Saturday, April 25, 2020

Incline your ear.

It strikes me as so tender when I see someone tilting their head to one side to hear someone else.. I shot this picture as I watched some women entering a building in front of me. The younger woman leaning over to listen as she held the older woman’s arm was so touching. I wondered if they were mother and daughter, and in that phase of life where, as the mother had cared for her baby daughter, now the daughter was caring for her elderly mother.

When a mother or father gets on their knees to pay close attention to their little child it melts my heart. Even when I hear a tinge of impatience as a mom says, “Mmhmm,” to their child going on and on with their seemingly never-ending story, it’s a testament to their love. And don’t you love that move where the child reaches over to their parent, puts a hand on each cheek and physically turns their face to look at me, pay attention to me?

I think of the verse about God inclining his ear, an old-fashioned way of describing the movement.

Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.~~Psalm 116:2, King James Version

It used to be a common part of our church liturgy to sing, after our prayer, this simple little hymn.

Hear our prayer, O Lord,
Hear our prayer, O Lord.
Incline Thine ear to us,
And grant us Thy peace.
Amen.

I am tall and often have to lean over to hear others walking beside me. I like to imagine Jesus walking with me, doing the same, tilting his head to catch every word I say -- inclining his ear to me.

God wants to hear our every word. He wants to catch each word we say. There may be times when you feel like no one is listening, when you might feel alone, when you physically are alone, like now as we shelter in place. Often our faith is remembering. Even when you cannot feel God with you listening, remember that he is. Perhaps you can remember a time in the past where you were confident God was listening, even if it does not seem like it at the moment.

Try imagining it -- that helps me. Imagine you are sitting on a park bench by Jesus and he’s hearing your every word. Imagine you are walking down the sidewalk and he’s beside you, tilting his head to listen. Imagine he is sitting beside you in the car, encouraging you to trust him with your thoughts. Imagine you are hiking together and your steps are in synch as you tell him what is going on. 

Thank God he is always beside you, inclining his ear to you.

What can I pray about for you?


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What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Terrifying Chart

I read this article today. It's about the way this author conquered procrastination, but what caught my interest was the "Lifetime Chart" he posted. Here is a picture of an 88-year lifespan -- one box = one week. There are a lot of boxes, yes, but look, it fits on a page! And look how many he's already filled in. (Click here to see a full-size empty lifespan chart.)

Several quotes came to mind.

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~~Annie Dillard.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~~Mary Oliver.

"Carpe Diem." ~~Latin meaning "seize the day."

"My biological clock is ticking." ~~from the movie "My Cousin Vinny," spoken by Marisa Tomei.

"Time flies," or my dad's version, "Time do fly."

And speaking of my dad, this chart and, even more, the other one he links to, with one box per day, reminds me of the chart we used when my dad went to Vietnam. Each of us kids, my mom, and my grandma all had a chart posted on our walls with 365 boxes so we could cross off one per day as we counted down the days of the year he would be in Vietnam. 

The author called his chart terrifying. I don't know if I would call it terrifying, but maybe shocking? Maybe scary? Maybe too real? It makes the shortness of life so concrete.

To be honest, I don't know where I'm going with this. I could end with praising God that he gives me life, that he is with me through all of life, that I will be with him for eternity after this short life. All true, but they don't feel like a great insight from the impact this lifespan chart had on me. But there it is.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

A hen

from The Poultry Pages

Are you feeling anxious? Scared? Weighed down by dread? With all the sad, scary stuff going on with the Covid-19 virus and the uncertainty about what the future holds, these feelings are universal.

I read a sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber (a Lutheran pastor and author) recently where she spoke about “Be not afraid,” which we read often in the Bible (it’s in there over 100 times). In one way, it’s reassuring to know God tells us not to be afraid, but on the other hand, as Nadia says, just being told “Don’t be afraid” does not actually make us stop being afraid.

So what do we do? How do we deal with this fear? Nadia uses a passage from Luke 13:

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
~~Luke 13:31-34

First, I kind of love to think of Jesus saying, “Go and tell that fox…” As Nadia reminded us, Herod had killed Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist and here Jesus is showing how unafraid he is. Then he says, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” Isn’t that a beautiful image? The hen spreading her wings over her chicks, providing shelter, warmth, and love.

First a fox, then a hen. Nadia writes (emphasis mine):

    A mother hen cannot actually keep a determined fox from killing her chicks.  So where does that leave us? I mean, if danger is real, and a hen can’t actually keep their chicks out of danger, then what good is this image of God as Mother Hen if faith in her can’t make us safe?
    Well, today I started to think that maybe it’s not safety that keeps us from being afraid. 
Maybe it’s love.
    Which means that a Mother Hen of a God doesn’t keep foxes from being dangerous…a Mother Hen of a God keeps foxes from being what determines how we experience the unbelievably beautiful gift of being alive.
    God the Mother Hen gathers all of her downy feathered, vulnerable little ones under God’s protective wings so that we know where we belong, because it is there that we find warmth and shelter. 
    But faith in God does not bring you safety
    The fox still exists. 
    Danger still exists. 
    And by that I mean, danger is not optional, but fear is.  
    Because maybe the opposite of fear isn’t bravery.  Maybe the opposite of fear is love. Paul tells us that perfect love casts out fear. So in the response to our own Herods, in response to the very real dangers of this world we have an invitation as people of faith: which is to respond by loving. 

“Faith in God does not bring you safety.” That sentence was kind of a shock to my system. When I think about it now, I realize of course it is true, but my first reaction was, “Wait, God doesn’t keep me safe?!” It reminded me of the part in the Narnia chronicles where the beaver tells Lucy that Aslan “is not safe, but he is good.” And I remembered a song Anne Murray sings called “The Other Side” where the refrain says:

The journey may seem endless
When you know the road is rough
But on the other side of fear... is love

So, we are not safe from this virus. AND. We are loved. 

Sometimes I wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning with my mind full of worry, dread, and sadness. I try to remember that I can decide what to think about. I will pray for you and ask your prayers for me that when we are afraid, we will remember and focus not on our fear, but on God’s love. God gathers us under his wings. He is sheltering us in his love, giving us the warmth of his love. He is with us, loving us through whatever happens.

On my blog, I have an entry called “Help in the time of coronavirus.” It has links to and reflections on a list of things that have helped me during this time. I invite you to read and listen to any of these things that might help you, but more than that, I invite you to send me links or quotes or information about things that have helped you! I’ll add those to this page if you are okay with that.

Blessings to you.

What can I pray about for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start this email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry..

.     If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential