Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sometimes my prayers issue forth

As leaden ice cubes that drop in the sand at my feet
And the crabs scurry to take them away.

Sometimes my prayers are butterflies
That flutter away only to live a day in their brightly colored ephemeral existence
Like fragile bones that are unable to support any weight.

Sometimes my prayers are bright hard diamonds
That drift up and embed themselves in the velvet darkness above my bed.
Cold and distant like stars
Suns that I cannot touch and cannot warm me with their power.

Sometimes my prayers are ocean liners
Huge steel behemoth that go where they want
Plowing the water aside carrying great cargo
Impossible to steer.

Sometimes when I pray my attention wanders
And I get entangled with the small tedium of the day
And I hope
My lack of attentiveness is not repaid in kind.

Sometimes I pray in my dreams
The frontier between consciousness and reality recedes
And I drift like a fetus in a womb not of my making
Not sure if my prayer is a dream or the dream a prayer.

Sometimes I can’t pray
The words won’t come and I can only sit in silence
Feeling the exquisite pain of solitude
A symphony of reclusion and stillness
Enfolded in God’s great silence.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Financial Planning Comparisons Continued

Scott Adams of Dilbert Fame as found on Motley Fool
  1. Make a will.
  2. Pay off your credit cards.
  3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
  4. Fund your 401(k) to the maximum.
  5. Fund your IRA to the maximum.
  6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it.
  7. Put six months' worth of expenses in a money market account.
  8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker, and never touch it until retirement.
  9. If any of this confuses you, or if you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner.
Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps
  • $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
  • Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
  • 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  • Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
  • College funding for children
  • Pay off home early
  • Build wealth and give!
Crown Financial's Roadmap
  • Emergency Fund
  • Pay off Credit Cards
  • Pay off Consumer Debt
  • Save for Major Purchases
  • Buy a Home and Begin Investing
  • Home Mortgage Paid Off
  • True Financial Freedom
John Wesley
  • We ought to gain all we can gain but this it is certain we ought not to do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of life, nor at the expense of our health.
  • Do not throw the precious talent into the sea.
  • Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then "give all you can."
I tried to put this in a nicely laid out table for comparison, but Blogger didn't like my table. Scott Adams makes it clear that he does not like stocks -- in fact this Motley Fool article says:
Adams' passion for personal finance is matched only by his utter disdain for stocks. That's right, this keen observer of business and management trends believes that most people, himself included, cannot beat the market buying individual stocks -- especially when the companies behind those stocks are run by drunk chimpanzees.

So that's what went wrong with AIG and Bear Stearns. Too many drunk chimpanzees.

Spiritual Disciplines for a Tuesday

I also know that spiritual disciplines are more than attitude.  They are actions.  It's one thing to sit in prayer and another to BE in prayer.  Letting your prayer have hands and feet.  Doing as well as being.  They are not a character attribute -- "he's SO spiritual!" They are not an emotional feeling -- "she feels so spiritual!!" They are things that you DO.  Like be in prayer while washing the raisins, reading the Bible, fasting, receiving communion, being totally with another person as they share their pain, visiting those in prison, burying the dead by actually using a shovel at the end of the service. You can do them for good reasons or even bad ones, but at the end the spiritual disciplines make you more like Jesus.  Period.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Spiritual Disciplines

I have really no idea what exactly constitutes a spiritual discipline.  I used to think that I knew -- but now, not so much.  I know it's prayer, both corporate and personal, but what exactly constitutes prayer?  I preached about it this Sunday, but I still wonder what Paul meant by praying continuously.  I know it's praying all the time, even when doing ordinary things like washing the raisins. (The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery. By Henri Nouwen.) Attitude is more important than anything else. So today, I am spending time washing my own personal raisins -- which includes dishes and laundry and floors and bedding. Housekeeping as a spiritual discipline.

Oh, and for spiritual food -- chicken and dumplings.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Morning Prayer -- Psalm 142 (Traditional)

Psalm 142 (143)
A prayer in time of trouble
In the morning let me know your love, O Lord.
Lord, listen to my prayer:
  in your faithfulness turn your ear to my pleading;
  in your justice, hear me.
Do not judge your servant:
  nothing that lives can justify itself before you.
The enemy has hounded my spirit,
  he has crushed my life to the ground,
  he has shut me in darkness, like the dead of long ago.
So my spirit trembles within me,
  my heart turns to stone.
I remind myself of the days of old,
  I reflect on all your works,
  I meditate once more on the work of your hands.
I stretch out my arms to you,
  I stretch out my soul, like a land without water.
Come quickly and hear me, O Lord,
  for my spirit is weakening.
Do not hide your face from me,
  do not let me be like the dead,
  who go down to the underworld.
Show me your mercy at daybreak,
  because of my trust in you.
Tell me the way I should follow,
  for I lift up my soul towards you.
Rescue me from my enemies:
  Lord, I flee to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will,
  for you are my God.
Your good spirit will lead me to the land of justice;
  for your name’s sake, Lord, you will give me life.
In your righteousness you will lead my soul
  away from all tribulation.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
In the morning let me know your love, O Lord.

I Miss It

I miss writing.  I don't know when I stopped or really why.  Life interferes.  Facebook is a time-suck.  Twitter just multiplies my already short attention span.  But I still miss writing.

I've been thinking alot about the types of blogs I see on the internet.  They all look so very professional now.  It's gone from being a grassroots movement to a "let's make money now!" and "boost my already big ego!!" movement.

I miss certain blogs. Thoughtful and thought provoking blogs. My feed is full of "10 Things Your Pastor Does in their Armchair Every Night!" and "Dog Church Fulfills Your Every Need!" and "Betsy Sue Winklebaum's New Baby Bump!"

I miss the open-ended conversations that blogging gave me.  I miss gentle kind conversations. I miss real dialogue and not one-sided rants about ... ANYTHING.  Your choice -- politics, religion, sex, raising children -- all the above and more.

So, here I am.  Contemplating.  Thinking.  And I hope I will be writing again.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Morning Prayer -- We Bathe Your Palms

We bathe your palms
In the showers of wine,
In the crook of the kindling,
In the seven elements,
In the sap of the tree,
In the milk of honey,

We place nine pure, choice gifts
In your clear beloved face:

The gift of form,
The gift of voice,
The gift of fortune,
The gift of goodness,
The gift of eminence,
The gift of charity,
The gift of integrity,
The gift of true nobility,
The gift of apt speech.

-- traditional gaelic

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Morning Prayer -- Carmina Gadelica

Give thou thine heart to the wild magic,
To the Lord and the Lady of Nature,
Beyond any consideration of this world.
Do not covet large or small,
Do not despise weakling or poor,
Semblance of evil allow not near thee,
Never give nor earn thou shame.
The Ancient Harmonies are given thee,
Understand them early and prove,
Be one with the power of the elements,
Put behind thee dishonour and lies.
Be loyal to the Lord of the Wild Wood,
Be true to the Lady of the Stars,
Be true to thine own self besides,
True to the magic of Nature above all else.
Do not thou curse anyone,
Lest thou threefold cursed shouldst be,
And shouldst thou travel ocean and earth,
Follow the very step of the ancient trackways.
carmina gadelica - ancient celtic oral tradition

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Morning Prayer -- Soren Kierkegaard -- Show us a little patience

Father in Heaven! Show us a little patience for we often intend in all sincerity to commune with You and yet we speak in such a foolish fashion. Sometimes, when we judge that what has come to us is good, we do not have enough words to thank You; just as a mistaken child is thankful for having gotten his own way. Sometimes things go so badly that we call upon You; just as an unreasoning child fears what would do him good. Oh, but if we are so childish, how far from being Your true children You who are our true Father, ah, as if an animal would pretend to have a man as a father.

How childish we are and how little our proposals and our language resemble the language which should not be this way and that we should be otherwise. Have then a little patience with us.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Morning Prayer - Soren Kierkegaard -- You have loved us first

Father in Heaven! You have loved us first, help us never to forget that You are love so that this sure conviction might triumph in our hearts over the seduction of the world, over the inquietude of the soul, over the anxiety for the future, over the fright of the past, over the distress of the moment. But grant also that this conviction might discipline our soul so that our heart might remain faithful and sincere in the love which we bear to all those whom You have commanded us to love as we love ourselves.

You have loved us first, O God, alas! We speak of it in terms of history as if You have only loved us first but a single time, rather than that without ceasing You have loved us first many things and every day and our whole life through. When we wake up in the morning and turn our soul toward You - You are the first - You have loved us first; if I rise at dawn and at the same second turn my soul toward You in prayer, You are there ahead of me, You have loved me first. When I withdraw from the distractions of the day and turn my soul toward You, You are the first and thus forever. And yet we always speak ungratefully as if You have loved us first only once.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Morning Prayer - St. Augustine -- Give Thyself Unto Me

Give Thyself unto me, O my God, restore Thyself unto me: behold I love, and if it be too little, I would love more strongly...

In Thy Gift we rest; there we enjoy Thee. Our rest is our place. Love lifts us up thither, and Thy good Spirit lifts up our lowliness from the gates of death. In Thy good pleasure is our peace.

The body by its own weight strives towards its own place. Weight makes not downward only, but to his own place. Fire tends upward, a stone downward. They are urged by their own weight, they seek their own places. Oil poured below water, is raised above the water; water poured upon oil, sinks below the oil. They are urged by their own weights to seek their own places. When out of their order, they are restless; restored to order, they are at rest.

My weight, is my love; thereby am I borne, whithersoever I am borne. We are inflamed, by Thy Gift we are kindled; and are carried upwards; we glow inwardly, and go forwards. We ascend Thy ways that be in our heart, and sing a song of degrees; we glow inwardly with Thy fire, with Thy good fire, and we go; because we go upwards to the peace of Jerusalem: for gladdened was I in those who said unto me, We will go up to the house of the Lord. There hath Thy good pleasure placed us, that we may desire nothing else, but to abide there for ever.

-- Augustine

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Morning Prayer - Soren Kierkegaard

You who are unchangeable, 
whom nothing changes! 
You who are unchangeable in love, 
precisely for our welfare, 
not submitting to any change: 
may we too will our welfare, 
submitting ourselves to the discipline of Your unchangeableness, 
so that we may in unconditional obedience find our rest and remain at rest in Your unchangeableness. 

You are not like us; 
if we are to preserve only some degree of constancy, 
we must not permit ourselves too much to be moved, 
nor by too many things. 

You on the contrary are moved, 
and moved in infinite love, 
by all things. 

Even that which we humans beings call an insignificant trifle, 
and pass by unmoved, 
the need of a sparrow, 
even this moved You; 
and what we so often scarcely notice, 
a human sigh, 
this moves You, 
You who are unchangeable! 

You who in infinite love do submit to be moved, 
may this our prayer also move You to add Your blessing, 
in order that there may be brought about such a change in us who pray as to bring us into conformity with Your unchangeable will, 
You who are unchangeable! 

-- Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, February 20, 2015

Morning Prayer -- Helen Mary, 1927

Bless this house, o Lord, we pray.
Make it safe by night and day.
Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out.
Bless the roof and chimney tall,
Let thy peace lie over all.
Bless the doors that they may prove
Ever open to joy and love.
Bless the windows shining bright,
Letting in God's heavenly light.
Bless the hearth a-blazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer.
Bless the people here within...
Keep them pure and free from sin.
Bless us all, that one day, we
May be fit, O lord, to dwell with Thee.
Helen Mary, 1927

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Morning Prayer -- The Psalter 1912 -- The Lord has heard and answered prayer

1. The Lord has heard and answered prayer
And saved His people in distress;
This to the coming age declare,
That they His holy name may bless.
2. The Lord, exalted on His throne,
Looked down from Heav’n with pitying eye
To still the lowly captive’s moan
And save His people doomed to die.
3. All men in Zion shall declare
His gracious name with one accord,
When kings and nations gather there
To serve and worship God the Lord.
4. Before my journey is complete
My vigor fails, my years decline;
My God, O spare me, I entreat;
The days of life are wholly Thine.
5. The earth and heav’ns shall pass away,
Like vesture worn and laid aside,
But changeless Thou shalt live for aye,
Thy years forever shall abide.
6. Thou, O Jehovah, shalt endure;
Thy throne forever is the same;
And to all generations sure
Shall be Thy great memorial name.
7. Thy servants’ children shall remain
Forevermore before Thy face;
Enduring honor they shall gain,
Established ever in Thy grace.

-- The Psalter, 1912

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Morning Prayer -- Scottish Blessing -- If there is righteousness

If there is righteousness in the heart
If there is righteousness in the heart,
there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
So mote it be.
Scottish Blessing

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Morning Prayer -- Scottish Blessing

May the blessing of light be on you - light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you,
may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;
and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.
May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.
And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.
Scottish Blessing

Monday, February 16, 2015

Morning Prayer -- St. Ignatius of Loyola -- Teach me to be generous

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labor and not to seek reward,
 Except that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Morning Prayer - St. Ignatius of Loyola - Suscipe


St. Ignatius of Loyola

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Morning Prayer - Ignatius of Loyola -- Anima Christi

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.
From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University Press.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
excerpted from Hearts on Fire

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Scottish Blessing

May the blessing of light be on you - light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you,
may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;
and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.
May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.
And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.
Scottish Blessing

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Morning Prayer - Breastplate of St. Patrick

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today through the strength of Christ with His Baptism,
through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial,
through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

I arise today through the strength of the love of Cherubim
in obedience of Angels, in the service of the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven:
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendour of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
stability of Earth, firmness of Rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me:
against snares of devils, against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature, against everyone who
shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul, against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul.
Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.
Last week whilst preaching I made a very bold assertion -- that what separates humans from all the rest of creation is that we can forgive.  Forgive and not just forget.

This week I think that’s probably a gross exaggeration.  There are many things that separate us from all the rest of creation.  We make tools, we have language, we have a sense of history.  We also have culture/civilization. We grow and harvest food and then we cook that food.  No other part of creation does this.

Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”  We have been shaped by many things – I am pondering now how we are shaping our buildings and then how those buildings are shaping us.  The movement to have or buildings become more “plain” shaped the Protestant reformation.  Our movement away from special use sacred spaces to general use areas in church – how is this shaping us?  Is it just a sign of our lack of place within our souls for a devotional space? In our busy society, are we taking the space and time to be intentional in our relationship with God (much less with our relationships with others?)

There is a movement called “mindful eating.” There is much in our lives that has become mindless.  We need more mindfulness in all that we do; more intentionality.  We have a choice to be proactive rather than reactive (another thing that separates us from the rest of creation.)  How might I be more proactive today?  What may I be more mindful of?