I finally went to Meeting for Worship

Sunday I went to a Meeting for Worship with some local Friends. I’d been once before, but that was several years ago, and my heart was telling me, repeatedly (repeatedly) that I needed to go back.

This call isn’t new. I had it years ago, and because of it I picked up Jim Pym’s Listening to the Light. It was my first exposure to Quaker thought. I devoured the book in the few weeks I had it checked out. I found a local meeting and even drove by the place where they met. I never went, though.

Later I read a few more books and poked around online. It took a few years before I actually went to a Meeting. And I went, and I sat. And being my rather shy, nervous self I quickly jumped up and ran off at the rise of worship.

So why, two years or more later, is something tugging me back there? I don’t know. I do know that the longer I put it off, the stronger the pull got, so I went. And I sat.

Nothing miraculous happened. No major spiritual insights (well, not for me). I just sat there.

And I figure that’s part of the point. Sometimes you just sit there because it’s where you’re supposed to sit. And you wait. Maybe you’ll be aware of something happening, and maybe you won’t. But you sit, and you wait.

And this weekend I figure I’ll go sit again. It’s where I’m supposed to sit.

Holy Fools: A prayer for Carnival

Christmas is the most theologically significant part of the liturgical year for me, the incarnation being of central importance to me. At the end of the twelve days of Christmas is Epiphany, celebrating the realization of the divinity in the child Jesus (or, to our Eastern brethren, the realization of the divinity of the baptized Jesus). Christmas turned the world upside down, and Epiphany is when the world caught up to that fact.

It’s only fitting, then, that the end of Christmas is the beginning of my favorite season, Carnival! Carnival season in south Louisiana is a celebration of the topsy-turvy world. In light of that, I shared the prayer below on Twelfth Night as my family gathered on the last night of Christmas, looking ahead to the Carnival season that means so much in my house. I hope it resonates with you as it did with me.

Father and God of Fools,
     Lord of Clowns and Smiling Saints,
     we rejoice that You are a God of laughter and tears.
Blessed are You, for You have rooted within us
     the gifts of humor, lightheartedness and mirth.
With jokes and comedy, You cause our hearts to sing
     as laughter rolls out from us.

We are grateful that Your Son, Jesus, the master of wit,
     daily invites us to be fools for Your sake,
     to embrace the madness
     of Your prophets, holy people and saints.
We delight in that holy madness
     which becomes medicine to heal the chaos of the cosmos
     since it calls each of us
     from the humdrumness of daily life
     into joy, adventure
     and, most of all, into freedom.

We, who so easily barter our freedom
     for illusions of honor and power,
     are filled wih gratitude that Your Son, by His life,
     has reminded us to seek only love,
     the communion with each other and with You,
     and to balance honor with humor.

With circus bands and organ grinders,
     with fools, clowns, court jesters and comedians,
     with high spirited angels and saints,
     we too join in the fun and foolishness of life,
     so that Your holy laughter
     may ring out to the edges of the universe.

Blessed are You, Lord our God,
     who invites us to be holy fools.

Amen

This prayer appears in Edward Hays’ Prayers For The Domestic Church, © 1979, published by Forest of Peace Books.

A song for Christmas

Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!

Tempus adest gratiæ
Hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina lætitiæ
Devote reddamus.

Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante,
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante.

Ezechielis porta
Clausa pertransitur,
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.

Ergo nostra contio
Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino:
Salus Regi nostro.

Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born
Of the Virgin Mary — rejoice!

The time of grace has come—
This that we have desired,
Verses of joy
Let us devoutly return.

God has become man,
To the wonderment of Nature,
The world has been renewed
By the reigning Christ.

The closed gate of Ezekiel
Is passed through,
Whence the light is born,
Salvation is found.

Therefore let our gathering
Now sing in brightness
Let it give praise to the Lord:
Greeting to our King.

A Prayer For Christmas

Teach us, O God, to follow the homeless refugee king who came that the blind might see, the prisoners be set free, the chains of oppression be broken. For you fill the hungry with good things, and send the rich away empty. May we be filled, and may we learn to love as we have been loved by you: indiscriminately, and with reckless abandon.

Read the full text here

Praying with beads

Several years ago I discovered the existence of Anglican prayer beads. Hungry for contemplative practices that fit with my faith I took to them quickly. They had the added bonus of feeding my creative side in the act of stringing them myself, and I started making different themed strands. I had used the Jesus Prayer previously, and it was easily used with the beads, giving me something concrete on which to focus. I started off using the Trisagion and Jesus Prayer as listed on the prayer bead site above. I wanted more, though, and began to combine from other sources: scripture, prayer books, poetry.

Eventually I fell away from the practice. Truly, my prayer life has been barely extant. Recently, though, I felt a call to return to the practice. I pulled out a strand I had made in that original burst of interest and began to search for prayers that I could use. The Trisagion and the Jesus Prayer are both still important to me, but the language of mercy felt a little off. Remembering Marcus Borg’s assertion that “compassion” is a better fit in scripture than “mercy” (see page 47 of Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time) I made small edits to the original English phrasing so that the prayers fit my own experience of God. And in my search I found one more short prayer that made my heart sing, and the cycle was complete.

I offer to you the prayers I’ve been saying these last few days, and hope to continue doing as long as I feel the call. (See the first link above for explanation of terminology.)

Cross

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Invitatory

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have compassion upon me

Cruciforms

Oh my God, good and compassionate, I hope in You.

Weeks

Lord Jesus Christ, have compassion (on me).

Closing Cross

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.