Boxes

We like things boxed. Cereal
Candy, soap, gifts, and corpses.
They seem safe when boxed, as are
We. As God and other
Potential dangers. So we
Sleep in a box, awake in
A box, shower in a box,
Refrigerate food, store knives
Drive to work, work for hours, where
We stare each day at boxes,
In boxed lives. Boxed-in we live.
Through boxed windows we look out, in.
God, once boxed, broke out, broke free.
But we keep pushing God back,
Our Jack, popping out on cue,
To music, though it’s not fair.
Nests have birds. Dens have foxes.
God will have none of our small
Boxes. God is free, and we
Are too.

(by the fictional Pat Miller, quoted in Brian McLaren’s book, ‘The Last Word and the Word After That, p34).

The Bible: Our Weapon of Choice

I just came across Chad Holtz’s blog, ‘Dancing on Saturday.’ There’s some interesting and challenging material posted, mainly to do with theology and common (perceived?) misconceptions. In one particular post Chad focuses on how the Bible was used in a past era to justify and defend slavery (and in particular how this relates to how we may chose to use the Bible in defending our own beliefs/belief systems today). He begins:

“It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that our modern (or post-modern) methods and means of interpreting Scripture are new, more fruitful, less hindered by old, out-dated modes of thinking. We are “enlightened,” or so we think, and any rooting around in the hermeneutical methods used by those that have gone before us will certainly reveal tendencies from which we have long since been delivered. This was my assumption. It was challenged upon reading the selected pieces for this essay. Indeed, it seems there is nothing new under the sun.” (Read the rest of this article here.)

Praying the Hours

I’ve been reading lately about fixed-hour prayer and how the early followers of Jesus used the practice of praying at fixed times of the day to anchor their lives and centre their attention on God. Many interpreted Paul’s exhortation to ‘pray without ceasing’ to be this type of prayer.

Phyllis Tickle wrote an excellent book The Divine Hours and a series of fixed-hour prayer books for the seasons of the year. I’ve been attempting this practice during Lent this year using Phyllis’ book (pocket edition), but I’m finding it difficult to remember when I need to stop and pray. I’ve often reverted back to Scot McKnight’s idea to pray The Lord’s Prayer three set times a day. Even this slips my mind too easily.

Has anyone else tried this kind of prayer? What was your experience like? Did you do anything in particular (successfully) that helped you to remember to pray?

The God of ‘Yes’

This is a prayer that was read at our staff prayer this morning. Marianne, our College’s Director of Spirituality, wrote it (actually adapted it from a meditation that meant a lot to her). I thought it was worth sharing.

When the ads offer us everything
If only we have the money
Lord, help us to say ‘No.’
When you offer us everything
If only we do without,
Lord, help us to say ‘Yes.’

When the easier way to succeed
Means we lose our integrity,
Lord, help us to say ‘No.’
When the harder way to succeed
Means we let go of our pride,
Lord, help us to say ‘Yes.’

When people want us to conform
And avoid creating a disturbance,
Lord, help us to say ‘No.’
When you want us to rebel
And bring about change,
Lord, help us to say ‘Yes.’

When our friends don’t respect
What we count as important,
Lord, help us to say ‘No.’
When you cakll us your children
With Jesus, our brother,
Lord, help us to say ‘Yes.’

When we feel like giving in
Just to save face,
Lord, help us to say ‘No.’
When you promise to be with us
Whatever may happen,
Lord, help us to say ‘Yes.’

You, O Lord, are the God of possibilities,
The God of change,
The God of ‘Yes.’
Let me be your ‘Yes’ in the world today.
Amen

Breaking Bread Together

I was encouraged to read about this group in the US and what they’re doing to bring an ancient Christian practice to life in today’s busy world. You can read about the weekly meal at St Lydia’s here.

Fields of Grace

Why “Fields of Grace?”

I have been captivated by this phrase ever since I heard it first sung in a Hillsong worship song, “All of My Days:”

All your works will praise you
Your children bless your name
We speak of all your goodness
We walk in fields of grace.

I could so clearly picture myself, with all my imperfections, troubles, errant ways and thoughts, stepping–no, running!– through these “fields of grace” and enjoying the calming, soothing, nourishing, refreshing grace of God as it washes over me. This song still brings a smile to my face every time I sing it.

Recently, another song, written with a similar theme, spoke into my life:

There’s a place where I love to run and play
There’s a place where I sing new songs of praise
Dancing with my Father God in fields of grace

There’s a place where I lose myself in Him
There’s a place where I find myself again
Dancing with my Father God in fields of grace

I love my Father, my Father loves me
I dance for my Father, my Father sings over me
And nothing, nothing
Nothing can take that away from me

There’s a place where religion finally dies
There’s a place where I lose my selfish pride
Dancing with my Father God in fields of grace

(Fields of Grace by Darrell Evans)

This ain’t no Sunday stroll. This is every day dancing, jumping, leaping in celebration (sorry, you still won’t catch me doing this at church!) Joyfully, ecstatically, praising the God of all grace who graces us every day with his goodness and mercy. What a gift!

So, while this blog won’t always be about grace, and while I won’t always feel like dancing as I write it, I would like to frame it in the unconditional love and goodness of God. It’s my desire that it will–often–celebrate grace and encourage everyone who visits it to dance their own dance in God’s amazing fields of grace.
(And, just in case you’re wondering, the web address “difog” stands for “dancing in fields of grace”.)