But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
God of love,
I wound you in ways I can’t imagine.
I defile myself in ways I can’t see.
I hurt others in ways I never notice.
I confess my ignorance,
I confess I am oblivious.
I pray for humility to know
I sin beyond my knowing.
I ask forgiveness for those sins I know nothing about.
As much as I sin so much more than I know,
so also you forgive me
more than I know,
you forgive me, you love me
more than I can imagine.
May my gratitude exceed my understanding.
In those days they shall no longer say:
“The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
But all shall die for their own sins.
This was a step forward, that kids not be punished
for their parents’ sins.
But sometimes parents eat sour grapes
and it’s the kids who wince.
We all live with trauma inflicted on us as children,
some very slight, and some profound.
The parents sinned, and the kids suffered.
(If anything the cross reminds us
that the innocent suffer from other people’s sins.)
Remember this when you judge,
when you deal with people who hurt others,
those who seem to have no excuse to be so cruel.
They may be carrying around deep wounds
inflicted on them when they were small and powerless,
and none of the power they have now
is power over those wounds.
They may need reprimanding; they may need a short leash.
But they surely need healing.
We all do.
All scripture is inspired by God
and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
and for training in righteousness,
so that everyone who belongs to God
may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
—2 Timothy 3.16-17
This does not say all scripture is infallible,
or dictated by God.
It says those who wrote did so breathing the Holy Spirit.
They may have written something true and profound
(“you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”)
or not (“ I wish they would castrate themselves”)—
but either way, they were in the grip of something holy,
something living, something beyond them.
And that’s how we read scripture,
with the Holy Spirit breathing in us,
seeking, listening, discerning.
Whether or not we agree or understand,
we are caught up in the breathing of God,
seeking how best to allow God to equip us,
not to be right, but to be inspired (in-spirited) to love.
Proficient in every good work of justice and mercy.
Breathe in…. Breathe out…. Read….
Then go and love.
In that city there was a widow
who kept coming to him and saying,
“Grant me justice…”
God—not the socially empowered one,
not one who judges, not one who does not care,
but the powerless one,
the one who is silenced, ignored,
with no recourse other than to plead—
pleads, pleads for justice.
How distressing for us who want God to just
make things right,
that God does so by suffering, by pleading,
by continually coming.
This is the God we plead to,
and by whom, we trust,
justice will be done.
Faith on earth is found among those
who stand with the ones
who plead for justice.
Indigenous Peoples Day
Near my house is Willow Street.
Most of it is a mere path through the woods.
A couple hundred years ago it was the King’s Highway,
the main route traveled up the Maine coast
by the European invaders (“settlers,” we call them).
What was it before that? I don’t know.
I walk the land where I live
and offer up prayers for the Wabanaki who lived here
before the white people came.
I do not know where the holy places were.
Perhaps it’s all holy.
Perhaps it’s made so, like Auschwitz,
by the suffering that happened here.
I walk the land where I live
knowing I do not know the wisdom that walks here,
the stories the land remembers,
the people who are still here.
They are still here. I do not know them.
I must come to know them.
I must walk as if this place may be holy.
I walk in confession, in repentance, in humility.
I walk in gratitude.
I walk in beauty.
Seek the welfare of the city
where I have sent you into exile.
God, this country is sick.
Can I just move to another place?
No. Seek the welfare of the place where you are,
even if you feel exiled from your hopes, your values.
The city where you are needs you.
Who else will carry my love among them?
The country where you live
needs your witness, your justice, your love.
You who can afford not to flee, even though you suffer,
be there to welcome others who are fleeing because they must.
Even in horrible times, even in sick places,
my beloved people need the love you bear to them.
There, in your witness, in your love, is my grace.
There, in their welfare, is your welfare.
If we have died with him,
we will also live with him
—2 Timothy 2.11
Your ego is always calculating:
“What’s me, what’s not, how do I protect what’s me?”
That’s handy. Keeps us from stepping out into traffic.
But it’s purely self-centered, the opposite of love.
To love you’ve got to let go of what the ego wants.
Which feels like dying.
God of Love,
let my selfish desires perish
in your perfect love,
so that I too may love.
Let my little “self” die
and Christ live in me.
Die … and live
Spirit of God,
breathe in me.
Be my breathing,
that I may breathe deeply of life.
Breathing in, may the wind of your earth enter me
and become me,
the gift of life
transformed into my cells.
Breathing out may I breathe
your grace and your peace.
In your grace
breathe me out into the world.
Breathe in my speaking,
that I may speak truth.
Breathe in my singing
that I may sing joy.
Breathe in my silence,
that I may listen deeply.
Breathe in my walking,
that I may go in peace.
Breathe in my dying,
that I myself may be your breath
breathed out into the Mystery,
in peace, breathing peace.
One of them, when he saw that he was healed,
turned back, praising God with a loud voice.
Thank you, God, for all the ways I have been healed.
For health in my flesh, the miraculous way
my body knows how to heal itself.
For your healing of my self-esteem,
the gift to see myself whole, as you see me.
For the renewal of my relationship with you,
gratitude where once there was doubt.
For the healing of my hope,
trust where once there was despair.
For the restoration of relationships,
forgiveness where there was brokenness.
For the healing of community,
inclusion where there was division.For the mending of the world,
where, whether there be disease or not,
and people able-bodied or not,
whether there be yet justice or still injustice,
all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well.
“Were not ten made clean?
But the other nine, where are they?
Was none of them found to return and give praise to God
except this foreigner?”
where entitlement leaves off.
Gratitude is not a feeling;
it’s a practice.
First be grateful,
then see what you receive.
The more you practice gratitude for the little things
the more you experience life as an unexpected gift.
Keep this prayer always in your heart:
“For what I am about to receive, thank you.”