Thursday, December 09, 2004

"God Is Still Speaking..."

Dear Lord, hear this simple prayer: let the UCC's new TV ad be right. Let it be that You are still speaking, even if we don't listen very much. "Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me..."

There are several things that have brought me hope amidst the despair of a number of situations - first, the suicide of a friend of friends, with all the wreckage and grief that brings. Then hearing about several friends, here and in Kansas, whose recovery has shattered and who are in the midst of daily self-destruction. And it's been a long, busy week, and I'm just kind of drained on several levels. But there is still hope...

First, hope comes in a book that has been sitting on my shelf for three years - Churchquake! by C. Peter Wagner. Like so many people for the last 30 years, he predicts the eventual demise of most traditional denominational church structures. Unlike a lot of people, he sees "the new apostolic reformation" raising up new wine for new wineskins, and affirming the work and research of lots of people I admire - whether you start with Michael Slaughter and Adam Hamilton and work up, or start with Lyle Schaller and work down. I need to digest a lot more of the book before I discuss it, but it's a worthwhile read. Wagner diagnoses the things I have struggled with the most with mailine denominations in general, and the various permutations of the Lutheran tradition in particular. It's a 1999 book, but it's very, very relevant today.

Second, a voice from the recent past has brought me great comfort this week. I finally got to listen to a presentation by Richard Webb at Atonement Lutheran Church's Power in the Spirit prayer conference back in October. His words are going to take some time to digest as well, but I'm sure they will provide fodder for a number of entries here.

Lastly, I've found that God is still speaking through a couple of new sponsees in the recovering community. I find, once again, that the more I give away, the more I get. I once likened sponsorship to a jug of chocolate milk: if I keep it to myself - leave it in the refrigerator - it will slowly go sour, and become an awful, stinking mess. But if I pour it out, and share it. it stays sweet - and by some God-appointed blessing, the more I pour out, the more appears in my jug. I've found this is true in recovery, in ministry, even in my daily work: when I give of my self in a selfless way, the world just looks better. No matter how much of a schmuck I've been in the past, I can be a useful member of some community today.

Thank you, God, for the gift of this day. Help me to use it to do your will, today and always!
God, I offer myself to You this day, to build with me and do with me as You will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I might better do Your will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Your power, Your love, and Your way of life. Amen.
(the AA 3rd step prayer)

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