Good morning. It is Sunday, September 6, 2015. Welcome to the Weekend Edition!
Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is haver. This verb means, “To talk foolishly or inconsequentially; to talk nonsense; to blather, ramble; to chatter, gossip. Freq. with on, about.” It can also mean, “To behave indecisively or hesitantly; to vacillate between opinions or courses of action; to waver, dither.” I like this word, and this definition helps me understand this song a little better.
Today is Read A Book Day. Yes, please. I will certainly make sure to do that, at some point, today. And, since it is also Fight Procrastination Day, what better way to fight procrastination than to read that book you’ve been wanting to read? I’m currently reading The Devil in the White City, an historical narrative of events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, written by Erik Larson.
Yesterday was a very busy Saturday, at work. So busy that I reached my Fitbit step goal by 11:00 AM! That never happens! But, thanks to the help of a couple of associates, we got finished by noon, and got out of there. I rested for a while at home, then went up to church for our prayer gathering and worship gathering. It was a good evening, but bittersweet, as we prayed for comfort and peace for a friend whose father passed away Thursday night/Friday morning. Christi and I will likely be taking some food over to them, sometime today.
We also prayed for another friend, whose father’s house burned to the ground Thursday night. This is a long story, but the house was supposed to be empty. Our friend’s father passed a couple years ago, and no one was supposed to be living in the house. However, his brothers had been using the house, and one of them was there when the house burned, and suffered terrible burning on his body, as well. Initial reports say that a generator, being used for power, since there were no utilities, caused the fire. Anyway, our friend is having to try to get everything cleaned up. The sad part of all of this is that he had just been to court on Monday to get all of the legal stuff worked out so the house could be declared in his name. It’s quite a mess.
After church, we came home and just relaxed for a couple of hours. We finished watching an episode of Masterchef that we had started earlier in the day, and then started watching a movie we had recorded, called August: Osage County. I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to finish it. Meryl Streep’s character is too much like my mother-in-law. Way too much.
Today, we have several things to do. As stated earlier, we will probably take some food over to our friend’s house and maybe visit with them for a bit. We will touch base with the family of the guy dealing with the burned house, to see if they need anything. Our pool water decided to turn green during the last week, so we’ve got to see what’s going on, there, and fix that. Fortunately, tomorrow is a holiday, being Labor Day in the U.S. At this point, we have no plans at all, so it’s wide open.
On this date in 1522, the Victoria the last surviving ship of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition, returned to Spain, becoming the first ship to circumnavigate the world. On this date in 1620, the Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth, England, on the Mayflower, to settle in North America. Exactly eight years later, in 1628, they settled Salem, which would later become part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. On this date in 1847, Henry David Thoreau left Walden Pond and moved in with Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Concord Massachusetts. On this date in 1901, Leon Czolgosz shot and fatally wounded President William McKinley. On this date in 1972, the Munich Massacre occurred at the Olympic Games, when 9 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and killed by a Palestinian terrorist group. On this date in 1995, Cal Ripken, Jr. played in his 2131st consecutive baseball game, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record, which had stood for 56 years. He would go on to play in one more, making the current record 2132. Ripken would be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Today’s birthdays include Jane Addams (American social worker and recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize), Max Schrek (German actor, Nosferatu), Jimmy Reed (American blues singer), Jo Anne Worley (American actress), David Allan Coe (American country singer), Roger Waters (British musician, Pink Floyd), Swoosie Kurtz (American actress), Larry Lucchino (American baseball executive, Boston Red Sox), Jane Curtin (American actress), Anne Lockhart (American actress), Michael Winslow (American actor), Jeff Foxworthy (American comedian), Alice Sebold (American novelist), Macy Gray (American singer/songwriter), Dolores O’Riordan (Irish musician, The Cranberries), China Mieville (English writer), Nina Persson (Swedish musician, The Cardigans), and Sarah Danielle Madison (american actress).
Dolores O’Riordan was born on this date in 1971, and is the lead singer for the Irish group, The Cranberries. She turns 44 today. Here is their song, Zombie.
William Tyndale, Ernest Tubb, Tom Fogerty, Nicky Hopkins, Luciano Pavarotti, and Madeleine L’Engle are among notable deaths on this date.
Today’s Psalm, from Heart Aflame, is Psalm 102:103-15.
You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust.
Nations will fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
“That the faithful might not sink into despondency, through the long continuance of their calamities, they needed to be supported by the hope that an end to their captivity had been appointed by God, and that it would not extend beyond seventy years. . . . And surely if, in our prayers, we do not continually remember the Divine promises, we only cast forth our desires into the air like smoke.” (p 250)
(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.]
I’m sure you’ve noticed that this is the only time I have included the “ascription” at the end of the prayer. As is commonly noted, the last phrase is not in the oldest manuscripts of Matthew’s gospel. Augustine does not mention it, and neither does Luther. However, Calvin includes it in his treatise, saying, “it is so appropriate to this place that it ought not to be omitted.”
Tim Keller says, “After descending into our needs, troubles, and limitations, we return to the truth of God’s complete sufficiency.” I don’t know when it was added to the text, or who added it, but someone obviously felt the need to put it in there. And who knows . . . perhaps Jesus really did say those words. It certainly is not out of place, as Calvin noted. Even to this day, I feel like I’ve left something out when I stop at “deliver us from evil.” With the last phrase, we can end by remembering that “nothing can ever snatch away the kingdom, power, and glory from our heavenly, loving Father.
We have reached the end of the section treating the Lord’s Prayer. Calvin tells us that this prayer does not bind us to rote recitation of words. Rather we should find ourselves imitating “its content and basic pattern.” Even Luke did not write this down using the same words as Matthew. When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4) Keller says, “The Lord’s Prayer is a summary of all other prayers, providing essential guidance on emphasis and topics, on purpose and even spirit.” Our words might be completely different, but the sense should remain intact.
Yet, there is something much more important for us to realize, as we finish looking at this prayer. This is something that continues to impress itself upon me, the more I study and learn about both God and prayer. And that is that “the Lord’s Prayer was given to us in plural form. We ask God to give us what we need.” John Calvin truly believed that our private prayers should be shaped by our corporate worship.
We should not think of prayer as purely private. “As much as we can, we should pray with others both formally in gathered worship and informally.” The reason has to do with how much better we can know someone in community.
For an explanation of this, we look to C.S. Lewis, who argued that “it takes a community of people to get to know an individual person.” Many are familiar with the fact that Lewis frequently met with J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and many others. Lewis observed that “some aspects of his friend’s personality were brought out only through interaction with a second friend.” If you think about this, you might realize that a person you know might act slightly differently when alone with you or when with a larger group. Lewis said, “By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.”
If we apply this concept to prayer, and to Christ, “By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.” We really need to simply stop and ponder that truth for a bit, for it is rather staggering. Also, consider the angels in Isaiah 6. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (verse 3, emphasis mine) The Angels were crying out to one another! Says Keller, “Each angel is communicating to all the rest the part of the glory it sees.”
Finally, we must consider the communal nature of the Godhead. Our God is three in one, Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are in constant communication with each other. Knowing this, it should encourage us, all the more, to “pray and praise together.” As C.S. Lewis says, “the more we share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.”
Father, I am somewhat overwhelmed, at the moment, by this revelation of the importance of community in prayer. Perhaps I skimmed over this part during my first reading of the book. Perhaps it stood out, but I quickly forgot it. Either way, it seems brand new to me, this morning. You have long been increasing my knowledge of the importance of community. That, combined with our pastor’s emphasis on The Supper, has served to make that particular part of each week’s worship gatherings one of the most special parts of my week. But this idea of the importance of praying together . . . we do that, each week. A small group of us gather before our worship gathering to pray for each other, along with other topics. But how often do we physically listen to each other’s prayers? What can we learn from each other about you? I pray that you lead me in this, that I might learn more about you from my interaction with other believers.
I pray for this day, Father. Our hearts are heavy as we pray for R.J. and his family, in the loss of his father. My heart, especially, is heavy with him, as I have known this loss, recently. I will not dare to compare my grief to his, as we all experience things differently. I will simply share in his grief. May we be available to help them as needed. I pray that you will be comfort and peace to his family.
Our hearts are also heavy as our brother Brandon deals with this recent disaster involving his father’s house. I pray for your strength for him and his family, along with everyone who is helping with the cleanup process. Give Brandon and Kristin wisdom as they suss out how to deal with the legal and financial implications. May we also be available to help them, however we can.
May we also find time to rest well, during this holiday weekend.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Community is crucial to the believer, even in, and especially in, the matter of prayer. May we learn from and support each other in this community of faith that we call the Church.
Grace and peace, friends.