Just an explanation about “Follow-It”

For those of you who have signed up for email notification when I make a post, Word Press is changing their systems and dropping their email service, resulting in my needing to change my way of doing things. So I signed up with “Follow-It,” which basically does the same thing. I’m not pleased with how the layout looks or the ads at the bottom, but until I find a new replacement (and I’m open to suggestions!), this is where we are at. I know I love the feature of getting the post via email and hope you will continue also — Maggie

Tend the Sick, Lord, Christ – Embodiment

Prayer in the NIght – Chapter 7

I know all too well we all are confined to bodies. Between cancer, fragile bones, and the germs of life (much less COVID), we are constantly reminded that we are limited by what our bodies give us – energy and intelligence to accomplice. 

It’s part of our vulnerability: “We are reminded in sickness that none of us is the master of our own destiny, the sustainer of our own life…We want to be indispensable, omnicompetent, and indestructible. But we are human, creatures of the dust. Embracing this truth about ourselves is the kind of humiliation that births freedom.” (95,96)

It’s in our most isolated, vulnerable state we cry out to God. We ask God to become once again involved with human bodies, our weaknesses. And through our weakness, we ask him to bless this world.

I look forward to the day when we will be with Jesus, eternal in our bodies. No sin, no disease, no death. Free from the confines, free from the fear of pain, harm or death. Free, just as Jesus was free in his resurrected body. 

I wonder if we’ll walk through walls?

PS – If you haven’t yet, please buy Tish Harrison Warren’s book, Prayer in the Night! It’s on Amazon – and there is so much more in each chapter!

Give Your Angels Charge Over Those Who Sleep – Cosmos & Commonplace

Prayer in the Night – Part Three: A Taxonomy of Vulnerability Chapter 6

Chapter 6 begins a third section of the book: “A Taxonomy of Vulnerability.” If you’re like me, I had to look up the meaning of “taxonomy,” which means “the classification of something, especially organisms” or “a system of classification” (thank you, Google!).

Earlier in the book, the author talks about the vulnerability of the night, taking us back into the era before electricity, police protection, and burglary alarms. But even more harmful was the way that our society has concluded that only what we could see and control matter. We make our faith “less enchanted,” trying to make it intellectual. So at night, our minds swirl to figure out everything we didn’t figure out the day before, robbing us of rest, true rest, of minds and hearts.

Tish writes, “We are all helpless when we sleep…every day, whether we like it or not, we must enter into vulnerability in order to sleep…Because sleep is so vulnerable, we sometimes have a hard time embracing it.” (88-89)

But we have to let go, in order to sleep – let go of all those things we can’t control during the day. She quotes James Bryan Smith, “You cannot make yourself sleep. You cannot force yourself to sleep. Sleep is an act of surrender. It is a declaration of trust, admitting that we are not God (who never sleeps), and that is good news…” 

Sweet release. Can’t you feel it? Only God and his angels can keep watch over us and protect us. We let go…and we let God…and then, we can wake up refreshed!

PS – Please buy the book by Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night, and follow along with this blog. I write about what God is showing me through it, but there is so much more I’m sure he wants to show you!

Those Who Work – Restoration

Prayer in the Night – Chapter 5

The last category is “those who work.” As Americans, we try to put this one first, as if all the glory and attention should go for what we produce. But if we jiust focus on our work, we’ll never be comforted in our grief or attentive to what God is doing.

We often do see spirituality in our work. Tish writes, “We leave our small mark on the world…Done well, it adds truth, beauty, and goodness to the world. It pushes back the darkness.” (page 65) She calls it participation “in God’s mending of a world unraveled.” (page68)

She also talks about how “work weaves us together as a human race, dependent and interconnected.” (page 66) What we produce is not meant to be owned but shared. That’s why greed is so devastating.

And she also talked about Jesus and how he worked. He didn’t live off the goodwill of others or God’s riches. He learned a trade and contributed to the livelihood of others.

My favorite quote from this chapter (page 76): 

“God became flesh 
and built some furniture.” 

PS – She’s got a great sense of humor in her book Prayer in the Night! Get it on Amazon or another retailer.

Those Who Watch – Attention

Prayer in the NIght – Chapter 4

The second category of those who pray are those who watch, who give attention to the world around them.

Sometimes life smacks us in the face, resulting in weeping. And sometimes we observe life, the nuances, the dangers, the solutions. We give it our attention.

And we give God our attention. What was his intent? When will the world be reordered according to the perfect will of God? What are the signs?

This all takes time. While weeping is spontaneous in the moment, attention is spread out, enduring, focused.

Tish writes, “Christians believe this cosmic reordering has already begun in the resurrection of Christ. Jesus’ resurrection is the sole evidence that love triumphs over death, that beauty outlives horror, that the meek will inherit the earth, that those who mourn will be comforted. The reason I continue watching and waiting, even as the world is shrouded in darkness, is because the things I long for are not rooted in wishful thinking or religious ritual but are as solid as a stone rolled away.” (page 57)

Don’t you love that? The cosmic reordering has begun. Jesus sacrificed his life so that all could be redeemed. No more weeds, pain in childbirth, sin or death. Why? 

Because a stone was rolled away.

Our task is to watch for the Lord. What is he saying or doing in our midst? How does he want us to give hope to others? How does he want to heal?  How does he want to give us light in the midst of darkness?

Do you see the light?

Are you watching? 

PS – Tish Harrison Warren says it so much better in her book, Prayer in the Night! Read it for yourself!

Those Who Weep – Lament

Prayer in the Night – Chapter 3

Chapter 3 begins the second part of the book entitled: “The Way of the Vulnerable.” We look at those who are praying this prayer. But instead of taking the three categories in the order they are prayed, she switches them up as she explains in the book (see – I’m not going to tell you – you need to get the book!).

Why is it important to be able to weep?

Only when we weep, when we see the inescapable reality of the grief before us. Only then can we move beyond ourselves, our own strengths, and desire salvation. 

That kind of grief is known throughout scripture. Generation after generation have turned to God, wept and torn their clothes. At one point, Tish writes, “The church’s prophetic witness to an outraged culture is to be a people who know how to weep together at the pain and injustice in the world (both past and present) and at the reality of our own sin and brokenness.” (page 44)

But his kind of grief doesn’t fit with man’s expectation of God. We think God should not allow it. As she put it, it’s almost like “we wait for God to convince us that he is a useful accessory in our own project of self-creation. In this way, so very subtly, we approach God not in honest lament but as unhappy customers. God isn’t giving us what we want, he isn’t taking away the pain of this world, and frankly he’s so terribly slow.  We are not pleased with the job God is doing, and the customer is always right.” (49)

“Unhappy customers,” grumbling at management because the world isn’t working the way we want it to. What a mess! We’re still trying to control our circumstances, trying to control God. 

Only when we allow ourselves to weep do we begin to know who we are and who God is. 

It’s all about relationship.

PS – Please buy the book by Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night! So many gems – I couldn’t include them all!

Keep Watch, Dear Lord – Pain & Presence

Prayer in the Night – Chapter 2

The first line of the Compline reads, “Keep watch, dear Lord…” and highlights not that we want the Lord to see us, although we do, but the importance of who we are praying to…

For many, there is no “dear Lord.” They have turned away from God or embraced the absence of God. It’s not always because of empirical facts, but because they cannot bring together who they feel God is supposed to be with the realities of sin and suffering in this world. 

It’s easier to believe there is no God than to be disappointed with suffering.

But while God doesn’t take away our vulnerability to suffering, he has promised to be with us through it, through the dark hours of the night. 

Tish quoted Spufford and wrote, “we don’t ask for a Creator who can explain himself. We ask for a friend in time of grief, a true judge in times of perplexity, a wider hope than we can imagine in a time of despair.” 

I love this quote. In our hearts, we can’t understand why the world is the way it is. The Creator cannot explain to us in a way our limited minds can be satisfied why we are no longer living in the Garden of Eden. But it is obviously true that we, and this world, are broken.

And even when life is dark and I’m afraid, he gives me hope.

PS – The book by Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night, available on Amazon.

Finding Compline – Nightfall

Prayer in the Night – Chapter 1

The prayer begins with a time and place. It’s nightfall, but not like the nightfall you and I get excited for when work is over and nightlife begins. This is the nightfall of ages past, when the night was a fearful time, not being able to see dangers, evil stalking where it’s so dark, you can’t even see shadows. No lightbulb to turn on when things get scary…you have to pray through the scary…

We all feel more vulnerable at night. During the day, things are under our control, or at least we try to put them under our control. But at night, it’s harder. Tish makes the point, “each of us begins to feel vulnerable if the darkness is too deep or lasts too long.” (page 14)

She explains, “The term vulnerable comes from the Latin word meaning “to wound.” We are wound-able.” (page 15) During the day, we may have come to blows, but we have had counterblows we landed, or defenses to build, making us feel protected. But in the darkness of night, it’s easy to lose perspective, to not see our strengths but only feel our weakness.

It’s in those moments, the dark ones, we pray this prayer. We don’t need it at daybreak or even in the hot sun of noon. It’s when we are vulnerable, it’s too dark and we don’t know how much longer we will have to go through this that we call on God. 

God is not only the God of the day who leads us through activities.

He’s the God of the night.

PS – Please buy the book by Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night! There is SO MUCH MORE!

Read with me…Prayer in the Night

Have you ever read a really good book and you want to share it with others?

I was just introduced to Tish Harrison Warren’s book, Prayer in the Night. I bought it almost immediately from Amazon, hoping the momentum would not leave me before receiving it. My shelves are lined with books I once wanted to read, but momentum passed…

Since Amazon delivered it “Prime,” I didn’t have much of an excuse. So, I cracked it open the evening I received it and entered into a whole, new world.

It wasn’t like reading The Hobbit and entering a fantasy world, but it was almost as different. As an evangelical, I haven’t “read” prayers and was guilty of much of the prejudice she talked about in her Prologue (yes, I read prologues…). She’s an Anglican priest. I pray when I feel like it while she prays the prayers of the “Hours.” 

But her story in the Prologue gripped me – we both pray when we are desperate, completely vulnerable to the world and dangers in it.

As she said, “I needed this moment of crisis to find its place in something greater: the prayers of the church, yes, but more, the vast mystery of God, the surety of God’s power, the reassurance of God’s goodness.”

That thought captivated me – having a crisis find its place in “the vast mystery of God, the surety of God’s power, the reassurance of God’s goodness.”

And I couldn’t wait to read more…

PS – Please buy the book by Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night! I’ll be writing about my impressions, chapter by chapter, but there is SO MUCH MORE!

Whew! Genesis Wrap-Up

Thank you so much for joining me on the adventure of Genesis. It’s been a long journey and I’m glad we are done, yet sad we are done.

I’ve learned so much during the time and hope you have also. I’d love to hear what you have learned if you would like to leave a comment or email me.

What’s next? 

I don’t really know! I’m waiting on the Lord. Exodus feels good, like the next in the “sequel,” but like Jacob, I want to stop in the midst of my feelings, worship God and make sure it’s where he wants to go.

So, stay tuned. While doing Genesis, I got behind in several other things, including revamping our website. It’s so old, it needs to catch up with the rest of our lives. But I’ll let you know when things change so that we can continue to grow together…

Into new beginnings!