Prayer & Action

March 8, 2010

Contemplation is in no way opposed to action. In fact, our sense is that truly effective, responsive action in the world needs to be undergirded and informed by contemplative awareness.
Also, although silence and solitude play a role in the contemplative life, contemplation does not mean withdrawing from the world. On the contrary, it is a responsive, participative presence in and with God, oneself, one’s neighbors, and all creation.
Being present and open to God in each moment, living from the ground of that Love, is a much-needed path in our world today. Contemplative living helps us see our world with clear, loving eyes and helps us find a new way of being in that world. For over 30 years, Shalem has offered support for living a contemplative life–a life grounded in awareness, appreciation and love.
Source: Tilden Edwards, Shalem Institute
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An Authentic Calling

March 6, 2010

Identity, giftedness, and occupation are ingredients of a calling. But how do we know when a call is really of God and not something we created on our own? The call of God is always consistent with God’s saving purpose. Is this an authentic call? If this pilgrimage means that we are to share in the saving work of God that began with Noah, that we are to share in the saving work of Christ described in the New Testament, then the call is authentic indeed. The distinctive mark of a calling is not the nature of the work but the purpose of the worker.
The most remarkable sentence in the Bible is found in the Genesis story of Abraham and Sarah. God called Abram to go from Haran “to a land that I will show you.” I’ve been to Haran. It was a terrifying move God was asking of Abram and Sarai. The ruins indicate that Haran was a large and sophisticated city on the edge of a desert. God’s call to Abram and Sarai went against their identity as a wealthy urban couple. That call to a new occupation in an unknown place was outrageous. That call to live a gypsy life in the desert was unthinkable.
Abraham and Sarah were the first people to understand that there was one God; they were the first to be called by this God, called to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Abraham and Sarah represent a new beginning for all of us in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We are indeed blessed by those first pioneers. In a sense our call is part of their call, to go “to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). The most remarkable sentence in the Bible begins this way, “So Abram went…” (Gen. 12:4). As a result, we are all blessed and called to be a blessing.
Source: Called for Life: Finding Meaning in Retirement, by Paul C. Clayton

The Long View

March 5, 2010

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in out lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the Kingdome always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We can not do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of the future not our own.
Amen.
Source: Archbishop Oscar Romero
Predictably, some will say it’s absurd to assert that we are the answer to our prayers because God is the only answer to prayer. That’s the beautiful mystery: we have a God who chooses to need us. We have a God who doesn’t want to change the world without us. We have a God who longs to cooperate with us, to allow us to fail and flounder and who promises to make up for our shortcomings, but nonetheless wants us. It’s the story of our faith. Certainly nothing hinges on our own ingenuity or strength; quite the opposite – God works through weakness.
This is the great paradox and humor of God’s audacious power: a stuttering prophet will be the voice of God, a barren old lady will become the mother of a nation. A shepherd boy will become their king, and a homeless baby will lead them home. God works not in spite of but through our frailty.
Source: Becoming The Answer To Our Prayers by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Companionship

March 2, 2010

When Jesus begins his public ministry, one of the first things he does is to find companions, those individuals who will share his life and ministry in a special way. Whenever Jesus faces a difficult situation, he gathers these companions around himself – sometimes all twelve, sometimes only a few. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, needed the  company of others. Even he, as strong and powerful and good as he was, couldn’t go it alone.
We can’t go it alone either. We cannot face the challenges of life without the support of others. This need for companionship is one we must never be ashamed of. We must never think, “If I were more mature, I could stand on my own to feet.” Or, “If my faith were stronger, I wouldn’t have to rely so much on others.” No, our need for companionship, fellowship, friendship, is in the very fabric of our human psyche. It is yet one more way that were are made in the image and likeness of God.
from Abundant Treasures by Melannie Svoboda
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you?
Source: Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, ed. Charles Moore

What We Really Want

February 27, 2010

ll of us had best find out what we really want to do on behalf of other and start doing it, with whatever it involves. If you have to give up your responsibility, give it up; if the church goes to pieces, so be it. But we must find out what we really want to do because nothing else is going to help anybody.
Source: Quoted by Peter Renner in “Good Is a Timely Word”

ll of us had best find out what we really want to do and start doing it, with whatever it involves. If you have to give up your responsibility, give it up; if the church goes to pieces, so be it. But we must find out what we really want to do because nothing else is going to help anybody.

Source: Quoted by Peter Renner in “Good Is a Timely Word”