Tag Archives: Jesus

Prayers of the Saints: A New Prayer Resource with Christian Masters

Jesus

Zechariah father of John the Baptist

Augustine of Hippo

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Teresa of Avila

St. John of the Cross

Ignatius of Loyola

St. Therese of Lisieux

Evelyn Underhill

Thomas Merton

Adrian van Kaam

Mother Teresa

Prayers of the Saints: Jesus

 

For Humanity

“Father, it’s time.  Display the bright splendor of your Son, so the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.

You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.

I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.

I pray for them.
I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

Now I’m returning to you.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,
Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.
I’m not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I’m consecrating myself for their sakes
So they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and  mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent   me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.

Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them. (John 17, The Message)

Back to “Prayers of the Saints”

How Would Jesus Want You to Handle the Good and Bad Things You Picked Up From Your Parents?

When we adore the baby Jesus swaddled by the Mother of God, we often forget that he would someday preach these words: “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.  Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  Hardly expected from the sweet little Jesus boy.  It is not clear how Jesus regarded the traditional family unit, whether he intended to re-structure the age old process of 9months, baby, born into a family, dropped into a million unwanted issues with a face and nose given without consultation.  You inherit a million strengths from your culture and the family of birth and a thousand stereotypes just for getting a certain color skin.  He probably was not talking about all that.

We know that Jesus broke the mold of family expectations, the eldest son leaving his family duties for at least three years.  And we know that he was born into a carpenter family from a peasant girl in an unusual circumstance.  And all the while a refugee in Egypt, he rooted for nourishment at his mother’s breast, he slowly found his hands and feet, and he learned the cycle of hunger and thirst.  When he returned to live in his grandparent’s village, he bled from knees and elbows and tasted the familiar contours of unleavened bread as the candles danced to the Friday night worship of God.  We have no reason to believe that Jesus did not rejoice for the families, which sheltered the children who he held and blessed.  But we do know that he will call all of his followers to both wisely embrace and detach themselves from the culture, family, and society in which they were born.

Jesus Had a Last Will

I know lots of Christians.  Most of them believe in Christ.  And most of those take seriously Jesus’ last will: “As you go about, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them all I commanded, and take this in: I will be with you unto the end of the age.”

So, to my Christian friends in this age, I say, the church has her work cut out. There are many issues facing the contemporary church in fulfilling the great commission.  Going to make disciples in North America and Europe is not as easy as it used to be.  One meets with rank materialism, hyper-sexuality, and strident individualism both out and inside of the church walls.  Folks have a more difficult time giving up their cozy lives for a life of sacrifice.  In the Global South, one finds eager missionaries who are met with closed borders and often are ill equipped for the task.

Baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit meets with suspicion in Post Christendom Europe and North America.  A cynical populace feels justified by the Church’s crimes against humanity and the pressures of a growing pluralistic context.  Also, in many areas of the Global South, baptism in the name of the Trinity meets against a host of religions, which either seek to swallow up Christ in what seems to Christians like the pantheon of yoga, the abyss of moksha, or the triumphalism of sharia.  Syncretism remains a deep issue.

Teaching all to obey everything that Jesus taught remains a challenge in a relativistic North American and European Culture.  And in the global south, there is a double issue where leaders who promote indigenous Christianities fail to listen to the Western torchbearers of Christian theology while traditional torchbearers remain hardened to new indigenous readings of orthodox Christianity.

If Christians are going to take Jesus’ last will seriously, which they should if they believe it, they are going to need a lot of good communication with one another and a practical faith, which reminds them at every turn that their Lord is with them even in this uncertain age.

 

Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: On Public Praise and Blessing

“In the coming weeks, I will post seventeen short Advent reflections on the Song of Songs from a young man learning to be a lover and a husband, who at the same time struggles to plant his worth as the beloved Bride of Christ.  My guiding question:

How does the birth of God’s Son transform the broken projects of struggling lovers into aspirations for soul mating?

Click here to read the general introduction:

6A Song of Songs 6.1-10                         On Praise and Blessing

1. Where has your beloved gone, O fairest among women?  Which way has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you? 2. My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies.  3. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock among the lilies.  4.  You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.  5. Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me!  Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.  6. Your teeth are like a flock of ewes, that have come up from the washing; all of them bear twins, and not one among them is bereaved.  7.  Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. 8. There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens without number. 9. My dove, my perfect one, the darling of her mother, flawless to her that bore her.  The maidens saw her and called her happy; the queens and concubines also, and the praised her.  10. “Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?” Advent reminds us that there is power in public praise and blessing.  And there is no better method for enriching the soul bond.

I once heard an aging woman tease her husband in half jest.  He had just remarked: “Love is blind.”  She responded in relief: “I know, I would have been sunk years back if it were not.”  Her self-image was far from, “bursting forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun.”   On another instance, I listened to a young married couple on the fifth day after bearing their first child.  They were awkward in ways.  Yet, as the young mother fumbled her way through caring for the child, the young father leaned over and said in front of friend and family, “You are doing great, honey.”

Somewhere in between these interactions I think we can learn a great deal.  Young love expresses heroic praise. Old love knows that glory fades.  How can we live somewhere in between?  How can young passion be tempered with the wisdom of love, which endures beyond the loss of glory?  And how can old love continue to praise the beloved?

Simeon, that Advent giver of blessing teaches us this way.  He like Anna had a beautiful spirit, filled with wisdom and yet with room for praise. In a crowded courtyard, he spotted this young family and showered blessings upon them.  It seems like a simple thing.  Yet to see glory and call it forth, even when it looks like awkward or aging degeneration, taps into the heart of love and into that which Mary had reflected, “You have lifted up the humble.”  And praise in public settings even when praise may not be deserved especially lifts lovers in confidence: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: The Wedding Day

“In the coming weeks, I will post seventeen short Advent reflections on the Song of Songs from a young man learning to be a lover and a husband, who at the same time struggles to plant his worth as the beloved Bride of Christ.  My guiding question:

How does the birth of God’s Son transform the broken projects of struggling lovers into aspirations for soul mating?

Click here to read the general introduction:

3B: Song of Songs 3.6-11                       The Wedding Day

6. What is that coming up from the
wilderness,
like a column of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and
frankincense,
with all the fragrant powders of
the merchant?
7. Look, it is the litter of Solomon!
Around it are sixty mighty men
of the mighty men of Israel,
8. all equipped with swords
and experts in war,
each with his sword at his thigh
because of alarms by night.
9. King Solomon made himself a
palanquin
from the wood of Lebanon.
10. He made its posts of silver,
its back of gold, its seat of
purple
its interior was inlaid with love.
Daughters of Jerusalem,
11. come out.
Look, O daughters of Zion,
at King Solomon,
at the crown with which his
mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
on the day of the gladness of
his heart. From the wild’s horizon, horse hoofs trembled the dusty road into a unified cloud. Solomon storms to his wedding day.
 I can remember mine well.  It was mixed up with anticipation and clumsy emotions.

We met in suspended moments. She wore a gown studded with jewels. I wore fabric chiseled and angled. Beneath our up-dressed garments trembled nerves and a palpable secret. I am no king. She is no queen. What can the Song of Songs be but an unreachable love? How cruel a thing to live in an epic story like ours and desire epic love when the courting of these Solomonic gods mocks our fickle drama?

Yet, there stood our mighty men and women beside us with sharp conviction. They ushered our family in royal procession. Would we break under the pressures of distilled authenticity?  Or with the help of a mighty child, would our hearts meet somewhere in the middle of our humanity?

Come bridesmaids, see him coming. Come see his garland. Come see her jewels. Come see white robes washed of darkness. Come see united hearts and minds rejoicing lightly about their weaknesses, for the King is teaching their hearts gladness, softening their tempests, sheltering their love, in the heart of their humanity, in the dawning of their spring.

Advent Reflections from a Young Married Man: The Gazelle

“In the coming weeks, I will post seventeen short Advent reflections on the Song of Songs from a young man learning to be a lover and a husband, who at the same time struggles to plant his worth as the beloved Bride of Christ.  My guiding question:

How does the birth of God’s Son transform the broken projects of struggling lovers into aspirations for soul mating?

Click here to read the general introduction:

2B: Song of Songs 2.8-17              The Gazelle

8. The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
9. My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
Behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking though the lattice.
10. My beloved speaks and says
to me:
”Arise my love, my fair one,
and come away;
11. for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
12. The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
13. The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.
14. O my dove, in the clefts of the
rock,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely,
15. Catch us the foxes,
the little foxes,
that ruin the vineyards
for our vineyards are in
blossom.
16. My beloved is mine and I am his;
he pastures his flock among the
lilies.
17. Until the day breathes
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
or a young stag on the cleft
mountains.

There are two eyes, which watch us through the lattice of our lives.  They belong to a Creator who remembers clearly when life began— when the shaping of gazelle, winter, rain, and flowers set coldly at His hand.  It was then that he imagined us, his beloved. It was then, before he knit us together uniquely in our mother’s womb.

And from that ancient time, He has been whispering to our souls: “Come from your rocky crags that protect you from light places.  Come from those walls, which you use to preservation your fragile life.  These are no more than obstacles to your deepest and most fulfilling destiny.  Do not hide your face beloved, for I made it, and it is sweet,” he calls.

We are so often skeptical that a God, by divine nature, will diminish us.  For gods, we think, take away our precious dreams and most precious projects.  Yet, for all our cunning we fail to see that we often stand in the way of our best futures.  Obstacles pile upon obstacles as we muddy the already veiled future. Herod did this when he heard of a baby King to be born in a humble village.  He sent his force to extinguish this child, who so threatened his kingdom of sand.

Mary’s life project was set to be ruined by this child.  Yet, unlike Herod, she got it right about God,

“His name is Holy; his mercy sure from generation to generation toward those who fear him; the deeds his own right arm has revealed his might: the arrogant of heart and mind he has put to route, he has brought down the monarchs from their thrones, but the humble have been lifted high. The hungry he has satisfied with good things, the rich sent empty away.”

Advent reminds us that the surest path to our own transformation passes through the canyons of our lives. Alone we would surely starve among the rocky crags of our own and other’s making. Yet when we abandon ourselves to the One who is also a gazelle leaping over our mountains of obstacles bounding over the hills of our protection, we have a chance in life.  There he stands on the cleft mountains calling forth our glory from behind the latticework.