THERE IS ONE TASK ONLY: the task of love. We are called by God to live this life with love for everyone. All that we do can be an expression of God’s love. However mundane the task, perform it with a generous spirit and grateful heart. The most insignificant task performed with love is tribute to God, and every act of charity or service done for self-gain or with hate – or worse, indifference – is a hollow offering to God.
THE PSALMS can help us to pray with body, mind, and spirit. The beauty and wonder of creation is writ large in the Psalms; so is encouragement to celebrate God’s praise through movement, dance, body prayer, and music. …
The psalmists wrote out of their daily experiences. Nothing was too mundane or earth-shattering to bring to God, whether it was caused by pain, ecstatic joy, fear, hope, or longing to know holy Presence. …
When something really grabs us, we may be surprised at our capacity to give voice to the experience. The trouble is that all too often our days pass in busyness without pause to acknowledge the divine grace that touches our lives moment by moment.
But if we do stop—even briefly—we notice the gratitude, fear, or other emotion that lies beneath the surface of experience. Out of this awareness we can pray with integrity—and create our own psalms.
JACOB, IN CRISIS, knew that it was God’s nature to bless, and he needed that blessing. … However, God did not immediately bless him; God wanted to know his name. There needed to be an honest disclosure about who he was. For Jacob to receive the blessing that God wanted to give, he had to be willing to come clean.
There is a clear message here for those of us in crisis and in need of God’s blessing. We must tell God our names and share with God who we really are and what we have done. Usually we want our relationship with God to work the other way around. … But that is not the way God works. If we want God to bless us, we need to face up to ourselves honestly.
The Holy Spirit is God with us to comfort and convict, to remind and renew, to guide and guard, to sustain and support. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are convicted of our sin and assured of forgiveness. We are reminded of Jesus Christ and renewed in our relationship, guided toward the fulfillment of God’s purposes, and guarded against the powers of sin and death. In the power of the Holy Spirit we are sustained and supported amid temptation, suffering, and death. It is the Holy Spirit who draws us toward God and into community with God and one another. …
The test of whether a spirit is the Holy Spirit is its conformity to Jesus Christ (1 John 4:2ff). The fruits of the Spirit are the qualities of Jesus’ own being: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). Such qualities within and among human beings are God with us; they are not human achievements or universal “natural” characteristics. What we cannot produce in ourselves God produces in us – faith, hope, and love or Christlikeness
WE NEED THE GIFT of imagination if we are to see and hear God in the world about us. Poetry, art, and music can take us to places that literal and scientific truth cannot. This is not to deny the importance of research and scholarship, but it invites us to reclaim the wisdom of our own creativity. I do not literally believe that God is “up there,” racing across the sky in a convertible. But when I gaze reverently at the changes in the clouds moved by wind, I do lift my soul to the Creator. And sometimes, like Charlie Brown, I see some fantastical creatures in the clouds, and I giggle with delight because it seems that God has fun with creation. Why else would we see long-necked giraffes, elephants using their long noses to suck up water, camels with lumps on their backs, and so many other curious creatures? …O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
1. Everyone is an artist. You are wonderfully made in the image of God, your Creator. Therefore, you have creative gifts embedded within you. ….
2. Set aside time. Designate time in your day to be with God on purpose. You may choose to mark your prayer time as an appointment with God on your calendar. … Allow yourself to let go of your distractions and sit at the feet of Jesus to color and pray on a regular basis.
3. Set aside sacred space. You may find setting aside time for God easier if you set aside a space dedicated solely to prayer. …. Set aside a special space and gather items you will need for prayer—a Bible, mandalas, colored pencils, a candle, a journal, and so on. …
4. Lines are optional. In contemplative coloring, the lines are merely suggestions. Color within them, color on them, draw new lines, and draw beyond the lines. Anything goes!
5. No color is off-limits. Pick the colors that attract you or that hold meaning for you. Don’t overthink color selection so that it becomes a distraction of its own. …
6. Leave blank space. There is no need to “finish” coloring a mandala. You can leave blank space that you return to at a later time. The blank spaces may even become integral parts of your prayerful creation.
– Sharon Seyfarth Garner
LET ME describe what it means to be truly present. Being present involves letting go of our constant preoccupations, immersing ourselves in the here and now, and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to whatever is at hand. …
It’s about becoming more aware, alert, awake to the fullness of the immediate moment. If we are with another person, it means engaging with him or her with all of our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength.
Such wholehearted attention requires patience, time, and disciplined effort. And it is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to those around us, especially our suffering neighbor