Tag Archives: Rabbi Blue

Novel counsel

Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I do not understand prayer – the admission of a columnist writing in the denominational newspaper I receive weekly. Some of my readers will recognise the journal to which I refer, and his is not a lone voice. And here I am daring to add my name to the list of those who find prayer to be a mystery. Checking the records of my many sermons I am a bit surprised how few there are on the theme of prayer. I obviously did not consider it to be of importance, or that on this matter I felt theologically and spiritually insecure. Perhaps I should say immature. So, in search of a solution to my dilemma, I spent a fifteen week sabbatical reading and writing on “Spirituality with an emphasis on Prayer”. Rabbi Blue, whose writing rings a bell with me, argues that prayer should be simple, realistic and part of life’s normal routine; a statement I readily and happily endorse. He gives the picture of being at prayer relaxing in an armchair with a glass of port – a novel counsel! (Not meant to be taken literally, or is it?) The fifteen books I read and the twenty-one I consulted, not to mention the Bible or any of the great classics, reveal the complexity of the subject before us. It is highly unlikely that the disciples had any idea of what they were asking in their request to Jesus: Lord, teach us to pray – so many views and so many ways, visions, testimonies and unanswered questions. Prayer, the opening of ourselves to God, enables us to find our true self. Our true self opens the heart of God to God’s transforming grace. Despite our many words and great variety of theories prayer is not a fruitless exercise – it works (Harry A. Williams). As many of us can testify it is a large part in the rich tapestry of life.

I cannot understand prayer – there is more to the quote: I do not understand electricity but I do not stop using it until I do understand.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh; The falling of a tear; The upward glancing of an eye; When none but God is near.

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Let us pray . . . .

Lord, your will be done! How rich we would be if we were to gain financially every time we said, Lord, have your own way. Put us on oath in the witness-box and we would say, we mean it, every word. Yet how easily it falls from our lips. We forget how often we have not tried to understand or conform to your will. We like our own way; always have done ever since we had to be chastised as little children for our stubborn tantrums. We want to give a good account of ourselves on the day of judgement, not to look good or to be patted on the head, but because we bless the day it became possible for us to say: Take my will and make it thine; It shall be no longer mine; Take my heart – It is thine own, It shall be thy royal throne. Lord give us grace to keep our word, especially when our view is a minority one and we must abide by the majority, when we do not understand the way you are leading, when you lead us along a path we resent having to take. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement, give us the spirit of unity among ourselves as we follow Christ Jesus. Amen.

Eternal and ever-blessed God, Lord of all life, below, above, you have the whole world in your hand. Is it true? It must be true. You are its Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer! It is what we believe – we believe in God, Creator of heaven and earth. It is not the whole truth – we believe in God the Father. Father God, may the love you had for Jesus be in us too. Lord, we believe there is nothing love cannot bear, there is no limit to its faith, its hope, its endurance. May love make us strong, imaginative and courageous in the service for which you have chosen us. Open our hearts and kindle within them the flame of your inexhaustible compassion that we may give ourselves anew to the needs of the community in order that the world may know you and the one you sent. Grant us in all our loving, our sharing, our doing, joy in full measure. Amen.

Lord God, greater than our highest thoughts and our fondest dreams, our little minds cannot comprehend the majesty of your Being, the grandeur of your power, the wonder of your grace. You are God! God from the beginning to the end of time – and beyond. Time for us is measured in minutes, days and years. Time for you stretches into eternity. We are earth-bound. We live one day at a time. We may dream of tomorrow but tomorrow lies ahead – unknown and unexplored. We cling to life, your gift to us, to cherish and to enjoy. Enlarge our vision and strengthen our commitment to the challenges life brings as we continue on our onward way discovering and embracing life’s future for us.

Eternal and Ever Blessed God, we worship and adore you. Amen.

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Consensus

The detective in the crime novel fell foul of his superiors. His downfall was due to his brutish harassment of suspects and to his intransigence in what he believed to be right and wrong. The arrogance and lack of compassion in the man resulted from his insistence that everything be measured strictly in terms of black and white. What is wrong with that? A reasonable question for a Christian to ask. It’s how many of us understand it, and there certainly are passages in the Bible which rule out compromise. Little wonder there is so much bigotry attached to religion.

Apart from there being grey areas in our pursuit of morality, the varied opinions of so many different people inevitably prevent a common mind in all things. In the course of my ministry I have presided over hundreds of meetings of one sort or other and know well how messy and difficult it can be in church business meetings to obtain and maintain a consensus. Rabbi Blue the well-known and popular writer and broadcaster, in one of his inimitable pieces, speaks of the problem of doing what is right and following conscience, yet being bound to a majority vote.

I wonder if the strange, but not unusual, Hebraic custom of deciding by casting lots, the method adopted by the apostles in the appointment of Judas Iscariot’s successor (Acts 1:26), was an acknowledgement of the difficulty of obtaining a common mind: a safeguard against human prejudice. Our acceptance of a compromise solution, and our loyalty to a majority decision with which we do not agree, may reflect a healthier spirituality than that of the absolute authoritarianism so much in vogue. When things we believe in and hold dear are rejected and we are convinced that the path favoured by our opponents, albeit it by a reasonable majority, is at a cost to our particular cause,  it is almost inevitable that the proponents of the minority cause will be disappointed, angry, hurt, resentful, even tempted to throw in the towel. It happens in all walks of life – the church is no exception.

There is another way, to respond to the challenge of achieving togetherness, whatever side of the fence we stand, generously and graciously respecting one another’s integrity. In the biblical and Christian vocabulary ……….GRACE!

Prayer: Lord, give us grace to keep our word, especially when our view is a minority one and we must abide by a majority decision, when we do not understand the way you are leading when you lead us along the path we resent having to take. Amen