2024-02-26 11:25:05

2024-02-26 11:25:05

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StolenStolen

I spoke with a woman in the store this morning.  During our conversation, she said she’d once been in a church with a large congregation, and when she went to the altar for Communion, she returned to her pew and discovered her purse had been taken. How sad that during a time of communion, someone had chosen to rob rather than share. I thought of how things are sometimes stolen from me when my mind is elsewhere.  I walk on the beach wrestling with other people’s problems or with situations over which I have no control, and I’m robbed of the day’s beauty and the ocean’s gifts.  I let myself feel apart from God, and my faith begins to erode, just as the water bites at the shore.  Forgive me, Lord, for letting you go too easily, for letting situations rob me of your presence.  Yes, bad things happen, even in the church where there are more avowed sinners than anyplace else.  Please help me to approach you always knowing there is nothing more important than my closeness to you. Amen.

 

Trolling FishTrolling Fish

 At a restaurant in this area, the wait staff throws pieces of bread to the fish gathered beneath the deck. When the fish cluster to feed, a green heron appears and collects fish for his lunch. Clutching onto a suspended rope, he hangs over the water, selecting the fish he wants. So adept is he at landing the fish that he has been seen to troll with a slice of bread, dragging it through the water until a fish strikes. Then he lunges and the fish vanishes. Obviously this green heron has learned the advantage of trolling, luring the fish into his catch with something they want. Sad to say, I am like those silly fish. Too often I am taken in by the lures of this world—popularity, wealth, convenience, easy judgment, and failure to love. I don’t look beyond the lures to see who is trolling or what hooks are set. I bite too easily and then regret what I’ve done or said or sacrificed. Thank you, Lord, for your grace that accepts me back regardless of how many lures I succumb to, no matter how often I surrender to temptation. Please make me strong; clarify my vision so I see you and not the tempting lures of this world. Amen.

After Easter PrayerAfter Easter Prayer

An After-Easter Prayer

Behind him [John] came Simon Peter, and he went straight into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the cloth which had been around Jesus’ head. It was not lying with the linen cloths but was rolled up by itself” John 20:6-7

Dear Lord, I’ve always wondered about this detail in the Easter story. John describes the cloths so carefully, as if they have significance. What if the new year begins the day after Easter? Jesus went through abuse, torture, and crucifixion for my sake, because He valued me highly. Why? Why go through all that agony for me? Having learned of His sacrifice, what’s expected of me? How am I supposed to live my life Post-Easter?

The period following Easter is the perfect time to self-examine, determine the issues and problems that trouble my life. There are weaknesses requiring treatment, behavior I need to cast off. Those discarded funeral wraps Jesus left behind are a symbol of sins in my life, sins making my life tattered and soiled. As an example, forgiveness is difficult for me; I claim I’ve forgiven individuals, but again and again I focus on their behavior and become angry once more. It’s not only others I can’t forgive, Lord. I accept your forgiveness, I try to convince myself you’ve washed me clean, but things I’ve done still trouble me, making me ashamed. I need to take off that wrapping of guilt and hardness of heart—leave it behind and work to forgive myself and others.

We’re told to love; love is the most emphasized gift of the Holy Spirit. I know this and yet I love like a miser, carefully weighing slights, balancing my love against the love I receive. I accept the endless love you have for me, Dear Lord, but I distribute love as though it’s a finite amount, against your infinite love. My failure to love with abandon is another layer of torn wrapping that needs removal, cast off and left behind in an empty tomb.

Judge not, we’re told, but my judgment is immediate and stern. How easy to win my approval—do what I do, think as I do, and behave as I prescribe. For ‘the other’, those who don’t behave as I like, my judgment falls hammer-like. I understand in my heart it’s wrong to be self-righteous, but breaking away from old habits is difficult. This too, Lord, needs to change. I want to accept others without assessing their ‘value’ to me. Help me strip away my soiled coat of judgment, leave it behind, old and out-dated.

I know, Lord, change will be difficult. How can I battle these old, familiar sins and become the resurrected woman you want me to be? Please lend me that linen cloth, a cloth that covered your face, a cloth so carefully folded and set aside. Let me use that cloth to cleanse, to give me a clean purpose once I’ve discarded those raggedy clothes. Only with your help, Lord, can I dress myself in a new Easter outfit, clad in your gift of redemption and grace. With your help I leave behind the tomb rags of the past and move into new life.