Learn Your Lessons

Gimel
Be good to your servant while I live,
that I may obey your word.

Daleth
I am laid low in the dust;
preserve my life according to your word.

– Psalm 119:17, 25 (NIV)

Through my earbuds plays the wisdom of Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” about setting boundaries after a bad relationship: “One: Don’t pick up the phone… Two: Don’t let him in… Three: Don’t be his friend…”

One, two, three.

The psalmist prays in an acrostic format, with one letter of the Hebrew alphabet beginning each stanza’s lines: Aleph, Bet, Gimmel, Dalet.

A, B, C.

Given the complexities of the world, given the complexities of our lives, given the complexities of faith as we mature and ask hard questions and wrestle with God: it’s no wonder that sometimes we need simple tools and elementary lessons to keep us grounded.

One, two, three. A, B, C.

In Sunday School when I was a child, the foundational lessons were built into our songs: “One, two, three. Jesus loves me! One, two. Jesus loves you!”

In the days of memorized catechism, it was a series of questions and answers: “What is your only comfort in life and in death? What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?” (à la the Heidelberg Catechism)

In Psalm 119, twenty-two letters shape the psalmist’s prayer, but it can also be a string of beads or the fingers of a hand or the hours of the day that help us pray. It can be the simplicity of a rhyme or the faithfulness of a sunset that teaches us of God’s love. It can be an earworm or an alphabet that keeps us honest about our relationships with God and with one another.

So long as we learn the lesson. So long as we keep returning to it, by whatever simple tools we find most useful for the living of these complex days.

A: All that I am is yours, O God.
B: Be present with those who suffer, O Christ.
C: Call us beyond our egos and out into the work of love, O Spirit.

written for the UCC Daily Devotional

Whirlwinds

Through the chaos,
O Eternal God,
grant us a vision.

In the midst of trouble,
O Merciful God,
grant us a clear path.

Before the cup of sorrows,
O Faithful God,
grant us a portion of joy.

Until the idolatry of power ends,
O Jealous God,
grant us a spirit of generosity.

From the world’s easy comforts,
O Demanding God,
grant us a desire for your freedom.

Amen.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Wilderness

We long for your voice
like a deer longs for water,
but no, Lord — do not put your voice
in our ears and our hearts, for it might
split us open and rend us from
the comforts and assumptions
with which we have clothed faith.

We long for your presence
like a ship longs for the shore,
but no, Spirit — do not be an anchor
to our wandering spirits, for you might
disrupt our restless living with the call
to faithfulness; we would
rather battle the storms.

We long for your help
like an eagle longs for the wind,
but no, Mercy — do not lift us up
with story and song, for we prefer reason
to imagination and your provocation
might shatter the certainty
by which we cling to you.

cross-posted with RevGalBlogPals

Trinity Sunday Prayer

When you pray, say:

Our Creator,
our Justification,
our Advocate in heaven —

hallowed be thy Name,
thy Body,
thy Presence.

Your Realm come,
your Imagination fulfill,
your Peace arrive
in all ways & all places.

Be our Bread,
our Breath,
and our Beckoning.

Jealous One,
forgive our self worship.
Just One,
save us from abuses of power.
Joyful One,
restore us to participation.

For yours is the Delight,
the Authority, and
the Relationship
now and always.

Amen.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Pentecost

Holy Spirit, Wild Wind,
on this day of Pentecost
we are gathered.

We are alternately
full of fire and fizzling,
courageous and tentative,
gifted by dreams and haunted by worries.

In other words,
this holy day finds us to be
still wholly human.

Will you fill us up?
Will you awe our hearts
so that we too might understand
your word & work of power in the world?

Will you declare the assurance
that our souls long to hear,
the peace that all your children need,
the renewal that is creation’s hope?

Let it be so,
and we who aspire to be fire
would settle for being your kindling
in this world that needs love.

Let it be so,
and we who dream of flying
would settle for bending in your breeze
like flowers dancing their praises
in a world that needs whimsy.

We ask in wonder.
We pray in astonishment.
We wait for heaven to come among us
like a rush of roaring wind, like a flame
that ignites without ceasing.

Amen.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals