Daily Prayer :: Water

Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

September 22, 2020 – Empathetic Solidarity

This week, we are drawing upon Drew Hart’s new book “Who Will Be A Witness?” From the back of the book, “At a time when many feel disillusioned and distressed, Hart calls the church to action, offering a way forward that is deeply rooted in the life and witness of Jesus.” Hart is a public theologian and professor at Messiah University.

Today’s Bible Reading

Read Luke 19:41-44

“If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”—Luke 19:42

More thoughts for meditation

“The temptation for those who want to justify violence is to spiritualize or avoid Jesus’ radical message so that it has no earthly demand on our lives. On the other hand, the temptation of principled and doctrinal pacifists is to apathetically condemn oppressed people’s revolutionary methods form the sidelines of comfort. The distance from the oppressed, the condemnation of the oppressed, and the apathy to the lived social conditions of the oppressed are all out of alignment with the way of Jesus. That is not participating in God’s choosing of the vulnerable, weak, and oppressed of our world as sites of divine vocation and deliverance (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). Only when we empathize with every Barabbas in our midst through actual joining of life, sharing intimately in suffering, and taking up our cross in the struggle for God’s dream of a new reign can we grasp the things that make for peace that Jesus calls us to live.

The things that make for peace will never be found on the sidelines, and they won’t be found through condemning how others deal with oppression that does not affect you, but they do demand empathetic solidarity and liberative struggle that intimately joins people living on the underside of the empire. There we find both Barabbas and Jesus caught in the whirlwinds of the establishment and under the punitive control of the empire. Moreover, each desires liberation and ultimate shalom” (Hart, Drew, “Who Will be A Witness,” Harold Press: 2020, p. 91).

Hart says that Barabbas, the infamous criminal that Jesus replaces on the cross, is an insurrectionist, like Jesus, but with a different strategy. Hart brings to the two closer than most interpreters do—most of them showing Barabbas as a brute. But Hart showcases that they share in the same struggle, but approach in a unique way. Jesus’ peace results in liberation. It “includes empathetic solidarity that intimacy joins the oppressed and vulnerable people in liberative struggle against hat which comes to steal, kill, and destroy life” (p. 93)

Suggestions for action

“The things that make for peace include the practice of empathetic solidarity that intimately join the crucified of the world through presence” (p. 93).

In contrast to many peacemakers, Hart insists on solidarity with the oppressed, with the Barabbases of the world, empathy toward even their violent methodology because we share the same desire. Perhaps today we can pray for empathy with the oppressed, and instead of judging their actions, we see them and join them, and realize in many cases, we are them.

September 21, 2020 – Strategic Prophetic Disruption

This week, we are drawing upon Drew Hart’s new book “Who Will Be A Witness?” From the back of the book, “At a time when many feel disillusioned and distressed, Hart calls the church to action, offering a way forward that is deeply rooted in the life and witness of Jesus.” Hart is a public theologian and professor at Messiah University.

Today’s Bible Reading

Read Mark 11:12-19

“And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.”—Mark 11:15

More thoughts for meditation

“Jesus engages in a strategic prophetic disruption of the temple. The evil practices are unveiled for what they are, and Jesus brings God’s judgment. For the moment, all business as usual is halted through Jesus’ prophetic disruption. The Jerusalem elite certainly would have thought that Jesus’ behavior was irresponsible and uncivil. In general, when the status quo is working for one’s favor they are inclined to think that disrupting the central institutions of society is always inappropriate and ‘disrespectful.’ The intensity with which Jesus damages property and intervenes to disrupt the commercial flow of money would have been described as outrageous and criminal by the authorities. This strategic prophetic disruption by Jesus has three targets. Jesus disrupted the temple overall, shutting down the flow of currency which turned the ‘house of prayer’ into an exploitative marketplace. But even more targeted, his disruption overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves” (Hart, Drew, “Who Will be A Witness,” Harold Press: 2020, p. 63-64).

Hart argues that Jesus engaged in a strategic disruption to alter the exploitative practices of the Temple. The Temple officials were converting Roman currency, which they saw as unclean, to Jewish/Tyrian currency. The reason they were doing this was so that the subjects could purchase an animal fit for a sacrifice. There were two opportunities for exploitation here: in the exchange rate and in the sale of the animal. Jesus saw this for what it was: a way to exploit the poor, and he disrupted it.

Hart concludes that we are to follow this prophetic disruptive witness and trust that God will deliver us. “Despite it looking as if things will never change, do not lose hope,” he writes. “Bet on God’s delivering by joining the Messiah’s revolutionary movement” (p. 69).

Suggestions for action

Feel the confidence today to speak powerfully and prophetically in the face of evil, not because you are confident in your words and actions, but because God has already delivered us and will deliver us. “Turn your eyes toward our messiah and say ‘Hosanna! Hosanna!’

Today is Henri Nouwen Day! He has taught us a lot about living a deep but practical Christian life. Meet him at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

 

September 20, 2020 – The Sound of Sunlight

This week we are with the poetry of Todd Davis, a contemporary poet from the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Today’s Bible reading

Read Isaiah 9:1-7

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned. (verse 2)

More thoughts for meditation

The Sound of Sunlight

On the far side
of the canyon
light
is burning
through two
draws
like water 
rushing
into an empty
riverbed.

A canyon wren
opens
her mouth
and a coyote
stops
midtrail
before vanishing
among juniper.

As we descend
the eastern wall
we look
down
onto 
ponderosa
pine
and witness
the shadow 
of a merlin
chase 
the merlin
itself.

Behind us
in the meadow
where we lay
last night
the squall
of an elk
picks up
the sound
of sunlight
and joins it
in a flood
of bugling.

— from In The Kingdom of the Ditch by Todd Davis (2013)

Merlins are not just wizards. They are a small species of falcon. Something about the shadow of the merlin chasing the merlin itself, and the elk so overjoyed to greet the dawn made my heart leap in anticipation of what lies in the light of tomorrow’s dawn. Is there something more or deeper than optimism in the bugle and the pines? 

We are witnesses to sunlight, and it casts shadows. But they are behind us every morning when we face the sun and sing. 

Suggestions for action

Pray: Jesus, in the warmth of your light may we wake to the possibility in each day. May the joy of daylight be simple and strong  and may it make each of us strong. May it make me strong.

Some uncles and aunts, and grandpas and grandmas I know always answer “How are you?” with “I woke up this morning. Praise God!” What if that was more or deeper than a cliché today?

 

September 19, 2020 – Veil

This week we are with the poetry of Todd Davis, a contemporary poet from the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Today’s Bible reading

Read Job 36:22-37:24

[The LORD] draws up the drops of water,
    which distill as rain to the streams;
 the clouds pour down their moisture
    and abundant showers fall on humankind. (36:27-28)

More thoughts for meditation

Veil

In the low place between mountains
fog settles with the dark of evening.
Every year it takes some of those
we love–a car full of teenagers
on the way home from a dance, or 
a father on his way to to the paper mill,
nightshift the only opening.
Each morning, up on the ridge,
the sun lifts this veil, sees what night
has accomplished. The water on our window-
screens disappears slowly, gradually,
like grief. The heat of day carries water
from the river back up into the sky,
and where the fog is heaviest and stays
longest, you’ll see the lines it leaves
on trees, the flowers that grow
the fullest.

— from The Least of These by Todd Davis 2010

Fecundity fe·cun·di·ty /feˈkəndədē,fiˈkəndədē/ : the ability to produce an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertility.

In the natural world fecundity comes with death. The most prodigious generators of life expect the most death. One strategy for life it seems is death. What a wonder that Jesus took this way as well!

Suggestions for action

Is it raining today? Was there dew this morning? How disappeared is the water on your window screen? Where is the water collecting, trickling, fogging flowing and floating away? Can this cycle speak through this poem to expand your sense of life’s abundance? There’s a no-matter-what-ness that your faith might need, and can have. 

Listen to our friend Greg Jehanian’s song “It’s Alright

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