Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Morning prayer late in advent

To be read in a minor key.

Lord God, I welcome you. “Your statutes have been like songs to me wherever I have lived as a stranger.” Psalm 119:54 

Yes, Lord, Your Word, Your ways, are the constants in the far-flung places I have found myself. Since I was a babe, I have found myself a nomad, always the stranger. That sits heavy on me today, as it sometimes does. Yet wherever I have lived, You have gone before and have pitched your nomad-tent there with me. This morning, with some ache, I recall pieces of that, and release to You in confession and repentance, all the pieces my hands can grasp of that chip on my shoulder.
Sometimes we pray from the low place, eh?
My prayer’s refrain from Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” 

Here in the stillness these words abide, repeat, and draw me deeper into Your pure presence. Later, as this late-Advent day rolls out, as I roll into its opportunities, choices, and doings, may my soul be a container that carries this inner stillness into this corner of the world. May this desire form my pace and my rhythm, and reach out to brush the souls of those whose paths I cross.

Psalm 61:1-5:

Hear my cry, O God, and listen to my prayer.

I call upon you from the ends of the earth with heaviness in my heart;

Indeed there is heaviness. The solitariness of our walk with You in this beautiful place during this Advent season; the ache for a warring region and the refugees that flow through here on their way to Hope; for those who dwell here always and who suffer the darkness of brokenness in all its forms; for those far-flung dear ones who suffer this day. I cry lament: “How long, O Lord?”  Yet again, “O Lord, wouldn’t now be a good time for You to come?”

set me upon the rock that is higher than I.

…the rock that is Jesus Christ, the Rock of perspective and power infinitely higher than mine.

For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Ah, yes. The enemy. How prone I am to forget, to believe the lies. That repeated lie that I am simply too weary to do those life-giving acts of writing, exercise, gardening and challenging reading: again today, remind me that there is a Person to run to, a way of escape from the cave of sloth.
I am aware these days that when we pray we join in the prayer of that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. High privilege!

I will dwell in Your house forever; I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
For You, O God, have heard my vows;

By these words I am stricken. Stricken, broken, startled yet again by my poverty. Stricken with awe, too, by the beauty, the shekinah brilliance: You, O God, have heard my vows. Including those I break; those I make again, and again break. In Your mercy, You hear the vows, and in them, and also in the breaking of them, You hear my heart-cry all mired in human frailty, to know You, to dwell with You, to learn to love You well.

You have granted me the heritage of those who fear your name. 

St Nicolas Day is celebrated December 6th. He was bishop at Myra and a signer of the Nicene Creed. And, of course, the man on which the St. Nick myth is based. On that day we visited the basilica ruin that still stands at Myra, 40 km up the coast from us. Curt took this as I watched and prayed there.

Of late my daily prayer has been informed by The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime, compiled by Phyllis Tickle and derived from the Book of Common Prayer.

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