Daily Prayer :: Wind

First steps on the journey of faith and community

Tag: child (page 1 of 2)

August 24 — We demonstrate the message

Jesus is best revealed incarnationally
People should be skeptical if our message does not originate from a community that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:3-13

[W]e were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

More thoughts for meditation

Don’t Christians sometimes seem like they think they can just give people information about Jesus and the information will convert them? Faith rarely comes like that. Besides, people always get the person in whatever a person says. Our words can’t help but be incarnate in us.

So unbelievers are often quick to notice if the purportedly life-changing message they are given does not seem to inform the messenger’s life, even while the message-givers are saying that everyone should conform their life to the message they are offering! The incongruity has kind of become a cliche people talk about it so much! Lots of people say, “The church is full of hypocrites!”

That stereotype of Christians did not come from nowhere. Many Christians rely on “the word” rather than being doers of the word. Meanwhile all the preachers in the Bible are incarnational. How we give the message and what we are like as people makes a big difference. The medium is the message—like God demonstrates in Jesus. Paul reminded the Thessalonians: “We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God.” He defended his message by defending his behavior!

It might seem easier to some people if God just provided people data, but God provided people a person.

If we are trying to be powerful, if we are manipulative, if we are secretly greedy, then people will be skeptical about the truth we tell—and they should be! If we tell people God is love revealed in Jesus, and then our community is not living in love, then people will be skeptical about the love of  God—and they should be!

Our individual lives and our life as a community are elemental to the message we bring—whether we like it or not.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Fill us with your truth and love — and empower us to show it, Lord.

Many Jesus followers I know are terrified to mess Jesus up by being a hypocrite. They are so critical of their imperfections that they refuse to represent Jesus! They are so critical of the church that they refuse to invite anyone, lest they see our flaws and be turned off forever! But we can’t condemn ourselves enough to get uncondemnable.

Don’t worry about whether people are skeptical today. Don’t try to be good enough to achieve an “A” grade from people who think they have the right to judge others (even judge Jesus!). Be yourself in Christ and let whatever good you have to give be made evident by the Holy Spirit.

Try being a child right now, not in charge, not complete, dependent on the good will of others—and even drawing out that good, free to ask for it. That’s a good start for being an incarnation, as Jesus showed us.

January 8: The Way of Jesus — Wind: Play like a child of God

Today’s Bible reading

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” — John 8:3-11

More thoughts for meditation

There’s something playful about “wind” – trying things out, sticking your hands, then your whole head, out the car window. What was Jesus doodling in the sand during that tense encounter with the Pharisees?

Praying with our imaginations through drawing can get us experimenting with what the Holy Spirit is saying to us and working in us. It is one way to enter the kingdom like a child.

Practice: Make a circle drawing (like a “mandala”). It is a common Christian art form, like the “rose window” From Chartres Cathedral, above.

  • Get a blank piece of paper or cardstock (5×7 or bigger)
  • Freehand or trace a circle onto it
  • Have watercolors, colored pencils, pens or pencils ready
  • Pray to acknowledge God’s presence with you, to guide you, and to open you to anything God wants to say to you or show you.
  • Sit silently for as long as you need.
  • When you’re ready, open your eyes and look at the colors before you. Notice which color you feel drawn to, and begin drawing inside the circle with that one.
  • Use as little thought as possible, and try not to sensor yourself. Go with the flow.
  • Continue to work with that color or form until it feels complete, and then work with a new color or form. Feel free to pause at any point.
  • Continue this process until your mandala feels complete.
  • When you are done, pick up your paper and look at it from all angles to determine the proper position (it may not be the orientation you drew from). Mark the top of your circle drawing with a small “t.”
  • Gaze at your drawing and give it a title – a first impression is best. Write the title and date under the mandala.
  • You can pray with your mandala by sitting with the colors, forms, and themes that emerged, or you can imagine yourself very small and pretend like you’re walking through it, talking to God about it.
  • Do it again! Praying through drawing can be especially helpful if you’re having a hard time sitting still or finding words.
  • Collect your mandalas into a visual prayer journal.

Suggestions for action

Praying with our imaginations as we study the Bible can help us make new, personal connections with Jesus in the gospels. Take today’s reading and let yourself be “in” it. Visualize yourself in the scene and feel it, hear it, smell it, feel the air – is a new wind blowing? With whom to do instantly relate? As you put yourself in everyone’s shoes: the Pharisees, the woman, Jesus, a bystander, what do you learn? Can you draw it?

December 12 — Full story

Today’s Bible reading

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. — Luke 2:15-21

More thoughts for meditation

William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), an Anglican layman, was the son of a surgeon in Bristol, England. He spent most of his life as a businessman. He penned the series of rhetorical questions in “What Child is This?” and faithfully answered them in the chorus. Dix asks us to consider the whole of the gospel message as we reflect on Christ’s birth. Often the verses of carols that reflect most deeply on this whole telling of the gospel haven’t made it into our common renditions of the songs.  The fullness of joy is in the fullness of the story.  Catch it all as you read his lyrics below.  His words were set to an English tune, “Greensleeves,” which has a long history, beginning with its first mention in 1580 as a “new northern dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves.” It later was used as a political ballad, and even got two references from Shakespeare in the “Merry Wives of Windsor.”

Here’s Andrea and Mary’s duet that swells with emotion:  

You might like listening to them sing as you read the full lyrics below (some of these they miss).

What Child Is This?

What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
Chorus: This, this is Christ, the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Chorus
Nails, spear shall pierce him through;
The cross he bore for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The babe, the Son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Chorus
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Suggestion for Action

I often marvel at Mary when we sing this carol.  Mary whose Child we worship.  She knew great sacrifice in bearing this Child. She endured humiliation and threat. She suffered labored on a donkey. She bore the anxiety of political upheaval that left her without means to protect her Child or herself and not even a bed in which to deliver him.  But she also knew the joy of giving birth to a healthy son. A Child of promise. Fear, joy, sorrow, relief, hope – all of it, altogether.  That’s how life works.  Pause now and see if God’s Spirit might be bringing something out of your fear or desiring to reveal some new joy in your life today.

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