Simple Conversations

15 05 2011

If we pay attention…if we are awake…if we live with an attitude of humbleness…if we approach each day with a “beginner’s mind,” we become aware that God’s love is soaking us like a spring rain – nourishing us in ways we cannot imagine…from simple, surprising sources…inviting us to risk growth and wanting to turn our lives upside down.

So was the invitation during a routine prayer (is any prayer routine?), on a recent Sunday, offered by an almost thirteen year-old who lives in my house. If I pay attention…if my spirit stays awake…if I live with an attitude of humbleness…if I approach each day with a “beginner’s mind”…

Here’s God’s soaking love poured out through a prayer offered by one of the least of these:

Before I go on with the prayer, I’d like to say a few words to think about before and during the prayer:

A lot of the times we pray, we thank God for everything He’s given us. I believe He enjoys everyday hearing us say “thank you”. But I also think that sometimes He just likes to hear us say that we genuinely love what He has given us. I think He is so happy when we’re happy…that sometimes he just likes us to say it out loud.

So I invite you into silence and then a voiced corporate prayer.

Dear God,

I love the smell of flowers in the spring.

I love to laugh with my friends.

I love chocolate.

I love when my stomach flips on a roller coaster.

I love wearing pajamas until one on Saturdays.

I love reading a book alone when it rains.

I love singing loudly and very off key.

I love life.

I love liberty.

I love pursuing happiness.

I love knowing I have people who love me.

God, I love knowing that you love me.

Finally, thank You for giving us these things, allowing us these things, and showing us how to love these things. Amen.

(prayer by Lara Cochran)

Story Within Us

8 05 2011

Our Youth led worship at Woodbrook Baptist Church on Mother’s Day. They chose as the worship theme, The Biblical Story – God with us Genesis to Revelation and beyond. What a wonderful job they did as they read, spoke, sang, prayed, and danced – what beautiful individuals they are! Following are words I spoke at the end of the service:

Today is about story – creation, the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), Esther, Pslams, Daniel, Jesus with children, Jesus with an outcast, the Spirit rushing in like wind, letters from long ago, and living into the Mystery of what is to be . And in the last hour we have experienced story through the spoken word, through lyrics, through instruments and through movement. We’ve experienced it in meditation and through prayer…through Spirit and Truth.

The benediction today is taken from Revelation…the end of our biblical text. After Audrey pronounces these words of blessing and guidance it would be easy to believe…it would be easy to close the text and say that we are finished – finished with worship…finished hearing the Story. But this is not true…the story is never finished, for we are never finished – we are in process…working out our salvation…God’s prayer continually flowing through us. Whether we are aware of it or not…whether we believe it or not…God’s story continues within us…in our story that we live daily. The Spirit that blew through those on that day so long ago in Jerusalem…blows through us…dwells with and in us…longing to help us live into the greatest story. Our part is to be open and aware, day-by-day…moment-by-moment, to the unfolding God-narrative within us, and all around us.

Do you see?

The creative power found in Genesis is our story too – we are created in the image of God.

The responsibility planted in the Shema is planted in us as well – there are precious children at our feet…wonderful youth walking beside us.

The deep God-courage of Esther is available to us – we too are challenged to stand fast within the winds of wrong.

The honesty of deep emotions and hard questions expressed by the psalmist to God, are the same deep emotions and questions that rise within us – what conversation do you long to have with God?

The faith of Daniel in the face of insurmountable odds is a seed within us as well – lion dens do you have to walk into.

The life Jesus lived invites us daily to live a counter-cultural life – speaking to the outcast; touching the untouchable; loving radically; uttering words of healing; planting peace; pointing out injustices and living Truth – Jesus says to us, “Follow me.”

The same Spirit that saw potential hovering over the face of the deep…that stirred hearts 2000 years ago…that moved Paul, Martin Luther, Harriett Tubman, Richard Fuller, Annie Armstrong, Clyde Atkins, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sonya Park…is also the Spirit that stirs within you – be still and know God.

Just as was done through the letters of Paul and Timothy, the opportunities to speak of our faith…to encourage others and to be encourage…to build relationships…is a daily invitation.

And the adventure continues…God continually revealing God’s self…calling us, loving us, pulling us forward – can you hear the echoes of God speaking your name? Can you feeling the deep longings of your heart?

So as you leave this sanctuary today…the biblical story continues…for our story continues – where will you take it? Where will it take you?