Sabeel Wave of Prayer 5/21/15

Wave of Prayer: This prayer ministry enables local and international friends of Sabeel to pray over regional concerns on a weekly basis. Sent to Sabeel’s network of supporters, the prayer is used in services around the world and during Sabeel’s Thursday Communion service; as each community in its respective time zone lifts these concerns in prayer at noon every Thursday, this “wave of prayer” washes over the world.

abeel Wave of Prayer

May 21, 2015

Last week the Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine in a treaty between the two. This news came just days before the canonization by Pope Francis of two 19th-century Palestinian nuns, the first Palestinian saints of modern times.  Lord, we are grateful for the hope and joy their sainthood brought to the Palestinian people and for the inspiration they gave for lives dedicated to God and community work. Lord in your mercy…

Thousands of young Israelis mostly from right-wing yeshivas danced and sang throughout the Muslim Quarter of the Old City during the annual “march of the flags” on Jerusalem Day.  This march marks Israel’s seizure of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later its annexation, a move never recognized by the international community.    Lord, we pray that instead of declaring Jerusalem the capital “of the Jewish people alone” and showing domination over the indigenous Palestinian population, Israeli leaders and right-wing groups will seek peace based on true justice.  Lord in your mercy…

In the West Bank this past weekend, a photographer captured shocking images of Israeli soldiers spraying a young child with “skunk water” during the town of Kafr Qaddum’s weekly march.  Lord, we pray for the Palestinian people, especially the children, living in dangerous and inhumane conditions under Israel’s military might.  Lord in your mercy…

Lord, we pray for our programs this week, including a joint Sabeel Jerusalem-Nazareth youth educational trip in Jerusalem.  We also ask for your blessings as we plan for our November 2015Witness Trip to the Holy Land, led by Sabeel founder and father of Palestinian Liberation Theology, Rev. Naim Ateek.  Lord in your mercy…

We pray alongside the World Council of Churches for the countries of Malawi and Zambia.  Lord in your mercy…

Centering Prayer Day 2

Last evening I nearly forgot to attempt Centering Prayer again. I was ready for bed and realized I needed to put this piece in before I went to sleep.  So, I sat up on my bed and tried to find that quiet center within me.  I did find it easier, since it was dark, to begin the travel away from my daytime material world and into a deeper awareness.

But, still plans and wonderings and scenarios kept flying into my mind.
In our group on Sunday I used the images of boats row boat bowslowing coming into view as a metaphor for how our thoughts trickle in to push into our quiet time. Well, my boats don’t gently nudge in, they are just, BAMMM!, there. I don’t get much warning. Before I realize it full blown scenarios are playing out in my mind.

I decided to use a word mantra to sort of focus my attention to get past random thoughts. And what came back to me was questions about why I chose that word. What was it about that concept that I wanted, that I feared, that I harbored anxiety about.

Ok, so a word mantra didn’t work to empty my mind.

Dang it, this is hard.  It sounds so simple, just empty your mind. Seek only the presence of God. Detach from what holds us – what holds our attention, our emotions,  our biases

This morning I’ve decided to read Nan Merrill’s version of Psalm 78:1-3 and let the ancient psalmist lull me into the presence of Holiness.

“Listen well, O peoples of the earth,

to inner promptings of the Spirit;

Let Silence enter your house that

you may hear!

For within your heart Love speaks: 

not with words of deceit,

But of spiritual truths to guide you

upon the paths of peace.

Centering Prayer Day 1

Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer.

This past Sunday I began a pre-worship time of Centering Prayer at church.  I knew that I wanted it to be more experiential than a lecture or an informational Sunday School class.  I wanted to give people time to actually practice centering prayer together.

I also knew I needed to explain it a bit and prepare people to incrementally develop time of silence and stillness in order to practice this ancient and yet new again way of praying.

From the Contemplative Outreach website I began to pull together language to use in class.

Centering Prayer prepares us to receive a sacred gift.

In this prayer time we experience God’s presence, gentle as a butterfly, within us; closer than breathing; closer than thinking; closer than consciousness itself.

We detach from what holds us – what holds our attention, our emotions, our biases, so we can be open to God’s presence. “I sleep but my heart is awake.” (Song of Songs).

It is a visceral way to be in touch with the deeper yearning inside you. Cynthia Bourgeault (Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, 130).

In centering prayer, the inner observer’s job is to connect your mind’s lofty ideals with your embodiment’s actions. (Bourgeault, 131).

This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.

“The actual work of centering prayer is consenting to God’s presence and letting go of the present moment and all its content.” Thomas Keating (Intimacy with God, 26).

In the quiet of centering prayer, the consent to return to a sacred word, or your breath, or a sound, is all the activity you need.

At this point in the group (ok, it was only two of us this first week) after getting to know each other a bit and butterfly outlinelearning a little about what Centering Prayer is, we took an outline of a butterfly to trace with our finger and then focus on the image to use as a signal, when our minds strayed, to come back to center.

We ended our time together agreeing to practice Centering Prayer for 10 minutes twice a day – morning and evening. We are not necessarily expecting to get to that blissful state in the first week :0) but we are intending to practice settling in and looking for the Sacred One inside us.

So, this morning, after my morning walk (thank you for no more snow), and some yoga to release my bound up muscles, I sat on my mat in search of a quiet mind.

It was illusive.  It’s really ridiculous how many thoughts come into my mind.  I admit I AM a creative person and it seems to be on all the time! Some people tell me I have too much going on inside my head. Whatever, it’s the way I’m made.

I felt like there were moments when I was on the edge of it and then I’d think “Oh yea! I’m getting it!”  Darn… I’m not supposed to judge or think. I’m to be aware, but not analytical. So, I didn’t get it – yet.

I resolved to say to my mat “To be continued”.sitting by water in the country

Studying the Book of Daniel

In Old Testament class we were studying the book of Daniel.  What a confusing text to follow!

The book of Daniel needs some visual aids

I ended up ‘graphing’ it so I could keep things straight. I pulled out material from the closet, markers and the stapler and set to  work.




First, let’s put in the chapter numbers and show which ones are Babylonian stories as opposed to revelations.

Book of Daniel first graphic


The final product shows more detail of sources, court stories or visions, languages used and extraneous materials, like Bel and the Dragon.

Final Daniel






Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) 14

Rev. Thurman talks about two kinds of Ideals: The ultimate and far off; and the stuff of life that is not separate from what a person knows as her/his daily life.

He whispers a hope that one day the two will be, in time, one piece. “The present every-achieving ideal is seen as the nearer end of the far reaching and ultimate ideal.

What is your ultimate and far off ideal?  I envision citizens of the world working to overcome challenges through shared work that strives to achieve what is good for everyone one involved.  It may not be the best answer, because sometimes the ‘best’ remedy is the best for one set of persons but not for all.  I’d like to see a world where we can say, “this is good enough because we are all served by it”.  Rather, what I now experience is groups getting the best edge or return on investment or medical care as if to say, you don’t deserve this, or if you get some, I won’t have enough.  Rather, I’d like to see decisions made for the good of the whole.  The fictional Vulcan philosophy; the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  Thanks Gene Roddenberry for a vision of the future where we’ve overcome competition and the sense of ‘not enough’.

What is your ideal for your more immediate possibilities? hmmmm, the IDEAL… do we even consider thinking of ideals for the living of our every day lives?  I mean, an ideal is something perfect.  What would be perfect, in light of my social location, gifts, skills and sensibilities? Now, there is something to be really honest about because it calls me to a higher version of myself.  And, let’s be honest, if I set my sights on my higher self, it’s a little scarey.  I mean, what if I don’t make it?  If I set out to do something, and it turns out to be a bad idea, then I risk looking like a fool.

But, the idea that Thurman suggests, that my more immediate possibilities (made possible by trying to be my higher self) may one day dovetail to the ultimate ideals keeps me from turning tail and running from aspiring to be my best self.

Dovetail cut

Meditation of the Heart (Yaconelli) Day 9

The word for today is “passion”. Mark Yaconelli reminds us that God has made each of us to embody and reflect the light of God.  The God who knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) created each of us with a particular gift, a particular way of being and, a unique purpose that God longs for us to carry out into the world  This calling, this way of being, is our passion. It’s the place, Fredrick Beuchner defines as, “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  It’s that deep seeded desire trying to be birthed from you and which you don’t want to live without.

Yet, often we miss the opportunities to join in the sacred act of creating something with God. We think our painting is no good, or our music as mundane. We keep to ourselves rather than becoming involved in our communities where lively interactions can make a difference in the world. We cordon ourselves off from our emotions, from our desires, from the impulse to care for fear that we will be overwhelmed and lose our own identify.

Audre Lorde, in her essay, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, defines the erotic as an internal requirement toward excellence. The range of human passion (or eros) is a wide spectrum of awareness and responsiveness to our natural world which varies from enjoying the pleasure of a beautiful field of flowers to the passion that provides heroic acts or destructive hate. Deeper than gender delineation the concept of eros is the primal pulse of life. It is the personification of love in all its aspects with creative power and harmony.

The Holy Truth is that we find ourselves when we surrender to the God’s impulse.  Ah! But that’s what we fear too.

The tension mounts as we want to makes our lives and our children’s lives more rich, more meaningful, more unique and valued; yet, we bury the very sacred seed of passion, the erotic impulse, out of fear. Yet, wasn’t it this impulse to change things for the better that Jesus worked with?  Didn’t Christ use his passion to heal, to reconcile, to demand justice and provide a vision of a better way to live?

This is my prayer, to live with and for passion.  passion burning heart

Permeating Eros, Spirit that dwells in every desire and relationship,

You are the impulse of God’s love.

Take my life and let it be consecrated to a Holy Passion.

Let my will be guided by you and be no longer mine for selfish gain.

Let me not fear the power within creativity and pleasure;

Direct it to serve, to lift up and, to love beyond the boundary of my doors.

Divine inspiration, you are both food and that which is produced. 

In the created world You propel us forward into work and relationships which

In return produces the artwork of life, lived together to be savored and celebrated.

Passion mandela quote on hand

Meditation of the Heart (Yaconelli) Day 8

In his book of prayers, Mark Yaconelli brings us today to the act of contemplation.  I’ve been working with this book, Wonder, Fear, and Longing since the middle of November as part of a class at Lancaster Theological Seminary. When the semester was finished, I decided to go back to the beginning of this book of prayers to consider the entries more fully, and this time, without a class assignment.

In addition to this book, I’ve been reading The Satisfied Life, Medieval Women Mystics on Atonement by Jane Ellen McAvoy. McAvoy brings us a brief survey of several familiar and a couple not so familiar women mystics: 14-5th century Julian of Norwich, 11th c. Hildegard of Bingen, 16th c. Teresa of Avila, and others.  The manner in which these early monastics examined their lives in contemplation is impressive not only for the rigor and sometimes physical trauma – a tool within that period of the ascetic life – but for the outcome of the contemplation.  Seeing an alternative way of considering how God loves humans and delivering to the reader a new definition of a “satisfied life”.

As I interpret it, the point being that satisfaction of the rift between humans and God is not to repay God for harm done to God (as Archbishop of Canterbury Anselm posed in the 11th c), but rather; to see that our turning from God (sinning) is like turning our backs on God’s love as if we don’t deserve it. We create that rift by not seeing God’s love and not living into it. Therefore, what we need to do is live a ‘satisfied’ life, knowing that God loves us and living in ways that keep us in related awareness of that Divine love (atoned).

So, getting back to Yaconelli, contemplating our lives, as in a daily examen or some other schedule of looking at our lives and actions, is to ask what God sees in our current lives; to ask where God sees us going and doing what in our future (near and distant); and finally, to identify what is keeping us from attending to that which will draw us into a closer relationship with the Creator. Yaconelli suggests that this prayerful self-examination invites repentance, a turning from the ways in which we misdirect or misuse our lives, allowing God to heal and inspire us toward the person God created us to be. What am I called to do? Where am I called to serve? What do I need to get out of the way in order to do that? After this kind of introspection, Jesus asks in Luke 18:41: What do you want me to do for you?

“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” Julian of Norwich

“With my mouth,” God says, “I kiss my own chosen creation. I uniquely, lovingly, embrace every image I have made out of the earth’s clay. With a fiery spirit I transform it into a body to serve all the world.” Hildegard of Bingen

The embrace of the beloved
is a fusion of the fullnessembrace-rassouli
and sweetness
of all the elements of love at once
in the ultimate tenderness
and vulnerability
of the human heart,
the divinity of the soul,
suddenly flooding the mind
and the senses in a beauty
so profound it frees the spirit.

This sacred moment
gathers all the longing of a life
in a glorious sweetness felt only
in the arms of the beloved.
This is a moment from
which all life will draw its power,
for it is an eternal moment.

There is a sacred innocence
within the soul
that love surrounds,
honors, and protects,
and it is love
that chooses the moment
when the heart
touches the shores of eternity,
opening the eyes
of the heart
and awakening the soul
in the radiance of pure joy.

Painting by Rassouli
The Embrace

“Therefore this is His thirst and love-longing, to have us altogether whole in Him, to His bliss,” Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love