Midwife Prayer

by Zac Harmon-McLaughlin

Holy Midwife,
Guide me through the birthing pangs
of growth and understanding.
Teach me how to breathe
in a world that is overrun
with pain, hurt, injustice, and suffering.
Help me be better present with what
is being born deep within me.

May I understand this pregnancy
through your eyes
as creator and nurturer–
knowing that this is a direct result
of falling in love with Shalom
and seeking out the hope and reality
of the peaceable kingdom.

Hold me in times of disruptive contractions.
Laugh with me in moments of joyful anticipation
of what is and will be.
Squeeze my hand to gently remind me
to be present in the experience
rather than turning away in fear.
Push me forward in the moments
I resign to complacency.

As I wait to experience
the continual birth of love,
inside and outside of me,
remind me of advent.
I pray with gratitude,
Amen.

Spiritual Practice: Imagine the Spirit as the midwife of your soul. What is being birthed deep within this Advent season?

Christ Brings Peace

by David R. Brock

A sister in Christ came to my office last week . . . longing for peace. Her mate of many years died a year ago. By the first anniversary of his death she anticipated some healing, a returning flicker of hope. But she felt empty. The only interruption in a long silence was an unbidden whisper of her own unanswered questions: “Why, God? What meaning or purpose now? Can I trust you? Are you there, God?”

Yesterday I was reading psalms of praise and found myself asking similar questions. I couldn’t help it: “Do you really make justice and praise spring up before all the nations, God? Are you really the One who keeps faith forever? Justice for the oppressed? Food for the hungry? The captives set free? Sight for the blind? Protection for strangers, fatherless, and widows? Thwarting the wicked and establishing peace? Really?”

“Look at your creation! Talons and piercing claw, fang and crushing jaw; life robbed by stealth on silent wings; deceiving beauty that lures to the snare; agonizing death rattle of the innocent slain . . . And we haven’t yet arrived at the ‘little lower than the angels’ creature called human! Such capacity for peacemaking and creativity; such a legacy of violence and destruction, your humans, Creator, among whom ‘hate is strong and mocks the song / of peace on earth . . . .’”

I drank coffee and read the psalter in the pre-dawn darkness yesterday. Then, with a fresh cup to warm my hands and throat, sat lakeside to watch first light paint a turquoise sky and tinge gray mist to crimson as it lifted from the water. An unplanned prayer of praise, “Wow!” escaped into the morning. I couldn’t help it!

“This morning I have had the God-experience for which I have yearned so long,” says W. Paul Jones in A Table in the Desert. “I know what it means to name the Name . . . . Is God present? Everywhere, enormous in breadth, expansive in depth, and beyond us all in imagination and memory. God is the emerging consciousness which darts in and out, through and for, behind and in front, to be encountered . . . . [251-252]

In the afternoon I watched Monarchs fluttering by under that same cloudless sky. Migrating, it seemed, on a fall-of-the-year pilgrimage toward home. I felt like I was home. I couldn’t help it! And I remembered the home about which G. K. Chesterton writes in “The House of Christmas”:

To an open house in the evening
Home shall [people] come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all [people] are at home.

Jones says that a common heresy among Christians is to think of Christmas as a once-and-for-all event. We try to limit God to entering human history for thirty-three years then returning to the realm “above.” We then struggle with how a miracle that happened two thousand years ago can transform our lives and world now. Christmas is not primarily about a remembrance of things past. We are not condemned to look backward, trying to give new life or add frills to an old story. The Christian God is the One who was and is and promises forever and always to be Emmanuel, God with us. The incarnation is what God does throughout time and space—in all dimensions of the cosmos and all moments of history. [Facets of Faith, pp. 26-27]

Today, carrying all my unanswered questions, along with those of a sister who cannot feel or hope in her season of grief, I stop at 1:00 p.m. to pray the prayer of peace with Community of Christ around the world. “Christ, bring peace,” I plead.

And today, at the prayer for peace, the Daystar shines into my darkness. I look up, see, know, and know I do not know. “Christ brings peace,” I proclaim:

It is you, Jesus, born of Mary, who grants us
to say “forgive me, please,” to our families.
You teach us to pronounce “healing”
in hospital rooms, to plead “reconcile”
in our places of work, to proclaim “justice”
when we call on government representatives.
And you, Christ, in the dark of our own
weary nights, whisper in us, “Shalom.”

God, Eternal Word made flesh,
speak the language of peace
stanza by stanza into all your creation
this Christmas, and always, we pray,
in Jesus’ name.

Spiritual Practice: Pause today to pray for peace as we anticipate the One who is already here and always coming.

Community of Christ Daily Prayer for Peace: http://www.cofchrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace

So, What Are You Waiting For?

by David R. Brock

“SO, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” 

Have you heard the question before? Have you asked it yourself? It’s often uttered with a bit of sarcasm. At least with a note of urgency; maybe even exasperation:

Get with it! Go! Don’t procrastinate!

Strike while the iron is hot! Get it done!

The early bird . . . .

 

Well, you know!

 

To add urgency and exasperation to the question, it was not uncommon in my growing up years to hear it said like this:

So, what are you waiting for . . . CHRISTMAS?!

Well, yes, exactly. I’m waiting for Christmas!

And you?

Mary’s waiting . . . waiting with expectant mothers everywhere (uncomfortably? Impatiently?) for this child to finally be fully formed and born! She and they are wondering:

What, child, are you waiting for?!

Joseph’s waiting . . . waiting for this child to be born, as the biblical account tells us, before he and Mary must trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. It won’t be easy with a newborn, but its sure going to complicate matters if she is still awaiting the birth which might happen anywhere along the arduous route:

What, little one, are you waiting for?!

You and I are waiting . . . waiting for the promised coming again of the Savior who will once and for all break down the dividing walls, establish the reign of God, and be crowned “Prince of Peace” in a place called “Shalom”:

What, Jesus, are you waiting for?!

And God hears the edge of impatience in the waiting. God knows the longing and expectancy that accompany the long wait. And, God, smiles as God guards in God’s own heart the thought: “You have no idea how long I have waited for you. You have no sense of the depth of my own longing and expectancy for you to come home to me. How often I would have gathered you, but you would not. I invite you to peace and joy and hope and love, every day, EVERY CHRISTMAS!”

What, my children, are you waiting for?!

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.

–Isaiah 30:18

Spiritual Practice: Pay attention to your longings. What are you waiting for? Dwell deeply in God’s longing for you.