This episode is the first in a series of conversations about gender inequality. While this shows up globally, it reveals itself both blatantly and subtly here in the US. While not all churches and denominations teach a hierarchical view of men over women, many do, and therefore are a significant part of the problem continuing to widen the gender divide.
I interview my amazing friend Susan Chavez later in the teaching. Susan is the Executive Pastor at SVA and shares a fascinating journey finding her voice in a male predominated world.
In this episode we will look at Genesis 1-3 in order to get a renewed perspective that patriarchy wasn’t God’s dream, it was actually part of the curse which we have been freed from.
This morning my prayerful reflection was written by Karl Rahner SJ. It is a beautiful invitation into love, which is the presence and form of God.
God of My Life
Only in love can I find you,my God. In love the gates of my soul spring open, …..allowing me to breathe a new air of freedom. …..and forget my own petty self. In love my whole being streams forth …..out of the rigid confines of narrowness and anxious self-assertion, …..which makes me a prisoner of my own poverty and emptiness. In love all the powers of my soul flow out toward you, wanting never more to return, but to lose themselves completely in you, since by your love you are the inmost center of my heart, closer to me than I am to myself.
But when I love you, when I manage to break out of the narrow circle of self and leave behind the restless agony of unanswered questions, when my blinded eyes no longer look merely from afar and from the outside upon your unapproachable brightness, and much more when you yourself, O Incomprehensible One, have become through love the inmost center of my life, then I can bury myself entirely in you, O mysterious God, and with myself all my questions.
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.” ~Eric Liddell
Christians have been slow to the game. For a group of folks who talk a lot about prayer, the statistics show they rarely practice it. When they do, it is primarily a “Hail Mary” kind of moment hoping the divine will get them out of their current jam or to meet a specific need that that lives in the land of illusivity.
Most other world religions connect prayer to some physical act be it breathing, yogic positions, stretching, or as the Hopi Indians do, running.
When you link some type of activity to prayer, you begin to focus better, notice your humanity more, and connect to God’s voice and inspiration in a fresh way.
If you know the story of Eric Liddell, he was the main character in the classic movie “Chariots of Fire” which centered around his gold medal Olympic race that almost wasn’t.
Liddell was known for and was to compete in the 200-meter race. However, that particular race was scheduled on a Sunday. Liddell experienced a crisis of faith when he found out. His strong conviction told him that he should go to church and worship God on that day. So, he declined to run the race he had prepared for.
Can you imagine that?
Training for an Olympic event and then declining to run because it interfered with his personal priority of going to church. In a time when people decline going to church because it is raining too hard, or it’s too hot or or or….I think you get my point. Liddell decided he would run the next race which was the 400-meter.
This wasn’t his normal race, nor what he trained for, but he decided to run it, and the rest is history as they say. He won the Gold Medal. After the race he said,
“The secret of my success over the 400-m is that I run the first 200-m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200-m, with God’s help, I run faster.”
If you haven’t seen the movie put it on your list. The story is much bigger and beautiful than I can describe, but I have always been inspired Liddells’ famous quote in the movie:
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast!And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
I believe Liddell best connected with God while running. This discipline became a deeper prayer connecting his body, soul, and spirit to God.
I have many friends who are about to undertake a beautiful goal of running a full or half marathon to raise money for World Vision to bring clean water to areas where there is none.
A physical practice to achieve spiritual and physical goals. I believe God will meet them in a special way as they train. As they run they will notice how their focus sharpens. They will begin to hone in on the immediate moment whether it is because of fatigue, burn, or hard-breath. Their inner world will calm as they better unite with their outer reality. They will also have many “God I need you now” moments too!
With the right intention, their running will become for them a deeper spiritual experience, connecting them to God in a different way while making an impact for those who have no clean water. To me that is so good.
So for my marathon friends, here is a prayer I came across written by Lewis B. Smith Jr. he called his running prayer.
This is my running prayer Lord. I run in praise of you. I praise you with my motion. You sustain my breath That I may sustain your praise. All creation joining in Nothing in creation is still. My world revolves as I run across it. The heavens move as I run below them. Everything moves in praise. I move as I run. I run a trail of blessings, Giving and receiving both. As I run I am blessed, With moisture in the air To cool my straining body, Plants and trees nourish my breath, That I may run further. With birdsong to cheer me on. Joining in unending praise With the supportive murmur, Of the flowing creek. With passion in my arms and legs, With burning in my chest, That I may know that I am alive, To have more to praise you for. I leave blessings in my turn. Water for plants, Breath for trees. This run may end. The prayer will not. I may slow. I shall praise you still. Your praise carries me. To the limits of my body and beyond. Hands outstretched in praise, I run and collect bounteous blessings, The rhythm of the pavement sings A percussive song of power. Not of my might. Not of my strength. But of the persistence of your spirit. A regular rhythm of irregular melody Breath in windy counterpoint Still I run. Still I praise Ever the prayer runs on.
God gave us our bodies not only to live our mission through, but to experience His presence, purpose and power through.
When we integrate all of who we are we experience God in a whole new way. Let your body, created by God, help your spiritual journey and experience the kingdom of heaven that is within you and all around you.
As we take our first steps out of the darkness that eclipsed with the Winter Solstice, we experience how nature continues to direct our rhythms and remind us of new life sprouting from the darkness.
I don’t know about you, but I have received my word for 2019 This word, or thought, will become my guide and constant reminder this year. It will help me stay on track, say yes to the right things, and no to the wrong things.
Mostly, it reminds me that no matter what may happen, I am co-creating my life with God which deserves my passionate attention.
My prayer to launch the year is from Ted Loder. It’s real, beautiful, painful and an invitation to journey outside the God-box so many live in. I feel like it describes where I have been and where I long to go. May it speak to your soul as it does mine.
God of history and my heart, so much has happened to me during these whirlwind days: I’ve known death and birth; I’ve been brave and scared; I’ve hurt, I’ve helped; I’ve been honest, I’ve lied; I’ve destroyed, I’ve created; I’ve been with people, I’ve been lonely; I’ve been loyal, I’ve betrayed; I’ve decided, I’ve waffled; I’ve laughed, I’ve cried. You know my frail heart and my frayed history– and now another day begins.
O God, help me to believe in beginnings and in my beginning again, no matter how often I’ve failed before.
Help me to make beginnings: to begin going out of my weary mind into fresh dreams, daring to make my own bold tracks in the land of now; to begin forgiving that I may experience mercy; to begin questioning the unquestionable that I may know truth; to begin disciplining that I may create beauty; to begin sacrificing that I may accomplish justice; to begin risking that I may make peace; to begin loving that I may realize joy.
Help me to be a beginning for others, to be a singer to the songless, a storyteller to the aimless, a befriender of the friendless; to become a beginning of hope for the despairing, of assurance for the doubting, of reconciliation for the divided; to become a beginning of freedom for the oppressed, of comfort for the sorrowing, of friendship for the forgotten; to become a beginning of beauty for the forlorn, of sweetness for the soured, of gentleness for the angry, of wholeness for the broken, of peace for the frightened and violent of the earth.
Help me to believe in beginnings, to make a beginning, to be a beginning, so that I may not just grow old, but grow new each day of this wild, amazing life you call me to live with the passion of Jesus Christ.