Prayers from the Island An Unpleasant Meal

An Unpleasant Meal

I came across a grim sight on the beach today—a crab was eating another crab, one that resembled him so closely the two—one live, the other dead–could have been twins. There is something unpleasant about acts of cannibalism, part of a taboo against one species consuming its own kind. And yet I think about how humans act toward one another, and realize it is often a spiritual cannibalism. Do I actively seek to enhance the faith and trust of others? Too often I am petty and vengeful, delighted that my “opponents” have suffered a setback, jealous that others seem to have more of God’s gifts, angry that I am no more loved than everyone else. Surely this is a type of cannibalism, this attempt to destroy what is Godlike in others, to dine on their unhappiness and their loss while preening my own vanity, feeding my own ego. Forgive me, please Lord, for these acts of cannibalism on my fellow human beings. Help me seek out the good in others, assist them in discovering you, and rejoice in all those who have come into your fold. Amen.

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Dunes and ChurchesDunes and Churches

Absent of their greenery, the dune fences become more visible now. They help stabilize the beach, capturing blowing grains of sand and piling them as a barrier to flood surges. Like small picket fences, they are strategically placed to align perpendicularly to the prevailing winds, maximizing their ability to retain the sand whipped by gusts of wind and waves. These dunes have been deliberately placed; they are not natural features on the landscape. If they do their job properly, they will disappear, buried under the loads of sand they have accumulated. Perhaps the church service I attend serves much the same function. It is designed to help me see myself clearly, to help me accumulate both the knowledge of my own failings and the good news of God’s grace. During the week individual bits and pieces of the service may be buried, but the work they have performed should be visible in the way I choose to live. Like the dune fences, the parts of the service work to stabilize my faith, to surround me with the extended body of Christ, to protect me when a flood surge of troubles assails me. I thank you, Dear Father, that you have given me this place of worship where I can shore up my faith and draw nearer to you. Amen.

Giving the SermonGiving the Sermon

I remember the first time I was asked to deliver the sermon at our church. What an awesome responsibility! The week before I worked on a text, thinking and rereading, trying to find a way to present a message whose application would have meaning and relevance. The words of the text mean so much to me, but how would I connect my thoughts with words for the, those people sitting before me, and how do I give them hope and trust? The answer is I can’t. My words are powerless to convince or explain. I do the work, prepare the outline, go over the message silently in my mind, and then submit it to God’s will, trusting the Holy Spirit will speak through me. Each time I step into the pulpit my prayer will be what it is every day, “Please, God, make me an instrument of your love. Speak through my words and shape them for your purpose. Eliminate all that is human dross and use me to bring your gifts to others. Amen.”

Perfect ShapesPerfect Shapes

I watch the small seabirds run in the waves at the water’s edge, stopping to dig their beaks in the sand for small bits of food.  How ideally suited they are for their life style!  The beaks are just the right length to pierce the sand’s surface, sharp enough to retrieve small clams or crabs; their legs are the ideal size for standing against the waves’ impact.  God has outfitted them perfectly for the life they lead.  In a similar fashion, God has outfitted me for the life he wants me to lead.  I have a mouth designed to speak words of praise to God and encouragement to others, hands meant to help when there is a need, feet intended to propel me into service, and ears meant to hear the cries of those in need.  Forgive me, Lord, when I fail to use my gifts as you ordained, and please help me always to see my body as an opportunity to serve you. Amen.