The title “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” gives a nice hint of where Ina Mae Duley Ogdon wants Christians to make a difference – right where you are! Charles Hutchinson Gabriel provides a pleasant, speedy melody to highlight the brightening aspect.
A mighty fine example of a person who takes this song to heart is our mom. She is heavily informed of what’s going on in our world and yet still has plenty of joy to share where she lives. We praise God, that we have this wonderful example continuing to brighten the corner where she lives.
ACTION: Consider 1-3 actions that might brighten this day for you and others in your path. Among the possibilities: 1) smile and/or wave to someone as you walk past; 2) write a prayer of praise and share it with a friend; 3) do a random act of kindness; 4) when paying for fast food takeout, ask to cover a few dollars of the bill (or the whole thing if you’re feeling mighty generous!) for the person behind you…
For many valued years, a group of MWPC men got together every Friday at 6:03 AM for fellowship, prayer and action. The FATHERS Team materials gave us opportunities to practice being better fathers, husbands and Christian citizens.
The nice thing is, most of these FATHERS Team materials easily fit a “gender neutral” team as well. Here’s one of the FATHERS Team “daily signals” that works for all Christians
“As for me and my fellow Christians we will consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, but encouraging one another, and all the more as we see the Day drawing near”
~ FATHERS Team signal taken from Hebrews 10:24-25, with Christian Playbook change of “Christians” in place of “Fathers”
Try saying aloud the “signal” above on a daily basis for this upcoming week
If you, your church or small group is looking for study materials or retreat possibilities that “upbuild men, women, and children in practical expressions of their Christian faith” check out Ron Rand’s website
Richard J. Foster talks about this commercial as an example of how a fellow did a Prayer of Relinquishment one time…
“Strange as it may seem, he prayed a commercial. He described a popular advertisement of the day for NesTea in which different people, sweltering from the summer sun, would fall into a swimming pool with a thirst-quenching sense of ‘ahhh!’ on their faces. He then invited this man to fall into the arms of Jesus in the same way.” ~ Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, page 48
Foster later describes the fact that this prayer will come through lived experience. He then goes through 5 prayers to help get there. Foster concludes the chapter by describing the beauty of getting to these Prayer of Relinquishment moments:
“From every human viewpoint at times it looks like we have fallen over the precipice to our death. But we know better. We know that we are only falling into the arms of Jesus fully satisfied, fully at rest.” ~ Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, page 56
ACTION: Perhaps today is your day for a “Prayer of Relinquishment plunge,” falling into the arms of Jesus?
May we feel comfortable enough with our Christian lives that at certain times of life – and increasing with frequency as we journey through life – we are fully willing to take the plunge…
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
The idea of beloved community is so desirable and yet challenging to attain. The Center for Action and Contemplation shared a weekly set of meditations HERE that includes quotes from several noteworthy figures. They make clear that we are frequently left wanting more action than we’re necessarily ready to take.
Consider checking out the summary and clicking on a particular day(s) to read more. Tuesday’s is particularly good, including this commentary:
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw clearly in the last years of his life, we face a real choice between chaos and community—we need a moral revolution. If that was true fifty years ago, then we must be clear today: America needs a moral revival to bring about beloved community. ~ William J. Barber II
Check out one or more of the daily topics of interest from the CAC summary HERE
Praying the Community into Being is a practice listed HERE (towards the bottom of the webpage). Consider trying it out, listening to the music and maybe drumming along?
“Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness. I think: The Lord is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-24
This is good news for us in this age of focusing on sustainable resources: God’s faithful love is renewable – again and again and again!
In that context, the author then provides perspective on our responsibility to share in the midst of this sustainable love:
“When I’m mad or sad, God’s love and kindness hold me. And because these gifts never run out, there is enough for me to share them with others. … There is enough of God’s faithful goodness for all of us. Thanks be to God!” ~ Meredith Forssman
If you have an extra few minutes, check out the full post HERE for additional material.
PRAYER: Dear God, as we go about our days, help us to do it with praise. When problems arise help us dare, to unselfishly, boundlessly share. Amen.
One of Bob’s ideas – incorporating podcasts or recordings – resonates for many. Or, if you’re a visual person, consider posting a prayer list or photos right in front of you on your exercise machine or where you do stretching – they can help channel your thoughts to particular prayer situations
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to rejoice in the opportunities to pray, while at rest and while exercising too… Amen
Enjoy the day and the plethora of opportunities to exercise your body, mind and soul while filled with the Spirit!
[Fannie Lou Hamer is] a contemplative exemplar because of her spiritual focus and resolve. Her practices spoke to the depth of her contemplative spirit. In the face of catastrophic suffering, Hamer worked, loved, sang, and resisted the powers that be. She was jailed, beaten, and hunted by the enforcers of the social order after registering to vote.
This description of “rest” from the CAC post, in the context of Fannie Lou’s life, is compelling:
According to her friend Virginia Gray Adams, “her back hurt and her spirit waged war without proper food or medicine. So when the movement came, there was rest”—not the rest that pervades the lives of most contemplatives [or what many imagine of monks and mystics], but rest nonetheless. Rest as you tell Congress to let your people go. Rest as you testify and lead a delegation off the floor of the Democratic Convention.
In the U.S. today there will be a number of Strike for Black Lives events. May all feel rested when in the state of activity, whatever non-violent efforts those strikes may involve (opportunities HERE)
“Doubting, asking questions, struggling to believe — these are not signs of human failings, but are human experiences. The challenge for us is, perhaps, to continue to engage our struggles, to face our fears, to wrestle through the night — and, during those dark nights when we cannot feel or believe that God is present with us, to continue the work that was set before us.” ~ Comments by Beth Richardson, in “From the Editor” note, Alive Now – March 2016.
In this same note, Beth talks of doubts and tells of Mother Teresa and the doubts she describes in her own private journals and letters. This Time.com article about the book of Mother Teresa’s life – Crisis of Faith – is fascinating and includes this comment:
Martin of America, a much more liberal institution, calls the book “a new ministry for Mother Teresa, a written ministry of her interior life,” and says, “It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives. And you know who that is? Everybody. Atheists, doubters, seekers, believers, everyone.”
WOW. Guess it’s not surprising that the saints of our age – even you and I – might have a little doubt, when saints before us have some of their own! As “way show-ers” of today, with prayer and purpose we can allow God-in-us to help guide our thoughts and actions, even in those times when intimacy with God seems almost absent…
Two noteworthy portions of the article (though we encourage reading of the entire devotional:)
“The contemplative moment comes as the cause of the blues is considered within the broader context of God’s inexplicable absence or startling intervention.”
“When Miles Davis blows the cacophony that can barely be contained by the word song, we come closest to the unimaginable, the potential of the future, and the source of our being.”
Music provides wonderful therapy. As we contemplate the blues and celebrate jazz, may the Spirit move through us in unimaginable ways!
ACTION: The article mentions: “… I invite you to listen (and perhaps dance?) to B. B. King or Miles Davis as a contemplative practice.” Here are a couple of tunes as possibility for that listening/dancing: