Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

I was visiting friends in Florida this week when I noticed the news of a snow storm headed to my home area of Virginia. I was enjoying warm, clear weather; I was with, as I said, dear friends; we had plans for some fun outings. I had one more day to soak it all up. A snow storm was not on my radar!

But I remembered several years ago I was traveling home when I got caught by a huge snow storm. I got as far as Philadelphia when the Virginia airports began to close and flights were cancelled. Nothing into D.C., Roanoke, Richmond, Charlottesville. Nothing. So I quickly got a hotel room nearby and hunkered down. While I was safe and warm and had roomservice, I did not want to do a repeat of that. So sadly, I called the airline  yesterday morning and got a flight out a day early. I informed my gracious hosts who were kind enough to fuss about it but took me to the airport anyway.

All the flights were crowded but on time. I arrived in time to go to the food store. The shelves, predictaley were bare…I wanted leeks. And would you belive even they were gone! Who shops for leeks before a storm?! Milk. Bread. Yes. But leeks?  (I plan to make a hearty soup. I found the receipe in Simple magazine at the airport! It sounded good and I was hungry when I read it. At that point everything sounded good! )

So far, no snow…but I do have bread and milk – and leeks. (They say the snow will begin later…)

I felt fortunate in both cases to be able to get out of the storm. I think of those who head into the storm to protect us: emergency personel, highway workers, police, power crews…all those that serve us. Even this morning as I heard the garbage truck outside my house…it was so cold but they came – I can almost set my clock by them. Faithfully serving in the cold, dark winter. Do folks  notice or care? They would if the garbage collector didn’t show up. They would if the power crews didn’t come. They would if the roads didn’t get plowed…

And what about their families? They also serve us as they send their loved one out. They do the heavy lifting at home so their loved one can do it for us…

While not the same, I saw my Mother stay home to tend us while she sent my father out to serve time after time. While you are thanking our public servants, thank your pastor and spouse – even if you don’t much care for his/her preaching. They are serving in one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

Maybe it is time to write a “thank you” note to your police department, rescue squad, highway patrol, garbage collector, pastor…at least say ‘thanks’ when you see them.  It’s been  a long winter…they need encouragement. And while you are at it – say a quick prayer for them.

PS – I’ll let you know if the soup is good!

 

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This is a prayer I sometimes use to guide my confessional prayer time…It may seem a bit formal but I find it helps. I am not sure of its source – perhaps the Anglican Prayer Book…

I find this formality helps me to see the holiness of God and His ways – that I am a truly sinful person! My righteousness is as filthy rags. I have nothing to stand on but His mercy and in His righteousness.

“Holy and Merciful God, I confess to you that I have sinned agianst you in thought, word and deed, by what I have done , and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart, and mind, and strength. I have not loved my neighbor as myself. I have not forgiven others as I have been forgiven. Have mercy on me, O God.

I have not listened to your call to serve as Christ served me. I have not been true to the mind of Christ. I have grieved your Holy Spirit. Have mercy on me, O God.

I confess to you, O God, all my past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy and impatience in my life, not waiting on You. I confess to you, O God.

My self-indulgent appetites and ways, and my exploitation of other people. I confess to you, O God.

My anger, my own frustration and my envy of those more fortunate than me. I confess to you, O God.

My love of worldly goods and comforts, and my dishonesty in daily life and work. I confess to you, O God.

My negligence in prayer and worship, and my failure to commend the faith that is in me. I confess to you, O God.

Accept my repentance, O God, for the wrongs I have done. For my neglect of human need and sufferings and my indifference to injustice and cruelty. Accept my repentance, O God.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward my neighbors, and for my prejudice and contempt for thsoe who differ from me, Accept my repentance , O God.

Restore me, O God, and let your anger depart form me.

Favorably hear me, O God, for your mercy is great.”

I find this caused me to think…at first I was offended to confess I was indifferent to injustice…or exploitaion of other people… surely, that’s not me!

But is it? Am I indifferent to the sufferings of those in Syria, the Sudan – do I hear the news and it doesn’t affect me? How ’bout those in my own community suffering from the cold? Am I too usy thinking of my own needs and agendas?

Surely I do not exploit others…or do I? What about the products I buy? Where are they made and under what conditions?

 

 

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I want to ask you some questions and I hope you will repsond. I have been thinking about forgiveness…

I hear the term thrown around – especially in church or religious circles. Oprah and othere social gurus talk about it a lot. It’s supposed to be a key to unlocking your past, your pent up emotions, releasing your shame…

When do you forgive?

What do you forgive? Does every hurt require forgiveness?

Are there levels of forgiveness?

Is there ever an “easy” forgiveness? If not then is forgiveness always a struggle?

What is the difference between “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me”? Is it the depth of the infraction?

Can you share with me a time when you asked someone for forgiveness? Or had to forgive someone who hurt you? Was one easier than the other?

Is it easier to do if you are a Christian? What about if you are Muslim? Or Hindu? Or Buddhist?

What are signs of unforgiveness?

I hope you will enter the conversation…

 

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Today would have been Martin Luther King’s 85th birthday!

I wonder…I wonder… If he were alive today what he would think and say of our racial divide. What would he have to say about God being eliminated from our national conversation?

Martin Luther King left this great nation with a legacy. Have we followed in his footsteps? Have we perverted his intent? He did not want us to look at the color of a person’s skin but at the content of their character. We have reversed that. It seems character no longer matters…

I never met him. I was aware of his friendship with my father and my father’s deep respect for him. I don’t want to presume or assume…but I believe he would be grieved if he looked around today at the anger, the bitterness…

Certainly things have changed, in many ways for the better. There are fairer laws. There is a measure of equality on the books. But do the races understand each other better today? Is there more unity and love? Is there more grace?

If not then we have failed Dr. King and so many who went before us with conviction and character. Where are such leaders today? Will you and I step up to the plate?

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