Today is the Women’s World Day of Prayer. The WWDP is held on the first Friday of every March. This year’s theme is “Streams in the desert” and the official programme was provided by women in Egypt. Go here for more information.
We had a lovely and rejuvenating service over at Nigel Methodist. The Minister spoke about how, when we are fed by the wellspring of God’s grace, this has a ripple effect on our homes, our friends and family, our places of work and worship–because whomever we encounter will encounter others.
In that spirit, here is a prayer (for International Women’s Day):
Women are a reflection of the glory of God. Today we honor the women of all times and all places:
Women of courage.
Women of hope.
Women living fully.
Women experiencing joy.
Women delighting in life.
Women knowing the interconnectedness of the human family.
Women honoring the sacredness of the relational, the affective.
Women quietly tending the garden of human flourishing.
Women boldly leading the transformation of unjust global structures.
Women seeking Wisdom.
Women sharing Wisdom.
Women receiving Love.
Women giving Love.
Women: the image of God.
Loving God, we celebrate your faithfulness and love. On this day we commit ourselves to the promotion of the full humanity of all women everywhere. We know that whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is not of God.
Help us to be faithful to your call to love.
Today’s prayer is pretty simple. And on the upside, Jesus answered it more than two thousand years ago.
Dear God, please be merciful to me.
Have a blessed week!
So, perhaps we should mourn Satan, the only named thing in all of Creation whose fate is foretold, inescapable, disconnected from grace, from free will, from salvation. Some early theologians found this idea so abhorrent, they imagined some kind of ultimate redemptive grace, even for Satan, maybe even especially for Satan: a true, pan-physical universalism.
Because with Satan, there is an ultimate conundrum. He is part of Creation, part of God’s plan. Evil is meant to be amongst us. I cannot fathom a theology in which there was a cataclysmic “whoops” in the Garden, and the Creation since then has been going completely against His plan, with Him staring on helplessly. So, if there is meant to be evil, there is a reason for it, far from our understanding as it may sometimes seem.
So, if we love this doomed creature, does that play into his hands? I think at heart that this is a Pharisaical idea, that we need to avoid contact with evil. Jesus encounters evil time and time again, and greets it time and again with agape. Even in the wilderness, there is no hate. I’ve always been struck by Jesus in the wilderness. It runs as an extended, lengthy debate, not as an epic battle. Why? Because Satan has no hope for victory. Jesus is calm, because he has no cause for alarm. And on the cross, that victory is made eternal. On the cross, we share in Jesus’ victory. It is our right.
Interesting perspective–read the whole thing: John Watson: Sympathy for the Devil | Red Letter Christians.
When you and I venture to listen to another person ‘in the Name of Jesus Christ’ there is an unseen listener present, Jesus himself. We have to listen to him listening. We have to know Jesus and be ready to learn all his meanings too. And in the context of this listening it may be that he will have something new to say, something we have never heard before. And if we listen very carefully, with concentrated attention, it is likely that we will hear him speaking to us through the lips of a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, a man or woman of some tribal religion–or nearer home, a Marxist or a humanist. Jesus, now as always, is very full of surprises.
–Max Warren on ‘a theology of attention’.
Experience is the most sacred part of life. Our experience. My experience. Your experience.
We walk with Christ. We follow Jesus. We experience Jesus. He is with us at every step, in every experience. What we experience, it’s the heartbeat of everything in our lives. It makes us who we are. It gives us context and perspective. It shapes how we see things and influences what we believe.
Experience is what Jesus uses to integrate us, to make us whole. Sometimes it feels like fragmentation, or worse, disintegration. But that’s the beauty of redemption. God takes all the pieces, every single experience, every fragmented shard, and he uses each and every one to shape us into our whole and integrated self. That makes every experience sacred, every piece of us holy. Even what we label as depraved, it is sacred to God. Even those experiences we see as horrific and evil, God makes them sacred. He redeems them.
I’m not saying an evil act is good or sacred. I’m saying the experience is sacred. It’s sacred because I experienced it. It’s sacred because a human bore witness to it. It’s sacred because it was experienced by one created in the image of God. That’s what I think Paul is talking about in Romans 8. Nothing can separate us from our Source. We are not alone. We are never alone. No matter what we experience, God is there, and because of his Presence in our experience, what we experience becomes sacred.
An evil act can fragment us. Abuse can disintegrate. But God integrates and heals and makes us whole. And part of that wholeness has to include the dark shadow-filled experiences because the whole is the sum of all parts. If some parts are removed or thrown out or destroyed, there can be no whole. I think that’s where we get it wrong. We try to become whole without all the parts. We believe we must war against ourselves, destroy what we’re told is depraved or sinful or weak or not God’s design. But we cannot get rid of some parts and still reach wholeness. Wholeness requires all parts to be present.
Look at every person in the Bible. Not one is without shadow. Thomas had doubt. Jacob had a limp, and Moses had a lisp. David had adultery and murder. Sarah had to laugh. Rachel and Leah had rivalry. Tamar had rape. Joseph had slavery and prison. Every single person had a flaw or a dark side or a happened-to-me moment. And not one story ends with God taking it away. Jesus even kept his scars.
God doesn’t want perfection. He wants our heart. He makes a person whole, not by eradicating parts but by integrating every part into one. Wholeness is the absence of nothing. Wholeness means nothing is absent. All parts are present, and they must be to make the whole.
Whoa! Read the whole post: Experience, the most sacred part of life | h.b. allaman.
We avoid so much of ourselves; is it any wonder we feel so alienated? You know, repentance is not wishing you hadn’t said something mean or done something wrong; that’s denial. Repentance isn’t just regret; that’s guilt. I get the sense that real repentance is acknowledging the depth of our inhumanity and feeling it out with the acceptance and love that God offers us so freely. Asking God for forgiveness at any time is really just taking steps to forgive ourselves, to pick it all up, to try again. All these scrapes and bangs ingrain God more deeply in our hearts until there is so much of him that we’re nothing but human.
It’s never done, though, not here. We like thinking in terms of goals. Goal #1: Be a good person! But repentance isn’t a goal, and it’s not a lifestyle; it’s just a life. It’s constantly coming back to the whole of who you are, and the whole of who God is, and the whole of who you are in God.
We’re so impatient, aren’t we? We want to get. This. Done. But it’s the doing that’s the learning curve and that’s the point: Earth is the lesson. It’s not the test, and it’s not the result. I know the metaphor of ‘testing’ is prevalent in Scripture and in Christian thinking. And it’s apt as far as metaphors go. But a test implies the possibility of failure, when Jesus has assured us that failure is impossible if you accept him.
You cannot fail being a child of God because you already are a child of God. Repentance is overcoming the belief that you’re not.
Know what I’m sayin’?
Come even if you’re not one bit sure about this God business at all. Start here, with these open arms, the ones that are welcoming the weary. Start with a God who invites the imperfect: the mad-at-their-kids. The pissed-at-their-bosses. The one who sits in traffic, feeling a rage she cannot understand. The one who can’t stop crying. The one who’s full to the brim with happiness.
Start with Jesus, who welcomes the overwhelmed. The under-awed. The hopeful. The hopeless.
He is looking at you who don’t have one scrap of it together, and there’s not a how-to or a best-practices – just Him. Just you. Just the river.
Just one word, Come.
The first step. Really, the only step. The one you keep taking every weary, heavy-laden, joyous, hopeful, normal, average, dish-filled, noisy day of your life.
The whole post is worth a read: Come Weary | How to Talk Evangelical.
God of unity, God of love,
what we say with our lips, make strong in our hearts,
what we affirm with our minds, make vivid in our lives.
Send us your Spirit
to pray in us what we dare not pray,
to claim us beyond our own claims,
to bind us when we are tempted to go our own ways.
Lead us forward.
Lead us together.
Lead us to do your will,
the will of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
In fact, a revisioning of Sabbath economics defined Jesus’ call to discipleship, lay at the heart of his teaching—and stood at the center of his conflict with the Judean public order.
Read the full article; it’s absolutely fascinating: Jesus’ New Economy of Grace – Ched Myers | Sojourners Magazine – July-August 1998.