A Prayer for Hospitality

This is one of the prayers I had the privilege of contributing to a great book by one of my teachers and friends: Mere Spirituality: The Spiritual Life According to Henri Nouwen, by Wil Hernandez.

FROM CHAPTER NINE: HOSPITALITY

God who welcomes me,

Show me today when I am open to You and to those around me, as well as when I am closed to You and those You have put into my life. I want deeply to have more open space for You in my life, and that it may be a space that offers peace to others. Yet so many things in my life fill up the space and prevent me from being with You and from genuinely being with others. Most of them are good things, yet still they create clutter in who I am. I need Your wisdom today, Lord, to know which things to clear out and which things are genuinely mine to be used for Your glory. If something needs to go so that I can have more open space to offer, help me to loosen my grip on it, and if something should stay, may it be used freely as Your gift for the sake of others.

In the name of the One who is preparing a place for me. Amen.

A Prayer for Compassion

This is one of the prayers I had the privilege of contributing to a great book by one of my teachers and friends: Mere Spirituality: The Spiritual Life According to Henri Nouwen, by Wil Hernandez.

From Chapter Eight: Compassion

God who cares,

You have created, redeemed, and sustained us–not only because you love each of us, but because you genuinely, passionately care about every one of your children. You have seen and heard me, you have emptied yourself on my behalf and suffered with and for me, offering me the rest and hope that I have needed so desperately, making me dissatisfied with anything but your love.

And now that I find myself in you, I find that same love increasing within me. Walk gently with me into my own suffering, and then help me to be less fearful of the suffering of those around me, so that my wounds in yours can bring your caring touch to this world.

Amen.

A Prayer to Live No Longer for Myself

This is one of the prayers I had the privilege of contributing to a great book by one of my teachers and friends: Mere Spirituality: The Spiritual Life According to Henri Nouwen, by Wil Hernandez.

Crucified and Risen Lord,

You set us an example, teaching us to do as you did: seeking not to be served but to serve, and to live no longer for ourselves but for love of you and those around us. Teach me to live fully in you so that I can have real life to give generously to others. Help me to lay down my illusions of protecting myself as I learn to walk in the way of your cross and find that your life grows in me as I seek your death and resurrection rather than my own preservation. Give me, today, someone to serve in this love that you have poured into my heart.

Amen.

A Prayer for Solidarity

This is one of the prayers I had the privilege of contributing to a great book by one of my teachers and friends: Mere Spirituality: The Spiritual Life According to Henri Nouwen, by Wil Hernandez.

From Chapter Six: Solidarity

O God, our life,

You made us in Your own image and yet somehow also took on our own flesh. At our creation, You breathed Your life into us as pure gift, and every person we have ever encountered has that touch that could only come from Your hand. As I unpack my own life hidden in Christ and find You indwelling me–where the life that You live and the life You have given me are ever more the same, help me to see You indwelling the people I will pass today–whether strangers on the street or my closest loved ones in my own home. As grateful as I am that You are here with me, I am even more awestruck that You are here with us. Because of that, may I never again see another person as a stranger, but may I behold You, who indwell me, in them. Amen.

Pentecost and the Walls We Build

The small town I group up in was idyllic. My grandparents had each moved there, met, and married in the 1920s, my granddaddy a businessman, my grandmother an English teacher. They raised their kids there through the 1940s and 50s. And it’s where I grew up in the 1970s and early 80s. It really was a near-perfect place to grow up, with red brick streets on which my friends and I rode our bikes all around the town. We made a raft and fished down at the creek. There were carnivals and town picnics and parades, and everybody looked out for everybody.

But my town had a secret—a secret lived right out in the open but never talked about. My idyllic small town was segregated, even in the 1980s. There was a section of town literally across the railroad tracks called Morningside. It was established in the 1920s as a place for black workers in the cotton fields to have homes and something of a community away from the white folks. Problem is, it never changed. No African-American really had the option of living in the town proper. They all still lived in Morningside. The powers that be liked things the way they were. So even through the civil rights victories in the 60s and 70s, and in the “morning in America” of the 80s, the institutional racism was still deeply entrenched in small towns and large cities throughout the country. It still is, of course. But all I knew was that I didn’t play with my black classmates after school, on weekends, or in the summer. They went to their side of the tracks and I stayed on mine. That’s just the way things were. And aren’t those the words that most often keep us—as individuals and as communities—from becoming all we might be: “That’s just the way things are.”

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A Prayer for Mutuality

This is one of the prayers I had the privilege of contributing to a great book by one of my teachers and friends: Mere Spirituality: The Spiritual Life According to Henri Nouwen, by Wil Hernandez.

From Chapter Five: Mutuality

Ever-loving Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

The more I find my sisters, brothers, and myself in you, the more you teach me both to give and receive generously. Show me what is at the root of my unloving habits of critiquing people before I know them, of attempting to put myself above them in some way. Replace that in me with your way of selflessly being the one to wash others' feet as well as wholeheartedly receiving the gifts of others. Free me from my need so that I no longer seek to find ways to defend myself against the needs of others. Show me someone you have put into my life as a gift whom I have failed to value, and may we be gracious to one another as we walk further together on this road toward fullness of life in you.

Amen.

Ascension: Fairy Tale, or King of the World?

[This post is part of an Easter series: President [fill in the blank] and King Jesus.]

My lowest grade in college was in Art Appreciation, so I really don’t have any authority to say what I’m about to say. But…I’ve concluded that most of the art that shows up if I do a search for Jesus’ ascension serves to hinder my ability to follow him rather than to help it. For example, doesn’t this make Jesus look less like the king of the world and more like Peter Pan?

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