waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 20, Friday, December 22, 2017

Note: Advent, from the Latin, adventus, “coming”, is the Christian season of preparation for Jesus’ birth, the heart of the Christmas celebration, and, according to scripture and the Christian creeds, his second appearance on some future, unknown day and also according to scripture and Christian tradition, his daily coming through the Holy Spirit. Hence, the theme of waiting for Jesus is Advent’s clarion call.

O Lord Jesus, I wait this day for the wonder of Your Worship.

Thus, You spake to Photina,(1) the Samaritan woman at the well: “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship Him.(2)

O Lord Jesus, by Your Spirit, let my worship of You ne’er be tied to time or bound to space or place. Rather let my prayers, verily, my being of adoration and praise and confession and thanksgiving and petition and intercession and oblation be every word of my mouth and every deed of my doing that I may be…that I will be wholly Yours. Amen.

 

Footnotes:
(1) As I noted previously (waiting for Jesus – an Advent-season-prayer-a-day, Day 8, the Second Sunday of Advent, December 10, 2017), though Scripture gives no name to the Samaritan woman who encountered Jesus at the well (John 4.5-42), Eastern Orthodox tradition calls her Photina (or Photine), from the Greek, phos, “light”, meaning, “the enlightened one”; for she, in her testimony to her fellow Samaritans, led many to believe in Jesus as “the Savior of the world” (John 4.39).
(2) John 4.23

still more on God waiting…

Hosea is one of my favorite Hebrew scripture prophets. Courageously, faithfully, he went into the dire circumstance into which God called him.

The kingdom of Israel, also known as Ephraim, of the 8th century Before the Common Era, was in gravest tumult. Many of the people had turned away from the worship of God, threatening domestic solidarity. Royal politics were in upheaval; the secure succession from king to king violently disrupted by a series of internecine assassinations and usurpations. At the borders, foreign armies were poised to strike.

The Prophet Hosea (1309-1311), Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319), Cattedrale Metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta, Siena, Italy

In one particular passage, Hosea speaks of an aggrieved God withdrawing from the people “until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face.”[1] The people, in desperation in their rapidly deteriorating national situation, seek divine deliverance, crying, “Come, let us return to the Lord!”[2] and bringing to God the proper and prescribed ritual observances. But God requires something more than perfunctory sacrifice prompted by suffering: “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early.”[3] God wants, God waits for the people to bear in their living “steadfast love, not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, not burnt-offerings.”[4]

Though this prophetic word was uttered nearly 3000 years ago, it remains for me singularly compelling. Every day, every moment of the day, God wants, God waits for me, to use an image of my namesake, the Apostle Paul, to offer the living sacrifice[5] of steadfast love, constant devotion to God and benevolence toward all people, and the knowledge of God, active, unassailable faith in God’s presence and power.

As I cannot attempt this on my own (verily, even my awareness of what God wants of me and waits for me to bear is a revelation to me of the work of the Holy Spirit on my consciousness), in the words of the spiritual, every day, every moment of the day, may I learn to sing, to pray:

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me,

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.[6]

 

Illustration: The Prophet Hosea (1309-1311), Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319), Cattedrale Metropolitana di Santa Maria Assunta, Siena, Italy

Footnotes:

[1] Hosea 5.15

[2] Hosea 6.1

[3] Hosea 6.4

[4] Hosea 6.6

[5] I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12.1-2, my emphasis). Note: Paul uses the Greek sómata (translated into English as “bodies”), which means the whole of one’s being or self – mind and heart, soul and spirit.

[6] Words (1926) by Daniel Iverson (1890-1977)

a-Lenten-prayer-a-day, day 13, Wednesday, March 15, 2017

my-hands-2-27-17Note: As a personal, spiritual discipline, I write a prayer for each of the forty days of Lent; each petition focusing on a theme, truly, relating to a care or concern weighing on my mind and heart, at times, vexing my soul and spirit…

On following, not worshiping Jesus (in the spirit of Verna Josephine Dozier):[1] O Jesus, You came amongst us, a Messiah without a messiah-complex, not to be served, but rather to serve through Your willing sacrifice of Your Self unto death for our sake.[2] In this, You, as my way, my truth, my life,[3] call me to follow You, not to worship You in respectful admiration, even reverent adulation. Thus, when my piety would have me only stand at the foot of Your cross, staring upward at Your broken Body in wondrous appreciation, by Your Spirit, send me away to follow You into the world to give my self away in sacrificial service. Amen.

Footnotes:

[1] Verna Josephine Dozier 2 (c 1995)Dr. Verna Josephine Dozier (1917-2006), a nationally known religious educator, biblical scholar, author, and one of my finest mentors, in her book, The Dream of God, which she described as the creation in harmonious relation between God and humankind, wrote of the distinction between “Worship (as) setting Jesus on a pedestal, distancing him, enshrining…him in liturgies, stained glass windows, biblical translations, medallions, pilgrimages to places where he walked…Following him is doing what he did…Following is discipleship” (The Dream of God: A Call to Return, Cowley Publications, 1991, page 98).

[2] See Matthew 20.28 and Mark 10.45: Jesus said, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

[3] A reference to John 14.6a: Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”