Tag Archives: literalism

Thwart! and other benedictions

Well, it’s Springtime again. When a young man’s fancy turns to vocabulary.

This is just to say I’ve placed several new words in my “Favorite” column on the Word Game page.

For those of you unfamiliar with my brand of geekosity, this is an ongoing list of words I enjoy based purely on sound and feel, not on what they mean. It’s utterly subjective and is a ridiculous waste of time and energy unless you enjoy words as I do. 🙂

To me, it’s a practice of both anti-literalism and poetry.

So, you bibliophiles, I offer for your consideration:

Nigh – Say it soft, and it’s almost like praying.

Thwart – The power of a curse word in an unassuming package.

Hyperbole – If we’d had a daughter.

And two for the Least Favorite column:

Particularly – Listen to you. Back off, man.

Vegetable – Yeah, I see you. Do you need that many syllables?

Rebuttals and recommendations welcome.

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Where Else Would God Be?

I heard him say, “The scandal of the Christian story is not that God became incarnate as a human. It’s that God is incarnate in every particle of creation. I mean… [dramatic pause] where else would God be?”

My Constructive Theology professor Dr. Eleazar Fernandez may never know how that woke me up.

“Where else would God be?”

The name Emmanuel means God With Us. The Incarnation we celebrate at Christmas is a recognition of God’s presence spun through creation. Now when church people talk about a particular day or season, it doesn’t mean it’s not real all the time. In this case, the Story of Christmas is that Holy breaks into our lives all the time, not just in late December.

But it’s good we have liturgical seasons to help us practice these kinds of things. Otherwise– for me, at least– all the rich bewilderment and awe of life would be hard to take in.

Most of us resist mystery to some extent. We gravitate toward literalism to help us bear the complexities of everyday life. Thank God for the artists, intuitives and mystics in our midst! If we’re not paying attention, our pet names for God tend to crystalize into an actual shape of God. Which most traditions call idolatry. (Sorry about that). In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis describes how the demons delight when their human patients come to revere an object representing the Holy-Beyond-Words instead of the Holy One.

A rich variety of language to describe the Divine Mystery primes our imagination for our own experience. Reminds us that G-d is greater than we can imagine, and will not be pigeon-holed. Poetry, art, music keeps us guessing, hungering, prying us away from literalism.

In the Biblical tradition, there are dozens of metaphors, images and models for G-d. Holding Scripture as revelation, we might notice the Holy One is likened to a Shepherd carefully guiding and protecting sheep. And also the breath and wind of the earth. A perfectly righteous judge. A nasty, crooked judge. Bread. Light. A wrestler who might take you down. A dread champion fighting for your life. A bird, a farmer, a song.

Jesus Christ!* There are tons of metaphors!  [*I enjoy a good non-blasphemous invocation, don’t you?]

It’s amazing to me that in all my years as a church-goer, I seldom have been invited into the wildly creative range we have access to.

I wonder why that is.

Sallie McFague suggests this model of God: the world.

Like a holy nest holding everything. Where nothing is left out and everything is sacred.

Take a moment to try that one on: G-d is the world, nothing more or less. A full incarnation here and now, nowhere where the Holy is not at work and at play.

– How would we treat the earth of we knew it to be Of God?

– How would we speak to one another if we considered each person a part of God’s very body?

– What if we knew God to have a full and universal presence, a continual and intimate influence?

– In this light, what would Christmas mean?

Fun to think about, huh? This brushes against what some theologians call Process Theology– God present in our seasons over time, God in the midst of change, God evolving and emerging as creation comes into our own.

Each icon has its limitations, but I offer you this one for this season of Advent when we know the Holy close. God in the manger. God in the cows. God within your wonderings and choices. God With Us here and now.

Where else would God be?

A song to celebrate and reflect:

The Body of God (click to listen with the lyrics)
From the CD Behold by The River’s Voice

i
God breaking through to our lives, but this is no great surprise
Babies and barns, green fields and farms
This is the body of God

A star in the dark sky we share, straw underfoot as we look up and stare
Each part of creation a perfect formation that lives as the body of God

Where else would God be but right here?
Inwithandthrough all we sense and we feel
God in the manger, God in the cows, God in the innkeeper’s mother’s eyebrows

ii
Sure was a marvelous night, the story of birth and new life
And the dreams and the fears of the new parents’ prayers were felt in the body of God

Just one more beautiful way God’s body blooms its array
Our Christmas story: one image of glory as we move in the body of God

Where else would God be but right here?
Transcendent and cosmic and at home in our tears
God in the common, God in the strange, God in Jesus’ very first diaper change

iii
These are unsettling times, and as I put my son down for the night
I can’t help but think how much kinder we’d be if we knew all of life, the world’s every plight
To be part of the body of God

Where else would God be but right here?
Under our noses and in the midst of our fears
God in our stories, God in the world, God in the pain and the Good News we’ve heard


When Your Theology Changes

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower
and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
or a great song.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Carl Jung wrote that a Circle is an archetype for wholeness or God. We are always drawn toward it, June Singer said, yet “to fly straight into it would be like a moth darting into a flame.”

I guess, like Moses, we don’t look directly at the Holy. We circle around. We admire its posterior, its profile, its moving shadow.

At seminary I heard all theology is autobiography. True, I think. If we’re paying attention, all our life experiences are naturally integrated into a Story of what’s holding them together. We come up with integral symbols, signs and words that help us make sense of it all: theology. God-talk. The witness of Scripture is that. We’re designed to do that, too.

We are God-seeking, tower-circling, hungry-by-design, circumnavigating-Life-by-instinct creatures.

You’re a falcon circling.
When Rilke describes circling around the Tower, it’s what all of us are always doing.

Whatever language and symbols you have going right now for the Holy One, it hasn’t always been this way. Your autobiography has grown with your years on the planet, and your theology has developed with you. Each time you’ve crystalized a personal belief, it’s been merely a stepping stone of long-haul enlightenment.

In other words, your theology has evolved.

You’re a storm circling.
Like a scientist in the lab, when something interesting happens, our definitions are disrupted and our Story of God grows beyond its previous borders. Bill Moyers’ Genesis: A Living Conversation project suggested the narrative of the Older Testament is really the Story of God evolving in the human experience. Your story is a kind of scripture, too. Everyone’s is.

We know change happens, yet when seasons of transformation dawn, we pretend to be surprised. As if life is supposed to be stagnant and smooth, and moments of transition are really messing it all up. Humans are funny.

Pete Seeger said we can’t know the whole Truth. We can only circle round the gorse-berry bush hearing the rabbit, pointing and saying, “It’s in there somewhere.” Observe a sculpture with three trusted friends at the compass points, and you have access to four different views, all true, all different. The community, friends, church, sanga, is a vital thing in your God-Story evolving.

Paul Tillich said the word “God” is so old and tired, it should be banished from our vocabulary for about a thousand years. Then that word might begin to mean something again. We outgrow language sometimes.

When you come to a place where old words don’t work anymore, tell someone. Because that’s the Christ story unfolding: death and resurrection, and old wineskins breaking. When a season of questioning moves through, share that story of Christ emerging. Don’t circle alone, at least not for long. Your story– everyone’s story– is something we need to hear. I’ve been part of some communities over the years where seasons of deep questioning are avoided as a failure of faith. I’ve been part of others that treat these seasons as holy moments where faith is growing. I hope you have a sense of being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses where your Story of God is welcomed, honored and treated as revelation. After all, didn’t he say something about being born again? And again?

You’re a song circling.
Who are you? After a thousand years, maybe we can say with Rilke, “I still don’t know.” Maybe the point of a creative, juicy life is to lose track of ourselves and know ourselves to be In Holy Process. We think we know what the point is; we think it’s all about the tower. But what about the circumnavigated path you’ve worn? Your favorite beverage on the journey? The weather lo these many years of orbiting? The company and the conversations? These are all parts of a spiritual life. The experiences of a true Christ life cannot always be neatly filed.

To conclude, let’s stretch the metaphor with Rilke:

You are circling ’round the One Holy Tower– a falcon, a storm, a song.

You’re a lover dancing round your Beloved.

You’re a storyteller wondering about the twist at the end,
a hawk patrolling her valley,
a youngster on the playground with one end of the  jumprope, whirling, whirling with your friend.

You’re an explorer of God downloading continuously to a universal core.

When your theology is changing, you are in the midst of a Holy Endeavor.


Marriage 2.0 and Counting

Last weekend in Minneapolis I got a new wedding ring. Nothing wrong with the old one, it was just Time.

In our going-on-12-year partnership, Trish and I have gifted each other with new rings whenever there’s been an important change of season in our marriage. It helps us give deep attention to the subtleties of our relationship as it carries us like a river into new territory to discover.

As we shared this with the good people at Irish on Grand (where I found my ring) and the other artsy places along Grand Avenue (where I didn’t), they all said they’d never heard of this way of doing rings. Since I’m a blogger now, I could not hide the lightbulb above my head under a bushel basket. (I’ll pause a moment for you to enjoy that image.) Here’s the story:

Trish and I have realized from the beginning that our anam cara relationship is a spiritual practice. That is, it’s one of the primary ways we are transformed and enact transformation in the world. I love talking with people who do relationship this way. Each partnership is a unique dance, a one-of-a-kind jewel. When I hear stories from other couples, I see possibilities for what our own marriage might be up to. Relationship requires a rich imagination because, like my friend Jonathan Rundman sings, “Love is science and love is art.”

There are two parts to a lasting relationship: change and stability. To the first point, relationships are dynamic, flowing and often bewildering. They change all the time. You can’t step into them twice. No surprise here, since both parties are presumably living, breathing creatures, each of whom is evolving in their own unique way. But to the second part, there’s also the dimension of stability and trust that happens over time. Between the partners there is a heart-opening sense of safety and strength. If the needle goes too far one way, you have a dusty institution on your hands. Too far the other way, it’s chaos.

The mysterious weaving of these two juicy elements is one reason I am here on the planet.

Getting new wedding rings plays with this potent blend: Trish and I desire a sign of our relationship’s strength, AND we want that sign to change over time. To honor such glorious mystery, however you do it, is a gift to the world, because you know and I know there are plenty of places mystery is snuffed out. So instead of a lifetime ring on each of our hands, we decided it might serially evolve. The changing shape, style and color of the rings on our hands is part of the delight of paying close attention to what our Beloved is doing with us.

Side trip for liturgical geeks: This is not unlike the visible sign of the sacrament that represents an invisible grace. When you partake in Holy Communion, for example, you may experience the Meal differently every time. There’s the anamnesis element of remembrance alongside eschatological celebration, connection to the human story of existential isolation but also the salvation of community, connection to the Jesus Story in crucifixion lament as well as resurrection joy. Or when you witness Holy Baptism where we are both drowned to death and raised to New Life. There’s lots to unpack. In this way, I can appreciate why Roman Catholics see marriage as a sacrament. Sheesh, that ring’s got a lot to hold.

In my marriage with my partner, I think of these two entwined mysteries as being held not by either one of us, but by a kind of Third Holy Thing. Which brings me to the name we have for our marriage: Beloved. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying: Beloved. This Beloved holds us together.

It seems to have a wisdom, compassion and will all its own.

Sufis speak of Allah as the Beloved that is closer than we are to ourselves. The Christian tradition speaks of the Christ-life in which we live and move and have our being. In the Hebrew scriptures there is the Garden of Eden holding space for delight and holiness, and the Song of Songs with the dazzling dance between Lover and Beloved that is the passionate love of G-d for Israel. To me, our Beloved has that kind of heart.

As a spiritual practice, relationship can be both a magically ecstatic and nakedly terrifying place where you face the Truth. I am continually amazed at what our marriage brings to me (and asks of me) if I am paying attention. I’m amazed, I suppose, because I don’t quite get what’s going on here. For example, Midrash around the book of Genesis is rich with dialogue exploring human sexuality, equality and uniqueness among the genders. In the story of Eve and Adam, the Hebrew term for their partnership has a loaded connotation: “an adversary, as it were”. That is, your best life partner is one who will be against you in all the best ways. Wo. Is that what I signed up for? Truly, yes, because how else would I grow, but it’s good I didn’t think about it too much on the day I said “I do.”

When things get complicated, crazy or scary, the main temptation in our society is to oversimplify. Tame it. Control it. Kill the mystery in it so we can be sure where we stand. In other words, to keep from being overwhelmed by a thing, we overcome it with understanding. That’s often the urge in relationship: to box it up and label it. And, by the way, this is true for any relationship: parent-to-child, grandparent-to-grandchild, neighbors across the backyard fence, dorm room-mates, middle school frenemies, adult life partners. These interconnections are powerful because they are under no one’s control. They are a luscious blend of you, the other and some third thing in orbit around you both.

Side trip: There’s a Native American idea about this, that in any gathering there is a spirit created out of the unique persons present. The people’s intentions, moods, their choices to speak or listen, all of this is woven into the making of a spirit that has never existed before and never will again. Our presence and choices in community matter as much as if we were giving birth to a whole new being.

To consider a relationship an honest spiritual practice, you do a rare and amazing thing. You open yourself up to to be changed by this out-of-control thing. You give yourself to something Other than you. It’s really nothing short of a miracle for that to happen, survival-oriented, biological-success-driven beings that we are. To approach a relationship this way requires vibrant imagination, and a trust that this thing is alive and knows something you can’t access alone. I operate in life favoring and cherishing this mystery because I feel protective of it. The alternative is a relationship that has crystallized, under tight containment  in an effort to keep it the same through seasons. As Thomas Moore writes, literalism in any relationship is the end of it. Any time we think it’s arrived, it’s over. The fun is celebrating each moment while knowing full well that it will never be the same again.

When Trish and I got married 11 years ago (which we were privileged to do by law because we claimed to be heterosexuals) we noticed something about the service we designed. Whereas many beautiful weddings are a moment of ritual to bring a partnership into official being, ours was about celebrating what we knew was already true.

So back to the rings. How are our rings ringing true to our Beloved in this current season?

The last time we got new rings for one another was in Florida few years ago. In the midst of a retreat, we realized we were discovering something new about who we are for each other. My new ring had a silver swirl like an ocean wave or a curling arm.

The one I chose last weekend has a loose Celtic knot spinning in infinity (hey, hallelujah) like Pentecost wind and fire. It’s good. It’s perfect for how I’m stretching right now. And it will someday grow stale, ceasing to spark my imagination about what our Beloved is doing. Then it’ll be ring shopping time again.

Well.

I do go on, don’t I?

Your thoughts? You partnered people, how do you keep it fresh? How do you celebrate both the stability and change of your primary relationship?


A Feather on the Breath of God

A Sermon for the Day of Pentecost

Hildegard of Bingen said a faithful life means “to be a feather on the breath of God.”

And what does a feather know about wind?
What does a kite have to understand in order to fly?
How much knowledge of meteorology does a sailboat need to feel the strength of full sails?

The Day of Pentecost is a day to celebrate the baptism of the global church. It’s a kind of birth-day for the church. Shall we sing? Sounds straightforward as church days go.

But I have questions, and I hope I’m not alone. Like:

What is this Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would come after he himself leaves?
And what is this X-files scene in the story of Acts?– The rushing wind, the flames on people’s heads?

A story like today’s from Acts 2 reminds me that there are a whole lot of things I don’t understand about God, faith, our tradition. And a whole lot I don’t know about how God works.

That’s why I appreciate Hildegard’s idea of being “a feather on the breath of God.” That image of a faithful life is very freeing, isn’t it? It helps me know what trust feels like.

Grace and peace to you from God who is above and beyond us, God next to us in our neighbor and within us as a breath. Amen.

Let’s get into this with the Holy Spirit.

In the Hebrew scriptures — the Older Testament which was Jesus’ Bible— the word for spirit is the same word for breath. It’s Ruach. Say that with me: Ruach. (ROO-ahk) Good. At creation, the Ruach of God was hovering over the waters.

In the New Testament—the part of the Bible written after Jesus’ time—the word for spirit is pneuma. Say it with me: Pneuma. (NOO-mah) In the Gospel of John, Jesus says God is Pneuma.

What’s this Spirit of God like? Well, in the gospels Jesus promises that this holy Spirit is an Advocate much like a defense attorney is a champion for vulnerable people in court. God is for us. Paul writes in Romans the pneuma of God intercedes on our behalf when we pray, especially when we don’t know how to pray. God is with us. In the Acts 2 story of Pentecost, there is described a rushing pneuma wind among the people gathered. And it says they were amazed and astonished. So God’s spirit also inspires the people. Like breathing, filled with breath or spirit: in-spire. God is in us.

God is for us and with us and in us. And invisible. To live with a God that is for us, with us, in us and is invisible but whose influence we experience every day makes wind or breath a pretty good image for God.

Those followers of Jesus were amazed and astonished at this windy day of Pentecost. They didn’t understand what was happening to them. I like that this is in the Bible because I feel that way a lot. I don’t always understand what’s going on, not completely anyway. Sometimes Trish explains things to me. Sometimes Sam our eight-year-old does. Most of the time if I can’t get my head around things, I’m okay with that; it helps me tend honest trust in my life. But… But sometimes, I desperately want to understand the world and how God works in it.

In fact, may I confess something to you? [deep breath. pregnant pause]. That got your attention, right? There have been times in my life when I have been tempted into idolatry. Now, don’t be shocked. You have, too. An idol is simply anything that takes our attention away from God (Perfect Love, Holiness, Ground of Being, etc.). Paul Tillich says idolatry it’s anything that distracts us from our Ultimate Concern. Which is your understanding of God.

So anyway. I confess to you there have been times when I have placed something ahead of God. Namely, my concern for understanding God. I have sometimes found myself thinking that the more certain my faith is the better life will be and the better human being I will be. Certainty has been my idol. The thing that has sometimes deflected my thoughts from love, and has sabotaged my trust in the Living God. Certainty. A craving for knowledge. Mostly, I don’t do that now. Mostly, that seems like a long time ago. But I consider myself in recovery, and like all addicts know, I will never be out of the woods completely.

Now knowledge is good, but I’d stake my life on the fact that you don’t have to be smart to be faith-full. To be intellectual is not to be a better human being. God loves all of us the same and just as much as Albert Einstein and Steven Hawking. Just as much as those with mental challenges and clinical brain damage. If you need a reminder of that perfect love today, I invite you to touch your hand in the water in the Baptismal font in the narthex. Touch your head with your wet fingers and make the sign of the cross. You belong to Christ who loves you without fail.

Now. Do we like to learn? Sure. BUT the pursuit of knowledge with the objective of certainty can get in our way. Ever read Ecclesiastes? Trying to wrangle God into a corner with words we understand can sabotage honest faith. As soon as we think, “Oh yeah, God. I know God. I read the book, passed that class, learned all I need to know.” At that point, God is no longer living. Like the second commandment to Israel, God has become in that moment a chiseled graven image in our consciousness. And dead.

Some say even reciting the creed on Sunday mornings can be idolatry if it stops our imagination of what God is.

Think right now of someone who loves you. How do you know they love you? How could you possibly be certain of that? When I think about how my wife Trish loves me, God’s honest truth, I’m not sure why she does. I’m a nice enough guy, but she really loves me. I don’t totally get it, but I think I’d stake my life on it. That’s called trust. But this trust is in a different category than certainty.

One of my favorite authors, Thomas Moore writes that the greatest sin in the world right now is literalism. In politics, ecology, religion and personal relationships, any time we’re convinced things are black and white, this or that, we’ve got an idol on our hands and we’ve missed the essential wonder, beauty and life of it. That’s why seeking knowledge about God instead of seeking God is missing the point.

That’s why I am passionate about asking questions and inviting others to ask their questions. Because the remedy to dead faith is imagination and trust.

But I know why some of us are drawn to certainty instead of trust. A huge part of our culture is about looking smart, knowing the right things to say to dazzle people. Impress the boss, the other dads, the other moms. Have it together for class. Buy the right clothes and the right phone for the part. Get the pic for the Facebook post. Look confident, look smart.

But listen: paying attention to our scriptures and our own life stories shows us something completely different. A whole lot of finding ourselves in Christ’s Life is about not having a clue about what this amazing and astonishing life is up to. When we’re surprised at the twists and turns in our stories, we’re reminded that we don’t own this Pentecost God. As Jesus said, the wind blows where it will; you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going, but watch what it can do!

To be a feather on the breath of God. What a wonderful place to be: To know that there’s no test to pass, that we are free from the requirement of comprehending. And free to trust the invisible wind.

Now I am prone to over-thinking. And today, friends, some of us are working like crazy to make sense of  life. To get what’s up with your family or where things are at at work. Some of us are working hard to calculate the smart move financially or in an important relationship. Listen: Good News! God is for you, and it Does. Not. Matter. if you can figure these things out or not. God is carrying you like a feather on the Christ wind. You don’t have to pretend to have it all together. In fact, confessing together that we need help for our lives, as we did earlier in the service today, is a powerful way to pray.

My friend Bernie lived down in Texas all his life, never traveled much. When he came to visit me near Okoboji one January, he was totally freaked out by the concept of winter. It was really kinda fun for me to introduce him to snow and ice. I invited him to take a walk with me on West Lake Okoboji.  You’d think I asked him to jump off a cliff. It was like the most radical thing he’d ever heard. Walking. On. A lake. But we went out together, and after a few steps he relaxed a little. When I told him we could walk all the way across, his heart raced a little more.

His fear that the ice wouldn’t hold him had no bearing on its ability to easily do so. His doubt or certainty didn’t matter. In the dead of winter, if you decide to step out on a frozen lake, it isn’t your belief in how thick the ice is that will keep you safe. It’s the actual thickness of the ice that counts. Gingerly wiggle your boot out there or jump on out. No difference.

So on this Day of Pentecost we celebrate being feathers together on the breath of God, and trusting that the Holy Spirit is not only trust-able. She’s in charge. Just like Jesus is called the “author of faith” in the book of Hebrews, faith is not just up to us; Paul writes that faith is a gift of God. So we can let go of anything that looks like a hoop to jump through.

But here’s what’s funny: a lot of us also love doctrine. We like to have words to memorize and say confidently what we believe. We like to have it right. Ha! Doctrine is interesting and consider my seminary education a great gift. Talking doctrine can be a wonderful starting place for conversation about God and who we think we are in the world. But some of us need reminding: are we willing to loosen our grip on our ideas about God for the sake of trusting who God is? How attached we can be to our ideas! Our beliefs! Our, ours, my, mine! It can be exhausting pressure to feel responsible for who God is.

What if we gave up thinking we have to understand? What would that look like at church? What would faith feel like when you get into bed at night? Let’s practice being a feather held in God, totally available to be guided to holy places in perfect timing.

To close, I want to teach you a prayer that has been helpful to me in the last six months. If it’s helpful, practice it. If not, let it go.

Step One is to practice giving up our expectations, our certainty on how God will move, the rules we think God has to follow. I invite you to close your eyes for focus if you like.

Whatever is on your mind today, begin by affirming that you probably don’t know precisely what the whole issue is or what’s supposed to happen with it. You do not know everything, and you’re not supposed to.

Repeat after me: I don’t know HOW.  (I don’t know HOW).

We begin with the words, “I don’t know HOW I’m going to make the rent this month…” or “I don’t know HOW this relationship will heal…” or “I don’t know HOW this trouble will come to an end…”

What is on your mind that deserves this kind of honesty?

I’ll give you a moment to crystallize this in your imagination. [Invite a full silence]

In this space, do you feel how open your life is? This is vulnerable. It can be scary. There are things we do not know or understand in our lives. And this is just fine. This is not the time to figure things out. This is a time to let that go, if only for this moment.

Part two of the prayer is surrendering to God that is with us, for us and in us. Listen to Romans 8: If God is for us, who can be against us; nothing can separate us from God’s love. Psalm 23: Goodness and love are pursuing us all the days of our lives. Romans: The spirit intercedes for us in prayer with sighs too deep for words.  And Jesus in John 3: I came to love the world– not to condemn it. God is with us and God is for us, God is in us.

So part two of the prayer is trusting God who loves us. Repeat after me: I only know (I only know) God is taking care of everything (God is taking care of everything).

“I don’t know HOW I’m going to make the rent this month…I only know God is taking care of everything.”
“I don’t know HOW this relationship will heal…I only know that God is taking care of everything.”
“I don’t know HOW the trouble will come to an end…I only know that God is taking care of everything.”

We are giving up our rules of what God should do. We are allowing, blessing and inviting God to move in any way God desires, to blow the wind with any holy speed, depth and direction. See how this helps us pray with Jesus, “thy will be done?”

Some of you are thinking: “This is way too simple-minded. There’s stuff to be done. I can’t be in my room all day praying, I need to take action”.

And often there is action in prayer. But this is a model to remind us that the Holy Spirit prays for us. It reminds us that prayer does not depend on us saying the right words as if it’s magic. This prayer is for letting go of the premise for a particular action, for a particular outcome or for anything but God who is love surrounding you and taking care of everything.

Practice this prayer whenever you are expecting yourself to figure everything out.

Again, close your eyes a moment, if you wish. Blue sky, a few fluffy clouds. Beautiful day, powerful day. You are a feather. Notice your colorings and texture. On the breath of God. What aroma is in the air? You are a feather. What can you see from here? On the breath of God. Look around and see you are not alone.  You are a feather. What presence surrounds you? On the breath of God.

Brothers and Sisters, fellow feathers on the breath of God: Happy Day of Pentecost. Amen.

.
Delivered May 31, 2009
First Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids, IA