Time with the Beloved

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Click here for readings.

Today, in Mercy,  Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. His prayer is simple and direct, like talking to your Dad over a morning cup of coffee.

What about us? How do we pray?

Our first learned prayers are a lot like Jesus’s simple Our Father. We praise God, giving thanks, and asking for what we need.

Abba Father

Then we grow up and get sophisticated. We may begin to “say” or read prayers rather than use our own words. While such a practice can deepen our understanding of prayer, it places a layer between us and our conversation with God.

Sometimes others lead our prayer in the community of faith. This too can enrich us as we are inspired by a shared faith. But it is a little like trying to have a private conversation in an elevator.

Just as Jesus often went off in solitude to pray, this kind of prayer is our most intimate time with God – a time when God allows us to know God and ourselves in a deeper way. This sacred time alone with God may be spent in words, song, or the silence that speaks beyond words.

It is a time to be with the Beloved as we would our dearest, most faithful companion. We rest in the field of our experiences, letting them flow over God’s heart in tenderness. We listen with the ear of absolute trust to the secrets God tells us in the quiet.

Music: In His Presence – Sandi Patty

Demons

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071018.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus cures a demoniac who is mute. 

In Jesus’ time, the connection between ordinary disease and demonical possession was quickly drawn – perhaps too quickly. As we read some of the Gospel cures, our modern understanding recognizes epilepsy, glaucoma, cataracts and mental illness in the people Jesus touched and healed. But two thousand years ago, these conditions were assigned to demons.

Demons

This doesn’t mean demons don’t exist. Remember the Gerasene miracle where Jesus cast demons into pigs who then threw themselves into the sea? Dramatic evidence that demons are real!

Demons are real in our world too, embodiments of the evil that is always competing for control of Creation, that is always resisting the supremacy of Goodness and Love.

These demons masquerade in various costumes of power, prestige and pleasure. But they are all eventually exposed as addictive, self-consuming and destructive.

How dangerous and deceptive these demons are! The word itself comes from the same Greek root as the word “genius”. And they do have a genius for rendering us:

  • blind to narcissistic motivations
  • crazed with exaggerated self-importance
  • crippled by deceptive rhetoric
  • mute in the face of systemic evil
  • deaf to the cries of the suffering
  • dead to the power of transforming Mercy in our own souls

Even as you read this list, faces and moments of history and current events are flashing before your eyes.  Circumstances in your own life, family and work suggest themselves. Bring these to your transforming prayer today. The touch of Jesus can deliver us from such demons. We pray for that touch in our own hearts and in our world.

Music: Our Father – Leontyne Price

 

Our Father

Thursday, June 21,2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our readings are a study in contrasts.  Our first reading from Sirach describes the fiery majesty of the prophet Elijah. Everything about Elijah was thunder and lightning.  He toppled kings and raised the dead, and generally cast a path of fire as he preached. At the end of his life, he passed into heaven in a chariot of flames.

The Gospel presents a Prophet of a gentler stripe – Jesus, who is teaching us how to pray.

Jesus says to pray simply, humbly, to ask for forgiveness, and freedom from temptation. He tells us to forgive others, avoid evil and be content with our daily bread.  No fiery chariots; no tumbling governments.  This gentle man will die in the agony of the cross.

No wonder those who hoped for a Messiah like Elijah were disappointed in Jesus.  No wonder we still struggle to understand the contradiction of the Cross.

However, Walter Brueggemann says this:  The crucifixion is

“the ultimate act of prophetic criticism
in which Jesus announces the end of a world of death…
and takes the death into his own person”.  

Still, the witness of Calvary would remain nothing but a contradiction without the transformative act of the Resurrection.

cross ressur

Through the combined witness of Good Friday and Easter, Jesus not only confronts the old order, he embraces and transforms it.  He takes to himself the same suffering and death that we all must face, but he shows us that it cannot destroy us. He proves that, ultimately, death has no power over those who believe in Him and in the Father Who has sent Him.

Indeed, the Our Father is a most powerful, prophetic prayer. It teaches us how to be in the presence of God even in the midst of our daily life. It shows us how to express our faith in God’s Kingdom even as we live in our earthly one.  It helps us to become a little more like gentle, powerful Jesus.

Music: Aramaic Our Father – in the orgs that Jesus likely used.