Pinning our hopes on you, little baby (a Christmas Eve prayer)

blog post--12-24-12baby photo

We bless you, our God,
mighty sovereign power,
gentle caring mother.
You do not forget your children.

We bless you, our God,
for your great gifts to us:
creation–fragile and fascinating,
Scripture–revealing your truth.

And you bless us . . .
with your forgiving love,
with the vision of your kingdom,
shedding light in our darkness.

Bless us and disturb us God
with that vision of your kingdom,
and as we voice our hopes to you now,
may they strengthen us,
reassure us
and move us . . .

We pray for those caught up in wars around the world;
soldiers, refugees and those who hold fast
to the reasons for the fighting . . .

(Silence)

We pray for the homeless
–excluded from what the rest of us are doing,
cold, struggling to keep a hold of who they are . . .

(Silence)

We pray for those who are ill,
coping with pain, fearing the worst,
and for health professionals who plan for the future . . .

(Silence)

We pray for those people struggling in relationships,
especially at this “family time,”
when the cracks are kept just below the surface . . .

(Silence)

And for the deepest hopes of our hearts, we pray now . . .

(Silence)

Into the mess of this world a fragile child will come
yelling in the night for his mother,
needing milk and clean linen . . .

We pin our hopes on you, little baby,
our God
–pushed out into the world,
through pain and into poverty.

Our God is with us and our hope is reborn.

Amen.

–from Cloth for the Cradle:Worship resources and readings for Advent, Christmas & Epiphany, Iona Community, Wild Goose Worship Group, 2000.

A peek into spiritual direction

Spiritual direction by Kevin Driedger

I enter the room for spiritual direction. My director, J. is there, lighting a candle and smiling as she greets me. I meet with her about every four-six weeks, depending on our schedules. Meeting with a spiritual companion is one of my spiritual disciplines, which are things I regularly do to deepen my relationship with God. With a spiritual companion I have someone who listens compassionately as I discern God’s presence and movement in my life.

We sit in chairs facing one another, near the windows looking out onto a meadow, and together we wait in silence, in prayer.

“I don’t know what to talk about today,” I say.

J. nods.

“I’ve been working on some writing projects ….” My voice trails off.

She attentively waits.

“And I’m writing some stuff for my blog but I think I have offended some people.”

J. raises her eyebrows and asks, “Really?”

And in this moment I see that I have no idea if someone was offended.  God reveals to me that I am very fearful of rejection and criticism—I am afraid of offending someone who will in turn reject me. And I see my fear as something God wants to heal and transform in me.

“I’m afraid and I feel very bound up by fear,” I say.

“Well, how do you pray about your fear?” she asks.

“I often pray, ‘Perfect love casts out all fear,’” I say. “But I don’t know if I believe this is true because I feel so afraid.”

“Do you want to talk to Jesus about your fear right now?” J. asks.

I nod yes and she leads me in a guided meditation where I offer my fear to Jesus but also ask him to help my unbelief. I use a lot of tissues during this prayer time.

We conclude the guided prayer and I feel some relief, some resolution, but I know this is a lifetime struggle for me.

J. says to me, “The opposite of fear is freedom that comes from faith. I suggest a breath prayer like, ‘Set me free Lord, set me free.’ I think if you focus on this prayer for the next several months you will begin to experience some inner freedom.”

I agree with her and tell her I will begin using the prayer this very day. She doesn’t often suggest a specific prayer or assign “homework” but because I trust her—her wisdom, experience, and faith–I do as she suggests. We sit in a comfortable silence until I say, “Thank you—even though I didn’t have anything to talk about today, God certainly had a plan!”

We laugh together then she closes our time with prayer. My spiritual director shares her time, presence, and wisdom and through our sessions together I have a greater awareness of God’s healing, transforming movement in my life. We set our next meeting, I pay her, hug her, and leave the room knowing that I have encountered God during this time of spiritual companionship.