Happy St Francis Day – Prayers for the Day

StFrancisOfAssisi_3

It is St Francis Day and as you can imagine the blogosphere is alive with prayers, reflections and blessings. I am not an expert on St Francis so thought I would leave the descriptions and explanations to those that are, like my friend Jamie Arpin Ricci. I suggest that you read this helpful article The Gospel According to St Francis he wrote a couple of years ago.

Here are some of my favourite St Francis Prayers.

This prayer commonly associated with St Francis was not actually written by him as Daniel Horan explains in Living the Prayer of St Francis With All Creation but is still a good reminder of all he stood for.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

Or you may prefer this form to meditate on

I particularly love this rendition written for international women’s day a couple of years ago

A Franciscan Prayer for International Women’s Day

I love this prayer which Micha Jazz posted on the Light for the Journey Facebook page this morning

Prayer for St Francis’ Feast

Francis, the destitute and lowly, enters heaven a rich man, acclaimed by the songs of angels!

Lord God, you made Saint Francis of Assisi
Christ-like in his poverty and humility.
Help us so to walk in his ways that,
with joy and love,
we may follow Christ your Son,
and be united to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Francis, the destitute and lowly, enters heaven a rich man, acclaimed by the songs of angels!

And finally a beautiful song/prayer/poem of praise from the Franciscan Friars.

The Praises of God

Lord God:
you alone are holy,
you who work wonders!
You are strong, you are great,
you are the Most High,
you are the almighty King,
you, holy Father, King of heaven and earth.

Lord God: you are Three and you are One,
you are goodness, all goodness,
you are the higest Good,
Lord God, living and true.

You are love and charity, you are wisdom,
you are humility, you are patience,
you are beauty, you are sweetness,
you are sefety, you are rest, you are joy,
you are our hope
and our delight,
you are justice, you are moderation
you are all our wealth
and riches overflowing.

You are beauty, you are gentleness,
you are our shelter, our guard
and our defender,
you are strength, you are refreshment,
you are our hope.
you are our faith.
you are our love,
you are our complete consolation,
you are our life everlasting,
great and wonderful Lord,
all powerful God, merciful Savior!

Amen.

And for those who might like to read more prayers and what I have written in previous years for St Francis day.

Let Us Desire Nothing But God – A Prayer by St Francis of Assisi

A Franciscan Prayer of Blessing

Blessing the Animals – Litanies and other resources

 

Deep Peace to You

This morning I am sitting at George Fox University in Newberg Oregon, where Tom & I are sharing about MSA and CCSP/Cascadia. Not much time to write posts but I thought that I would post this prayer that I uploaded on Facebook this morning. Enjoy!

Deep peace - prayer.

Deep Peace to You

Does Love Overcome Violence?

In the last few days I have posted several articles about the love of God and prayer. I also posted one about the riots here in Seattle on May Day. Guess which one got the most traffic?

It saddens me to see how much more easily we are drawn towards violence than towards love – not the mushy love of lust that is so often portrayed on the TV screen – but the enduring self sacrificing love that is at the core of who God is and who God wants us to be.

Violence saturates our society and we seem to accept it especially here in America. When I set out to get statistics on violence and media consumption this morning, I could find the results of little research done in the last 7 or 8 years. And the statistics from back then are rather sobering.  Evidently the average child, from 2004 figures, will see at least 8,000 murders on TV before they finish elementary school and 200,000 violent acts by age 18. And if you want to follow the statistics SCMS Canada is well worth a visit.

Yet many people do not believe that watching violence creates violent behaviour and unfortunately much of the research produces inconclusive results as this article shows. In fact the most quoted research, though it concedes that watching violence increases aggression, states the startling fact that:

We find that violent crime decreases on days with higher theater audiences for violent movies….  Overall, we find no evidence of a temporary surge in violent crime due to exposure to movie violence. Rather, our estimates suggest that in the short-run violent movies deter over 200 assaults daily.

So should we encourage the watching of violence hoping that it will actually decrease the incidence of violent crimes? Or is there another solution like teaching both children to love and care for each other rather than competing with each other.

Fortunately there are many organizations that are more concerned with peaceful rather than violent solutions to violence. Those involved in conflict resolution have grown remarkably in the last few years. Here are a few organizations worth checking out.

Eastern Mennonite University has a great list of resources on peace and conflict resolution, though of them deal with more global issues of violence.

Alternatives to Violence Project is another group that seems to take this issue seriously.

As you can see this has only been a very quick research project this morning and I would love to hear your input. How do you think the viewing of violence on TV and the interacting with violence in video games impacts behaviour? and probably even more important – How should we as Christians respond?

Top Ten Mediation Tips from Micha Jazz At Peaceworks.

group hug

Making peace with Micha Jazz and other members of the MSA international circle

Tom and I have just returned from a 5 day whirlwind trip to the East Coast working with Mennonites at Laurelville Mennonite Center, Renewal and Creation Care Study Program. I am still a little jetlagged as we arrived home at 1 am so I was delighted to discover a link to this great article on mediation written by our good friend Micha Jazz (aka Mike Morris) at Peaceworks. Conflict between people is a huge challenge for most Christian organizations contributed to by the continual stress that we work under. Also probably because we have just been working with people from a peace church perspective, I thought that this would make a great post for this morning. It was originally posted as Ten Top Mediation Tips on Peaceworks blog.

Micha has been be a part of the international circle of MSA for more years than we care to mention. He is also one of the founders together with Chris Seaton, of Peaceworks. Micha is an experienced CEDR accredited mediator (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution), an accredited workplace mediator, and a Recognised Member of the College of Mediators.

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Peaceworks’ Ten Top Mediation Tips 

1.      Always plan to have difficult conversations. Mediation provides a safe, confidential environment with adequate refreshments, to help everyone achieve their best.

2.      Take time ahead of the mediation to find the words to describe what you feel, why you feel the way you do and what you would like as an outcome. Your feelings and preferences are important and everyone wants to listen and discover what they are. You might feel upset, angry, disappointed, confused – mediation offers you the chance to say that, and to state what you want.

3.      Picture your future. How you would like things to be in 6 months time. This helps to see that there is a future beyond the mediation. The pain does not need to last forever. What will the next six months be like if there is no change? This mediation is important!

4.      As you consider what you want and what the future might look like, remember to be realistic. Mediations work best when everyone agrees a realistic, achievable and measurable agreement. Things will certainly feel and look a lot different if a clear agreement is achieved. So take time to build that agreement in the mediation. Do not rush.

5.      As far as you can, be very specific about issues and deal with each of them in turn. Once issues are clearly identified, there is a means for effectively and creatively dealing with the conflict.

6.      Work with the mediator to create a climate in which matters can be agreed and deals can be done; this may involve ‘turning the other cheek’ and ‘biting your lip’. Later, you will be glad you did.

7.      If there are difficulties be honest about them. There is ample opportunity to have a private meeting with the mediator and talk through your anxieties freely and confidentially. The mediator is there to support you throughout do your best.

8.      If you need to resolve financial issues, be sure you have details of the numbers involved and any paperwork that support your verbal claims. Confusion over data will always produce confusion within the process. If numbers intimidate you, request some help ahead of the mediation.

9.      Do not rely on ‘bar room’ advice as to what you ‘should’ walk away with! However well meant, it is likely to be unhelpful, and does not enjoy the benefit of the other party’s feelings and requests. What they say may have a positive impact on you. Remember, this is your dispute and you have the power to resolve it.

10.   Respect and be kind to yourself throughout. This is a mature and creative way to deal with conflict, and one that is increasingly promoted by the legal profession, HR departments, commercial companies etc. worldwide. You are at the cutting edge of the new way to deal with conflict effectively. How smart is that?

Where There is No Hope in God’s Promises

Peace or deluxe junk

Pece or deluxe junk?

This week I find myself grieving with many of my friends who have, at least it seems to me lost their hope in the promises of God.  One wrote this morning to say he thought there was light at the end of the tunnel and now feels it was really a train coming in the other direction.  Another feels they have been cut back to the nub pruned to an ugly stump that they are not sure will sprout again.  And as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I too have been struggling because we have not seen the finances we need come in for the Mustard Seed Village.  We feel as though we have reached for the peace of God and ended up with junk instead.

So what is the problem?  I suspect part of it is that we are hoping for the wrong things.  We think we understand what God has promised and charge ahead towards that without realizing that we have actually gone off the tracks.  Sometimes we try to force our own solutions to work and end up with a bigger mess than we started with.  Sometimes we just feel confused because nothing seems clear.

Another part of the problem is that we just don’t understand what God is about.  God is about love, compassion, peace, justice and joy.  God is about transforming us from self centred know it alls to other centred servants who understand they have more to learn than to teach in all and any of the experiences of life.  And the pain of disillusionment and unfulfilled promises is often the best pathway through which we learn this.  It is when we are hurting and vulnerable that God is most able to work in our lives partly because in that state we know that we are no longer in control. And that is the crux of the matter – we all want to be in control of our lives, of our ministries and even, often of the promises God has given us.  We want our solutions not God’s.

The third part of the problem is that we think what worked in the past is what God is wanting to do now and so we tend to be closed to new and often breathtaking possibilities.  I am reminded here of the story of Lazarus.  When Jesus heard his friend was ill he did not immediately jump into action.  He actually waited two days before he headed out to see his friend and in that time Lazarus died.  And as a result Jesus did something entirely new.  He did not heal, he raised from the dead.  It always makes me wonder is that part of the message of disappointment that God wants to teach us too.  We are looking for healing, but God’s plan is resurrection.

Letting go of control for our lives and ministries is probably the hardest challenge all of us face but it is essential if we are to grow into the loving, caring compassionate people God intends us to be.  Thinking about this today I wrote this prayer.

May we lean into your promises O God

And find the hope that raised Jesus from the dead

May we see your light shining in the midst of darkness

And hear your voice whispering in the stillness of the night

May we dream again of your kingdom coming

And look with trust and humility for your will to be done

May we yearn for life in your kingdom of love

Are We Deaf to Silence?

Looking at the waters

Looking at the Waters

One of the things I like to do Sunday afternoon is reflect on the scriptures for the week.  One of the scriptures for this last Sunday was 1 Kings 19:18, the story of Elijah fleeing from Jezebel into the desert.  In the New Revised Standard Version it reads:

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stoood at the entrace of the cave.

How do we hear silence and when we do what makes us want to respond by going out of the caves in which we have hidden in order to listen to God?

We live in a world that is full of noise.  This morning I am writing to the sound of Tom vacuuming in the background on top of the ever present traffic noise.  Silence is hard to find in our world and most of us don’t know how to listen or hear what it is saying to us.  But if we sit in stillness and reach deep within our hearts there we can always find the silence of God – not a silence that makes us ask Why can’t I hear the voice of God? nor is it a silence that blocks out the world around us.  Rather it is a silence that resonates with the peace and joy and love that can only be found when we walk close to God.  It is a silence that calls us to intimate relationship with the creator of the universe.  And it is a silence that calls us each day to move out into God’s world in compassion and love.

Another one of the scriptures was Matthew 14:22-33 Thinking about both of these today this prayer/poem welled up within my heart.

Christ you come to us

Not in the wind and storm

Not in the earthquake and fire

But in the sound of sheer silence

A breath of calm that stills the sea

And calls to my heart

Be not afraid peace be still

Come walk on the water

Follow me across the waves

No task is impossible, no pain unbearable

When I hold your hand

And peace shall be the pathway for your feet

Celebrate Life Not Death – How Should Christians Respond to Osama’s Death

The post below is adapted from this one that I read on New Wood blog.  It expressed so much of my sentiments & even quoted other posts I was preparing to post on.  You can read the original post here

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This weekend has been for me a wonderful opportunity to celebrate life.

As I commented in an earlier post, I drove down from Seattle to Hood River and then to Camas WA.  I have never seen the mountains, covered in a clean white coat of fresh snow surrounded by budding new green growth of trees, look more beautiful.  It was truly breathtaking.  Signs of new life were everywhere on this day of celebration: buds turning into leaves, grass green and growing, new species of birds arriving from the South.  We drank in the intoxicating views, breathed in the smells of spring time and celebrated the sense of a world made new.  This is truly the Easter season when we celebrate life and resurrection in all its glory.

I arrived home last night to the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death.  The president spoke.  The media poured over the first details.  Americans gathered across the US and celebrated.

I was troubled.  And I am not  just grieved because of the huge cost and consequences of the wars that have now raged for almost ten years, killing over a million civilians and displacing many more, to find and destroy this man.   Violence tends to beget violence and our spontaneous glee and casualness at the killing of this man, I suspect will beget more violence not less.  I would love to see terrorism around the world come to an end, but I am concerned that this is not the way to accomplish peace of any kind.

The Book of Proverbs says, “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble, or else the LORD will see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from them.”  Our Lord told us, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”  And of course “He who lives by the sword will also die by the sword.”

The Vatican released a statement today that echos much of what I feel and I must confess this did impress me as so few other Christian voices seem to be speaking out:

Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions to this end. In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.

From my twitter friends I also discovered and very much appreciated what Father James Martin says over at America Magazine:

Osama bin Laden was responsible for the murder thousands of men and women in the United States, for the deaths and misery of millions across the world, and for the death of many servicemen and women, who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives. I am glad he has left the world. And I pray that his departure may lead to peace.

But as a Christian, I am asked to pray for him and, at some point, forgive him. And that command comes to us from Jesus, a man who was beaten, tortured and killed. That command comes from a man who knows a great deal about suffering. It also comes from God.

Ultimately, as Martin points out, “All life is sacred because God created all life.”  We are meant to be life givers, peace bringers, reconcilers, restorers of the breach.  Until we come to accept these basic fact of our faith, and live their implications, violence will be firmly entrenched throughout the world.  The violence of war.  The violence of terrorism.  The violence of crime.  The violence of the death penalty.  The violence of abortion.  The violence against God’s creation.

All life is sacred!  Celebrate life, not death!  Violence, war, hatred, no more!

What Does God’s Kingdom Look Like – Unveiling God’s Dream for Shalom

Next week I will start posting responses for the summer synchroblog The Kingdom Is Here Where Do You See It? However as I was thinking about this today I realized that before we recognize the kingdom we need some understanding of what that kingdom looks like.  So I thought that over the next few days I would post some excerpts from my publication Wholeness and the Shalom of God in which I try to flesh out some of my understanding of God’s kingdom.

  • This afternoon’s post is on God’s Dream of Shalom
  • Tuesday – Unleashing the Anti shalom forces
  • Wednesday – Shalom and the Story of Israel
  • Thursday – Buying into a False Shalom Dream
  • Friday – the Prophetic vision
  • Saturday – Jesus and the Shalom of God

I hope that this will give us all a context in which to remind ourselves of that wonderful overarching vision of God for a world made whole.

Shalom – God’s goal in creation

God’s story too provides a vision of the good life.  As James Metzler expresses it: “Genesis 1 and 2 is God’s portrait of the good life, the shalom life, as the Biblical authors conceived it.”

Out of chaos and darkness God created a world of order and purpose. It was a beautiful world of lush abundance for all creation, a world in which everything – the sea, the land, the sun, the moon, the vegetation and all living creatures – was formed with a God given purpose and lived in harmony, security and peace together.

This beautiful mutually dependent world that God created culminated in the creation on the seventh day of God’s rest – the Sabbath.  Howard Snyder explains, “The Sabbath is not a negation – merely the cessation of work – but an affirmation, the creation of rest, peace, shalom. On the seventh day God created shalom – the crown and goal of all his work.”

The crown and goal of all God’s work was life as we see it in the garden of Eden – a community of people living and working together in harmony and mutual trust, caring for creation and relating personally to their God who walked in the garden with them.  And God looked at all that had been created with complete satisfaction.  “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” (Gen 1:27,28,31)

Shalom – the crown and goal of all God’s work – is a difficult word to grasp.  It really defies a one word translation.  Even though, as we have already mentioned, it is better expressed in the word “wholeness” than in the usual translation “peace” neither of these words are adequate to understand the full scope of shalom.  The second reason we have difficulty understanding the concept of shalom is because it represents a world none of us have ever  experienced – the world of an ideal creation where everything God created functions in the way that God intended it to – there is no death or disease, no oppression or exploitation of others, and no destructive acts towards creation.

Relationship – the essence of shalom

More than anything, shalom is about relationships.  It embraces all the dimensions of relationship that contribute to the wholeness God intends for our lives.  As the creation story shows, at the heart of shalom is our relationship to God.  The wholeness of shalom revolves around a personal relationship to a God who created human beings “in God’s image” and who walked and talked with them on a daily basis.   But it doesn’t stop there.  The wholeness of shalom is also about the relationships we share with each other.  God did not create us to live as isolated individuals but to live, men and women together in a harmonious interdependent community.

Each person was meant to reflect the characteristics of God in the way they lived and related to one another – characteristics which are highlighted in Paul’s description in Colossians 3:12-15 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

The dominion given to human beings over creation did not extend to other human beings.  Poverty, oppression, injustice, domination or exploitation of any form exercised by one human being over another are the very antithesis of the image of God and were obviously not part of that original creation.  As the Lausanne Covenant states, “Because mankind is made in the image of God, every person regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age has an intrinsic dignity because of which he should be respected and served, not exploited”

Shalom is a corporate vision embracing the entire community around us.  Brueggemann explains: “If there is to be well-being, it will not be just for isolated, insulated individuals; it is rather security and prosperity granted to a whole community- young and old, rich and poor, powerful and dependent.  Always we are in it together.  Together we stand before God’s blessings and together we receive the gift of life if we receive it at all.  Shalom comes only to the inclusive, embracing community that excludes none.”

Implicit in shalom is the concept of “souls in community”, an expectation that we function and grow as God intended only in conjunction with others and in harmony with God’s creation.

The third dimension of relationship expressed in the shalom imagery of the creation story is our relationship to creation itself.  Human beings were created with the explicit command to look after the rest of creation – “to work and take care of the garden of Eden.”(Genesis 1:15)  According to Genesis 2:15, the stewardship that human beings exercised was not meant to exploit or destroy God’s creation but rather was meant to nurture it in ways that would enable it to provide the environment of shalom God intended.  In other words our first assignment from God was the stewardship of creation a responsibility which implies protecting as well as encouraging its productivity in ways that would make it multiply and be fruitful.

The Jews were very aware that God created the world to live in shalom – in peace and loving caring relationships, which is why they captured this imagery in the creation story.  Unfortunately they were also aware that something terrible had occurred to disrupt this wonderful mutually supportive shalom world that God created.

Make Me A Channel of Your Peace – Sinead O’Connor

What a blessing it is when New Year’s Day abuts a weekend like this and I have not one day but several to think about the year that has past and what is to come.  As I look to 2010 I realize that there is much I hope to accomplish.  Sometimes I can become a little overwhelmed by my own creativity and never ending stream of ideas.  At such times, I realize it is good to take time to just sit peacefully and focus on the presence of God.

Thank you Sally whose questions helped me to focus this morning and think about both what I want to leave behind in 2009 and what I hope to achieve in 2010.  Thank you too for leading me to this video which provided a wonderful meditation that helped me to center in on God.

What is helping you to focus today as you move forward into 2010?

Civil Disobedience as Spiritual Practice.

I don’t usually do blog posts on Saturday morning but because I still have several articles that I have not been able to get posted I thought that I would post this interview today which was sent to me by Jarrod McKenna from Perth Australia.  Tom met Jarrod McKenna the last time he was in Australia and I am hoping that I will have an opportunity to meet him as well when he comes to the US next year.

bonhoeffer 4 - Simon Moyle, Jarrod McKenna, Jessica Morrison, Margaret Pestorius

bonhoeffer 4 - Simon Moyle, Jarrod McKenna, Jessica Morrison, Margaret Pestorius

Four anti-war protestors risked their lives recently, by entering defense land at Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, during live firing and bombing exercises.

They were attempting to halt a major military training operation, called Talisman Saber. The peaceful protesters were arrested, and fined for trespass and obstruction.

What’s unusual about these protesters is they were all Christians – two women and two men, including Reverend Simon Moyle, a young Baptist pastor from Urban Seed in Melbourne, and Jarrod McKenna – founder of the Peace Tree community in Western Australia.  They call themselves the “Bonhoeffer Four”

Listen to the interview here

Brian McClaren says of Jarrod McKenna

In my travels around the world, I see a lot to inspire cynicism -including a lot of shabby religious stuff I’d rather not even give examples of. But I also meet people who inspire hope and courage in me -emerging young leaders who “get” Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God, and who are living it and giving it away. They see the integral nature of mission – that it brings together God and humanity, humanity and creation, grace and nature, contemplation and action, evangelism and social justice, faith and politics, the making of disciples and the making of peace.  Jarrod McKenna and friends beautiful examples of this new breed of emerging integral leaders. I thank God for them. May their tribe increase!”

You might like to watch this video by Brian on Jesus and the Kingdom in conjunction with Jarrod’s interview