Thursday, December 31, 2015

Prayer After Christmas

Prayer After Christmas
   
Jesus, my Incarnate Lord, in your senseless Mercy, make your home within the walls of my sin.  Bring your Presence into my Selfishness, my Arrogance, my Unforgiveness, my Fear, my Unbelief.
          Expose my sins, my needs, to your Saving Love.  Wake me from my slumber.  Fan the embers of my cold heart.  Give me a hunger for you who sustains me.  Deliver me from the cravings of Death.  May I thirst only for your Will to be done in my life.  
          Come, oh Emmanuel, my Deliverer.  Enter into the darkness of my life.  Come, my Savior, into the depths of my wretchedness.  May your Light and your Love drive me to true conversion.  Transform my soul, my heart and life into an abode pleasing to your Holy Spirit.
May it not be I who lives, but you who lives within me.  May my life glorify you, my Creator.  May my praise be worthy to join with the Shepherds and Angels.  Make me faithful.  Make me pure.  Make me true.  Make me like you.

Jesus, my Eternal Light,
Come, into the Darkness of my Night.
Lo, the Wretchedness of my Sin
Is but the Cry of Emptiness within.
Come, My Savior, deliver me.
          Only in You will I be Free.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Prayer

Christmas Prayer
   
The children are filled with Christmas Joy.  They are singing and dancing to the sights and music of Christmas.  Their Joy drives them to dream …of brightly wrapped presents, waiting for them, under the tree laden with lights and ornaments.  It is all so beautiful, so wondrous, that the wait of a few days, or even hours, is an eternity.
Lord, when did I stop singing and dancing?  What happened to my Christmas Dreams, to the thrill of the wait?  I, who know so much more than the children, about the True Gift of Christmas, should be the one who is singing and dancing, who is brimming over with Joy, unable to contain the anticipation of my Dreams.
Lord, I want of celebrate the Day of your Coming in all of its Glory, in the fullness of its Truth.  I want to praise and worship you with all my strength.  Strip me of the pretenses and worries of this world.  I too want to sing out, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”  May the truth of your Coming, make my feet dance for you, and my heart sing with Joy.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Present

Christmas Present

       “See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord.” (Zach 2:14)   
       Mary knew you by touch and smell, by sound and sight.  I for now know you by faith alone.  I long for the day to know your Resurrected Presence, your Ascended Body, to hear you, to see you, smell you, touch you.  That day seems a heavenly dream, to know My Beloved in the flesh.  But even now, in my world of shadowed grays, I believe that knowing you in the flesh will be but a triviality.  For then, on that Day, I shall know you as I am known.  I shall know the very thoughts of my God.  I shall be one with you.  This is a wonderful but terrifying thought, for I am not ready to know the Mind of God –I am a sinful man.  I believe this will be, because you have promised it.  But in truth, I cannot imagine it.  And if I could, I would dare not out of fear, for you are All Holy – communion with you could only profane.  Oh, the price of Sin!  Yet your promise remains.  Save me Lord.
       On Christmas Day, you made yourself present to humanity –you became Emmanuel, God-With-Us, the Father’s Christmas Present of Love-Sent, of God-Made-Known.  Two thousand years later, we are still unwrapping you.  Every day you come anew.  Every Eucharist, you make yourself present in the Flesh.  I cannot see, hear, and touch you as our Mother so tenderly did, but in your Mysterious Way, every bit as real, you gift me with the Christmas Present of your Real Presence.
       This I know, because you have made it Reality by your Word made Flesh.  Your Word –the Truth which cannot lie- has visited us.  You have come to dwell in the faith of all who dare to believe in Christmas.  As Mary embraced your infant body on Christmas Day, may I embrace your Eucharist in mass.  May your Real Presence transcend the darkness of my senses.  I am so slow to believe and so quick to revert.  I praise you Lord, that you saw fit, for Christmas to be never ending.
       Lord, may this season of Christmas nurture and grow my infant faith.  My senses, my intellect cannot see beyond the appearances of this world.  Your gift of faith is my only path to knowing you.  Spirit of God, take me to where I cannot go on my own.  Father, make me a dwelling place for you.  Humbly, I receive your Gift, I implore the fellowship of your Son.  Jesus, I want to be alive in you.  Come, live in me.  Bend my knees to your Coming.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Prepare The Way

Prepare The Way
(Luke 3:1-6; Baruch 5:1-9)


        John the Baptist announces the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, by crying out the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.  Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth.  And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.”
        The powerful imagery of this ancient prophecy is lost in the modern world.  In Isaiah’s day, when the upcoming visit of the king was made known, all of the people would stop whatever they were doing, and go to work preparing the way for their king, by sweeping the streets free of rubble, filling in any potholes, leveling any bumps, and making the path as straight as possible, all so that their king’s coming would be made easy and swift.  Nothing was more important than the coming of the king.
       After calling the people to preparedness, Isaiah proclaims that the coming of the Messiah-King will forever transform the world, that not only will the roadways and local scenery be “tidied up”, but his kingdom’s valleys and mountains will be made level, and every rough road will be made smooth -all will witness the Salvation of God, for the coming of this Messiah will usher in a New Eden –where, the prophet Baruch says, “…Israel can walk in safety under the glory of God.  And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade for Israel at the command of God; for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory with his mercy and integrity for escort.”
        If John the Baptist’s call, to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, is repentance, then the roadway rubble is the trash and clutter in my life; the deep gorges are the wounds of sin, the mountains are a mirror of my towering pride; and the curving paths are my twisted justifications for the tolerance of sin.   Just as I am hopeless to level mountains and fill valleys, so am I to absolving sin in my life.  
But John’s Messiah is a most Extraordinary King.  He comes, not to be served, but to serve –to reconcile the Unreconciled, to heal the Wounded, to bring hope for the Hopeless.  Mountains are thrown into the sea at his command, and the Prodigal is brought home.  He is the Valley Filler, the Mountain Leveler, the Servant Savior.
        Jesus, my Servant-King, my Savior, forgive me my sin.  May your Kingdom take reign over my failed attempts to rule.  I am ready for your Coming.  I surrender to your Holy Spirit.  Do not allow me to hide from you.  May your Mercy overwhelm my fear to let go.  Render my heart to our Love -make me hungry and thirsty for your will.  Open my eyes to the New Life you are offering me.  Make straight my path, oh Lord.  Make straight my path.  Nothing is more important than your coming into my life.   Be now, My Savior, My King.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Stump, A Child, An Advent

A Stump, A Child, An Advent
(Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 10:21-24)

As I read these readings from the first week of Advent, I gave praise to God for our “Holy Mother Church”.  In reflecting on that unusual title, Holy Mother, I realized that it is my Catholic roots which have given me the very construct for which I find myself thanking God.  That is to say, “Mother Church” is a term familiar to the Catholic perspective, where the Church is seen as giving birth to its members, in contrast to the members giving birth to their church.
My Church, my Mother, my Source of Nourishment, my Guiding Hand, is a Womb transcending time and space, weaving me into the Body of Christ, with all the saints present and past.  It is the miracle of Advent, that I find myself a living, integral piece of the Incarnation of God.
These thoughts were evoked as I was struck with the Church’s wisdom in pairing together the readings from Isaiah 11 and Luke 10.  Isaiah’s prophecy of the stump of Jesse sprouting a shoot of New Life, is paired with Luke’s account of Jesus exulting, with the Joy of the Holy Spirit, that what was hidden from the learned, is now revealed to the Childlike.  Read together, these verses shed light on each other in a manner where the sum of their parts is greater than their whole.  Our Holy Mother Church, in the pairing of this Word, opens a window into the Mind of God.
Immediately preceding the stump of Jesse vision, Isaiah writes, “See, the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth hews down the boughs with a crash. The topmost heights are cut off, the proudest are brought down.  The forest thickets fall beneath the axe. Lebanon and its splendours collapse.  All of us have found ourselves “brought down”, laid low.  Not just pruned, but cut to the stump.
Being cut to the stump yields two possibilities: One is a sense of dejection, failure, despondence.  Or, it can become an opportunity of enlightment …a chance to be humbled …to find new eyes …to understand that of ourselves we are but dead wood …that if we embrace our death, we will discover the Saving Power dwelling deep within our roots …that the Spirit of God is waiting, to burst forth with New Life …with New Life that could not take place until our Tree of Pride has been cut down …that the Hand that wielded the axe, is the same Spirit which is pushing up New Growth.
Luke sets his stage with the preceding account of how the seventy-two came back rejoicing because they saw Satan defeated whenever they called on the Name of Jesus.  Through the Name of Jesus, death now yields New Life.  But Jesus reminds his disciples, that the true cause of their joy, is their Childlike Faith …a faith which embeds them into the Lap of The Father, a Father that is ever faithful to his children.
Taken together, these two readings shed light on what Nicodemus found incomprehensible, that in being Born Again, we are indeed placed back into the Womb of the Holy Spirit, where we are reformed into a Child of God, freed to become what we were destined to be from the beginning.
And so we begin Advent with the promise of New Birth.  Where the Holy Spirit overshadows Mary, our Mother Given, whose childlike “Yes”, conceived and gave birth to our Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Out of the Root of Jesse he comes into the world, breathing his Holy Spirit upon us, giving birth to our Church that Pentecost Day, giving us a New Mother, ever birthing us with Word and Eucharist, with Water and Spirit, into New Life.
Come, Emmanuel.  Come, Word Made Flesh.  Come, Light of lights.  Pierce our Darkness.  Come, Savior of the world.  We have been cut low, oh Lord.  We surrender.  We hope only in you.  With eyes steeled on that Christmas Star, we wait …to be Born Again.  Come Lord Jesus, come!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Jerusalem Tears

Jerusalem Tears (Luke 19:41)
    The end was near.  His death lay before him.  His final pilgrimage is at its end.  Jerusalem comes into sight, and Jesus weeps for her.  This snapshot of Jesus’ humanity is heartrending, raw with emotion.  His life’s mission, his passion to save, is crushing down upon him.  He who is Eternal is out of time.  He who is All-Powerful, is helpless in the face of rejection.  All that he had done within her walls -all the miracles, the healings, the outpouring of love –was to no avail.  Jerusalem remains deaf to his call, closed to the Word he bears.
    After failing to defeat Jesus, in the desert, at the beginning of his ministry, Satan promised to return.  Surely this moment was ripe with invitation.  Could Satan resist whispering vile temptations into Jesus’ breaking heart?  Would not this be the opportune time to demand Justice be served, to call down lightning upon Jerusalem, to shake the dust from his sandals and offer his Love to a more deserving people? Why should he die for this Unfaithful Bride who spurns his Love?  Would not this be time to test the Son of Man, to convince him, that his identity is not Son of God, but of a Failed Prophet?  Surely, you have sacrificed enough, why cast your pearls to the swine?  Jesus, Man above all men, you deserve better, you have done enough!
    But the Devil’s ploy is lost to the wind.  Jesus only listens to the Voice of his Father, and that Voice is calling him to do even more, to enter Jerusalem and mount the Cross that lies waiting.  Jesus wiped the tears from his beard, stood erect, breathed in the Spirit of his Father surrounding him, and continued on, to finish what had begun long ago, when the First Man of men bit into that forbidden fruit.   Satan withdraws, still confident in his plan of Death, unaware of the Defeat looming at Calvary.
Oh praise the Cross of Christ,
The Blood, that flowed complete.
Salvation has it won,
Bowing Satan to its feet.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Zacchaeus Joy

Zacchaeus Joy (Luke 19:1-10)

    As a tax collector, Zacchaeus was loathed and despised by his fellow Israelites.  Viewed as a traitor, he was employed by the occupying Romans to extract taxes from his own people.  Tax collectors were not paid a set wage, instead, they were allowed to keep whatever they could extract above and beyond what Rome demanded.  He was a wealthy tax collector, so clearly, he was gifted at his extortion.
    Zacchaeus could not have been a man with a conscience.  His success depended on not caring about the consequence of his actions.  Whether a father would default on a debt and be sent to prison, or a widow denied her last meal, his only concern was to collect the money.  He was a Wound in Humanity.
    Successful and at the top of his game, Zacchaeus was drawn to the “Rock Star” status of this Jesus that was coming to town.  He climbed that sycamore tree because he was curious.  He wanted to see what this Jesus looked like.  He did not want to miss out on the entertainment.
    When Jesus stopped beneath him and looked up, it was not Zacchaeus who first spoke.  It was Jesus who sought him out, who was calling his name.  This was a Miraculous Moment of Mercy.  In the time it took Jesus to call Zacchaeus down from that tree, the entire world of Zacchaeus The Tax Collector was fundamentally transformed.
In this Miraculous Moment of Mercy, Jesus heals a lifetime of sin.  When the eyes of Jesus found the eyes of Zacchaeus, an Eternal Love was unleashed, an unfathomable forgiveness was communicated, a soul without a conscience was made whole.  Zacchaeus climbed down that tree filled with Joy.
With this Joy, he welcomes Jesus into his home, gives half of all he possesses to the poor, and vows to repay fourfold, all he has extorted.  His tax collector colleagues in the crowd would have been dumbfounded.  Their sense of reality would have experienced a head-on collision with Love and Mercy.
I as well, grapple with what happened in that tree.  Like Zacchaeus, Jesus found me caught up in a life of sin.  And like Zacchaeus, after encountering Jesus, I invited him into my life.  But unlike Zacchaeus, my life, my values and priorities changed slowly, and only after I had repented of my ways.  
That Zacchaeus’ life transformation was instantaneous and preceded repentance, can only be miraculous.  My life transformation has been incremental and charts along the same time-line as the letting go of things incongruent with Christ’s love.  This may appear more logical, but it is in no way, less miraculous.  Both Zacchaeus and I, did not first love God.  God first loved us.  -“For the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.”
Lord, I am forever grateful that you did not give up on your dream for me.  Thank you for seeking me out, for saving me from my sins.  Thank you for your gentle patience, mercy, and unconditional love.  May the Joy of you finding me be ever new.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lost Sheep

Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1)

    “The Tax Collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes were complaining…”  The Pharisees and scribes thought they deserved the attention of Jesus, not the sinners whom they detested.  So Jesus tells them the story of the Lost Sheep.  They thought the parable was about the Tax Collectors and sinners, but in fact, they were the ones who were lost.
    The Tax Collectors and sinners were not a holy lot, but neither were they lost, for they were drawing near to Jesus to listen to him.  They encountered the love of Jesus and were on the way to New Life.  Conversely, the Pharisees and Tax Collectors were driven away, deprived of God’s tender care.  Driven by fear of the Punishing Judge, they were exiled from love.  In detesting sinners, they embraced Sin.  Hopelessly lost, they were unable to recognize their self-righteousness.
    Blinded by condemnation, they were indignant that Jesus would welcome the company of sinners.  Their hardened hearts hid them from the Mercy of their God.  For this reason, Jesus paints for them the parable of the Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep.  How else could his Mercy penetrate their hearts?  They must first come to believe that their Punishing Judge is in truth, a Kind and Merciful God.
    So it is, that the Good Shepherd is compelled to search for his wayward sheep, and when he finds it, he does not put a rope around its neck and drag it back to the fold.  Rather, he picks it up and carries it around his neck.  Now, sheep are not these cute and cuddly creatures we see on TV.  They are dumb.  They stink.  And they are nasty dirty, as manure and dirt are forever matted into their wool.  Yet, Jesus presents the Good Shepherd as oblivious to the filth, as he joyfully returns, carrying the sheep on his shoulders.
    St. Luke leaves us hanging as to how the Pharisees and scribes responded to Jesus’ parable.  Did a light go on?  Did they receive God’s Mercy?  Or was it too late?  Were they so hardened, that defending their pride took precedence over defending their souls?
    All the characters in this Gospel passage were in need of redemption.  But it was those, most successful in their religious appearance, that were in the darkest and most dangerous plight.  The Tax Collectors and sinners knew their lives were unholy.  They merely needed to repent and be saved.  The Pharisees and scribes either knew they were unrighteous and pretended to be holy, or they were deceived by their religiosity, and actually believed it to be so. In the end, they found themselves spurning the Mercy of God.
    Lord, where do I play in this parable?  I do relate to the Pharisee who prayed, “I thank you God that I am not like this sinner.”  I still feel disdain toward those who fail to meet my criteria for decency.  Your Blood has covered me in righteousness, yet I cling to a self-righteousness that is unbecoming of a child in your fold.  Selfishness and Pride are still familiar Voices.  The wool you have washed white in your blood is so easily soiled.  In my stupidity, I wander from your protective presence.  I tell myself half-truths so I can do things you would have me not do.  And I am sad to admit Lord,  there are parts of my heart, from which mercy does not yet flow, where doors are yet tight closed to your Light.
    Father, I am in desperate need of your Good Shepherd.  Fill me anew today with the in pouring of your Holy Spirit promised.  Holy Spirit, do with me what I cannot do.  Purify my mind, heart and soul.  Open my heart to the Truth of your way.  Jesus, may your Death reign in me, that I may live for you, that I may never wander from your Love.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Come To Me My Bride

Come To Me My Bride (John 6:37)

    “All the Father has given me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I shall not turn him away;”  We are the Children of God, as such, we belong to him.  Because we are so cherished, God our Father, gives us to his Son –as a father gives away the Bride, so we are given to Jesus.  We have been created to encounter the Heart of Hearts, the Source of All Love.  We have been infused with an Incomprehensible Grace –an insatiable deprivation, to hunger and thirst for fulfillment, for Truth, for the consummation of Eucharistic Union, to know the intimacy of our Beloved Spouse.
    “All that the Father has given will come to me…”  When the Father lifts the bridal veil, our eyes behold an Un-graspable Beauty that yet grasps us.  In this Sacred Embrace of eyes, the Spirit of our Spouse invades our Soul, a power that drives us to abandon our Old Name, and take on the identity of our Lord.  This Power impels us, to leap into the Darkness Of Faith, to trust in a Hand we cannot see, to surrender to a Love that is await to consume us.  This is the Spirit that is calling, enabling and transforming us now.  It is a Grace we cannot see until we look back onto the Darkness from which we have come.
    “…and whoever comes to me I shall not turn away;”  The moment we utter “I do!”, the Covenant is Eternal, unfazed by our unfaithfulness, forgetting of our failures, only ever wooing us deeper into the abyss of his embrace.  We are given, by our Father to Jesus, as a Gift, made attractive and pleasing with the White Garment of Faith.  Not only can he not turn us away, but he can only desire what his Father has made so Beautiful, so filled with his Spirit, so becoming in his Likeness.
    Lord Jesus, your Word is so clear in this morning’s light.  It is all about you.  I am redeemed by your Mercy, made Beautiful by your Love -by your Body and Blood.  Nourish me anew today.  Raise me up Lord.  Wash me afresh with your Holy Spirit.  Gladden my heart with the Hope of serving our Father, all the days of my life, with you at my side.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Garden Prayer

Garden Prayer

    Good morning Lord.  How awesome to find you waiting for me, to walk with you in your garden.  I struggle to believe you long for one as me, yet we walk, with your shoulder touching mine.  You make me feel like I am the center of your attention, that you delight in my presence.  Yet, in all our walks, it is I who has need to leave.
    Always, as I approach your garden, I fret over what to say, or if I will find the words to converse.  And always as we walk, I learn anew, that silence is just another way for you to speak to my heart, where my words are as noise, hiding your Voice.
    All that you require of me is that I come as I am.  The less I do to make myself “presentable”, the more pleased you are.  To portray myself in truth, is to pay you the highest praise, for you are Truth.  You call me Friend, but you are so much more.
    I am embarrassed Lord, to admit that still I am tempted to cut short our walks, or even to miss them altogether.  I am a Fool, who in the presence of my God, is distracted by bubbles, where the temporal appears more desirous than the Eternal.  And sometimes Lord, I come out of obligation, fearing you would think less of me if I did not show up.
    None of this seems to matter to you, for always, you are delighted to see me.  You receive me, who has sinned against you, as if I am a precious gift, even though you are Creator and I am creature.
    Lord Jesus, you paid a price for me that I am not worth.  You exchanged your Blood for my friendship, grafting me into your Family, giving me the Name of your Father, and sealing my identity with the Living Water of your Holy Spirit.  I tremble to give my eyes to yours in thanksgiving.
    Teach me, Lord, to love as you love me.  Prune me, cultivate me, as a plant in your garden, until I become a garden for you, where always, you are with me, and I am with you.  Make my life a prayer, walking with our shoulders touching.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mustard Seed Faith

Mustard Seed Faith (Mt 17:20)

Faith is both Gift and Response.  It is impetus and action.  It is the Finger Of God touching our soul; and it is a wholly unique expression of self, which reflects our will and determines our destiny.  It is the Mustard Seed, planted into our soul, not of our nature or order, yet designed to be inextricably intertwined and absorbed.  So much so that, if allowed and fiercely chosen, it transforms our fallen nature into its Divine Likeness.
This Mustard Seed is pure gift.  It is of God.  It contains Life apart of our own, yet it is destined to become our fully actualized potential.  It is a life present, and a life yet to be.  It is God’s loving design for us before we existed.  It is our call to Glory, Truth and Love in the present now.  And, it is a spiritual DNA (Divinity Naturally Acting) yet to be fully expressed.  Like natural DNA in all seeds of life, it is predestined, designed to progressively unfold into increasingly complex structure, until maturing, it accomplishes its design and reproduces.  Its purpose is solely Life oriented, Life with its Creator.
Both the natural seed and our seed of faith are predestined to accomplish God’s design, but how they come to fullness are not alike.  The natural seed only requires nourishment -it is predetermined.  Our gift of faith demands a Lover’s Choice.  It is present-determined, forever demanding existential choices of our will.
As Pure Gift, faith ever nudges us to grow towards The Light.  But for it to grow at all, it demands to be freely chosen, as the love relationship that it is with God.  Since it is present-determined, like love, it must forever be re-chosen in the fertile ground of suffering, doubt, failure, temptation and putting self at the service of others.  This re-choosing is what gives faith the permission to grow.  It is only in dying that we find Life.
This is the mystery of the Mustard Seed, that our faith does not grow by our own power, but by the power of God’s Grace, yet whether it grows at all depends on our choice to die, but if we do so choose, then what begins, takes on the unstoppable power of God.
We do not know how or when the seed of faith will grow, or even what fruit it will bear.  But by choosing to act according to our gift of faith, we can with certainty, as if by command, initiate the Power of God Within to transform our life.  Even though we cannot control how or when the Finger Of God moves in our lives, we are none the less co-responsible, by faithful decisions, for the manifestation of God’s Power, which is beyond what we can ask or imagine, let alone do.  It is the Mystery of the Mustard Seed of Faith throwing the mountain into the sea.
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe, that you are the Son of God, that in faith you have clothed me in your righteousness and have brought me into the sonship of your Father, that what you have promised can only be true.  I raise now the sails of my soul.  Fill them with the Power of your Holy Spirit.  Take me where you want me to go.  Do with me according to my Father’s design.  I cannot see what lies ahead, but with your hand upon my rudder, I know it can only be good.  Make it so, my Master.  Make it so. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

From The Depths

From The Depths (Psalm 130)

“From the depths I call to you, Yahweh, Lord,
        listen to my cry for help!
Listen compassionately to my pleading!
If you never overlooked our sins,
        Yahweh, Lord, could anyone survive?
But you do forgive us: and for that we revere you.
I wait for Yahweh, my soul waits for him,
         I rely on his promise,
                my soul relies on the Lord
                        more than a watchman on the coming of dawn.
…For it is with Yahweh that mercy is to be found…”


         Lord, my soul as become familiar with the Depths.  Your Glory, so bright, is shadowed. Sin has darkened your Light.  Burdens of this life loom large.  I am weak.  Youth’s arrogance is a distant illusion.
        
         Only say the Word and my soul shall be healed.  …Yet you allow me to know the freedom of brokenness.  …Yet am I driven to hope.  …Yet must I still seek your Saving Hand.
        
         What mystery is this Life with you.   Invisible is This Hand that sustains me so.  Unquestionable is your Promise.  Unfathomable this Well Of Faith, this Source of Hope.
          
        You empty what you desire to fill.  You break what you desire to heal.  You humble what you desire to raise.  So it is Lord, that I know now the Watchman’s need.  The Night forbid his eyes to see.  Try as he might it, in vain could he see without your Light.

         I know now, that Watchman’s need was comforted.  For your Mercy goes first, to those in the darkest of night.  Only in clinging to your Faithfulness, can I see the Dawn that is yet to be.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Daddy, Daddy (Lk 11:9)

Daddy, Daddy  (Lk 11:9)

    “So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.  For the one who asks always receives; the one who seeks always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.”

    This is a most extraordinary promise of Jesus, so much so, that I am tempted to label it as another of his exaggerations, like “plucking out my eye”.  But the context, where this promise is nestled in the Words of God, does not allow this option.  It can only be understood in its context -in the lavish love, of a doting Father, upon a child in need.

    This promise is preceded by the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray.  First, Jesus gives them the words of the “Our Father”, the universal outline for prayer: with its call to praise the Name-Above-All-Names; to desire God’s plan for our lives; to present our needs as a sinner in need of forgiving others; all while beseeching the Father’s protection from the evil surrounding us.

Jesus then presents his Father as a friend who we can approach with unflinching confidence, even as one who we could drag out of a warm bed in the middle of the night, waking up his sleeping kids with the ruckus of unbolting a triple locked door, all to procure a minor need that could have waited till morning.

With the stage set in this lavish love of his Father, Jesus now reveals the sacred formula for prayer which promises a response from God: that when we ask Abba, Daddy, when we present our needs into His Loving Ear, we will always receive; that when we seek, when we look for His Hidden Face, we will always find; and when we knock, when we tug on our Father’s garment with expectant eyes, we will always have the door opened to us.

This Promise-Made is the Word of God already spoken.  It cannot be taken back.  It is now Eternal Truth.  It is forever for God to make it so, and it is forever for us to say, “Amen!  Make it so!”  As a child of God, I have found the freedom of being real before Him, and so this morning as I pondered this Scripture, I put it to question.  I believe that if I ask, I will receive, but I do not always receive; I believe that if I seek, I will find, but I do not always find; and I believe if I knock, doors will open, but again, they do not always.  

“So Lord, what’s up with the “always” part of your promise?”  I never fully grasp the power of God’s Word.  When my understanding of it does not correspond to my experience, I have long learned, that it is not God’s Word that is being challenged, but my finite experience.  I make a note of it, reflect on it, then read on, hoping the context will point me out of the shadows.  Often it does.  Sometimes, I just have to live longer and come back to it.

But today, the context that followed was illuminating.  Jesus compares His Father’s response to our prayers, to that of our response to our children’s need for food.  And since God’s love infinitely exceeds ours, so does God’s response to our prayer, exceed our expectation:  “If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'”  

What I have come to understand of this wonderful promise, that when I Ask, Seek and Knock, God’s Holy Spirit is ALWAYS operative.  When I bring my unmet needs, my brokenness, my darkness, my hopes before my Daddy, He is pouring out His Spirit upon me before I get to ask -as He sees me coming, for He is always waiting to respond.  When I am asking, seeking and knocking, it is not my prayer life -it is my life.  It is only secondarily a means to my wants.  It is primarily, a means to my end.