Oh my God, teach me to love you. I have loved you so much this week, and now like brilliant ice on heat, my love has turned to water. The substance is there as always. You know I love you, God. But the strength of it, the reckless fervor has stilled. Part of me wishes it didn’t always go that way, but the rest of me accepts it. God, I’m just a little creature, fragmented in many parts. Restless like Augustine. Grant me rest in you—wholeness. Pour me down into your fullness, and let my fullness love you so that all parts love you all the time without will or desire.
I must admit that at times I am jealous of charismatic congregations. I often feel that I am missing out on something as I witness their apparent ability to be so tuned in to their praise as they worship God. This goes beyond my inability to simultaneously clap and sing for any extended length of time. I have a habit of analyzing the reasons behind any strong feelings of joy I might be experiencing, rather than becoming immersed in them.
When Nietzsche wrote “God is dead” in 1882 he was not referring to a physical death. He was recognizing a change in worldview from theism to non-theism, a paradigm shift he called the “death of God.” Because Nietzsche saw the moral action of believers being the main function of their belief, this “killing” of God occurred, in Nietzsche’s understanding, through the hypocrisy and lack of ethics present among believers.
Bernard of Clairvaux was one of the most influential religious and political voices of twelfth-century Western Europe, and as a result, his eighty-six sermons on the Song of Songs had a significant impact on future generations of Christian thinkers and mystics. Like Origen before him, Bernard viewed the Song of Songs as spiritual allegory rather than as a record of physical passion shared between two created beings. Its intimacy reveals the soul in love with a most lovely Divine lover (85).
In many religious circles it would seem strange to say that study is more important, or even of equal importance, to prayer. In a tradition whose religious adherents probably pray a good deal more than most Christians, the Jewish gathering place (synagogue) is called a “shul.” This word, as may be guessed, comes from the same root word that “school” comes from, the Greek (and then Latin) word schola. On the other hand, a Jewish meeting place can also be called a “house of prayer.” For Jews, study and prayer are not disconnected.
“My God, I pray better to You by breathing.
I pray better to You by walking than by talking.”
Dialogues with Silence.
God said to Elijah,
“Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord,
for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Now there was a great wind,
so strong that it was splitting mountains
and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord,
Much of this series on spirituality focuses on what we do when we are alone with God. But what about when we are with other Christians? What of our common life of prayer?
For Adventists, times for corporate prayer include the Sabbath worship service, the prayer meeting, weeks of prayer, camp meeting, and the like. In most of these, the dominant activity is not prayer, but preaching or teaching. Besides the sermon or sermons, there are the other exhortations, like the one before the offertory. There are announcements, greetings, and explanations. But we do pray.
He was well groomed and sober when I met him at the downtown men’s shelter. Harold had called the church office looking for an Adventist pastor who might be willing to visit and do some Bible studies. Under normal circumstances our secretary would probably have passed Harold’s call on to our male senior pastor, but since he was out of town, it was passed to me instead. Later that afternoon I hopped in my car and drove into Harold’s world.
Many years ago I heard the story of a man who walked across a dangerous waterfall on a tightrope. After he had made his successful crossing, the tightrope walker asked the cheering crowd, “Do you believe that I could walk back across the river carrying someone on my shoulders?” The crowd roared in affirmation. Yes, they believed he could. Then the man called out, “Who will be the volunteer to ride on my shoulders?” Suddenly, the shouts died away and the crowd grew strangely quiet.