Daily Prayer :: Wind

First steps on the journey of faith and community

December 5 – The Season of Promise

Light your candle every time you pray in Advent. You may need to get more candles. That would be great. This common practice will unite us in the darkening days. Shine your light on social media using  #HowWeHope as often as you need to feel the connection. You are not alone. The Lord is near. We are near.

Today’s Bible reading

Read Psalm 6

I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping
    and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
    they fail because of all my foes.

More thoughts for meditation

This is the Season of Promise

Let the bells be silenced
Let the gifts be stillborn
Let the cheer be muted
Let the music be soundless
       Violence stalks the land:
       Soaring above the city of the dying
       Rising above the whimper of the starving
       Floating above the flying machines of death
Listen to the long stillness:
New life is stirring
New dreams are on the wing
New hopes are being readied:
       [Hu]mankind is fashioning a new heart
       [Hu]mankind is forging a new mind
       God is at work.

This is the Season of Promise.

— Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations

Distraction is an easy substitute for hope. In the discomfort of grief and anger, distraction is very tempting. Sometimes distraction is necessary, but lament is rarely called for by anything but your heart. Distraction is pedaled and applauded by almost all. Lament is only lauded by alternative communities who know it’s power. Our ancestors in faith show us the power of lament all throughout the Bible. Let us listen to the long stillness. In the silenced, stillborn, muted, soundless darkness of Advent newer hope starts stirring in hearts and minds being made new.

Suggestions for action

Join us today for The Lamentations of Right Now if you are reading this early enough and available at 8:30 am. Details for the Zoom call at circleofhope.net/advent

Write your own Psalm of Lament like Psalm 6.

A psalm of lament is one way the ancients practiced being present in a world where oppression and violence reigned. Writing our own psalm of lament can help us name the reality of suffering but help us get to the deeper reality of our hope. 

There is no right way to do this. None of it is wrong. Prayer is prayer. God hears it all and receives it all. God is big enough to hold our lament, our emotions and the conflicts we feel in ourselves. God is not conflicted or bound in our conflicts.  

In the Psalms, prayers of lament often have 5 parts:

  1. Address: Naming God as the addressee
  2. Complaint: Describing the experience of suffering (how it feels and less about exactly what happened). Sometimes God is blamed for the suffering. This doesn’t necessarily prevent the psalmist from also asking God to deliver from the suffering.
  3. Request: Petitioning God to deliver the Psalmist from suffering and/or enemies
  4. Remembering God’s Faithfulness: Remembering how God has been faithful in the past and expressing trust that God will act/is acting on “my” behalf.
  5. Vow of Praise: Vowing to offer praise and sacrifice to God when deliverance is accomplished (usually future tense, something that is not yet complete, pointing toward something not yet accomplished)

December 4 – Life Seems Unaware

Light your candle every time you pray in Advent. You may need to get more candles. That would be great. This common practice will unite us in the darkening days. Shine your light on social media using  #HowWeHope as often as you need to feel the connection. You are not alone. The Lord is near. We are near.

Today’s Bible reading

Read Isaiah 1

Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
    I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
    I am not listening.

Your hands are full of blood!

More thoughts for meditation

Life Seems Unaware

Once again the smell of death rides on the winds
       And fear lurks within the shadows of the mind.
One by one the moments tick away.
      Days and nights are interludes
Between despairing hope and groping faith.
      Of this bleak desolation, Life seems unaware:
Seeds still die and live again in answer to their kind;
      Fledgling birds awake to life from prison house of shell;
Flowers bloom and blossoms fall as harbingers of fruit to come;
      The newborn child comes even on the wings of death;
The thoughts of men are blanketed by dreams
      Of tranquil days and peaceful years,
When love unfettered will keep the heart and mind
      In ways of life that crown our days with light.

— Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations

Christmas could be an escape from realitya detestable New Moon feast. Twinkly lights and jolliness might be a nice paper bridge stretched over the dark valley of the year. The early Christmas lights that went up two or even three weeks ago are a testament to that desire, perhaps, but they do not have to be. When held in tension with the actual darkness, the wearisome burdens of this life, and our full understanding of this world of woe, the early Christmas lights are the waking “dreams of tranquil days and peaceful years, when love unfettered will keep the heart and mind in ways of life that crown our days [and even our nights] with light.”

Suggestions for action

Shine some light on the darkness of 2020. Do not ignore whatever death you smell, or whatever lurking fear resides in the shadows of your mind. Make sure that your Christmas lights (even the metaphorical ones if you do not have any) are not a burden to the One to whom we spread our hands in pray. You can be sure they are not by simple honesty about what is. That is shining light on the darkness. Redeem the New Moon feast with truth, light, faith and justice. Do right by the year by calling it what it is and calling out for more. Then you are Isaiah. Then you are Howard Thurman. Strangely, by being aware, we embrace the power of Life that courses on despite our sorrow. 

Plan to join us for the Lamentations of Right Now tomorrow morning, December 5 at 8:30 am on Zoom. This is a time for communal lament, because we are finding that lament is #HowWeHope.
Details at circleofhope.net/advent

December 3 – Open to All of It

Light your candle every time you pray in Advent. You may need to get more candles. That would be great. This common practice will unite us in the darkening days. Shine your light on social media using  #HowWeHope as often as you need to feel the connection. You are not alone. The Lord is near. We are near.

Today’s Bible reading

Read Lamentations 3

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

More thoughts for meditation

Christmas Is Yesterday:

The memories of childhood,
The miracle of Santa Claus,
The singing of carols —
The glow of being remembered.

Christmas Is Today:

The presence of absent ones,
The reminder of the generous act,
The need to love —
The need to be loved.

Christmas Is Tomorrow:

The miracle of faith,
The fulfillment of ancient hopes,
The reign of God —
The dying of Death in the land.
Christmas is yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

— Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations

“My soul is downcast within me, yet this I call to mind.” The power of remembering is strong this time of year. It is fitting that Christmas is so much about children in North American culture. We remember the child who was born in the stable. We remember the child who was born in the hospital. We see the babies togetherourselves and Jesus together in the nursery of the past. Receive this association as a gift that the prevailing cultural myths have to offer.

If we are closed off to the difficult memories we are also closed off to the beautiful ones, too. There are parts of your life that are likely completely closed off. How you are living through this difficult moment will likely shape your future memories. This is not to say that the difficulty is all in our minds. We need more than an attitude adjustment. But being open to what is happening now, will shape us longer than what is happening now. With Jesus with us, we are welcome to call to mind all the things in our past, present and futurethe downcast days and the trusting nights, the dawns of hope and the nights of despair. Be open to them all in trust that you will not be consumed. The Lord’s love is very great.

Suggestions for action

A breath prayer for today:
Inhale: The Lord is my portion
Exhale: Therefore I will wait for him


Wait for Jesus through whatever difficulty you face. Your life and the life of your neighbors have plenty of difficulty to wait through. The life of the world has much more. The dying of Death in the land has occurred in Christ’s sacrifice. Be open to the lower case “d” death you can see. Pray for hopeless situations. Experience your need to be loved and own your power to love. Hold your candle and hold the tension with it.

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