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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

keep your lamp burning

Opening Prayer: O Lord, help me to never neglect or ignore the flame within.  It is your very life within me.  Help me, by your grace, to keep my lamp burning, so that your light illuminates my heart, as well as your world.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 12:35

Journal:  How will you keep your lamp burning during this season of Advent?

Reflection:

keep your lamp burning

tend and nurture the flame
of the Spirit that dwells
deep within you

it will light the way
for you and for others

don’t ignore it
don’t neglect it
don’t let it wane
don’t let it go out

don’t allow the cares
of this life to extinguish
the light and life within you

pray continually
make space and time
pay careful attention
watch and wait

this is how
we stay ready
for his coming

Prayer


Closing Prayer:
Oh, living flame of love
That tenderly woundest my soul in its deepest centre,
Since thou art no longer oppressive, perfect me now if it be thy will,
Break the web of this sweet encounter.

Oh, sweet burn! Oh, delectable wound!
Oh, soft hand! Oh, delicate touch
That savours of eternal life and pays every debt!
In slaying, thou hast changed death into life.

O lamps of fire! in whose splendours
The deep caverns of feeling,
Once obscure and blind,
Now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
Both warmth and light to their Beloved.

How gently and lovingly you wake in my heart,
Where in secret you dwell alone;
And in your sweet breathing,
Filled with good and glory,
How tenderly You swell my heart with love.
~John of the Cross

Thursday, November 25, 2021

thanksgiving day 2021

Opening Prayer: Give us, O Lord, a heart of gratitude, rather than a spirit of entitlement.  Help us to see that all of life is a gift to be received and not a right to be possessed and defended.  Amen.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Journal: How will you choose gratitude today? 

Reflection: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Gratitude is not a feeling, it is a choice.  It is a way of seeing, and then a way of being.  It is a way of looking at life that recognizes that everything is a gift.  It is a way of trusting that even in the most challenging of circumstances there is something to be grateful for.  God is still at work.  That’s why Paul reminds us to “give thanks in all circumstances.”  In fact, that is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.  God’s will is not for us to complain and ask “why” and get frustrated and angry about the things in this life that we can’t control, it is an invitation to find him and his goodness in the midst of them.

Unfortunately, that is not always easy to do.  Sometimes we let our circumstances get the best of us.  Sometimes we let our circumstances turn us into the worst possible version of ourselves: frustrated, angry, and entitled.  In fact, one of the biggest enemies of gratitude is entitlement.  Entitlement does not see everything as a gift that should be received, but as a right that must be possessed and defended, which, seemingly, makes loving each other an impossibility.

So let’s choose gratitude instead of entitlement.  Let’s make each day an opportunity for joy and thanksgiving, because joy is the fruit of gratitude.  As a wise saint once said, “Gratitude makes the heart great.”  So let’s make each day great.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Prayer

Closing Prayer: “Let joy be your continual feast.  Make your life a prayer.  And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.” (TPT)

 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

keep watch

Opening Prayer: Teach us, O Lord, to keep watch for your coming.  For you are likely to come in a way that we least suspect.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 2:8-15

Journal: What does it look like in your life to “keep watch?”  How might God show up in ways that are very different from what you expect?  How will you keep watch for that?

Reflection: My guess is that one of the main reasons the angels came to the lowly shepherds was because they were the ones “keeping watch.” (Luke 2:8-15) It was an art they were well-practiced in; such an integral part of their everyday lives.

Keeping watch is so important in the spiritual life.  Yet, it is not as easy as it seems.  Oftentimes, our expectations of what we will see, or how, where, or when we will see it, get in the way.  We are busy looking for one thing, when God is doing another.  We are expecting him to make a grand entrance, when he is trying to sneak in the back door.  He is often more quiet and hidden and subtle than we give him credit for.

I mean, who in their right mind would expect God to come into his world as a baby?  Yet that’s exactly what he did.  So if we are trying to “keep watch” over these next days or weeks or months, we might do well to look for God to come in the ways we least expect.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Cultivate in us, O God, a heart of watchfulness.  Help us to never get so involved in the noise and the chaos and the busyness around us that we are unable to recognize you when you come to us.  Come, Lord Jesus!

Saturday, November 6, 2021

the fruit of humility

Opening Prayer: Lord, give me the ability to persist through tedium, to survive without the oxygen of recognition, praise, and stroking, and to do some good things every day which are seen only by You. —Sacred Space: the Prayer Book 2010 by Jesuit Communication Centre

Scripture: Proverbs 11:2

Journal: What good things is humility growing in you right now?  How does humility set you free?  From what?

Reflection:

oh humility

do your
good work
in me

set me free
from self
and teach me
how to love

Prayer

Closing Prayer:


O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.    
Litany of Humility

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

not shaken

Opening Prayer: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:1-2)

Scripture: Psalm 62:1-8

Journal: What has shaken you lately?  What things (or people) tend to leave you shaken most often?  Why?  How does trusting in God alone keep you from being shaken?

Reflection: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5-6)

I am continually amazed at how fragile my sense of well-being and identity can be.  The least little comment, or lack thereof, can throw me into a bit of a spin.  How I long for a greater durability, a rootedness that is not dependent on mood, whim, or circumstance.

That’s where the words of this ancient prayer are such a great companion.  They remind me that if I am easily shaken, it is most likely because my soul is not resting in God alone.  And, thus, they re-center me and allow me to set my feet, once again, on the rock of his unfailing love.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5-6)

Saturday, October 30, 2021

listening

Opening Prayer: Help me to listen to you this day, O Lord.  For yours is the voice of love; yours is the voice of truth; yours is the only voice that can set me free.  Amen.

Scripture: Luke 8:16-18

Journal: Who or what do you really listen to?  Is what you are hearing true?  What effect does it have on you?  How do you make time and space to listen to God?  What is he saying to you these days?  How is that setting you free?

Reflection: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.  Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” (Luke 8:17-18)

Listening is so important in the spiritual life.  But, unfortunately, it is a bit of a lost art.  That’s probably because, in our day and age, silence and solitude have been replaced by noise and hurry and busyness.  Listening requires time and space.  It requires stillness and silence and solitude.  How can we ever hope to hear anything from God if we never stop, shut up, and pay attention to him? 

The reason listening is so important is because how we listen and what we hear have so much bearing on what we believe and how we live.  What we truly believe determines how we act; and who and what we listen to almost always determines what we really believe.  Living falsely is almost always the result of believing things that are not true.

Thus, if we are really listening, then things will be disclosed, made know, and brought out into the open, no matter how hard we try to deny or escape them.  No matter how hard we try to hide and conceal them.  Listening is the place where we open ourselves up to the voice of God—the voice of truth.  And abiding in his truth is how we are set free.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: So many voices, Lord, so many voices—both around and within.  It gets really confusing.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is really telling me the truth; and even harder to tell where I have come to believe things that are just not true.  Help me, O Lord, to listen to your voice.  Help me to pay careful attention to how I listen to you, so that I can know the truth that will set me free.  Amen.

Monday, October 25, 2021

deceit

Opening Prayer: Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose iniquity the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)

Scripture: Psalm 32:1-2

Journal: How is deceit present in your life?  Where are you living falsely?  How are you trying to make yourself look better than you are?  Where are you hiding, posing, jockeying, or posturing?

Reflection: Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose iniquity the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2) We are indeed blessed when we come to realize that our transgression are forgiven, our sins are covered, and the Lord no longer counts our iniquity against us.  The cross has taken care of all of that once and for all—past, present, and future.  But what about the part that says we are blessed when we have no more deceit in our spirits?  That’s a little more difficult.  I mean, how in the world do we rid our spirits of deceit?  That seems like a tall order. 

The essence of deceit (rmîyâ) is living falsely.  It isn’t just about telling a lie; it’s about living one.  It’s about presenting a false front.  It’s about trying to make people believe we are better, or different, than we really are.  It is about manufacturing an appearance that is not true.  We do it all the time; every minute of every day.  We do it when we posture and pose.  We do it when we hide and conceal.  We do it when we conform and camouflage.  And we do it when we masquerade and pretend.  We do it when we jockey and perform.  Trying to create ourselves, rather than become ourselves is a great temptation.  And it can become so subtle, so second-nature to us, that we do not even notice it.

That’s why the words to this ancient prayer are so helpful.  Only God can rid our hearts and lives of deceit.  Only God can show us when we are being false rather than true, fake rather than real.  Only God can help us to become who he made us to be, but it takes a relentless openness and attentiveness to his word and his Spirit in the silence and solitude of our won hearts and souls.  It takes constant prayer and reflection and confession and repentance.  It is an ongoing battle, but one that is worth the time and effort, because at the end of it all lies a life that he calls blessed.

Prayer

Closing Prayer: What bliss belongs to the one whose rebellion has been forgiven, those whose sins are covered by blood.  What bliss belongs to those who have confessed their corruption to God! For he wipes their slates clean and removes hypocrisy from their hearts. (Psalm 32:1-2, TPT)