Daily Prayer :: Water

Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

December 4, 2020 – 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 reality — a 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, 2020 – 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 together — ourselves 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 future — the 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.

December 2, 2020 – Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

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 Amos 5

Seek good, not evil,
    that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
    just as you say he is.
Hate evil, love good;
    maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
    on the remnant of Joseph.

More thoughts for meditation

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
        The work of Christmas begins:
        To find the lost,
        To heal the broken,
        To feed the hungry,
        To release the prisoner,
        To rebuild the nations,
        To bring peace among brothers,
        To make music in the heart.

— Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations

Perhaps.

       Perhaps.

               Perhaps.

PERHAPS the Lord God will have mercy. It does feel that tenuous at times, even when we know who and how God is. God will have mercy. And how will God have it? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps through you and me. Because God is a God of mercy, and because we are God’s people — the humans he came to be humans with — the little siblings of our eldest brother, Jesus — because we can and if we will, God’s mercy may work in us.

Suggestions for action

Start with mercy for yourself. Take a moment to receive God’s mercy. Become aware of God’s unfailing love for you, soak in it for a few breaths. Now, from that vantage of mercy extend mercy outward. Stretch it over the mistakes in the past you think got you into this mess. Stretch it into the future when things don’t go as you planned. Stretch it side to side on those who fail to love you as you need. Stretch it over your neighbors with whom you know how to stand in solidarity. Stretch it again over yourself when you realize you have no idea what to do. Stretch your heart wide to receive and give the Mercy that lives with us now and forever in Jesus.

December 1, 2020 – I Will Sing a New Song

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 Habakkuk 3

I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.

More thoughts for meditation

I Will Sing a New Song

The old song of my spirit has wearied itself out.
It has long ago been learned by heart;
It repeats itself over and over,
Bringing no added joy to my days or lift to my spirit.
I will sing a new song.
I must learn the new song for the new needs.
I must fashion new words born of all the new growth
of my life– of my mind– of my spirit.
I must prepare for new melodies that have
never been mine before,
That all that is within me may lift my voice unto God.
Therefore, I shall rejoice with each new day
And delight my spirit in each fresh unfolding.
I will sing, this day, a new song unto the Lord.

— Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations

Won’t it be great when the old song of your spirit wearies itself out. Have you sung it already today? So tired. Wouldn’t you like that old song to be as wobbly legged as Habakkuk in his grief? Fannie Lou Hammer famously said “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” So she got to work. She also said, “You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.”

What are you called to get up and try today? It might not work, but that’s ok. It might also work.

Suggestions for action

If you are heavy with grief. Write a psalm of lament (Instructions here). Do not forget the turn from darkness to light that usually comes at the end. Spend as long as you need in the old song; even find new expression for your grief; but let that make way for the song of hope that comes next.

May all that is within you lift your voice unto God.
That you shall rejoice with each new day
And delight your spirit in each fresh unfolding.
You WILL sing, this day, or someday soon, a new song unto the Lord

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