A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Prayers for Lent, Day 9: Give Up, Take On, Pray

I do not ask my students at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison about their spirituality—I would not intrude on something so personal. On occasion, however, they do share their views with me. For a number of them, perhaps for all, the class creates a setting where, as one student put it, “For two hours a week, we are no longer prisoners." - Amy-Jill Levine*

                 Are you a prisoner of unexamined faith?  Have you ever asked yourself, "What exactly do I believe about God, Jesus, and the Bible, and perhaps more importantly why do I believe it? What or who has influenced you in your beliefs? Maybe you do have questions but think you don't know enough to ask because the leaders have studied more.  Sometimes it is just easier to go with the flow, follow the crowd, and just believe what someone tells you is correct.  But here's a chance to begin to look more closely.  There are no easy answers but within a trusting community, there are great opportunities to examine your absolutes, your maybes, your confusions, and your questions. Lent is the perfect time for self-examination and discovery of what it means to be "faithful".

We have heard with our own ears, O God,
    our ancestors have told us,
What deeds you performed in their days,
   in the days of old - **
And those stories are so important in our faith journey and yet, there seems to be so much conflicting information, differing opinions - go this way, that's right, that's wrong, don't ask...I get confused. She said/he said/they say, and I like all of them, how can they think so differently?  I think I know what I believe about all the important things but I'm not always sure why or if what I believe is the right thing given all the shouting and controversies. Another moment for a long, slow, deep, breath... Today I will give up going through the motions of believing that I completely understand my faith.  I will take on asking people I trust how to begin to sort out what I really believe and why. I will pray for an open mind and for the opening of the gates of my heart to allow for changes in thought if they should appear; and also for the patience to accept that the journey of examined faith will be as long as my earthly life.  amen.

*Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University School of Divinity.  She self-describes as a "Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Protestant divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt," Levine "combines historical-critical rigor, literary-critical sensitivity, and a frequent dash of humor with a commitment to eliminating antisemitic, sexist, and homophobic theologies."

**Psalm 44:1  NRSV

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