Benediction by Nadia Bolz-Weber, at the funeral of Rachel Held Evans

I preached today about how to live the life of Christians, here and now, even as we pray, Come, Lord Jesus. During the sermon, I read the benediction by Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, which was read at the funeral of Rachel Held Evans.  I read the benediction during the sermon as an example of the kind of life we must live as Christians, the kind of prayer we must pray in today’s day and world. .

..So gifted, so loved, so loving, so sad, and yet the world is a better and happier place because of Rachel…

Video of the funeral of Rachel Held Evans

Benediction by The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, at the funeral of Rachel Held Evans

“Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

“Blessed are those whom no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers. The closeted. The teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

“Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like. Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried. Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else. Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.” Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

“I imagine Jesus standing here blessing us because I believe that is our Lord’s nature. This Jesus cried at his friend’s tomb, turned the other cheek, and forgave those who hung him on a cross because He was God’s Beatitude— He was God’s blessing to the weak in a world that only admires the strong.  

[And shall Rachel have this last word…]

“‘Jesus invites us into a story bigger than ourselves and our imaginations, yet we all get to tell that story with the scandalous particularity of this moment and this place. We are storytelling creatures because we are fashioned in the image of a storytelling God. May we never neglect that gift. May we never lose our love for telling the story. Amen.'”

For you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety

Sharing Psalm 4 here, which has been on my heart. Sleeping in peace every night is a blessing I often take for granted. But many of my friends don’t sleep well. In fact, most of my close friends don’t sleep well. I’ve been recommending this Psalm hoping this Psalm could be of comfort and bring peaceful sleep.

Good night, my friends.

Good night, friends I have yet to meet.

May you be at peace and sleep so that you will be restored by rest and have courage and strength to face tomorrow.

I recommend reading it over and over for desired effect. 😴

Peace

– – –

Psalm 4

Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies.

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

2 How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?

Selah

3 But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.

4 When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent.

Selah

5 Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

6 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”

7 You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound.

8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

daily struggle: “make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation”

I am a morning riser.  I can’t stay up late, and start getting sleepy around 9 pm!  So I look forward to each morning when I wake up, refreshed on most mornings, and looking forward to a new day.  Past week, however, I wake up and feel a bit lost.  It’s been difficult to focus and to achieve sustained concentration level required to study.  So I wonder, how can I calm down and take advantage of the morning hours that I am alert for to try to be productive?

The answer I think is psalms.  Reading psalms, I think will be my remedy.  I feel lost and this seems to be a human condition we all share, especially during such days of unsettling political, ecological, and moral climate.  If you find you are feeling lost, more than usual, I invite you to read psalms with me as you start your morning.  Maybe even after reading and praying through the psalms, you will still feel at a loss.  But at least God will hear our prayers through the words of the psalmist that we lift up.

This morning, I am just going to meditate and pray these words:

“make haste to help me,
    O Lord, my salvation.”  (Psalm 38:22)

Lord, come quickly to my aid.  Lord, come quickly to our aid.  That’s my prayer this morning.  I will have that on repeat in my mind, soul, and heart.

when in doubt, pray

I’m telling myself, when in doubt, pray.  I am in the middle of writing a paper which is due tomorrow.  I’ve been sitting at my desk for couple hours now not being able to start getting back into working on the paper.  All I can think is, Oh Lord, Have Mercy on Me, Come quickly to  my aid.  Why is it, I mean it makes sense, but still, when things are going well, I’m not as desperate to pray to God.  But when I feel desperate for help, I am on it, looking at God and crying out for help.

My younger brother and I have a special relationship.  He contacts me out of the blue some times.  When I contact him, I may or may  not get an answer, but he isn’t so responsive.  But when he contacts me, he’s full on focused on communicating with me.  Actually, this doesn’t even happen so much now.  But it used to be this way few times a year.  He would contact me and have my full attention when he needed me to do something for him.  Even so, I welcomed those interactions because otherwise I wasn’t getting to interact with him much.  But oh man, oh man, how happy would I be if he just contacted me some what regularly just to say hi and to check in with each other!

So I wonder, does God just put up with what I bring or am I bringing to God my best as a living sacrifice?  I know the answer.  Though I have failed to execute this plan many times, I will once again try to be faithful, with God’s help!

Augustine’s Confessions My Confessions

“Grant me, Lord, to know and understand which is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee? and, again, to know Thee or to call on Thee? for who can call on Thee, not knowing Thee? for he that knoweth Thee not, may call on Thee as other than Thou art. Or, is it rather, that we call on Thee that we may know Thee? but how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? or how shall they believe without a preacher? and they that seek the Lord shall praise Him: for they that seek shall find Him, and they that find shall praise Him.” (St. Augustine, Confessions, Bk1, Ch1).

Self-pity

No one wants to listen to someone expressing self-pity.  I was told yesterday, stop this self-pity.  That’s probably what promoted me to come to my blog site this  morning.  I have thoughts, feelings, and want to express them.  No one wants to hear them, no one I can think of.  But maybe there are some people who don’t mind hearing self-pity because they understand that it’s natural sometimes to feel self-pity and that it’s not necessarily a permanent disposition!  I feel enormous expectations, stress, and fear of failure and self doubt.  Sometimes I feel confident, but sometimes I feel bankrupt of any confidence.

I am a person of faith.  And yes, my faith makes a difference in my life.  But you know, when I’m drowning and feel overwhelmed with emotions that are threatening to consume my sanity, it’s hard to turn to God.  But it is precisely in these moments that God, if ever, could help me.  So many oxymorons in life.  In the moments when I need God, are exactly moments when I feel I can’t turn to God or forget that I have a God who cares about me!

So I write for myself, on this blog, hoping someone would read these words, but also that as I write them that I would hear the sound of my voice crying in the wilderness, and that hearing my words, would remind me of who I am.  Even when I feel utterly alone, yes, remember who I am.  That I am a child of God!!!

My hope, my trust

“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)

Dear God, as I look around the snow and see how beautiful it is, I see that what you have created is good. On this day, as I go about the day, help me to focus, help me to be productive and help me to feel your presence in my heart.  You are my hope and my trust. In you I delight in the promise of knowing you daily and eternally. Thank you for this weekend, the opportunity to write the paper I will be writing today, and thank you that I can worship you through the gifts you have given me.  God you have loved me first.  For that I am thankful and happy.  Your loving kindness overwhelms me.  I love you, God. Help me to be a blessing, to bring light unto the world, and to bring hope of joy to those you love.  Amen.