Prayer is subversive activity. It involves a more or less open act of defiance against any claim by the current regime. . . .[As we pray] slowly but surely, not culture, not family, not government, not job, not even the tyrannous self can stand against the quiet power and creative influence of God’s sovereignty. Every natural tie of family and race, every willed commitment to person and nation is finally subordinated to the rule of God.
Soren Kierkegaard told this story:
Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the sanctuary and squat down in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes its place, then the duck minister come forward and open the duck Bible. He reads to them: “Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings and you can fly like birds!”
All the ducks shouted, “Amen!” As the ducks left the service they commented on what a wonderful sermon it was. And they all waddled home.
-Campolo, T. Adapted from Let Me Tell You a Story. Nashville, Tenn: Word, 3000, pp. 81-82.
Martha, Martha! You are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. (Luke 10:41-42 RSV)We think there are a thousand things we should be concerned with, but there is actually only one. If we take care of that one thing, all the others will find themselves done. And if we fail to take care of the one thing that is needful, all the others—no matter how successfully we may seem to do them—will fall into ruin. So why are we so torn between matters of the heart and our worldly cares?From this day forward I resolve to give my total attention to the only thing on earth I ought to be concerned with. Illumined by God’s holy light, I resolve to stop worrying and to do every moment, with all the strength of my mind and body, whatever God in his providence places in my path. I will not be grieved about turning everything else over to God, because it is not my work I am doing, but God’s. And I ought to want to do only what God gives me to do.I resolve not to become keenly excited about anything, because it is dangerous to want to appropriate God’s work to ourselves. If we do that, then we do God’s work in own strength; we turn good into bad and we allow pride to take over. And then we become flushed with the pursuit of success. We concealed our illusion by using the pretext of seeking God’s glory.
O God, give me the grace to be faithful in my actions, but indifferent to success. The only thing I ought to be concerned with is to desire your will and to quietly meditate on you – even in the midst of busy times. It is up to you to crown my feeble actions with such fruit as is pleasing to you—and none at all, if that is what you find best for me.
“Be content, be content.”
Here is a quote from Thomas Merton that I took yesterday from “The Book of Hours”:
Be content, be content.
We are the Body of Christ.
We have found Him, He has found us.
We are in Him, He in us.
There is nothing further to look for, except the deepening of this life we already possess.
Here are ten interesting John Wesley quotes from the Logos blog
- “Every one, though born of God in an instant, yet undoubtedly grows by slow degrees.” —from a letter in the Works of John Wesley
- “No circumstances can make it necessary for a man to burst in sunder all the ties of humanity. It can never be necessary for a rational being to sink himself below a brute.” —from Thoughts upon Slavery in the Works of John Wesley
- “When I was young I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.” —from a letter in the Works of John Wesley
- “Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry.” —from a letter in the Works of John Wesley
- “Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then give all you can.” —from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley
- “Passion and prejudice govern the world; only under the name of reason. It is our part, by religion and reason joined, to counteract them all we can.” —from a letter in the Works of John Wesley
- “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.” —from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley
- “Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God. Think yourself, and let think. Use no constraint in matters of religion. Even those who are farthest out of the way never compel to come in by any other means than reason, truth, and love.” —from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley
- “Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergyman or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon the earth.” —from a letter in the Works of John Wesley
- “It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people.” —from a letter in the Works of John Wesley
Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote: “Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God”
(Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 2 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979, 2:45)
There is a Zen story about how a single breath can free us from the confines of our intellectualizing and unite us with all creation. Tokusan was a brilliant scripture scholar who went to study with Zen Master Ryutan. One night as Tokusan was leaving to go home to bed after a long evening of discussion, he noticed that it was pitch black outside. Zen master Ryutan lit a lantern and handed it to Tokusan. Just as Tokusan reached for the lantern, Ryutan blew it out. In that moment, Tokusan experienced enlightenment and bowed in gratitude. Tokusan realized that he was not dependent upon words and teachings to light the way for him. Even in times of darkness, he could experience his essential nature directly and be a lamp unto himself.
— Ellen Birx in Healing Zen
Today in church, while preaching in a Presbyterian church, I mentioned Reformation Sunday. It is not a tradition in this church to celebrate Reformation Sunday (more hereand here). I mentioned that oft repeated joke that we are Protestants and are still protesting.
During refreshments after the service, I get to talk to some of the members. One of them said that Protestants should not longer mean protesting. Protestants should mean professing and testifying. I like that thought.