Posts Tagged With: prayer

A Series of Laments

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I am writing a series of laments. As a white evangelical Christian I did not learn to lament in my religious or cultural background. This lack of lament is probably due to the fact that I and my ancestors, as part of the dominant culture, have not suffered the injustice, oppression or violence as have many of my neighbors of color. In the last few years I have been introduced to this specific form of prayer.  It is connected closely with confession and repentance.  We are living in an extremely violent society, in an extremely violent world. We are reeling from one tragic event to another. As a follower of Jesus the Christ, I have learned from his teachings the law of sowing and reaping. What is planted is what grows.  With this principle in mind I wonder what it will take to root out the violence in our society and in our world. Large trees with long roots started as small seeds.  What seeds have been planted in our history that continue to bloom into violence? I believe a collective lament, confession and repentance is necessary for lasting change to occur. The path to healing in our communities, must go through this path of self-reflection and acknowledgement leading to lament, confession and repentance. I invite you to join me in this journey of overturning the soil in our hearts in the hope of producing the good fruits of love and peace in our world.

Laments can be spoken, chanted or sung together in a group or alone.  The bold letter words are for those who wish to pray together in a group.

This first lament is in response to the recent Texas church shooting.

 

#1 Lament for violence in our land:

 

Oh God hear our prayers!

 

Today children are grieving.

They have lost their parents or grandparents.

Oh Lord hear their cries.

 

Today parents and grandparents are grieving.

They have lost their children and grandchildren.

Oh Lord hear their cries.

 

Today brothers and sisters are grieving.

They have lost their siblings.

Oh Lord hear their cries.

 

Today neighbors and friends are grieving.

They have lost their neighbors and friends.

Oh Lord hear their cries.

 

We have done wrong against you

And our fellow human beings

Made in your image.

We have not loved our neighbors

As ourselves.

 

We have loved our power

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

We have loved our comfort

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

We have loved our privilege

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

We have loved our safety

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

We have loved our weapons

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

Lord have mercy

And forgive us these things

We pray.

Show us how to walk out

Our repentance towards you

And our neighbors.

Amen

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Categories: Faith, God, grief and death, growth, Hope, lament, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blind Spots

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I recently had an appointment with an eye doctor. I have Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease. My pulmonologist asked me to get my eyes checked as it is common for this condition to be found in one’s eye. So I did. There was a small growth on my retina. The doctor said it looks like it’s been there a long time, but we should keep an eye on it. One of the symptoms of this growth is that I have a bigger blind spot in my left eye than in my right eye.

 

Blind spots. We all have them. We do not realise we have them until someone points something out to us that we missed, for instance my eye doctor showing me the big spot where I didn’t see the flashing dots on my exam.

 

This Sunday I enjoyed a a lovely church gathering that met in a home.  It had all the elements that I love, good worshipful singing, an inspiring message, lots of fellowship and (good coffee), and at the end a time to pray with one another. Before we broke up for the prayer, the prayer leader mentioned an impression he had that there were those of us with eye troubles needing prayer.  I remembered my growth creating a bigger than normal blind spot.  The sister I was praying with also had something going on with one of her eyes that was causing blurry vision. We prayed for each other and then she mentioned that there were probably spiritual implications to our troubles as well. I filed that away, but not before I felt a little defensive, nothing came to mind, it can’t be about that, I thought to myself. Well, isn’t that what a blind spot is? We don’t see it.

 

On Saturday we heard Jim Wallis speak about “America’s Original Sin.”  Last night we watched a documentary on Mohammad Ali. Now I’m not a fan of boxing and was a little resistant to it, but Bill nudged me a little bit and let me know it was not really about boxing.  So I settled in and was gripped by the story of this man. Of course I had heard about him, he was famous, a champion!  But I didn’t know the backstory how he had suffered as a black man against a world where white men called the shots and had caused so much pain and suffering for him, his people, his ancestors. I didn’t know why he converted to Islam and what that meant for him and so many others at the time.

 

This morning I woke up to my normal routine.  Bill had made my coffee, I gathered my devotional books, a bible, my journal and as I sat down to have my devotions, my Great Prompter, my Great Reminder (The Holy Spirit) reminded me of my blind spot.  Bill and I are grappling with what is going on in our nation at this time. Maybe white privilege is a big blind spot for a lot of us white folks. We get defensive, edgy when it is mentioned.  We want to defend ourselves.  It wasn’t me, my folks were mostly from the North, and not wealthy. What privilege?.  We need reminding and we need our more enlightened friends and friends of color to help us see what we don’t see. We have benefited and we have benefits, that our brothers and sisters of color do not have, just because we are white.

 

I never had to have “the talk” with my sons or my daughter about what to do if you’re pulled over by the police. Please listen to this song, “Hands Up”,  inbeded in this excellent article worth reading.

.https://sojo.net/articles/our-white-friends-empathy-not-enough

 

I didn’t even know about this until the last couple of years when so many videos circulated with black people (mostly men) being shot and killed at routine traffic stops.  I had some previews though, when we were driving from Atlanta to Birmingham one summer afternoon not too long ago.  I saw so many people being pulled over. They were all black, not one single white person on that short trip. What was this about? I wondered. I think it was a magnification of what has been going on all around the country, not just the south.

 

It takes a lot of effort to see what we do not see. We need help. We need friends and family members to tell us what we are missing. I have an extra big blind spot.  What I see, I see fine with my glasses on. Yet, there are some things I do not see. I need others to tell me. I need to push down my defences and listen!

 

I appreciate my friends of color who have shared their stories with me. It helps me see more clearly what I would not normally see. I am making efforts to listen to podcasts, read books, and watch movies on this issue and discuss with others what I am learning. Jim Wallis reminded us of the words of Jesus: “You did it to me.” from (Matthew 25:40) With those words he reminded us this is not a political issue, but  a theological issue. We have another opportunity upon us to move towards healing and reconciliation. I want to be a part of the movement to acknowledge and repent of the racism and the white supremacy that our nation was founded on. This is the road to healing.

Categories: Faith, God, growth, Hope, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Psalm reflections

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“Your statutes have been like songs to me

Whenever I have lived as a stranger.” Psalm 119:14

 

I have been a stranger

  in the land

A foreigner in this place

  I am obtuse

To the language

  and culture

Yet one constant –

The song of your presence

 

I am no stranger

  to you

No foreigner

  in this land

Where heaven meets earth

  the song is born

Where you call me your own

  you lead me by the hand

 

“Show me the road that I must walk

For I lift my soul to you.” Psalm 143:8

 

The road divides before me

Shall I turn left or right?

I lift up my eyes,

My soul,

My prayer,

I put my trust in your

Unfailing love

I make my choice

And follow you.

 

© 2017 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Life, Love, Paths, Poetry, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Call to Prayer

Sometime before we reached Mumbai

The crickets started their part

in the great symphony of the night.

“We’re still here!  We’re still here!”

They sang and called me to God.

 

A song rose in my heart in response

that I could not sing aloud.

What would the taxi driver think?

He may have thought I was a little off.

 

So I let it sing inside of me:

“Lord forgive us.

We have not honored you.

We have not cared for your creation.

We have not loved one another.

We have not cared for the poor and the weak.”

 

We reached Mumbai.

Waited for hours to be told

No room for you on this plane.

We were escorted out of the airport

and put in a taxi

by some kind airport officials.

The taxi drove off.

The driver and his co-worker

working the phones to get us

on another flight or into a hotel

in the wee hours of the morning.

A call came,

“You are lucky! Confirmed seats

available!”

They raced us back to the airport.

Same kind officials

escorted us quickly through

the lines and waved good-bye.

There was room on the plane

after-all.

We made it, last to board,

walking in a dream.

Very grateful.

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, Life, Poetry, Prayer, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MacGyver and The Christmas Season

This time of year is not the best time for a vacuum cleaner to go on the fritz.  Not with pine needles from the Christmas tree and all the muck brought in the door even though we take our shoes off in the entry.  Not to mention the 10 pound long-haired Weiner Dog who brings in his share of the outside, besides all the gorgeous fur he sheds.

 

Taking  the vacuum cleaner to Sears for repairs was an unappealing option.  I really dislike going to the mall, especially this time of year.  Crowds and the perilous parking lot that you may enter but the possibility of never leaving is out there. Besides who knows when I would get it back, probably late January. Too late for my pine needles and other seasonal muck.

 

Borrowing my son and daughter-in-law’s vacuum was not a sustainable option, so this morning after working on a Sudoku puzzle in the paper to wake up my brain, I put on my MacGyver cap. I must confess here that I really liked that 1980’s show when it first came out and have been inspired a few times to attempt some interesting repairs. Some have worked and others not so well. Nothing major, and definitely nothing with electricity or on our cars. Although, we did once stick some gum in our leaking gas tank in Kazakhstan when we ran over something that put a hole in it.  It worked well enough to get us down the mountain to a little town for repair.  But it wasn’t my idea and that is a whole other story. I have to mention also, that I was quite proud of my youngest son with said vacuum cleaner. A couple of weeks ago he came out of work and his car door was frozen shut.  He managed to get it open, but it wouldn’t close properly, so he used his apron to MacGyver it closed to get safely home.

 

Back to the vacuum cleaner. I narrowed down the problem.  It was not the motor or clogged in the hose.  It worked fine when I was using the hand tools. But that is no way to vacuum the whole house. The problem was it was clogged in the base.  I tried earlier to put a chop stick in there to loosen things up, but that only helped temporarily.  So this morning I took a few moments, said a wee prayer, and tried to think what I had in the house or garage that I could stick in there to clear the clog.  The idea of a plumber’s snake came to mind, but we don’t have one of those.  The thought of a plumber reminded me that I had a long plastic tool that came with some drain cleaner I had bought a while back. That plastic tool was just what I needed, with the little teeth on it like fish hooks. I laid the vacuum cleaner down on it’s side fully extended and went to work clearing the clog in the base.

 

Today I am grateful for many things. I’m grateful for how our brains work and how a small prayer can be answered in a few minutes. I’m grateful that I don’t have to put “go to Sears” on my to-do list. My husband and I talk about how we missed the 80’s because we spent most of it in China. I am grateful we didn’t miss everything.  Glad we did miss all the funky big hair, but if anyone could rock a mullet it was MacGyver.

 

Categories: Life, Prayer, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Space Between

In the space between

My need –

My prayer

And His provision

There is an opportunity

For communion

With the Man of Sorrows

The Son of Man

Who had nowhere to call home

On this earth

 

I can enter the Sacred Garden

And stay awake for a while

With Him

While He bears my pain

And works unseen

His answer to my need

I will be changed

Deeply marked

With the fellowship of

His suffering

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Life, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Choices

Choices lie before me

Which path will I choose?

Will I choose a path of faith, hope and love?

Will I take the time to listen?

Will I discern the gravity pulling me?

Will I feel the ancient forces of good and evil?

Will I choose the good?

Will I ask for wisdom in the choosing?

That is my hope

That is my prayer

I’m still learning

I’m still growing

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Life, Love, Paths, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ask

They’ve been waiting

Anticipating

This moment

Ready to move

High alert

Waiting

Anticipating

 

The feeble prayer

Forms in the heart

Barely makes it

To the lips

If at all

A mere

Seed of faith

 

Commotion

In the cosmos

“She asked!

We are moving in!”

The cogs begin to turn

Heaven moves earth

Surely help is on the way

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Lent, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lenten Post #4

Remain in Me

 

Keep in step

Keep in touch

Take my hand

Don’t lag behind or rush ahead

No lolly-gagging or reckless driving

Stick with Me

Close to Me

Stay connected

Abide in me

Walk with me

Every  day

Every hour

Every minute

Breathe me in

Like your breath

Breathe me out

To another

Don’t slough me off

Disregard me

Close your ears

When you get tempted

Or enticed

Don’t veer off to the left

Or the right

Take a detour

Or a short cut

Don’t get caught in an eddy

Don’t get stuck or left behind

Double your efforts

To rest in me

Fill your thoughts

With thoughts of me

Love me

I love you

Let my love flow in you

And out of you

Come back for more

There’s always more

You in me and I in you

And this is what it means

To live a life

Of prayer

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Lent, Life, Love, Paths, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Half a Good Deed

It started with a morning prayer: “Teach me Your Ways.” Unexpectedly on the way to church an elderly woman crossed the road.  The temperatures were below freezing.  We turned around and gave her a lift to the grocery store a quarter of a mile away. She needed some essentials that her group home didn’t offer.  I felt uneasy leaving here even though she assured us she wasn’t far from home.  So we left for church where we had other duties, and frankly we love joining in worship with our small, informal, fun community.  This was the Sunday many in our area struggled over the Seahawks game at 10:00 or church.  Some went to church and some stayed home to watch the game. For us this wasn’t a huge issue, although we do like to watch football sometimes, but we had made a commitment to go, so off we went thinking that was our personal test.  No, the real test was were we going to care for an elderly woman out in the sub freezing weather.  Of all people, I who am trying so hard to not be a religious person, but a loving person missed it.  Well, to be fair I got half of it, but how much better would it have been to wait for her to do her shopping and take her home.  I am grateful my prayer was answered even though it was painful to see where I still need to grow.  So I will keep praying to learn and practice the ways of Jesus and hope I do better next time.  A sweet ending to the story for us was that after we left the church building we wandered down the Ave. with our son looking for a place to eat and perhaps catch the last few minutes of the game.  Sure enough we heard hooting and hollering from a pub.  We walked in, found a spot and were able to catch the last minutes of a very exciting game, albeit disappointing for Seahawks fans.  That’s what I love about walking with Jesus: it’s grace upon grace, no condemnation, just a steep learning curve to be like Him.

Categories: Faith, Life, Love, Paths | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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