Praying with Stanley Hauerwas Pt. 4

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2010 by washedpig

This is the fourth of the four prayers I wanted to share with you. One thing I love about how Stanley Hauerwas prays is that he always seems to be able punch through the sentimental crap and fluff with the stuff of real life in reflection of truthful grace. I invite you to pray this with me.

Gracious God, humble us through the violence of your love so we are able to know and confess our sins. We want our sins to be interesting, but, God forgive us, they are so ordinary: envy, hatred, meanness, pride, self-centeredness, laziness, boredom, lying, lust, stinginess and so on. You have saved us from “and so on” to be a royal people able to witness to the world that the powers that make us such ordinary sinners have been defeated. So capture our attention with the beauty of your life that the ugliness of sin may be seen as just that—ugly. God, how wonderful it is to be captivated by you. Amen.

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Praying with Stanley Hauerwas Pt. 3

Posted in Theology with tags , on March 4, 2010 by washedpig

It’s been hard selecting which ones of these to share. This one is one of the longest in the book and perhaps my favorite.

Lord of the Waters, you have set us adrift in a trackless ocean, in a leaky boat with no oars or rudder. “Rudderless” nicely describes our situation, but matters are worse. Even if we had a rudder, we would  not know which direction to go. We are not even sure if there are any directions—or if there are any directions, we so distrust our wants that we do not know which way we really want to go. In short, we feel lost and, so feeling, think it is probably your fault. Yet you refuse to let us drown us in self-pity and blame. Instead your drown us in your good kingdom, the death and resurrection of Jesus our Lord, making us part of that great ark, your church. The winds of love blow that ark out to sea, away from shores we think might provide safety, so that we might take on board the drowning. How wonderful it is that the more that are taken on board, the less your ark is crowded and the safer we are. Thank you for making us steady sailors who have no reason to fear the unknown, having learned you would have us be at sea. Amen.

May that wind indeed blow us away from those shores we think safe. Oh how they are not.

Praying with Stanley Hauerwas Pt. 2

Posted in Life, Theology with tags , , , on March 3, 2010 by washedpig

Here’s a second of four prayers I want to share with you from Hauerwas’ Prayers Plainly Spoken.

Blessed Trinity, you gather us so that we will not be alone. You will us to enjoy one another, to rejoice in one another’s existence. Just as you can be three, perfectly sharing but without loss of difference, so you make us capable of love without fear that in our love we will be lost. Yet we do find ways to be alone, to be in hell. Caught up in fantasies that we can create ourselves, we become frozen in our self-imposed smiles of self-satisfaction. Because we can fool others into believing we are in control, we even come to believe it ourselves. Great and powerful Lord, shake us free of such loneliness that we may cry for help and be surprised by the willingness of your people to share. How happy we are to be your people. Amen.

This one connected with me very deeply. I think many know what it’s like to be in such a hell. Hell, which is the perfect word for it, is exactly what it is outside of the flowing cycle of love that is the Triune God. In such a hell all I end up with is darkness, a crippling, numbing, darkness. I can’t see my own reflection, who I am, nor can I see the one in the room with me. I ignore him. He is pushed away in favor of what is called relaxation, sleep without rest. The hours tick away but he’s still there. Sometimes he’s quiet, others he overwhelms with violent grace.

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night’, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:8-12 NRSV)

Thank you God for the surprise of receptive and tender people and that you won’t seem to leave me alone.

Praying with Stanley Hauerwas Pt. 1

Posted in Life, Theology on March 1, 2010 by washedpig

This is from Hauerwas’ book Prayers Plainly Spoken. Sometimes the most destructive lies are the one’s we tell ourselves. We need to pray prayers like the following because it is in telling the truth that brings together the fractured self that runs from God, the self he’s calling into himself and into the world.

TRUE GOD OF TRUE GOD, create in us a passion for truth. Make us lust for, long for, taste, feel, roll in the grass of your love, your truth. Free us from the fear of truth by making us God-fearers. May we hate all that which would tempt us to settle for the greatest of all lies, the half-truth. So formed, give us simple speech, graceful speech, lovely speech, so that we might truthfully speak to one another, that we might love one another in truth. Honor us with honesty that we might be honorable and, thus, trustworthy people. Oh! We so long to be capable of trust. We are so tired, so bored, by our cynicism. So yes, dear Lord, we pray that you will make us truthful servants so that we may say to ourselves and one another, “You can trust me.” Amen.

Confessions

Posted in Life, Theology on February 18, 2010 by washedpig

Something weird happens when you try to write things to impress people; you come off as sounding fake and contrived with little of anything of substance following. I have tried to construct or maybe narrate something from the last four months, months that still need unpacking and expounding. Every time I’ve tried it fizzles out after a paragraph or two. If we are to attempt, like Augustine, to narrate our lives as confession, I realize there’s much to confess. Part of the way my church tells their story is told in two ways, an outer story and an inner one. Usually the more interesting stories are always the ones that tell something beyond the facts of people, places, dates, and events. Very rarely is my heart captured by merely someone’s “people, places, dates, and events.” It gets boring, especially when the facts look nothing like mine. It’s the inner story that my heart always connects to and where mine and others’ can intersect, were things like joy and pain call home.

For confession to mean anything it requires memory, truthful and honest memory. It means letting your arms go limp and giving up the defenses that keep others out. It seems that for many like me, remembering the truth is a struggle. As a certain Texan brick layer and theologian has confessed before God, “We refuse to remember because memory is just another name for pain—dull, meaningless pain that makes us numb. But you would have us be a passionate people, filled with the Spirit, possessed by memory. We fear that if we remember, the pain will return and kill our present. ” I’ve come to see how much of my life and energy is spent on running from and avoiding any form of discomfort or pain. Weeks, it seems, are wasted wandering through the woods so those feelings are never felt. If I’ve been shown anything from the last four months, wading through both cancer and heartbreak, I’ve known for the first time what it’s like to be inducted into suffering, a suffering you can’t avoid.

I feel guilty for calling my pain suffering when there are so many in the world who know a suffering that I will never know being born white, wealthy, and American, but to say otherwise would be dishonest. I fear it might be impossible to describe it unless you yourself have been through it. But it’s also dishonest if I leave this part out. When asked before how I felt when I first got the diagnosis I expressed how I was in shock, afraid, like time had slowed and my future had taken a hard left. But I remember as I was leaving slowly through the white sterile halls, before I even got to the elevator, I felt three sets of arms crowding around me. I knew I wasn’t alone. I was surrounded. As a piercing love flowed into my heart, I knew someone immensely larger than both myself and cancer was with me. Soon I felt those arms reaching out through panicked phone conversations, weeping embraces, a continuously filled hospital chair rocking through the night, and behind a quiet curtain accompanied with whispers saying that “I’ve got you. I know the way home.”

I know it may sound cliché but I felt it, Christ was with me in it.  Just has he is with those now suffering in Haiti and with anyone else in the world who knows what it is to suffer, he was with me. That somehow this part of being human in this world right now is one of the things he’s setting right. But now, as I continue to heal and move forward, I can see that Christ doesn’t want me to continue to run from emptiness and suffering. It creates its own problems and usually prolongs it. No, His desire is not for us to carve out our own shelters to keep us from feeling. Suffering stretched arms on a cross are the only form of genuine peace there is.

I pray now with St. Brendan of Clonfert,

Lord, I will trust You, help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.

Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.

Christ of the mysteries, can I trust You to be stronger than each storm in me?

Do I still yearn for your glory to lighten on me?

I will show others the care You’ve given me.

I determine amidst all uncertainty always to trust.

I choose to live beyond regret, and let you recreate my life.

I believe You will make a way for me and provide for me, if only I trust You and obey.

I will trust in the darkness and know that my times are still in Your hand.

I will believe You for my future, chapter by chapter, until all the story is written.

Focus my mind and my heart upon You, my attention always on You without alteration.

Strengthen me with your blessing and appoint me the task. Teach me to live with eternity in view.

Tune my spirit to the music of heaven.

Feed me,

and, somehow,

make my obedience count for You.

Loneliness

Posted in Life, Theology with tags , on January 25, 2010 by washedpig

“That you can be lonely in a crowd, maybe especially there, is readily observable. You can also be lonely with your oldest friends, or your family, even with the person you love most in the world. To be lonely is to be aware of an emptiness which it takes more than people to fill. It is to sense that something is missing which you cannot name.

‘By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion,’ sings the Psalmist (137:1). Maybe in the end it is Zion that we’re lonely for, the place we know best by longing for it, where at last we become who we are, where finally we find home.” – Frederick Buechner from Whistling in the Dark

Who Should Be The First President of Europe?

Posted in Politics on October 5, 2009 by washedpig

As you may have seen in the news lately, Europe looks to be getting close to electing its first ever President. If the current Treaty of Lisbon is ratified by the last few remaining countries then there might soon be a unified President of Europe.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been unofficially campaigning for the position since he left office a few years ago and is currently seen as the only serious front-runner. While Blair may be a suitable candidate for the job their is another European leader who is, in my opinion, far more qualified and deserving to be the continent’s first president.

Who am I referring to you ask? Humor me for a moment and let’s just pretend that you did. Is it French President Nicholas Sarkozy or perhaps German Chancellor Angela Merkel? No. Out of all of the nations of Europe, only one woman is qualified to hold this high honor. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Tarja Halonen (pronounced Tar-ya). Not only is she the current and two-term President of Finland, she looks exactly like Conan O’Brien.

Conan TarjaHow fitting would it be, as Conan has been recently promoted as the new host of the Tonight Show for Tarja to be promoted as Europe’s first ever President. Join me in the campaign to elect the right candidate to lead America’s greatest ally. We can’t afford to have this new important office held by someone who doesn’t look exactly like Conan. For Conan’s opinions of Tarja watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpBGCoWfZlI