Daily Prayer :: Wind

First steps on the journey of faith and community

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January 17 — Stretch across barriers.

Today we begin the first of eleven sets of “proverbs” that Circle of Hope has collected over the years. They describe our distinctives as a church and provide everyone aspiration for who we need to be and how we need to act. The first line below is the title of the section, and describes a general distinctive. The line in italics is the proverb or conviction that describes our character as individuals in Christ who are formed into a body.

Fomenting diversity and reconciliation is at the prophetic heart of our gospel.
We are always trying to stretch across barriers: across racial/ethnic, class and cultural divides.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read Ephesians 2

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

More thoughts for meditation

We love the spirit of Paul’s teaching in Ephesians. What a visionary! He is talking about destroying barriers between people—in this case between Jews and the “gentiles” (everyone who is not a Jew), who experienced barriers of religion, ethnicity and history. He wants to see Jesus end that hostility. His vision kindles fire under our love for mutual respect, generous acceptance and peacemaking.

What we often do, however, which is popular with so much of the world, is appreciate his teaching but leave out the Savior who makes it possible. We tend to think that tolerance and diversity as ideas in themselves can be sustained without Jesus—as though the thoughts are powerful enough to change the world! But Jesus is our peace and by his redemptive death and resurrection, we can be formed into a people that actually transcends boundaries as a community. We demonstrate that kind of community in each cell, in each congregation, in our church—as well as in all the ways we directly partner across the rest of the world with many different people groups. The Holy Spirit empowers us to cross society’s boundaries through relating—living in love and working together with a common purpose. 

Suggestions for action

Pray: Create from me the new humanity. Undo hostility in and through me.

Don’t merely stretch across a barrier out of your prophetic heart and personal goodness today. Let Jesus stretch you. Let’s look around and see the divisions. Imagine what Jesus can do about it through you and through us. What is the Lord’s strategy?

Read more in A Circle of Hope, Jesus at Work among the Next Generation of the Church, chapter 10. [Amazon]

Today is Anthony of Egypt Day!

This is your first reminder of the year to visit our spiritual ancestors at our growing collection at Celebrating our Transhistorical Body. We see ourselves as part of the body of Christ: past, present and future. The memorable people from the history of our movement have much to teach us and many ways to inspire us.

The father of the resistance and restoration movement that came to be known as monasticism is with us today. Visit him at this link.

January 16 — The Way of Jesus : earthing, winding, firing, watering

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Hebrews 11:1-12:3

Let let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Some People Following Jesus — Gary Brunt

More thoughts for meditation

Being a Jesus follower is being part of a movement—a people movement following our leader: the pioneer taking us to the ultimate land of promise. Jesus began this movement and remains at the head of it. The Holy Spirit has sustained this movement throughout the ages. In every age it is this movement that has demonstrated the Father’s kingdom coming, and his will being done on earth as in heaven.

Nevertheless, throughout the history the church, people have stopped in their tracks. Church leaders have found a place that feels good and they have pronounced, “We’ve arrived.” Not good.

The first, simplest and most challenging thing Jesus ever asked is recorded in the gospels for us with just two words, “Follow Me.” It’s hard to be a follower if you believe you’ve already arrived—if you already have all the answers, or if you’ve already built a fence around your position and chosen to defend it at all costs against any encroachment. The church that has arrived is going nowhere. It is impossible for a movement to have already arrived. It is impossible to be a follower if you’ve stopped going somewhere. There is a future horizon toward which we are straining.

We are called to be fully at home in earth, wind, fire and water, starting right where we are in the moment. But since we are introduced to that grace in which we presently stand by Jesus, who we follow, we know we need to keep moving with him—into our own depths, into the world of need around us, and into the future. We are earthing, winding, firing, and watering.

Suggestions for action

In the last two weeks, you have been introduced to many basic things that keep us moving along the Way of Jesus. You were led to the Bible every day. Each day you were called to action.

It was demanding, wasn’t it? You may have been tempted to sit with it all like you were the center of the universe, receiving or rejecting input. But if you became a Jesus follower, you realized that the center comes from beyond you and you are a carrier of that power and love. You realized you need to get out and move. 

Moving to this screen each day is part of the movement. But if you are listening, you know that Jesus might take you anywhere. In the United States, we are especially tempted to see the world as something to be chosen and consumed; we are stuck with an “imperial gaze;” we settle wherever we feel like living; we think of pioneering as conquering and owning. But like our scripture says today, we are called to move after Jesus, who calls us to places we have never fully imagined.

Journal about that. Where have you inappropriately settled—in terms of your personal growth, in terms of your action? Where are you moving?

January 15 — The Way of Jesus: earth, wind, fire, water

Today’s Bible reading

Read Psalm 104

You make the winds your messengers,
    fire and flame your ministers.

You set the earth on its foundations,
    so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment

More thoughts for meditation

Like the Bible shows in today’s reading, knowing God is as simple as walking outside and experiencing the Creator, or looking inside and sensing how reality works. One of the reasons we chose the metaphor of earth, wind, fire and water to describe the movement of getting from here to there with God is because we are Bible people and the writers of the Bible are in an organic relationship with God, not involved in a disembodied assessment of a concept called “God” or “religion.” Even if you missed the Bible and the Church, you could still start with creation and the Holy Spirit behind it and end up being led to a renewed relationship with the Lord.

How has the discipline of Daily Prayer :: Wind worked for you so far? Did using your computer help you or distract you? Did you have a space where you could concentrate and pray or did you just do some thinking on the run? When you did not understand something did you investigate further or ask a friend? When you got a suggestion, did you try it?

The way of Jesus is a movement; we’ve got to move with it. Many people have called it a dance; we need to get out on the floor and feel the music with Jesus.

Suggestions for action

In the last two weeks, you have been introduced to many basic things that keep us moving along the Way of Jesus. You were led to the Bible every day, your were asked to mentalize (that’s one thing we do when we meditate—feel our thoughts and think about our feelings until we can understand our experience and experience our understanding). You received an introduction to our resources on the Way of Jesus site—and those resources will keep growing. You were given a few ways to pray and study. Each day you were called to action.

How did that work for you? It was quite a bit, wasn’t it? If you reached one post that really set something off in you, maybe that was enough! Why don’t you go back through the last two weeks of gifts for growing and see if there were one or two things that God seemed to be giving you, especially. Go through the process with the Lord again and see where it takes you.

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