heard this hymn in church a hundred times over the years because I was born in 1957, but today it became my prayer. I need to pray it every day for a while. Will you join me?

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God’s plan for our good

God’s plan for our good   Jeremiah 29:11-14

Thinking through the passage

Only God knows what God is planning for us…

Neither our enemies nor our friends know what God is planning…

God is planning for our prosperity, not disaster.

God is planning to fulfill our hopes.

Because God is planning for our good, we should pray. He will answer.

We should seek God sincerely, because he is waiting for us to find him.

God is ready to fill our lives with an abundance of good things.

Praying God’s plan for our good

Lord, I know that you love me and are always looking out for my good. I know this in my head, but my heart is corrupt and assumes you want to punish me, hurt me, and deprive me of the good things of life. Help me, Lord. Heal my broken heart. Teach me to trust that you are eager to bless and not curse, give and not subtract, fulfill and not leave empty. Lord, transform my fears into faith. Amen.

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Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose

Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose,
hidden now in mystery;
Nature bursts with joyful promise,
ripe with what is yet to be.
In a wealth of rich invention,
still the work of art unfolds -
barely have we seen, and faintly,
what God’s great salvation holds.

Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose
making Jesus seen and heard.
Every age of God’s creation
grasps new meanings from the Word.
Show us, Holy Spirit, show us
your new work begun today;
eyes and ears and hearts are open,
teach us what to do and say.

Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose
all God’s children brought to birth,
freed from hunger, fear and evil
every corner of the earth.
And a million million voices
speak with joy the Saviour’s name;
every face reflects his image,
never any two the same.

Great and deep the Spirit’s purpose
nothing shall be left to chance.
All that lives will be united
in the everlasting dance.
All fulfilled and all perfected,
each uniquely loved and known,
Christ in glory unimagined
once for all receives his own.

Words: Marnie Barrell. Tune: Beach Spring

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God’s Complete Knowledge and Care

God’s Complete Knowledge and Care             Psalm 139:1-24

Thinking through the passage

God knows me better than I know myself

You have examined me.

You see me at all times.

You know what I will say before I speak.

Your knowledge of me is too deep to understand.

Despite knowing me so well, you protect me with your power.

I could not escape you if I went up to heaven, because you are there.

I could not escape you if I died, because you are there.

I could not escape you in the east or the west, because you are there.

I could not escape you in darkness, because you see clearly in the dark.

Everywhere I might go, you are there to lead me and help me.

You created every part of me.

You monitored my growth in my mother’s womb.

You were familiar with every day of my life before I was born.

I praise you because all you do is strange and wonderful.

You amaze me.

I hate evil. I hate it in others and I hate it in me.

Take me away from evil and guide me in your ways.

Praying God’s complete knowledge and care

You amaze me, O Lord.

You know everything about me, but still love me and protect me.

I run and hide from you and you still help me.

Lord, I am afraid of evil. I am afraid of evil in others and in myself.

Protect me from evil in others and in myself.

Replace my fear with confidence in you.

Teach me to walk in your ways every day of my life.

Amen.

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An epiphany is a sudden realization of great truth

An epiphany is a sudden realization of great truth. I had one at breakfast on February 15, 2014. I recorded the epiphany in my journal immediately afterwards: “God loves me because this morning I drank a perfect glass of orange juice.”

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The Lord Appears to Samuel

I am working my way through scripture passages recommended in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits by Michael Harter, SJ for those participating in the first week of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola.

The Lord Appears to Samuel      1 Samuel 3:1-10

Thinking through the passage

The Lord may be more or less active at any particular time. Allow that God may be on a different schedule than the routine you want.

Samuel wanted to be close to the Lord, so close that he slept in the sanctuary in the presence of a sacred symbol.

Maybe Eli was supposed to be sleeping in the sanctuary. Maybe Eli had grown tired and retired to the comfort of his room, leaving Samuel as his proxy.

The Lord called to Samuel in such words and manner that the boy mistook God for his master Eli.

Samuel did not recognize the Lord at first, but God kept calling to him.

Eli recognized that the Lord was calling Samuel before Samuel did. Sometimes a soul friend can discern our calling before we do. But even Eli required being roused from sleep three times before he understood that the Lord was at work.

Samuel went back to bed after Eli told him to reply to the Lord the next time he called. I wonder if he slept or lay on his pallet in wonder.

The Lord spoke simple words, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Samuel replied in simple words, “Speak; your servant is listening.”

Praying the Lord’s appearance to Samuel

Lord, I still hear the story of Samuel’s call as if I am a boy at the beginning of life, but I know I have things in common with old Eli…

I am sorry for the ways in which I have grown tired and retired to the comfort of my room.

Help me to stay open to whatever you think best. Don’t let me decide I can’t when you know I can.

Lord, please call me plainly, whether I am waiting in your sanctuary, or wandering far from home.

Call me repeatedly, Lord, until I say yes to you.

Call me repeatedly until I recognize your voice or until those around me hear your voice and help me to understand, you are talking to me.

Lord, give me the grace to respond fully to your call.

Amen.

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