Psalms of Lament and Hope – Prayerful Tuesday

Paris, Beirut, Syria, Iraq, The World God in your mercy, hear our prayers
Paris, Beirut, Syria, Iraq, The World
God in your mercy,
hear our prayers

The only gift I have to offer this week is my sorrow for Paris, Beirut, Syria, Iraq, and all of us.  So I offer the Psalms I go to when I am in the midst of sorrow and pain.  May your hearts be comforted by the words of the psalmist and may you find solace knowing others cry with you.

Psalm 36:1-4 (MSG)
A David Psalm
1-4 The God-rebel tunes in to sedition—
all ears, eager to sin.
He has no regard for God,
he stands insolent before him.
He has smooth-talked himself
into believing
That his evil
will never be noticed.
Words gutter from his mouth,
dishwater dirty.
Can’t remember when he
did anything decent.
Every time he goes to bed,
he fathers another evil plot.
When he’s loose on the streets,
nobody’s safe.
He plays with fire
and doesn’t care who gets burned.

Psalm 42 (NRSV)

1As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
3My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”
4These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng, and led them in procession
to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
5Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help
6and my God. My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan
and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
7Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
8By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
9I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”
10As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
11Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

Ruth Jewell, ©November 17, 2015

Shepherd Me, O God – Prayerful Tuesday

Psalm 23:1-3 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; 3 he restores my soul.*He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. 

In the last several months I have been struggling to find the calm midst the shootings in Umpqua, the deaths of those fighting wild fires, more shootings (at least one a week), floods, earthquakes, and all of the other disasters that seem to be all that is ever reported by news media.  I know I will not find any meaning in any of these crises, so, I am looking for a way through the noise and pain I hear, read about, and feel within.  Yesterday I found my still point when I happened upon the following poem written by grandfather:

Commentary on the 23rd Psalm

“In pastures green?” Not always: sometimes Thou
who knoweth best, in kindness leadeth me
in weary ways, where heavy shadows be.

And by “still waters?”  No not always so;
oft times the heavy tempest round me blow
and o’er my soul the waves and billows go

But where the storm beats loudest,
and I cry aloud for help, The Master standeth by
and whispers to my soul “Lo, it is I.”

So where He leads me I can safely go,
and in the blest hereafter I shall know,
why, in His wisdom, He hath lead me so.

By Grandfather Rufus Miller, 1937

As I read the familiar lines I remembered I don’t have to understand the why of things.  I don’t have to carry the burdens of the world on my shoulders. I don’t even have try to carry all of the world’s problems. I can’t change the way people treat others, I have no control over how one person treats another. However, I do have control over how I treat those around me.  I do have control of how I respond to the many crises trumpeted in the news.

My grandfather’s poem reminds me that life is not a bed or roses where everything will always be “hot coco, and peanut butter toast by the evening fire.”  No there are bad people in the world and even though I, or my loved ones, have done nothing wrong, or done anything to cause a tragedy, other people will affect my life in both good ways and bad.  I can’t stop it from happening.  I know I can’t stop the hate, but, I can stop the hate from residing in my heart.  I can stop myself from acting out of anger and rage.  I can stop and take a deep breath and let the real me come up from deep inside.  That is all I can do.

For the prayer practice this week I am offering a chant that helps me when I am feeling lost.  It is the refrain of a hymn written by Marty Haugen and below is the score for the chant.  Above is a video of Haugen’s complete hymn.  Watch the above video and when you are feeling a little lost this week sing the refrain.  You don’t have to chant out loud, and you can chant anytime of the day, driving, riding public transit, cooking dinner or even working on that paper for class or the boss.

©1986, GIA Publications, Inc Chalice Hymnal, #734b
©1986, GIA Publications, Inc
Chalice Hymnal, #734b

May you find your still point, and may it bring you comfort.

Ruth Jewell, ©October 27, 2015

It is Good?—Prayerful Tuesday

Garden of Eden, Jan Brueghel, 1612
Garden of Eden, Jan Brueghel, 1612

“And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:10b

In the last weeks God’s creation has seemed anything but good.  Terrorist attacks, ambushing of police, and police shootings of unarmed young men continue to rent the very fabric of our society.  Yet God did not create an evil world, in fact God proclaims this world a good world where everyone, and I mean everyone, has what they need to live and be the person they are meant to be.  It is our choice’s, not God’s, that have created a world that is unsafe.

Spending time in silent contemplation with a focus on what we could have been, and still could be, seemed the only way for me to center myself and see the world as good.  So today I offer as our prayer of the week another Visio Divina using the above painting of the Garden of Eden by Jan Brueghel.

Prayer Practice:

1. Study the picture slowly, taking a first glance noting the colors, the placement of the plants, animals and, people.  Remain with the image for one to two minutes. If you would like, jot down a few words about the image.

  1. Take a second, deeper, look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges? What feelings about the world rise in you? Are there any images that you are particularly drawn too?
  2.  Respond to the image with prayer for the world. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Offer that prayer to God.
  3. Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.

Please do not let your belief, or non-belief, in the Garden of Eden and the subsequent fall from grace prevent you from seeing the good things in creation. Our world is in need of prayer right now.  All of our people, all of creation is crying and in pain.  Let your prayers go out into the world and let them lead you to be the person God has always wanted you to be.

Peace, Blessings

Ruth Jewell, ©January 13, 2015

 

Never Too Early – Prayerful Tuesday

Memory's
Memory’s

I’m so sorry this post is late but life just seems to interfere at times, especially during Holy Week. But I did want to talk about “life.” No, not the meaning of life but rather how fragile life is. In the last two weeks two friends have passed on to next life. One was in his late 80’s and had lived a long, happy, and productive life. The second was in his early 50’s and had so much more life to live. I was unable to say good bye to these friends before died and a part of me is sad because I never had the chance to tell them face to face how much they meant to me.

I am blessed that I was able to visit a friend who has been ill for a long time and while he is doing quite well considering health concerns there is a fear I might not see him again. The chance to tell him how much he means to me and how much he has touched and influenced my life was very important to me. So often we don’t get that chance. One day someone we love is sitting next to and the next they are in the arms of God.

Love transcends death and my friends are still with me in my memories but they have moved on to a new life, one I will not know until I too pass those doors. I no longer can call upon them for advice, or companionship. They are beyond helping me problem solve or sitting with me when I am confused and lonely. What I feel is grief, a grief at the loss of the physical person and grief at my own inability to tell them how much I loved them when they were here beside me.

This week, this Holy Week, I would encourage you to reach out to those you love and draw them into your arms, hug them and tell them you love them. Tell them how much they mean to you. Let them know they have made a difference in your life. That too is a spiritual practice, letting others know the love for them and how much they mean to you. Don’t let a moment go by without saying “thank you” to those who touch your life. It is never too early in life to recognize our mentors, our role models, and those who care for us, who love us; however, it can be too late.

Ruth Jewell, ©April 15, 2014

Party with Prostitutes – Prayerful Tuesday

Last week a friend posted this video of Dr. Tony Compolo and I thought I’d share it with you this morning. I really don’t need to add anything except the following two requests.

  1. If you know someone who is in need of love give it to them.
  2. Don’t let stereotypes get in the way of remembering what Jesus taught and love all with the same passion as Jesus did.

Enjoy the Video.   http://www.youtube.com/embed/DRBM_YY_YX0?autoplay=1

 

Published on Jul 25, 2013

Throwing a party for a bunch of prostitutes…..
Tony Campolo shares with us what Jesus would do if he was among us once more.
In fact – he shares what Jesus instructed us to do… to love one another!

May God grace you with love, and may that love warm your heart as it passes through you to someone in need. Amen

Ruth Jewell, April 8, 2014

 

Prayers of Compassion, Visio Divina – Prayerful Tuesday

In the last week I have watched the reports from the mudslide in Oso Washington and my heart is filled with sorrow for all the victims lost and recovered alive. Last night I used this picture as my prayer focus and found it rich in prayers for all the victims and the responders of this terrible disaster.

1. As you gaze at the picture what feelings come up for you?
2. Do you have something you want to tell God?
3. What words of comfort would you offer to the victims and the responders in Oso?

Other areas have also experienced natural disaster. Los Angeles has been experiencing earthquakes this week and adverse weather due to climate change has plagued the areas east of the Rockies all winter.

4. End you time of meditation with a prayer for all who have been affected by disasters and extreme adverse weather conditions around the world?

Mudslide Oso Washington,  photo from Headline and Global News,  March 27, 2014
Mudslide Oso Washington,
photo from Headline and Global News,
March 27, 2014

 

Ruth Jewell, © (except for picture) April 1, 2014

To Offend the Pharisees – Prayerful Tuesday

Matthew 5;20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

For some reason one of the major meanings of Matt 5: 20 keeps popping up on FaceBook, newspapers, lots of places.  I keep seeing cartoons and memes like these all over the place:

live like Jesus    Wm Wordsworth

Do you think someone is trying to tell us something.

To exceed righteousness of the Pharisees was to be the mirror for the light of God, which meant you don’t see the mirror only the light it reflects.  Living like Jesus is a spiritual practice.  Doing kind and loving acts for others is a spiritual practice.  We don’t have to be thanked for what we do, in fact it is best and most satisfying when such acts are not noticed by anyone other than the Divine.

I challenge each of you this week to do the random act of kindness for someone without letting them know it was you.  Or stop and give a sandwich to a homeless person on the street and simply walk away without thanks.  Give graciously of yourself without asking for anything in return.  Little things, such as smiling to a busy checkout clerk, can make someone’s world a better place to live in. Starting with little acts gives us the courage to do larger acts of justice and kindness. They are one step on the road to a life lived like Jesus.

I have only one request, PLEASE, let me know what you have done and how it made you feel.  I know that this sounds counterintuitive but it isn’t really.  What you are doing will be witnessing to others that they too can change the world, maybe not the whole world but someone’s world.  Think of it this way, if the Gospel writers hadn’t recorded what Jesus did we wouldn’t know how to live like Him. Pass on the gift so others can continue to move it forward.

Ruth Jewell, ©February 11, 2014-02-14