The inward being and the secret heart

I’ve been silent for awhile, absorbed in preparing a manuscript for submission, and the site will remain pretty silent over the next three weeks.

Between now and then, this sermon on YouTube was preached last Sunday at Shepherd of the Hill, the wonderful congregation I’m privileged to serve in Chaska, MN.

It is based on the 51st Psalm (selected) and sees the psalm in light of a rite for the cleansing of a leper in the Book of Leviticus in which the leper presents two birds.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.

6 You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Getting to “the Still Point”

Steve Shoemaker sent this Breath Prayer on March 24, 2012 during Holy Week based on Jesus’ word to another criminal hanging on the cross next to him. I waited until now to post it on Views from the Edge.

Prayers (breathing) –  8 syllables in (inhale); 8 out (exhale)

– Steve Shoemaker

Jesus Christ, Child of God, Savior: (teacher) Have mercy on me, your sister.

(brother).  (on us your siblings.)

(Have mercy on me, a sinner.)

Gracious God, Jesus Christ, Spirit:

Give me (us) peace, patience, joy and love.

Loving God, you create, sustain:

give us dreams, energy and skill.

Holy Spirit, Comforter, Fire:

Mold us, move us, keep us alive.

Mysterious Divinity:

Show us what we can know and do.

We have left the path, lost our way:

Forgive us, O God; set us straight.

Your grace and love surround us, God:

Help us be grateful, loving, kind.

Our life will soon be over, God:

Remember us in paradise…

I waited until now to share this prayer. It strikes me as an antidote to the onslaught of misery and hate during this campaign season. Breathing Prayer calms my soul, slows down my whirring mind, and brings it down into the heart. The ancient practices of Breath Prayer and Lectio Divina move me into the great Stillness at “the still point of the turning world”… where the dance is.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither
from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest
nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the
point, the still point,There would be no dance, and there is only the
dance.

T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965), The Four Quartets.

For more on Breath Prayer and the variety of prayer in the Christian tradition, click on this link: Ten Ways to Pray: A Short Guide to a Long History of Talking with God.