Month: September 2013
Here is a prayer to start your week. Take some quiet meditation time where [silence] is indicated.
Help me, pharm Holy God.
Help me become a new creature,
who thinks in a completely different way about the universe,
this planet, and all my brothers and sisters who inhabit it.
I know you are the creative force of the universe.
You, my God, are beyond time and space,
yet also part of every cell in my body,
as we are all but cells in your infinite body.
Enlighten me so I too understand the infinite nature of being,
and in that understanding find myself created anew.
Make me patient in a world of instant gratification,
God who is our only true gratification.
Make me humble in a world that glorifies empty boasting,
God who always comes to us as a humble servant.
Give me new eyes to look at the world through a new lens:
not the lens of capitalism,
or profit margins,
or the rape of your natural resources,
but a new lens,
one that lets me see the world,
and all its inhabitants,
We all deserve your love, God who is love.
We all deserve food, shelter, and security.
None of us should go to bed in fear, Lord.
in a world that urges the destruction of our enemies,
help us realize we have no enemies.
Show us, God of equality,
that the only enemy we see is in our mind.
Teach us that we’re simply not working hard enough,
refusing to understand each other,
closing our hearts and souls to the good of the community,
choosing instead our own selfish paths.
Remind us that we are created in your image, Holy God,
an image of love, peace, equality, and justice,
not just for some,
but rather, for all, no exceptions.
Make it so, Lord.
Make it so.
Scripture: John 5:17
[Jesus said] “My Father is always at his work to this very day, there and I too am working.”
Thought for the Day: God is always at work. From that first explosion of consciousness that created all matter and reality, viagra sale the universe has been propelled ever outward, purchase God a fundamental part of the being of everything. In my existential thinking, if there is no God, there is no reality. God is the only constant, the only reality. Everything else is a manifestation of God’s imagination. And what a glorious imagination it is!
It is the nature of God to create, and, I believe, God never stops creating. I don’t mean to imply God is a crazy, Promethean, alien scientist in a lab putting things together. God is not a separate entity. This has been the great error of most religions—putting God outside ourselves, on a cloud somewhere, or worse, on a throne, throwing lightning bolts of judgment against a people so primitive, that in the big scheme of things, we might as well be Antelope running on the plain. This is not an image of God; it’s the Emperor, all-powerful and threatening.
I think one of Jesus’ greatest, most misunderstood revelations is the idea that God is within. God works through us, all the time. God doesn’t do things to us, God works on a subatomic, subconscious level, constantly helping us become more aware of the deep meaning embedded in everything in creation. The fingerprints of God are everywhere, to paraphrase Thomas Aquinas. All we have to do is look more deeply, and let God do God’s eternal, inspiring, creative work.
Prayer: Inspire me to know you more deeply, my dear, holy, eternal God of all creation. Amen.
Scripture: Isaiah 55:10-11
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven, find
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish, generic
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, drugstore
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Thought for the Day: I know many people who read this column have trouble with the Biblical language used to portray God’s interaction with creation. I have trouble with it as well. Written by people with virtually zero understanding of the natural world, the Bible presents God as a being in control of literally everything in the universe. What we have trouble understanding in our postmodern age of science and reason, is that even then, most of the authors were writing in metaphor. Yes, many people believed the sun moved across the sky because a God was dragging it behind his chariot. But most people, I think especially the philosophers who wrote Scripture, understood there was something ineffable about God—something they couldn’t describe with words, because how do you describe the ground of all being with words? Especially when words are still a fairly new invention?
Today, those of us who believe in the mystery of the universe use scientific terms to refer to God. For us, God is the “fundamental string,” or the “quantum foam” out of which everything is formed. Thinking this way, the rain does accomplish what God desires, because the rain is God, in the same way you and I and the stars and planets are made from the very substance of God. Everything that exists is connected to everything else, and all of it through God.
In many ways, we have as little understanding of this concept as did our ancient forbears who wrote what would eventually be compiled into the Holy Bible. And like them, I hope we never stop imagining and reimaging what God is, how God works, and what that means about our lives and relationships with each other. If God is truly everything, then everything is God. By extension, everyone is a reflection of some aspect of God. So any slight we make against another human being is slighting God. Perhaps remembering that will help us all become more gentle, respectful, and caring emanations of God, the fabric of reality.
Prayer: When I want to do boneheaded things like attack a brother or sister, or deny them basic human rights (like, say, health care), remind me, my compassionate and endlessly giving God, that I am looking in a mirror that always reflects You. Amen.
Scripture: Philippians 2:5-7
In your relationships with one another, view have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
Thought for the Day: It can be difficult to have conversations about religion. Our experiences with God are very personal. Many of us have grown up in traditions that have played a huge role in forming how we see ourselves, so we’re protective of those institutions, and resist challenges to their teachings. Too often though, this protective instinct manifests itself as intolerance. We humans, who have only the slimmest perception of reality, can’t presume what works for one of us spiritually is the only thing that works for all of us, end of story. There is no single path to enlightenment. In fact, for most of us, the path is as twisted and torturous as Jesus’ march to Cavalry.
I find it insulting when religion is discounted off hand; to discount the journey of another individual seems, to me, to be slapping God in the face. We’re all struggling to figure this existence out. Believing we somehow have a special dispensation from God is hubris of the worst kind (and a good recipe for bloodshed). Religion needs to be personal, for it is an intimate and personal God that is revealed throughout nature, and in all the great spiritual writings of history: from Torah to Testament, from Tao to Dhammapada, from Qur’an to Veda. Our experience with God must be personal, but our religion must not be so personal that it causes us to slight or dismiss the difficult journey every other person on the planet is undertaking.
Prayer: Give me gentle words to speak, and a humble demeanor, so my thoughts, words, and actions allow me to serve humankind through love. Make make me recognize your face, God I love, in the face of every other human I see today, that it might make me more accepting, more patient, and more loving. Amen.
Scripture: Jeremiah 50:5
They will ask the way to Zion
and turn their faces toward it.
They will come and bind themselves to the Lord
in an everlasting covenant
that will not be forgotten.
Thought for the Day: Jeremiah urges people to voluntarily turn toward God. Many theologians, and especially those who misread Paul, sick have created an image of humanity that is incapable of doing anything to connect with God—we are all fallen sinners, and it’s only through God’s activity that we are redeemed. But the people who wrote what would become the First Testament understood their relationship with God quite differently. They understood they had a personal responsibility to seek God out in every corner of their lives.
We are, from birth, in a covenant with the Universal Force that created us. It’s an unbreakable bond. Nothing we do can ever sever our connection with God and, because we are literally created from the substance of God, God is always with us. However, we can (and most often do) choose to ignore this connection. Does this automatically mean we’re doomed to a life of trials and limitations? Not at all. Does this mean we’re hopeless, worthless, sinners? Not at all. Doomed to an eternity in Hell? Never. We’re simply spiritually young beings, and like any youngster, it takes education and practice to progress. You don’t play Rachmaninoff the first time you sit down at the piano, after all.
We are on a journey toward wholeness with God, not creatures that have lost that connection permanently because someone a long time ago ate from a magic tree. God didn’t kick us out of the garden. The garden is all around us, still. We’re just learning how to see it more clearly.
Our search for God must be a continuous, ethereal activity that transcends this physical reality, and yes, requires work on our part. Lots of work. Lots of mindfulness. Lots of stopping to think before we speak and act. Lots of soul searching. We must seek God to feel God more deeply in our lives (and we do this through a variety of spiritual practices), and once we feel that connection, we will most certainly always want to turn on and tune into God more frequently. And little by little, as we each connect with God in our own ways, the garden is revealed.
Prayer: Show me your face, O Creator of the universes! I want to know you better than I know myself, so that I might live a life that reflects your love, compassion, mercy, and justice. Amen.
Holy God of life and light, generic
thank you for your presence here today.
We feel our eternal connection to you,
and through you, find the strength to be a light in the darkness of the world.
Surrounded by weapons of destruction,
we pray for peace.
In the midst of suffering,
we pray for healing.
Engulfed by the raging waters
of fear and misunderstanding,
we pray for compassion and enlightenment.
God whose Spirit ignites all being,
make every day of our lives more deeply connected to you.
Help us know more about you, and by our discoveries,
help us learn more about ourselves,
and those we mistake for enemies.
Educate us, O Supreme Teacher,
that we might better understand we are all your children—
loved, cared for, and clothed in your very essence.
We confess we aren’t even close to perfect, God.
Yet, we also know that you love us unconditionally, imperfections and all.
Through our relationship with you,
help us accept both our own imperfections,
and the imperfections of the world.
Inspire is to resist sitting idly, doing nothing.
Embolden us to speak up, and act up, for love, truth, justice, and compassion.
God of the cosmos, give us lives like Jesus—
full of empathy,
love, and grace.
Show us that faith is an incredible shield against apathy.
We can’t snap our fingers and magically make everyone stop fighting,
or eliminate disease.
But we have faith that you, our foundational being, are constantly working in our world,
through every one of us,
to soften the hearts of the warmongers;
to melt the anger of the oppressor;
to encourage the enslaved and the forgotten,
reminding all of us we are never abandoned.
You heal us, Lord.
You make us complete.
We pray in the name of the one who shows us what a complete life looks like—Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray:
Our creator, who is all being,
honored is your name.
All existence is your dominion,
all activity is your inspiration.
Fill our bellies and our souls today,
and forgive us when we stumble,
as we forgive others,
because we all stumble now and then.
For Yours is the only power,
from which all things flow,
all glorious, forever. Amen.
The Ballet, Part 2: Noise
The voice disappeared as a meteor made contact and shook every home in the enclave to its foundations. Wherever this one hit, it was close, and it was big. Most of the time, the meteors were the size of basketballs. They did some damage, but in general the storms passed and left little rubble in their wake. But this was definitely different. And that voice. Was it just a crossed signal due to the electromagnetic storm? Delilah scanned different channels on her communicator, and found it again, a barely-there voice repeating, “Help us. Help us.” She looked at the channel and caught her breath. It was the frequency reserved for state use. Her com shouldn’t even be able to receive that channel. Hacking into it was punishable by death. It must be the meteor storm, she thought to herself. Please let it be the meteor storm mixing signals, she prayed. Because she knew that if someone had hacked into the state frequency, Sentinels couldn’t be far behind. The last thing Delilah wanted was Sentinels in their enclave.
Trying to hide her nervousness, Delilah took the boys by their hands and said, “Let’s thank God for keeping us safe, then go check on our friends.” The three of them joined hands and prayed. Josh asked Delilah if she thought iGod would answer their prayer and keep everyone safe. “We don’t pray to iGod, Josh, you know that. Noise and I, your mom—all of us in this enclave, we simply believe in God. God loves us, and helps us find the courage to live our lives differently. Our God—the only true God, is ancient, and has always existed. iGod is a creation of humans.” Josh sat and quietly thought about this. It didn’t make much sense to him. His mother and father had tried to explain the same thing to him, but he couldn’t see the point in believing in a God who didn’t give you stuff. iGod could give you anything you wanted! What had this other God ever done for him? If this God of his parents was so great, why did the people who said they believed in—what, it? Him? Her? Why did they seem so upset all the time?
Noise stood up. “We have to go find that voice,” he said. “It’s important. It’s really, really important.”
Next week we’ll return to the regular “Daily Wonder” format. Thanks for indulging me as I experiment with the story form.
The Ballet, shop Part 2: Noise
Meteor storms were fairly common. Over the years, as the state created more and more pollution in the name of growth and profit, the atmosphere had grown dangerously thin. As a consequence, more debris from space made it to earth before burning up in the sky. In the parts of the world where the corporate moguls lived, there were early warning systems, shelters and sirens. But in the enclaves, where the people the state considered unimportant, useless, or atheist (meaning they weren’t members of iGod) lived, there was nothing but destruction.
Through the noise of the meteor storm, and the rumbling of the house as one meteor after another hit earth, she heard something.. They all heard something—a voice—faint, but definitely a voice. It was coming from Delilah’s communicator even though the meteor storm had just interrupted the signal. “What’s the voice saying, Mom?” Noise asked. Delilah listened carefully. She could just barely make out the softest, most desperate plea: “Help us,” it said. “Help us.”
To be continued…