Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Labyrinth of Life

Last night, I traveled to Cleveland again to walk the Labyrinth at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. (Note to United Methodists-- we really gotta get us some cathedrals--but that's a post for another day!)

The labyrinth, for those who don't know, is a little like a maze, but very different from a maze. In a maze, you have to find the right path from one spot to another, while avoiding dead-ends and wrong turns. In the labyrinth, there is only one way in and one way out, and there are no dead-ends or wrong turns. You walk the same path in and out, and the labyrinth always leads to the same place--the center (sometimes called the rose).
The center of the labyrinth represents closeness to God, or the center of our souls, or whatever place you find yourself journeying towards.
The labyrinth at Trinity is based on the one at the Chartres Cathedral in France, and is open on Tuesday evenings from 6 p.m to 9 p.m.

This time, while walking the labyrinth, I had a revelation (I usually do). As I was walking towards the center, there was another man who was walking out from the center. At one point, though we were technically on different trajectories, we ended up walking side by side. This caused me to feel deep within my soul this truth--though we all walk on different paths, and sometimes find ourselves on different stages of our journeys through faith and life, we all walk side by side from time to time. This is what allows me, as a thirty year old kid, to walk beside my brothers and sisters who are much older than I am, and to be a pastor to people who could be my parents or grandparents. This is possible because we all take the same journey through life, and we meet each other along the way as fellow sojourners who can share in times of both joy and sadness.

Speaking of sadness, my heart grieves with the people of Virginia Tech this week. They were one of the subjects of one of my "rose prayers" at the center of the labyrinth. Pray for peace in their hearts and minds, and for a spirit of calm and safety to envelope that campus.

In nomine Patri, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, (look it up)


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

He is risen!

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!

(End of sermon)

This story was told to me this Sunday by a member of the congregation here in Niles. It was told of a Lutheran pastor, who stood in the pulpit, declared the words above, and then sat down. What a testimony to the power of the story of Jesus' resurrection--mere mention of the event is enough to call it to our minds!

My prayer for anyone who reads this blog (I hope that someone is reading it!) is that you will be able to call his resurrection to mind not just during this Easter season, but at any time when you need the presence of God in your life--the life-giving, loving, saving God of Jesus Christ.

He is risen, indeed,

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Wee Discovery in the Wee Worship Book

This morning, while doing my usual morning prayers, I decided to use the resource "A Wee Worship Book," from the Iona Community of Scotland. I have been cycling through their morning liturgies, and this morning, I happened upon Morning Liturgy D (This will only be helpful or interesting to you if you happen to own the book. If you don't--go get it!)

Anyway, this morning's prayers included a line that struck me as I read it:
"Let us pray for those who may be born today and bless them in Jesus' name." It struck me partly because of the novelty of the thing, but also because of the concept. Obviously, I don't know anyone who might be born today, but that shouldn't stop me from pausing to think about those who do, and giving thanks before God for them. What a way to embody the Body of Christ, which includes even the smallest and most helpless among us!

The prayer also calls for us to remember those who may face death today. Again, I can't say I know anyone who fits that category (although we might all be said to be facing death all the days of our lives), but it's been uplifting to my spirit to lift up those who might be in that situation, and to remember them before the throne of God's grace.

I was also blessed by the closing words of the liturgy:

Leader: The peace of God,
The peace of God's people,
The peace of Mary mild, the loving one,
and Christ, King of human hearts,
God's own peace. . .

All: Be upon each thing our eyes take in,
Be upon each thing our ears take in,
Be upon our bodies which come from the earth,
Be upon our souls which come from heaven,
Evermore and evermore, Amen. (a)

What earthy spirituality are the prayers of the Celtic peoples! Thanks be to God for their gifts to us.

Evermore and Evermore,


(a) A Wee Worship Book by the Wild Goose Worship Group; Glasgow:Wild Goose Publications; 1999. The introduction to this liturgy states that the prayers in the liturgy came originally from Alexander Carmichael's book Carmina Gadelica (Songs of the Gaels), which was published at the end of the 19th century.