Categories
attention the real self

A million things

…to run anything in this world…is like being lost in a forest of a million trees…and each tree is a thing to be done… A million trees. A million things. Until finally we have eyes for nothing else, and whatever we see turns into a thing.

So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When he came, I missed him.

— The Inkeeper

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Birth”

I can’t begin to convey the magic of Frederick Buechner’s sermon “The Birth”. Sermon isn’t really the right word. It’s more like three interviews with people who witnessed the event: the Innkeeper, the Wise Men, and the Shepherds. The quote above is from the Innkeeper’s account, his witness, his confession – that’s what it is in the end – his confession. And it’s my confession, too; maybe it’s yours.


  • Are we lost in the forest of our concerns, so lost we can’t see the Light of the World around and among us?
  • He came to his own people and his own people…”missed” him.  Do we, like the innkeeper, have no room, no mental or emotional space, for Jesus to be born? Are we missing him? Are we aware we are missing him?
  • What can we do to not miss him? (Attention is the beginning of devotion.)
  • List out some of the ‘million things’ in your life. Note down times in your life when those things caused you to miss something important. Write down what Jesus means to you and what you might do to give him more space in your life.

I highly recommend Buechner’s book and that you read this particular sermon. What I have shared here doesn’t begin to do it justice.

Grace and peace to you…

dw

p.s. This is a refresh of a past post from early 2018

Categories
prayer

With prayer

With prayer, one can go on cheerfully and even happily, while without prayer, how grim is the journey. Prayer is as necessary to life as breathing. It is drink and food.

Day, Dorothy. The Reckless Way of Love: Notes on Following Jesus (Plough Spiritual Guides: Backpack Classics) (p. 40). Plough Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

Prayer isn’t like sit ups.

It’s not a thing.

It’s not a thing you do to get some other thing.

Prayer is knowing Someone is there

who loves you,

who would die to be with you,

who hears and understands,

who knows exactly who you are,

who you are meant to be,

who will take you there no matter what,

who will never leave you or forsake you.

Prayer is staying close to that Person as if your life and hope and happiness depended on it.

That Person, for me, is Jesus.

If you like, he will be that Person for you, too.


  • How does the quote from Dorothy Day strike you? How is your experience compared to hers?
  • Do you view prayer as a ‘spiritual exercise’, like sit ups? If so, what do you seek to gain by such exercise? Do you find it helpful?
  • How does my reflection on prayer strike you? What seems true or helpful? What seems far-fetched or missing?
  • I encourage you to take time to write out your thoughts, to share them in the comments below if you like, or to share them with someone close to you.

Grace and peace to you…

dw

Copyright © 2020, becomingflame.com

Categories
Current Events Music Prayers

Prayers for Perilous Times

We live in a perilous time, a time we need to pray through so we can act with honesty, courage, and love…after we listen with honesty, humility, and love. Listen to the Spirit within us, in the pages of the Bible, and in those we may or may not agree with. Act by following Jesus on his path toward Golgotha and the Cross, in order to finally arrive in Glory, all together, beyond our differences and unified.

Two prayers come to mind for times such as these. Let’s take the opportunity to consider, to imagine, to lean in, and to appropriate these words for ourselves, our loved ones, and even for those we don’t love so much.

I hope you find them encouraging and uplifting.

Grace and peace to you…

dw


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;


may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;


may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;


may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Claiborne, Shane. Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (p. 50). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

You may be interested in reading a previous post about this prayer here where there are some prompts for reflection.


The second prayer, a hymn attributed to St. Patrick, comes in two parts (with music by yours truly). You can see the original posts here and here.

Stone Irish cross in rural landscape
Image by krystianwin from Pixabay

Part One

I bind unto myself to-day
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,
⁠By power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river;
⁠His death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
⁠His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
⁠I bind unto myself to-day.

I bind unto myself to-day
⁠The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch. His might to stay,
⁠His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
⁠His hand to guide. His shield to ward;
The Word of God to give me speech,
⁠His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
⁠The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
⁠The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh.
⁠In every place, and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
⁠I bind to me these holy powers.

I bind unto myself the Name,
⁠The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same,
⁠The Three in One, and One in Three.
Of Whom all nature hath creation;
⁠Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation
⁠Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Part Two

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
⁠Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
⁠Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
⁠Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
⁠Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.