Friday, August 24, 2007

my name is known to you

God of many names,
my name is known to you.
I am held in the hand of your life,
and I do not know what you will make of me.
All I know is that I cannot make myself
any more than I could in my mother's womb.
But this I can do,
this I choose,
to give myself into the hand of your continuing creativity.
My past, with its joys and triumphs, its failures and regrets.
My present, with its struggles and accomplishments, its hopes and setbacks.
My future, with its fears and freedom, its pain and promise.
To loose and to bind, to stretch and to shape,
to become what I will,
trusting the hand that made the world
trusting the spirit that breathes life
trusting the love that will not let me go
trusting the promise of the Word made flesh.
--Kathy Galloway, Talking to the Bones

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"How Shall I Pray?" by Ted Loder

I returned a few hours ago from a week with my family in Iowa. Months ago, we planned a reunion, but my grandmother's declining health and pending death gradually overshadowed our expectations for the week. She "rallied" for the time together and was physically present quite often, though she is not always lucid. When she was alert, she enjoyed participating in or hearing about other events of the week: we updated our family portrait, we celebrated birthdays, my sister flew back from Japan, my brother surprised us, my wife and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. When it was time to leave, I struggled to wave goodbye to my grandmother; I do not expect to see her alive again in this life. The trip was an emotional roller coaster.

The day after I left for Iowa, a member of the congregation died, a dear man who has wrestled disease with such dignity that many people didn't know he was dying. Then, later in the week, another member of the congregation, a devoted wife, mother, youth leader and church leader didn't wake up Thursday morning. This is devastating news for the church.

I'm preparing a sermon for worship tomorrow and am at a loss. I found the prayer How Shall I Pray? by Ted Loder (in the collection Guerrillas of Grace) which I pray tonight. This is the entire prayer; the first half really resonates.

How shall I pray?
Are tears prayers, Lord?
Are screams prayers,
or groans
or sighs
or curses?
Can trembling hands be lifted to you,
or clenched fists
or the cold sweat that trickles down my back
or the cramps that knot my stomach?
Will you accept my prayers, Lord,
my real prayers,
rooted in the muck and the mud and the rock of my life,
and not just my pretty, cut-flower, gracefully arranged
bouquet of words?
Will you accept me, Lord,
as I really am,
messed up mixture of glory and grime?
Lord, help me!
Help me to trust that you do accept me as I am,
that I may be done with self-condemnation
and self-pity
and accept myself.
Help me to accept you as you are, Lord:
and yet to trust
that your madness is wiser
than my timid, self-seeking sanities,
and that nothing you've ever done
has really been possible,
so I may dare to be a little mad, too.