Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Prayer for Nigeria

We're trying out this new thing in church that in addition to one of the standard forms of prayer found in the BCP (Book of Common Prayer), we write an additional prayer that reflects specific concerns. Last week, we prayed for the people of France.

This week, it was my turn to write one:

We especially pray for the nation of Nigeria, for the souls of over 2,000 dead in their northern villages and we mourn those who have no one left alive to mourn them. We pray for the 200 kidnapped girls, still not returned home, that they may feel Your comforting presence and may yet find freedom. We ask You, Loving God, to guide us in a way of ending hatred, that is more than hashtag BringBackOurGirls, hashtag IAmNigeria, and bring peace to this broken world. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
You'll note I spelt out the hashtag # as I had no idea who would be reading it.

I don't have any answers for that prayer. Sarah Bessey posted something beautiful this past week: A Lament for Nigeria, ultimately about mourning and paying attention.

Maybe it's also about writing letters to your government representatives and seeing what can be done for the Nigerian people. Is there a way to protect the innocent from violence in a non-violent way?

Like I said, I don't have answers. How about you?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Counting Gifts Again...

I stopped counting gifts (God's blessings) in June 2013. I was pretty overwhelmed with a brand new job and I didn't feel like I needed to any more.

Wednesday I decided to start again. It was time to remember in joy instead of worry about the future. It's a great way to be present to the here and now. Of course, it takes a bit of practice to get back into the habit.

(Want to learn more about counting God's gifts, in fact, a thousand gifts a year? Visit Ann Voskamp's website.)

1. deciding to keep track of gifts again

2. red sky at dusk (and that's my bus pulling up in the bottom right corner)

3. red kabbalistic bracelet (with Sh'ma medallian) a gift from Israel

4. the light is all different kinds of fantastic this morning

5. double rainbow

6. golden clouds at sunset

7. fluorescent orange highlighted clouds

8. great Worship ministry meeting

9. a mistake on an art journal page is just an extra layer

It's a beginning ... It's not quite up to the keeping of three gifts a day, but the important thing is that I'm counting again. Do you count gifts/blessings?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lectio Divina for January

So I'm just making this up as I go along, and don't know if anyone out there is interested, but I decided for this month, after catching up on the handful of days I missed in December, to start reading through Romans.

We'll see how it goes! Anyone else out there doing lectio divina regularly? (Doesn't have to be daily.)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Writing an Icon during the 12 Days of Christmas

I had great plans to write an icon during the 12 Days of Christmas. Boxing Day (December 26) I sat down with a Claybord and opened up the paints that I mixed *cough*two*cough* years ago to find all but two had hardened.

I needed new containers and well ....

new paint. This is not just a prayerful meditation in paint, but an experiment in using a different brand of paint. I was taught using Jo Sonja paint, which when watered down, creates a flat matte surface. I don't own any of that brand, but I do have plenty of Golden fluid acrylic paint.

Why new paint? One of the colors mixes that survived was Hair. Which was turning Jesus into a redhead, thus the need for a couple of new Golden paints. I will share the equivalents, when I discover if they work.

So far, the Raw Sienna behaves exactly like the Jo Sonja, which is to say, it's a pain to get even coverage. It is drying flat and matte.

The Parchment, the only other color I could paint without needing later, has dried flat, but glossy. Whether this matters once the varnish goes on, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, I paint and listen to Hildegard's canticles and the Benedictines of Mary....

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Magnificat (all the posts)

Here's the list of all the posts I wrote this Advent on the Magnificat. I am not sure how I managed to write two introductions, but there you are:

My Being Proclaims: Luke 1:46-48 (12/1)
For Those Who Fear: Luke 1:50 (12/15)
The Promise and the Call: Luke 1:51 (12/17)
Make Straight The Way: Luke 1:52-53 (12/20)

Trusting in the Promise: Luke 1:54-55 (12/23)

Today, Rachel Held Evans posted about the Magnificat. Well worth a read.

On the 26th, I am planning to start a new icon, so I'll be taken up with that for a while and posting about it, but after that (and the occasional lectionary post), what should I write about next? Delving into scriptures has proven to be illuminative and transformative for me... Ideas?

Trusting in the Promise (Magnificat Series)

54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary continues to speak of God's deeds as already completed, so sure is she that God will deliver.

In these last two verses, she speaks of the scope of God's work: Israel, Abraham and his descendants. The promise God makes to Abraham is this "...through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." (Genesis 22:18) Israel, the nation, restored, and blessings to come upon all nations.

When I reflected upon this passage, the word that shimmered forth was "promise". Sometimes when I do lectio divina, the "shimmer" is a word that attracts, sometimes it's a word that repels. Whatever it is causes me to look closer at why that word or phrase caught at me, and "promise" had both positive and negative echoes.

I think this is because I have serious trust issues with God. I mean, I know I'm not supposed to, but when you spend the first half of your life being afraid of God (fear being "fear" and not "awe") and worrying you're not going to measure up -- and by you I mean me -- trust is hard. 

For a while I couldn't trust God on anything. It all had to be under my own steam and if it was out of my control, so was I. Oddly, I seem to be trusting God better (but not perfectly) on the big things these days, but the little things, the ones that needle and get under my skin? Not so much. And it's not about passively waiting for a miracle to happen. 

My trust seems to be based on the comfort that God is with me. Whatever happens, God is with me. I'm not alone in this. I don't trust that God will fix things, I trust that God will be there for me as I go through them, and that is a transformative trust, instead of flailing about in my own brokenness and generally making a bigger mess of things.

OK, that was probably too revealing.

And so when Mary sings of promises accomplished, promises I still see unfulfilled in this world, I need to remember that she is singing of Emmanuel, God With Us (the name's translation).  She speaks from a place of confidence because she knows and trusts God is with her, no matter how hard the road is ahead. God is with us is the promise, is the song. If we will only listen, and be transformed by it.

This is the last in the Magnificat series. I'll list all the posts tomorrow so if you want to re-read them in order. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

God's love stories, Advent edition

I am sure you have more than enough on your plates, getting ready for holiday festivities and what-not, but in case you need to procrastinate, here are some links to follow:

  • "O Light", an EP by The Liturgists. I haven't listened to all of it, only 5 of the 8 tracks, but "Advent for Weary Souls" by Amena Brown is powerful, powerful stuff. Made me cry. The music is both melancholy and hopeful.
On African-Americans and #BlackLivesMatter:

    On restorative justice as found in scripture:

    • "Living Jubilee" by Rachel Held Evans, part of her Lectionary series. And the first of a confluence of inputs that echoed a conclusion I'd reached about the Magnificat in my blogging this month.
    • "The Memory of Miracles", a webinar with Micah Goodman via the Shalom Hartman Institute. Blew my mind. It's on Chanukah, Passover and how remembering miracles changes the way we act. (Micah's example is King Josiah from 2 Kings). Be sure to print the handout to follow along his scripture reading (he reads it in Hebrew, but he says the verse numbers in English) and set aside about an hour. So worth it. (Also was the second input in the same day for my Magnificat blogging.)

    All, all is grace:

    On a more light-hearted note:
    I didn't really participate in the #adventword online calendar, except for this one. #notice:

    Spotted on the way into work in a sea of green leaves. I didn't even pay attention to the word for today and this is the second noticing. The first was an older deaf man in the pharmacy who taught me how to sign Merry Christmas and we hugged.

    How's your Advent going?