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Thoughts/Study for "Morning Prayer"

                                   by Constance Morgenstern

 

I have always started my days with the philosophy of Ferris Bueller: I have to "look around" a bit before getting to a formal agenda.

So, while still in bed, I might reflect on the night's dreams, listen for new ideas, prioritize the day, pray for people, or generally "put on my faith" before setting a foot out from the covers. (Ephesians 6 talks about putting on the full armor of God for spiritual strength and protection. If cell phones, though, had been utilized in the time of Ephesians, I wonder if Paul would have described it as getting "recharged.")

You might think how, historically, people often began grand ventures "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Think of some Cinemascope Columbus setting off with his three ships! But here's the point of "Morning Prayer": God is willing to walk with us through ventures much less grand. In fact, God wants to help us through all of our Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday lives.

Psalm 8, a favorite psalm to me, expresses this idea--that God, whose fingers crafted the stuff of stars, astonishingly, cares for minuscule us.

I've heard that people especially like the book of Psalms. One possible reason is how the psalms voice such honest emotions and wrestlings. Many of them were written by David (of David and Goliath fame) who went on to flee for his life from King Saul. Talk about ups and downs!

David, whatever his victories and failures, had a relationship with God. He brought to God what was on his mind--and in that, he is a role model for faith. What I admire, too, is how nearly all of the psalms--even those expressing fear--turn to praise God. Psalm 8, a happy psalm, is bookended with the same exclamation of praise to God. But, you will also find praise and thanks to God in Psalm 22--which begins with a sense of abandonment.

Have you ever had occasion to be seasick? Years ago, I was on a large boat, crossing a nasty North Sea. It was so nasty that disposable foil-lined cartons were conveniently placed for passengers throughout the ship. The halls down below were all shifting, and smelling bad, and no one could walk in a straight line, except the seasoned Norwegian sailors who seemed much too cheerful. Anyway, we had hours of this to face, and the best we could do was to wrap in blankets, huddle in lounge chairs on deck, and look, look, look out at the horizon. The horizon was stable, and focusing on that was what we needed.

So is focusing on the scope and gifts of God. David knew this.

Centuries later, Christ modeled this for us as well. When He taught "The Lord's Prayer" it included elements of praise, framing the requests that God supply our needs, help us resist temptations, and deliver us from evil. These requests are played out in the details of our daily lives!

I have always liked the story of Jesus welcoming and blessing the little children. (Matthew 19:13-14) Usually, the story is told with the idea that we are those children, the children of God (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6, 1 John 3:1). In writing this song, though, I was thinking of the adults who were bringing the children to Jesus.

I suspect they couldn't explain it clearly. Maybe they just sensed that Jesus was holy and extraordinary, and somehow, their children needed His blessing. So often, I don't know where my day is going, but I know it will go better if God is involved. "Things go better with Coke" was once an advertising slogan. Even though a little caffeine can jumpstart a brain, saying that things go better with God is more fully true.

David never exactly said this--but he generally lived it! And because, unlike David, we have lived after the days of Christ, we have even more reason to trust God with our daily needs and challenges. "In any places, on all roads, your Love precedes, unfolds." As I write this study, it's just past Palm Sunday. I love the "God-with-us" of the infant Christ in a Christmas manger, but the "God-with-us" in the events of Holy Week is beyond expression!

And Christ doesn't leave us alone after Easter. He sent us the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, to live with us and in us. (John 14:16-17) The Spirit in us creates an even closer, present relationship with God.

"Morning Prayer" is sort of a blending of David's Psalm 8 with the additional blessings of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Humans are small in the cosmos, and we are small in the scope of history. Yet, in Matthew 10: 29-31, Jesus said that God knows exactly when even a sparrow falls. God also knows the number of hairs on your head--and that you are worth more than many sparrows.

Start your day with that!

 


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