I Don’t Hate Alarms Anymore (an invitation)

I am not a morning person. Once I am out of the house I’m alright; but the process of getting to that point can be the bain of my existence. I often dream vividly, so alarms typically interrupt whatever fantastic thing is happening in my subconscious. I hated alarms until recently.

“Praying the Hours” is not a new thing. It’s the practice of letting certain times in the day serve as markers or reminders to pray. During the Babylonian exile, there was no temple, so the Jews set specific times to sing, pray, and read the Torah. Later, in the Roman Empire, the Jews and new Christians continued the practice when the forum bells would ring at 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 6pm - the markers of the work day. They used these regular bells as a reminder to bring themselves before God. This practice has been adapted by varying Christian traditions. 

At a lunch meeting recently, I agreed to pray over Ephesians 3:20 at 3:20 pm PST every day for a year. I set a recurring alarm on my phone. It has a different ringtone than my morning alarm. Every day it goes off, I pause whatever I’m doing, and I read:

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
— Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)

I pray for about 30 seconds. Then I go back to whatever I was doing at the time. When appropriate (or when I’m with other believers) I explain what we are doing, and invite them to read the Scripture and pray as well.

This verse leads me to ask, what are the ways we have limited God because we have failed to ask? to dream big? to expect more? to trust his mighty power?

Alarms can be a good thing. Want to pray with us? Set an alarm.

#PrayforSanDiego

As we watch flames engulf neighborhood after neighborhood, let us pause to pray over those who are involved in the current fires in San Diego. 

Pray for families who are evacuated. 

Pray for those who have lost their homes. 

Pray for the people responding on the front lines of the fires. 

Pray for leaders and their decisions. 

Pray for neighbors serving their communities.

Pray for social service agencies, law enforcement, and elected officials. 

Pray for weather conditions to change and fires to be contained. 

Pray for the clean-up that will follow.

Pray for how you can respond.

 

Prayer for First Responders:

Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvelous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor.

- adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal

 

(If you want to respond in a future disaster, we're offering a shelter worker training on May 31st at San Diego First Church of the Nazarene. Let these fires be a reminder that preparation is important! Email sophie.callahan@redcross.org for details.)

A Blessing and a Call

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Over the weekend in Los Angeles, a theatre full of "justice junkies" (in the words of one speaker), gathered to be inundated with wisdom, challenges, Scripture, statistics, stories, and truth related to all forms of justice. Through speakers and music, we were pointed again and again toward the God who desires justice, who invites us into the redemptive work of the Kingdom. Forgive me while I process this information into a few more blog posts. But for now, may I point you toward this prayer, which was offered this weekend at The Justice Conference. 

A Four-Fold Benedictine Blessing

by Sr. Ruth Fox, OSB (1985)

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, 
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour, 
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, 
be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.

AMEN

Scripture: Isaiah 58: 6-12 (NIV)

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Further Exploration:

Look up the work of the following speakers (bios and links found here)

Dr. Bernice King

Lynn Hybels

Donald Miller

Brian Stevenson

Stephen Bauman

Justin Dillon

Nicole Baker Fulgham

Gabriel & Jeannette Salguero

N.T. Wright

Marcel Serubungo

Jenny Wang

Ken Wystma

Alexia Salvatierra

Eugene Cho

Jim Wallis

Sami Awad

Bethany Hoang

Noel Castellanos

Rick McKinley

Mae Cannon

 

Light & Darkness

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Gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, parties to attend. Friends struggling in marriage, career decisions to make, ministry responsibilities to take care of. Celebrations and sorrow. Busyness and reflection. May this prayer bring you deeper to the center of this Advent season.

 

Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness,

send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"  

Amen.

- Advent Prayer by Henri Nouwen