Indigenous Liturgy:Richard Twiss on worship in the context of who God made us to be

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Lenten Reflections: Lenten Prayer for Justice, Mercy & Humility

Here is a short blog and prayer I found on the Sojourners blog that I wanted to repost.  It helps us to focus on what is important, especially during this Lenten season.  Please read and let the prayer be your prayer as you reflect on your own life this Lenten season and how to more effectively live out justice, mercy and humility.  Also check out the link to Micah’s Challenge and how you can participate.  

 

A Lenten Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility

by Brian Swarts 03-04-2009

The season of Lent reminds us of the renewal that came through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Lent is a time to prepare for the coming of Easter and to celebrate the gift of redemption.  Lent is also a time to search for ways we can be part of God’s work of redemption and renewal in our world.

As we search for those things that need renewal here and now, we find the global economic crisis gives us a serious issue to reflect on.  I believe that we have momentous opportunity in America, where the Spirit is calling us to greater leadership on global poverty and injustice in a time of turmoil.  As the global economic crisis increases the number of people vulnerable to extreme poverty, hunger, and disease, it is increasingly urgent for Christians to serve as informed and effective advocates for the poor and the marginalized.  While each of us is hurt by hard times, it is the people around the world living on less than $1/day, facing hunger, thirst, and illness, who bear the greatest burden of this crisis.

That’s why, during this Lenten season, we are inviting Christians around the nation to pray for those who have been hardest hit by the global crisis.  In prayer, you will be joining “Micah Challenge” campaigns in numerous countries—from Great Britain to Rwanda—who have all committed to pray.  Sometime over the next two months gather your family, friends, and church members together in praying our Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility:

Prayer for Justice, Mercy, and Humility

Lord, hear our prayer:

Today we face the season of our redemption during a time of global crisis.

During this season teach us to understand the love that drove you to give up everything to save us all.

Give us the strength that only comes in weakness;

The renewal that only comes through death and resurrection.

Today many of us feel weakened, burdened, and overwhelmed by the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead.

We ask that your strength be made perfect in our time of weakness.

While each of us is hurt by hard times, it is the people around the world living on less than $1/day, facing hunger, thirst, and illness, who bear the greatest burden of this crisis.

Just as your weakest hour proved to be the most generous, most life-giving moment in history,

We pray for that out of our own weakness comes a generosity of justice, mercy, and humility for those who bear burdens greater than our own.

Help us to remember that you are the God who, out of nothing, made everything.

The God who still has the power today to remake us.

So let us be remade, not overcome, by our global crisis;

Let us be purified, and not laid low, by injustice, greed, and inequality.

Let us commit ourselves to:

Act justly,
Love mercy,
And walk humbly with you, and with all those
who suffer or want.

This is our moment to change the world.

Because it is at our moment of crisis where your strength and your light, revealed to the world by our faith, become a force that is stronger than fear or death.

Today, move us to become the answer to our prayers.

Give us the strength to respond, in our own time of need, to the needs of those who have the least in our world.

Lead us to be your agents of hope and renewal during this season of redemption.

For it is only in You that we have
the power to change things;
It is only because of You that we have
the promise of renewal;
And yet is through us that You seek to do all these things.

Amen.

Ways to “Be the Answer” to This Prayer:

  1. Educate your community, church, or campus about the issues facing the impoverished and marginalized in our world.
  2. Advocate for the U.S. to lead other rich nations in pledging emergency aid to the most impoverished nations at the G20 meeting in April.
  3. Join thousands of other Christians praying for justice in Washington, D.C., for the culmination of our Lenten campaign, at the Sojourners Mobilization to End Poverty, April 26-29.


Brian Swarts is the National Coordinator of Micah Challenge USA, a global campaign to make transforming cultures of poverty and injustice integral to the mission of every Christian and church

Lenten Reflections: Ash Wednesday

ash wednesday

I am joining in the reflection this Lenten season with Mustard Seed Associates and their Lenten synchroblog.  You can join in reflecting as well by going and downloading their “A Journey into Wholeness: A Lenten Reflection Guide

As i reflect this day, Ash Wednesday on my own brokenness and sin, i realize how it is always, ever before me… screaming in my face, making sure i know that it is there.  Even on a day that is meant for repentance, for turning away, i have given in to my own selfish desires, and so it will be for the rest or our lives in these fragile and broken bodies of clay.  But, in the midst, there is a beauty… a beauty often hidden or oppressed, yet it is there, and was there from the foundations of our creation.  It comes from the hand of the one who created us; wove us together in the womb of our mother.  The creator’s fingerprint is upon us, even as we are born into and walk within a broken, fragmented world, shattered by the self-seeking sinfulness of humankind.  But, yet, that beauty still exists, in the midst of all the darkness and broken pieces of our lives.  It rises from the ashes of humanities frailty and fractured soul, like a fiery phoenix in all it’s glory, shining like a beacon.  Many times that beauty goes unnoticed, and many times the brokenness is ignored.  it just seems easier to ignore the realities and create a facade that everything is ok, but even in the midst of that is a guilt that lies and says that ‘there is no hope you wretched creature’.  so it is easier to ignore, distract, occupy the mind with other things… busyness, work, material possessions, our selfish needs and desires, while the darkness cries out for us to recognize and acknowledge and the beauty cries out for us to renew, restore and turn towards hope.  

This is the tension we live in, and today, i reflect on this tension; that i am broken, fragmented, pieces… but in the midst, there is a beauty that puts me all back together, makes me new again and again and again… but I must acknowledge one and notice the other; confess the one and embrace the other; turn from the one and run to the other.  This tension is, as my friend Eugene Cho puts it, Beauty and Depravity;  the beautiful mess.  Both exist in us:  we could not be totally beautiful, or the world would be completely different and there would be no need for our Saviour; but we could not be totally depraved either, or there would be no use for us, no hope for us at all.  

So today I acknowledge that I am broken, depraved, sinful.  I recognize my intense need to be restored, renewed, and made whole.  I also take notice of the beauty that has been placed in me from creation and the beauty of the Creator that breathes into me and brings to life the beauty that was originally intended to be.  I turn my eyes, my mind, my heart and my energy back to you O Lord… create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me O God. 

As I close, wanted to post the lyrics to a beautiful song that touches on our brokenness.  It is on the most recent album from Church of the Beloved in Edmonds, WA, called Hope for a Tree Cut Down.  You can download the album and listen on their website here. 

Broken

You are broken, I am broken, everyone is broken
You are broken, I am broken, intimately broken

Stay, there is peace beyond anguish
life beyond death, love beyond fear
and we all have to suffer to enter our glory.

Bless, bless and do not curse.
Pull brokenness far from the shadow of curse
put it under the light of the blessing.

Praise, praise to you Lord
for I never realized
broken glass could shine so brightly.

worship naked (part one)

(below is the first part of hopefully many more of my thoughs on the subject of worship. these are all thoughts that I have randomly dwelt on, pondered or even jotted down over a period of time and actually still am pondering and jotting down. this would be one of those times. I hope to bring more of these types of writings as I have thought putting them all together in the form of a book of sorts entitled ‘worship naked’. this is the beginning of that effort. these writings are not necessarily in any order, per se, but more of how they naturally come out. this just happens to be one that I have been pondering most recently.)

(part one) – the struggle.

true worship comes from a place that is real. the reality of life is hard to deal with. when life hits you hard, you feel it’s blow and suffer the pain. life throws us some pretty hard punches, and quite often. there are different stages in our lives and struggle and suffering…to whatever extent…is a big part of it. It is in the midst of these times of struggle, where life is at it’s most real, that true worship can come. A lot of worship music is all about joy and happy times and celebration, which is all good…but often times, it is not reality. Reality is how do i really feel when things suck. It has to come from an honest place. I think that we cannot truly worship God in fullness until we have worshiped him in our pain and our struggle…it is then that the sacrifice of worship is truly a sacrifice. It is only then that we enter a place where our hearts are not directed by our circumstances or what is going on around us, but where our hearts are truly postured towards our Creator, despite what we see around us, what circumstance we find ourselves in or even what we desire. It is in the times we desire to go to God the least, that, when we do go to him, we enter true worship; worship that says…”life sucks for me right now, and yet, I will still praise You Lord!” David knew this worship. Just read the psalms that he wrote. He started many off speaking the truth of his situation… speaking of the intense hardships that he was going through. Take Psalm 69.

“Save me oh God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink to the miry depths where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.”

This is an intense time of crying out from an incredibly honest place. He literally says ‘where are you God…are you even there’ , yet even then he cries out for God to save him. Later on in verse ‘30’ he turns it around quite a bit saying

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox… the poor will see and be glad…you who seek God may your hearts live! The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people. Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and all that move in them.”

This is quite a turn around from how David started out. I love how he eludes to the fact that an ox is no longer a pleasing sacrifice to God… this totally references that David’s sacrifice was turning to God in the midst of this incredible hardship…even though he felt he couldn’t even find God anymore…that God wasn’t even there!

This is the core of true, authentic worship. A place of honesty; a place of nakedness; a place that doesn’t hide or cover reality, but openly faces it and yet still turns to God, despite the doubt, despite the pain, despite the hardship. I guess this is how we can consider our struggles ‘pure joy’ as James speaks of in the new testament (James 1:2-4), because it takes us to a different level; a level of no longer letting our circumstance affect who we are and what we do, nor the posture of our heart!

mire – a psalm

–i originally posted this on my friends new creative writing site, scribalmusings.com, so i wanted to post it here as well and let others know about his writing site. check it out and read on!–

mire – a psalm

oh god—why are you silent. where are you? have you left me?
i seek and seek and find nothing but silence and distress.
my words drip off my lips and slam the floor like the weight of a stone
–a crash–
my cries to you barely seem to leave the surface of this earth
how i wish the crash was the sound of the heavy burden falling from my shoulders

come to me soon, or i will be like those who go down to the depths;
in the mire, with no hope for escape. will you pull me out?

and yet — i will still praise you.
although you seem far off — i will praise you.
although the silence is deadening — i will praise you.
although there are no answers — i will praise you.
when all else is laid bare and made into a desolate wasteland,
you still remain, so i will put my trust in you;
even though i am blind, deaf and dumb,
and see no visible future hope;
i know you are with me;
i know you hear my cries,
i know your heart beats to bless me
i know your love shines upon me
i know you know my pain

so i will praise you.
come quickly lord!

Celtic Evening Prayer

cdp
This is the evening prayer from my Celtic Daily Prayer book from the Northumbria Community and I think it is a helpful and healing prayer, especially in times of trial and struggle. We used it in our Solas gathering last Sunday night and when I read it, it helps me to direct my heart in joy to the Lord in the midst of my own trials. So I hope that it will help others. Here it is:

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor;
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me
safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though You be silent now,
today I believe.

Redemption

johnny

check out Johnny Cash!