If you were to ask any random person on the street about a prayer that they could recite from memory, the Lord’s Prayer would make the top five. It seems that this is a prayer that everyone, whether they attend church now, or only as a child, has committed to memory. And as is often the case when we have committed words and phrases to rote memory, we often quit reflecting on their meanings and purpose.
“Thoughts and prayers.” If ever there was a heaping up of empty phrases, these three words after every major mass shooting in this country would win the prize for most overused phrase with the most under-whelming effect. “Thoughts and prayers” mean nothing when they do not move people to affect real and lasting change.
As I pray through the Morning Prayers, I most often choose to end the prayer with the verses from Ephesians, which read, “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen..” Ephesians 3:20-21
The stark contrast between my beautiful weekend and the reality of Monday morning made me aware of how easy it is to lose the peaceful nature of those moments away from routine, and I wondered how beautiful it would be to experience those moments I experienced on the retreat in the normal routine of my life. I wondered if it would be possible to live in the mindset of the retreat in every moment.
I’ve seen books that hype the new way to experience the divine, new methods for seeking God, new ways to enter into that state of bliss that helps us to commune with God.
And these books always seem to sell well. They sell well, because the old, tried and true methods for finding God have been tried, and found not to be true.
Many of us, in the days following the riot and attack on the capitol building on January 6th of this year, have come to wonder how people who claim to know Jesus could have ended up storming the capitol with the intent of causing harm to those within its walls. Causing harm, when the Jesus they claim to follow expresses the mandate to “love your neighbor,” and “pray for your enemies.” Nowhere does Christ seem to indicate that violently beating your enemies with a flagpole is the way of love, nor even something he wants his followers to do.