Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

February 23, 2010

Day 53

Weight: 195 lbs

Weight lost: -11 lbs

 

I’m down 11 pounds… Not bad! Not done, but not bad…

There’s a land of milk and honey, and I want to live there and enjoy the feast! In the Bible this was a place, an actual location on the planet. Today we call this place Israel, or Palestine, depending on one’s politics.

Israel has always been the most valuable stretch of land on the planet. Even in ancient times it was vitally strategic. As the one stretch of fertile soil west of the Sahara Desert and just off the Mediterranean Sea, it provided a passage point between the continents of Africa, Europe, and Asia. The great developing civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome and Babylon all sought to control this little patch of ground, only about 100 miles long and 60 miles wide. It is a rich land, a land of milk and honey.

God chose to put his people the Jews in this place because it is the crossroads of the world. He wanted his people there to interact with the peoples of the world, but also to be a model of his goodness and grace. God promised to protect them and bless them there, but he asked that they remain distinct from other cultures as well. He asked for loyalty and promised them his.

Israel was and still is a land of milk and honey, of blessing and abundance and an example really of how God wants to earth to be. Milk and honey… Sweet and sustaining. This is God and God’s intent for all of us.

Today we blessings of God can come to anyone who trusts in him. We all can enjoy the “milk and honey” of his favor, just by asking in Jesus’ name. I believe God still has a special place in his heart for the Jews, and I do believe the actual land of Israel is blessed and that it belongs to the sons and daughters of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But all of us can enjoy that same blessing wherever we live, just be trusting in Jesus.

Today I’m thinking about milk and honey and the richness of God’s food. He brings it wherever I live, and in whatever state I find myself. Today as I eat my meals I’m going to look for the “milk and honey” of God’s favor in every bite. Why not? I live there!

“The Eucharist Diet” adventure is my six month experiment taking daily communion and tracking and posting the results in my personal life, relationships, health, and body fat percentage.

Alex Ness is a writer, poet, and social critic. Recently Alex interviewed me about my book, The Karma of Jesus. Here are some excerpts:

AN: Can a Christian believe in Karma too?

MH: I think Christians have to believe in the verdict that Karma levels against us: we screw up and we have to pay for the price. We don’t however believe that the universe is merely mechanistic. We believe that a person, not a machine lies behind things. So yes, I as a Christian do accept that all actions have consequences and I’m responsible for all of mine. But it’s God, a person, who hold me to that standard and can, by choice, intervene in his own established process. This, we believe is where Jesus comes in. If Jesus lived perfectly, he also loved perfectly. Such perfect love came with a perfect desire to share that love and to share the outcomes of his perfect life. In the language of today’s New Age culture Jesus had “perfect Karma.” His perfect love would lead him to want to give this away for the sake of others. So when Jesus died on the cross he became the “toxic waste dump of the universe.” He takes all the horrible consequences of our choices and gives us his purity in exchange. Jesus gets my punishment; I get his goodness, peace and joy. His grace trumps my Karma.

John Wesley’s “Covenant Prayer” is a prayer used for the renewal of the believer’s Covenant with God. It is often recited in special worship services, but is also a wonderful expression for individuals who want to affirm their commitment to God.

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

(as used in the Book of Offices of the British Methodist Church, 1936).

February 18, 2010

Day 48

Weight: 197 lbs

Weight lost: -9 lbs

 

I’m giving up austerity for Lent. My impulse to beat myself-up in order to win God’s favor seems to die hard.  So I’m tackling this with a diet of joy, supplemented by a daily dose the Lord’s Supper. The original Christians didn’t celebrate Eucharist with cardboard wafers and diluted grape juice. They shared communion the midst of a common meal and sometimes inside a genuine feast. I wonder what we’ve lost. So, I’m giving up austerity for Lent.

The wonderful film “Babette’s Feast” tenderly and playfully challenges Christendom’s assumption that self-denial cuts a path to spirituality. The story takes place on the desolate coast of Denmark in the late 1700’s. Martina and Philippa are the two beautiful daughters of a devout clergyman who prior to his death preached salvation through austerity. Both girls sacrifice their youthful passions, marriage and family to carry on their father’s legacy. Now years later, they still manage to keep alive his version of faithfulness among the townspeople.

Then one stormy night Babette, a refugee from France’s civil war finds her way to their doorstep. She is weak and frightened, and the sisters quickly bring her in. For room and board Babette agrees to cook and care for the house. The sisters draw up rules about what they should eat and how it should be prepared – bland fish and potatoes without seasoning. Babette faithfully complies. Years pass.

Then one day Babette learns that she has won a French lottery. Her winnings would give her full independence. But instead of leaving her new home Babette asks permission to prepare a gift of gratitude for her village – a gourmet French meal! Babette, it turns out, had been one of the most renowned chefs in Paris.

In the end her friends accept her gift and come to see, reluctantly perhaps, that God has created all good things for our enjoyment.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good!” says the Psalmist (Psalm 34).

“Lord, at the moment of creation you declared all the things you’d made on earth ‘good,’ and even ‘very good.’ I do the same. In this season of Lent help me to pause and enjoy the wonders of your creation, including the delicacies of food that feed my body and soul. Especially help me to be grateful and to remember that you are the source of all good gifts. I remember this in my celebration of communion today. You are with me, in me, over me, around me. You are my God, my everything, my sustenance and satisfaction. Thank you, Jesus!”

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