Lord teach me to pray
That I may draw nearer to You
Lord be with me
That I may not despair
Lord keep me still
That I may listen to You
Lord open my eyes
That I may see the needs of those around me
Lord guard my tongue
That my words will not cause hurt to anyone
Lord hold my hands
That I will not raise them against anyone
Lord guide my feet
That I might follow a right pathway
Lord come into my mind and heart
That I will care for your creation,
And love all your people more generously
Lord be with me
And guide me
Lord hear my prayer
Lord hear my prayer
T4P St Lucia Uniting Church, 6th June 2013, Lesley E Shaw
I have often thought of Psalms as the best toolbox for teaching the grammer of prayer. But prayer is not only conversation with God but a way transformation as the Spirit imbues us with new ideas and thoughts? In this the Psalms become also another tutor for the Christian life.
This Sunday the lectionary gives to us the gift of Psalm 146 which reminds us of the concern God shows for the marginalised and the oppressed.
I must admit that the words ‘The Lord watches over the strangers’ jumped out at me as I considered the past few weeks in Australian culture. There has been a fairly torrid discussion around racism in the media after a somewhat ignorant heckle by a young footy fan and a gaff by an awful eminent media personality.
So often we view those who are different from us as strangers and I think lurking behond the lawayer’s question to Jesus in Luke ‘who is my nieghbour?’ is another more insidious question – ‘who can I treat as strangers?’ As if somehow we can treat those who are not nieghbours differently, as lesser.
The Psalm reminds us that regardless of whom we think of as strangers God watches over them, just as God watcehs over us. If God watches over such ‘strangers’ can we knowingly then treat the so-called stranger in any other fashion except as honoured by God?
Should we take the approach that strangers are really just friends I have yet to meet and know? How might that transform how any of us approach people who are different to ourselves? And in the end is there really a them when we are all God’s creatures together?
In Psalm 96 it encourages God’s people to sing a new song to the Lord. It sounds like a nice idea but I have to admit learning a new song can be awkward. Last year I joined a choir and had to find my part as a tenor as we learnt new songs. We worked for 6 months learning our new songs to perform. We learnt new words and new harmonies. Along the way there were many mistakes as each part was practiced and then added into the mix. Yet even then it was not simply a case of knowing the words and music but more signficantly owning the emotions within the words, expereincing them so as to convey meaning.
As people of faith the invitation and exhortaion to sing a new song is the invitation to discipleship, to commit ourselves to the transformation of the Holy Spirit which is already at work in us. To own the words we sing and experience them. This becomes not simply a way of udnerstanding new music in the church but any new learnings or inspiration that comes in our walk of faith. As we encounter new learnings and new experiecnes often the journey from the first encounter to the owndership and living of that aspect of our faith takes time effort and energy. This is simply part of our pilgrimage as we learn to sing new songs.
In John 14:27 Jesus says that he gives ‘not as the world gives’.
When I reflect on this it gives me hope that whilst we may offer all sorts of activities as a church community ultimately at the heart of what we share is something that we actually cannot offer ourselves.
The offer of Jesus is peace in our relationship with God and the promise of a future when God’s peace will come into all people’s lives and the whole creation. The things we do as a congregation are, at best, a pointer to our hope in what Jesus offers.
This leaves me with a question: “How can we as a congregation help others see the hope that Jesus offers not simply what we do or do not have as a congregation?”
Peace be with you.
St Lucia Uniting Church Sunday Worship 9 am
Free Bus for Pick Available. Please call Marilyn Healy on 0411 418 599 by Saturday evening.
There is alot of discussion this week on the radio on what winning an election does or does not imply, particularly when it comes to mandates.
One caller on ABC radio, who volunteered they had voted for the Coalition, stated very clearly that whilst voting this way he disagreed with the stance on Asylum seekers and on Foreign Aid. He went on to say that it is impossible for an incoming government to claim that they have won a mandate on any particular policy as voters will agree and disagree with a range of things being offered by that party.
In terms of the issues raised by this caller as Christians the question of what our democratic role is between our voting opportunities remains. How can we continue to put before the new government our concern over the way our country if treating Asylum seekers? How can we encourage a greater commitment towards overseas aid?
Making personal commitments in giving is one apsect of this but is there also not a responsbility to approach our local representatives to express our concerns and invite further contemplatation on these issues? Should we also sign the petitions and letters to seek to influence change?
As a congregation we are blessed with the presence of people on Aus Aid scholarships most of whom are studying subjects which are about community building. This investment in other countries should not be underestimated.
How does your faith convert to action? How do we support the most vulnerable people in the world?