Forgiveness

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Prayer Tip:

This week in the GPS guide we will look at what Jesus taught about forgiveness through several parables.  Who do you think is the hardest person of all to forgive?  The person who hurts our feelings? The person who hurts us physically, or makes our life more difficult?  I believe the person who is hardest to forgive with our whole hearts is our self.  When we pray “forgive us our trespasses,” we need to remember that God does forgive them, and we should too.  Sometimes that is the hardest forgiveness of all.

This Prayer in Brokenness, from Celtic Daily Prayer (©2002 Northumbria Community Trust), is a good one to bring our need for forgiveness and a new start to God, and also for accepting the need to forgive ourselves:

O God,
I cannot undo the past,
or make it never have happened!
– neither can You. There are some things
that are not possible even for You
– but not many!
I ask you,
humbly,
and from the bottom of my heart:
Please, God
would You write straight
with my crooked lines?
Out of the serious mistakes of my life
will You make something beautiful for You?
Teach me to live at peace with You,
to make peace with others
and even myself.
Give me fresh vision. Let me
experience Your love so deeply
that I am free to
face the future with a steady eye,
forgiven,
and strong in hope.
AMEN

– Jennifer Creagar, Resurrection Prayer Ministry

The Relentless Love of God

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A couple of years ago, my husband Scott and I took a trip to a dude ranch in a very small town called French Broad River, Tennessee. First we had a lesson on how to ride inside a corral, then we went on an easy trail ride, then a more advanced trail ride, and then having proven our wrangler abilities, we were allowed to go on a cattle drive.

The cattle graze in a field until there is no more grass to eat. The goal of the cattle drive is to move the entire herd to another field so they can keep eating.  Scott and I, along with the cattle’s owner, boxed in the cattle with our horses and began to move them to the next pasture.

A few of the cattle would wander away when I wasn’t watching them, so I’d ride over as fast as I could, get behind the cow and try to coerce it to rejoin the herd. This kept happeniing with several of the cattle until they had me coming and going so much that I didn’t see a couple of them slip away into the woods. I thought I was doing a great job driving them on to the next field, yet I didn’t miss them when they became lost.
But not the owner! He was sincerely concerned for every last cow. I knew this was especially true because he told me that each and every cow was a pet to him. They were never to be sold to the butcher—he himself was a vegetarian.

This ranch owner cared so much for each animal’s well being that he instantly noticed which one was missing out of the large herd, and immediately called for help. Another wrangler arrived on horseback, and so did his wife in the pickup truck. They came with great speed and urgency until the lost cows were driven back down into the road, and then the pickup chased them until they were safely inside the gate out of harm’s way.

The rancher loves those cows because of who he is, not because of who the cows are. Did he love them because they repented and asked for forgiveness for continually trying to wander away? Of course not! He loves and protects them because it is part of his nature to do so.

And that is also God’s nature. God loves us, even when we are lost, because of who God is, not because of who we are. This week let us lift up prayers of gratitude for who God is: a loving, forgiving, grace-offering, no-strings-attached God.

– Pastor Nancy Pauls, Resurrection Prayer Ministry

Making Life Count

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It’s really, truly, finally Spring. As I write this, thunderstorms are approaching, and you can smell the rain in the air. This time of year, I love to take my prayer time out of doors to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, and spend time praising God for it all. The change of scenery from indoor prayer spaces to outdoors can also bring a fresh perspective to your time and conversation with God.

Do you have outdoor spaces where you like to pray? If you have time, and like to create with plants and plantings, you might want to try and create a sacred space in your yard using things you find beautiful and that make you feel peaceful and prayerful. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Or take advantage of the wonderful parks, walking trails, gardens, fountains and other nature-filled spots we are so lucky to find in our community. If you walk regularly, designate a quiet place on your walk to stop and pray.

Another wonderful opportunity to combine prayer and nature is coming up on April 28 at Camp Timberlake in Stilwell. The Prayer Ministry is offering a day of Prayer in Nature. The retreat begins with continental breakfast and worship, followed by a guided, interactive prayer practice called Lectio Divina. This practice, which means divine reading, is a powerful way to pray the scriptures and listen to the voice of God. The retreat includes personal time to reflect on your prayer experience as you walk one of the many trails of Camp Timberlake, or choose to stay close by the lodge and experience the labyrinth walk. After enjoying a box lunch and fellowship, attend your choice of two breakout sessions. The day concludes with a Taize service, a worship experience of prayer and singing. Registration is limited, so please register ASAP at:  www.cor.org/prayerretreat.

Edward Hays, in Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim, gives us this Psalm for Spring:

Green is your color, O God
the green of new life
that lovingly transfigures earth’s dreariness,
long held prisoner
by the icy web of winter’s cold
Green up my heart with hope,
in your perpetual promise of life.
Send forth from my soul
new shoots, fresh buds
eager to grow in your divine image.

-Jennifer Creagar, Resurrection Prayer Ministry

The Wonder of Resurrection – Happy Easter!

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Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen Indeed!

We wake up this morning to the empty tomb of Jesus. We wake up to the greatest lesson of the Christian faith: that God forces goodness, purpose and beauty out of evil, sin and death.

Last spring a violent hailstorm caused over $25,000.00 of damage to my home. The insurance adjustor assessed its value, and over the course of the summer the house was repaired little by little. The hailstorm also badly damaged my lilac bushes. There were no fragrant flowers last spring, no sweet smelling blossoms. The summer went by and early one September morning, I stepped outside and noticed small clusters of lilac blossoms covering the whole bush. In all my years, I had never seen a lilac bush bloom in the fall. To me it was a sign of resurrection, a lesson right outside my front door that God forces beauty out of death. The insurance adjustor placed no value on the lilacs, but God did.

Prayer can be much more than saying prayers at set times. Prayer is waking up to the presence of God and to the wonder of resurrection no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Happy Easter!

–Nancy Pauls,  Pastor of Prayer

Prayer Tip: April 1, 2012

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This week, as a community of faith, we move into Holy Week together. We journey with one another through the ups and downs of the week and meet at the foot of the cross on Good Friday, as together we remember the suffering and passion of Jesus.

This journey reminds me that no one can avoid the grief and loss that happens in all of our lives at some point. As people of faith committed to healing and wholeness, sometimes we can just show up and be present, while at other times we may offer words of comfort or a listening ear.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that it is God who helps us to know what to say in hard times, and when to simply be present and say nothing at all:

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens me—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. (Isaiah 50:4)

Below is a prayer by Jan Richardson for you to reflect on, so that you might be Christ’s listening presence for someone this week. I’d also invite you to join me at the foot of the cross this week at the Good Friday prayer vigil, prayer walk, and Tenebrae service. Click here for information about times and location.

–Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer

Blessing to Open the Ear
That as we wake
we will listen.
That as we rise
we will listen.
That before our first words
of the day
we will listen.
That when we meet
we will listen.

That at noontime
we will listen.
That at dusk
we will listen.
That at the gathering of night
we will listen.
That entering sleep
we will listen still.


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