Prayer

Christians Being Rude…

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sighing jesusI recently threw out a tweet that also went to my facebook expressing my shame at the actions of some Christians a few weeks back who felt it was somehow in the Spirit of Christ to go disturb their Muslim neighbors who had gathered at the National Mall for a day of prayer. While the people tried to pray, some stood to the side with bullhorns and tried to “evangelize” them, and then got in arguments with the DC police. Sheesh.

Really, that’s who we are supposed to be? The persecutors? We somehow have been granted the licence to rudeness? Really?

So, I went to my Sunni next-door neighbor and apologized, even though he wasn’t there that day. He was so great. He said something like, “We know all Christians aren’t like that.” He then looked over my shoulder to the view of my church building down the street, and he looked at the Presbyterian church across the street, and turned back and said something to the tune of, “My wife and I are so happy to have the churches here so close, we feel it is a sign of peace for us.” Sorry, it wasn’t a news interview so I have to do some paraphrasing.

I also spent some time trying to find an email for the fella who planned the whole prayer event at the Mall. I finally found one and sent him an apology, as a local Christian Pastor who was embarrassed by the angry, rude Christians. I wanted to share the reply I received yesterday, because I thought it was very gracious…

“Dear Reverend Thomas,
Thank you very much for your kind words and prayers. We did receive opposition from Christians but it didn’t prevent us from having a most wonderful prayer service on Capitol Hill.       We prayed for the good of America, for all people of all races, religions, etc.  Many of us who participated were born in America.  We deeply care for and love America.
Take good care and may the peace of God (the one creator) be with you always.
Peace and blessings,
Sayydah”

There’s no doubt that there are Muslims in the world who don’t love America. Heck, there are Christians in the world who don’t love America. And I’m not going to jump onto a bandwagon of condemnation for the Christians with bullhorns… as I recently heard the late, great Rich Mullins say in video, “I’m not saying they’re bad, they’re just wrong.” Scripture directs us to be the righteous ones, so that observers have no true basis to make derisive remakes about our behavior. Scripture also says that our anger does not accomplish the will of God. And common sense says that interrupting someone else’s prayer does nothing to help my prayer.

So, I’ll just close with sincere apologies to the artist of the icon with which I took certain liberties when trying to do something visually clever for this post.  Sorry, my friend.

it’s a time to pray…

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August was a long month for Senator Larry Craig. If you’ve watched the national news, or local in Idaho, you’ve undoubtedly heard it all. Of course, you and I won’t ever know exactly what happed that day in an airport bathroom. We have accusations from a peace officer and we have a plea of guilty to lesser charges… and we have the national circus that comes to town when there’s the smell of fresh blood.

My question is for us of faith… for we who should never be caught viewing a human being as anything other than a beloved of our God, regardless of seen and unseen brokenness. Where do our concerns and priorities lie? Do we value the political spectacle of Senator Craig’s situation over the obvious brokenness in his own life and the life of his family? Are we Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians and Moderates, Communists and Anarchists, and all the political spectrum therein, before we are disciples of Christ? I don’t mean this as a rhetorical question. I mean it as a serious “this really needs some attention” question, because the answer to the question will determine how we respond. Some of us are immediately drawn to the political feast and others may be scared into silence and shame.

Will we respond with prayer for a man and his family, or respond with ridicule and malice, or silence and apathy? I’m not debating guilt here, I’m wondering about healing. I’m not asking if he should or shouldn’t have made his resignation, I’m asking about hope. I’m wondering if we have any role in the healing and hope, or if we only interact with this particular human being in the political arena. Under what circumstances do we cease to have spiritual obligations to our fellow, broken beings? When do we stop carrying obligations of forgiveness, words of life and peace, and humbled service?

So, Sunday morning we raised Senator Craig before God’s throne, along with his family, for healing and help. That in this time of undeniable pain and hurt, God would do the needed work of peace, making whole, and giving joy.

The world doesn’t need another Democrat. The world doesn’t need another Republican. The world can’t really do much with another howl of “hypocrite!” or bout of snide laughter, or silent judgment.

The world could use some folks on their knees in prayer and on their feet in love… the world could use a fresh perspective on things.

Prayers…

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So I’ve been trying to be faithful this year to the Orthodox Lenten fast as well as practicing daily Orthodox prayers. I found a little bookstore and got me a chokti to practice the Jesus Prayer, and seem to have lost it. I dug out one I tied myself a few months ago and have been using it instead.

The Jesus Prayer is simply, “Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” It is said in repetition to focus and center one’s soul and mind… a prayer and a meditation, and most definitely a yearning of the heart.

I have found myself often repeating the prayer for a while until I’m calmed and ready to move forward in prayer… then I start expanding into prayer requests and petitions in the same model of the prayer, something like, “Lord Jesus Christ, the Giver of Peace, hold Brad in your love.” I will repeat the prayer, but give myself lots of freedom of expression to explore the praise and lauding of Christ, the specific petition and the relationships involved… Lord Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh, heal Brad, your disciple. Lord Jesus Christ, Love and Author, give your peace to Brad, your man by faith.

And here’s my favorite line from the trisagion prayers that I am trying to hold faith with on a daily basis… “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.” At one point I am instructed to say this thrice, and it’s a high point of my prayers. I think it’s the stir I feel in my soul when I say the words, Holy Mighty.

Peace.