Church News – March


When my youngest brother was eight years old, he was presented with his first bible. It was an important day for our family, and as we sat in the car on the way home, he soberly contemplated his new possession, The Young Readers Bible.

It was quite large (maybe 9 x 12 and at least 11/4 thick, as I recall) and he finally shook his head, “I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll have this all read by next week.”

After a burst of laughter followed by reassurances that there was no such expectation, he relaxed and even laughed a bit at himself. To be honest, I didn’t closely follow his journey through that tome; I was in seminary myself and on my own journey through the bible, on a deeper and more complicated level.

I tell this story because many years on, after studying acupuncture and martial arts, he pursued the path of Buddhism, and one Christmas he gifted me with the Tao Te Ching – which I myself did not read in one week. But recently, a quote from that tome had made it back into my mind via a Facebook post, and it resonated, because even though there was no mention of God per se, the truth that spoke to me was exactly what I needed to hear, as it reflected the work of the Holy Spirit in my daily life. And it seemed all the more relevant in these tenuous times.

See if these words speak to you:

“I asked for Wisdom – and was given problems to solve.

I asked for Prosperity – and was given brains and skills to work.

I asked for Courage – and was given dangers to overcome.

I asked for Love – and was given troubled people to help.

I asked for Favors – and was given opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted – I received everything I needed.”

Though written by Chinese scholar Lao Tzu, they resonated as if written by King Solomon himself. Such wisdom is truly universal.

What made this quote so relevant to my Buddhist brother and my Christian self is the understanding that often the things we ask for, are asked from a place of wanting for oneself. The Holy Spirit (the Tao?) responds by giving us opportunities to discover that the source of such gifts is actually an inside job.

When we make a request, we then wait for the Spirit to respond. Which is usually manifest as a challenge that requires us to develop that requested quality through our faithful response to the presented challenge.

These challenging times we live in have likely inspired much prayer and supplication for the gifts and resources to survive and conclude a pandemic, to heal a planet, to end international hostilities, to somehow mend ideologically divided countries, to feel, clothe and house all our people and bring peace on earth.

What we should pray for is the gifts that empower us to rise to the challenges of these times: to be patient and understanding with each other; to brainstorm solutions to the big problems and create community-based responses; to offer not only prayers, but visions of peace between warring nations, and share those visions that others may pray them too, feeding and growing them into viable possibilities.

As we move this month into the observance of lent, let us position ourselves on the side of a divine mother earth that cries out for peace, for justice and for healing. Let us contemplate, let us confess, and make our humble requests. Discover how prayer really works! And then be prepared to find the answers within.


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