Monday, January 11, 2016

5 Tips to Find a "Prayer Sanctuary" in the Home You Have


  The first thing we need when we have decided to commit to listening and praying to the Lord is to find that special place that will invite us in, to beckon us to pause, to seek, to listen...

As you use this space, meeting with the Lord there, 
it becomes a haven
a sacred spot where you of calm retreat 
because the anointing of the Lord is tangibly felt there; 
a sanctuary of peace and rest for your heart... 

and ultimately this sanctuary will become the structure 
WITHIN your heart in which the Holy Presence of God resides...

Let's begin today by finding that special spot in your home that will be your "sanctuary" with the Lord.

I know your heart is already questioning:
"What should this space be?"  
"Where should it be?"

1. Begin by simply, slowly and intentionally, walking through your home.  


2. Focus your inner being to already "tune in" to the leading of the Spirit.

3. Ask the Lord to show you where He would like to meet with you.

Is there any place that is drawing you?

It may be a place you are already using.

Or it may be a space you would never thought of before.
  
4. When you have found the spot, consider:


 ...do I need to rearrange it?
...add some things to it?
 ...how can I make it special? 

Make it attractive and appealing, someplace you look forward to enjoying.  This doesn't need to take any money.  Move things that you like or even cherish into the spot.  Make a little "still life" arrangement.

5. Ask yourself what you might need, physically speaking, in order to set time aside to "rest in Him".  (A timer?)  A fine teacup that you reserve for special occasions?  A soft throw to signal you mind "this is a restful space".
 

When you have this space set up and set aside...
                  celebrate a job well done!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

20 C + M + B 16 - Making Ephiphany A Personal Tradition


Do you observe Epiphany?

Coming from a liturgical church foundation in childhood, I miss some of the ways the church year marks time...today is Epiphany,  a day that we can learn more about and how to use it to be more aware of Jesus in our lives...it is the time when Christ is revealed to the world!


Epiphany is the day that liturgical churches observe the visit of the wise men to baby Jesus...their simple desire to worship the King is the precursor to  serious outbursts in the hearts of those who should have been lovers of God, but weren't.  Epiphany celebrates the fact that Jesus came for all people as the Holy Family accepted the worship of Gentiles/foreigners.  Foreigners bowing before the new king shows that God offers the Messiah to the whole world, not to just one race or nation. 


Read Matthew 2:1-12 to get the full story!

(Another interesting fact - the 12 Days of Christmas is really the 12 days from Christmas Day to Epiphany...the song itself was a code which persecuted Christians used to continue to worship and adore their King and can be used to remember to pray for the persecuted church in today's time.)

In modern times, some people observe a tradition passed on since the second century.  It is called "Chalking the Door".  Over the main entrance into the home, a designated member of the family writes the first two numbers of the new year, then C + M + B, and finally the last two numbers of the new year.  For this year, if you want to adopt this simple practice, you would write:


20 C + M + B 16

Finally, all gathered pray a prayer of blessing over each person living in the home and entering in during the year...


The letters C, M, and B are the first letters of each word in the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat—"Christ, bless this home". We want the blessing of Christ, the peace and joy and love of the God-Man— to fill our home, to fill our hearts, to be the very air we breathe as we go about our daily work.


The letters are also a call—because C, M, and B are the initials of the Wise Men whose names, according to tradition, were Caspar, Melchior, and Baltasar. These men left all they knew and held dear to follow a star—because they believed that what they’d find would surpass all they were leaving behind.  The initials over the door remind us to be like the Magi—so we write their initials on our door to remind us, each time we come into our house, of our desire, our intention to follow the Light.

Here is what other have said about their "chalking the door" tradition:
When I see those letters (and I confess, I often pass beneath them, oblivious of their presence, their call), but when I remember to pay attention and I actually see them, I say a prayer: “Help me, Jesus, to see you.Help me to hear you. Help me to follow you.”


In this daily following, we become the magi, answering the call of the star in our small way—and so, by the grace of God, we become the answer to our prayer that Christ would bless our home and all who enter.


Around the world there are different ways to observe the tradition.  Many wear crowns, carry stars, and sing and pray as they move through their neighborhoods, chalking the doors.  In Germany celebrants sing Segen bringen, segen sein (Bring the blessing to be a blessing). 



How can you make this tradition your own?  Consider the wise men and their journey...take different aspects of their story and personalize it:

1.  Stars are used to navigate at night.  Is there a place of darkness, of not knowing, in your life that needs the light of Jesus to shine into it?  Is there already a direction that you have been pointed in, but the journey must be all by faith?

2. Take the journey, even amidst the unknowns. The star speaks to a need to trust that the end will be good and full of His presence!

3.  Be open to joy and wonder, even (especially?) in the dark times.  The wise men were full of joy when they saw the star (Matthew 2:10).  What treasures of joy and wonder might the Lord be trying to give you when you are journeying in the darkness?

4.  Give out of your gifts that you carry with you!  The wise men's gifts represented that they understood who Jesus was.  Each gift reflected different aspects of Jesus' ministry and personhood...the gold represented His deity, the myrrh represented His anointing as the Messiah, and frankincense represented His priestly intercession for all mankind.  How can you give out of your gifts and reflect Jesus to those you come across?





What other insights for your life can you gain from the visit of the Magi?


Resources for Further Insight
https://www.rca.org/resources/reclaiming-epiphany 
http://jodythomae.com/2015/01/06/create-a-day-your-daily-dose-of-creativity-edition-3/
http://deeperstory.com/becoming-the-magi/
Abbey of the Arts Newsletter

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Blessing for a New Year {2016}


I read this beautiful blessing by Rabbi Frederick L Klein and wanted to share it with you for this new year...



Blessings for a New Year


May you be blessed with sudden insights and inspiration.

  May you be graced with quiet moments 
of simplicity and reflection.

May you be supported by your loved ones when you need them.

May you be a source of strength to those around you.

  May you received embraces from parents, 
children, and long lost friends.

  May you cry at a good movie with a person you love.

  May you read a newspaper and react to injustice- 
both in mind and deed.

  May you pick up a hobby that you have always wanted to do.

May you say goodbye to habits and thoughts 
that have become a burden for you.

  May you forgive those who have hurt you.

  May you travel to new places inside yourself.

  May you build the world you have always wanted 
for yourself and others.

  May you have late mornings with a good cup of coffee,
and enjoy the fresh air.

  May you feel healthy- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

May you hear the joy and the sorrow of this great universe 
in which we live.

And may you –and us all- be blessed with peace.

Rabbi Frederick L Klein

Thursday, December 17, 2015

An Advent Credo (by Daniel Berrigan)


Advent Credo
 Daniel Berrigan



It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—

This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—

This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—

This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world.

This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—

This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—

This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

From Testimony: The Word Made Flesh, by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Orbis Books, 2004.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Eighth Day of Hanukkah - The Light of Life Shining in Community and a Prayer for Healing


The eighth candle represents life, light and new beginnings.  


Diving into the richness of the Hebrew language:

The name of the eighth candle is "Het" since "Het" or "Chet" is the eighth letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  As such, it carries strong symbolic meaning - it looks like a wall or a fence, and is made of the previous two letters (Vav and Zayin) joined at the top.

Het is the letter of life.  For instance, chayim (life) and chayah (living) both begin with it.  The word for devotion, chasidut, also begins with Het; this fact gives rise to the idea that "true life begins with devotion to God". 

Het is also the letter of light - Vav represemts the "yasher" light that descends from God and Zayin represents the "chozer" light that ascends or returns to God.




For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 
(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)...
Ephesians 5:8-9


Finally, since Vav represents people or others and Zayin represents time, Het is a picture of spending time in community (chavaruh)!


Seven is the number of completion, therefore, the next number, number eight, represents a new beginning point. The eighth day of Hanukkah can be thought of as a launching point, of "going out" into our immediate family, our workplace, our neighborhood, our world (all forms of community) as carriers of His light, having allowed that Light to permeate any dark corner of our own hearts and lives, and bringing the message of fresh starts and new beginnings to each person we meet!


Ideas to bring His light wherever you go

(Gather the entire family together for another brainstorming session.)  
Think about how children bring a sense of delight wherever they go ~ how can we meet others with these childlike characteristics?



As adults, we have more life experiences that might have taught us that these childlike qualities are not beneficial in all circumstances.  There could be old, unhealed wounds that would prevent us from seeing another as worthy of God's light that we carry with us.  

Exercise

As you read through the above list, note if there are any instances that come to mind in which you KNOW you are unable to show these characteristics, or even narrow the exercise to one or two characteristics.  

Hold that instance in your memory and examine it: 1) are there any emotions attached? 
2) is there a hurt that still throbs? 
3) was there a lesson taught that you now know you can unlearn?

Most of our past experiences that still bring pain to our hearts are events that taught us we were unlovable and/or unworthy to receive the love of someone important to us.

The good news that Jesus brings is that He loved us so much, even before we were born, even before we understood who He was, even before we told Him we wanted Him in our lives, that He did what was necessary to bring us into a love relationship with Him.  We are loved right now, unconditionally and completely, in all of our mistakes, weaknesses, strengths and talents.

Any place in our hearts that carries wounds of not being loveable can be transformed by inviting His light and life to enter in.  

THIS is the message of the eighth candle!



Older children may have painful experiences, too.  They may be able to do this exercise on their own, or you might lead them through it as a gentle "walk along besider", just as the Holy Spirit walks beside you and helps you!

A Prayer for Healing (2)

Ask Jesus to bring His light there. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Ask Him to make it clear to you.

Jesus, I invite you into this broken place within me (this wound, this memory). I give you total access to my heart. Come, Lord, shine your light here. Reveal to me all that is going on here. What is this about, Jesus? Come and show me, meet me here, in this place.
Ask Jesus to speak a word about this area of woundedness:

Jesus, come and lead me in healing this brokenness in my heart. Speak to me here, Lord. What are you saying to me? Give me ears to hear and eyes to see what you are revealing. Let no other voice speak but you, my Lord Jesus, and you alone.

It is probably safe to say that we may not have handled our hurt or brokenness well.  We may have pushed it down, or tried to fix it in our own power, or tried to mask it with things that became addictions. Jesus often shows us these places too, and we can renounce these acts and confess our sin that connects to our wound.

Jesus, forgive me for the ways I’ve mishandled my brokenness. You alone make me dwell in safety. Forgive me for all my self-protection and self-redemption, and for all my false comforters. (You’ll want to renounce specific sins you are aware of here.) Cleanse my heart of every sin by your shed blood.

I now break every agreement I have made with Satan and his lies. (Get specific here. What have you believed, bought into?) I renounce any claim I have given to my Enemy, and in the name of Jesus, I command him to flee.

Jesus, come now and do as you promised to do—heal my broken heart and set me free. (Listen here for what Jesus is saying.) Bring this place into your love and healing, bring this place home. I welcome your healing, and I welcome this part of my heart home. Come, bind me up and make me whole.

Conclusion

Jesus' life and light in you become brighter and brighter as His healing power takes hold.  This is when we truly bring His presence into community: our family, our neighborhood, our work, our world.