Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Morning After Prayers

An influence in my father's and grandfather's spiritual life was the pastor, professor, and theologian John Baillie. His classic book of daily prayers Diary of Private Prayer has guided the prayer life of many Presbyterians. It's a book of 31 days' worth of morning and evening prayer, one for every day of the month. The copy in my library is one that came to me from my father's library when he died.
This is the prayer for the morning of Day 9, updated for today's language:
Here I am, O God, with little power and less influence. But I'm lifting up heart and voice to you before whom all created things are as dust and vapor. You are hidden behind a curtain of what we can sense, incomparable in your greatness, mysterious in your power. Any yet here I speak with you as a child to parent, as friend to friend. If I could not so speak, then were I indeed without hope in the world. For it is little that I have power to do or to ordain. I am not here of my own will, nor of my own will shall I pass from this life. Of everything that will come to me this day, very little is of my own choosing. It is you, O Hidden One, who will appoint my lot and determine the bounds of my habitation.  It is you who has put power in my hands for some things and not for others. It is you who keeps the threads of this day's life and who alone knows what lies ahead of me.
But because you are my Divine Parent, I am not afraid. Because it is your own Spirit that stirs within my spirit, I know that all is well. What I desire for myself I cannot attain, but what you desire in me you can attain for me. The good that I try to get for myself, I can't get, but the Good that you will for me, you give me the power to do.
Dear Divine Parent, take this day's life into your own keeping. Control all my thoughts and feelings. Direct all my energies. Instruct my mind. Sustain my will. Take my hands and me them skillful to serve you. Take my feet and make them swift to do your bidding. Take my eyes and keep them fixed upon your deep beauty. Take my mouth and make it eloquent to tell of your love. Make this a day of obedience, a day of spiritual joy and peace. Make this day's work a small part of the work of the Kingdom of my Lord Jesus, in whose name these prayers are said.

OK, Ladies.  Time to put on our big girl pant suits
and go to work.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Approaching Thanksgiving

Walter Brueggemann published Prayers for a Privileged People in 2008. (Abingdon Press) I've admired him for a long time, for his ability to say important things with a few right words, prophet words. The collection is poetic prayers. Picking it up again this morning, I was drawn to the title "At Thanksgiving" and will quote it here in full. Maybe those algorithms that track important words (see my last post) will at lease give Walter Brueggemann a shout out.

Amid football,
family, and
too much food,
we pause quickly and without inconvenience
to remember and to thank.
We remember ancient pilgrims
who followed dreams of alabaster cities
and financial opportunity;
We remember hospitable first nation people
who welcomed them, and then lost their land;
We remember other family times
filled with joy and
filled with anxiety, and
old scars still powerful.
We thank yo for this U.S.venue of
justice and freedom,
and are aware of its flawed reality;
We thank you for our wealth and our safety,
and are aware of how close to poverty we are
and how under threat we live.

We gather our impulse for gratitude today,
grateful to you and to our ancestors,
grateful to you for our families,
our health,
our government,
our many possessions.

We gladly affirm that
"All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,"
But we yield to none in a sense of self-sufficiency,
our weariness in needing to share,
our resentfulness of those who take and do not give.

Your generosity evokes our gratitude,
but your generosity overmatches our gratitude.
We are ready to thank,
but not overly so;
We remember our achievements,
our accomplishments,
our entitlements,
and our responsibilities
that slice away our yielding of ourselves to you.

Move through our half measure of thanks
and let us be, all through this day,
more risky in acknowledging
that we have nothing except what you give.

You have given so much--not least your only Son.
Gift us the gift of dazzlement and awe
that we may rejoice in our penultimate lives
and keep you ultimate all the day long,
relishing the wonder of your self-giving love.