Opinion Piece · Religion

Living Your Best Life

There’s a strain of Christianity that wants to tell you that God wants you to prosper. It’s sometimes referred to as the Prosperity Gospel, but really it’s just a symptom of a larger trend within American Christianity that focuses on your religion making you feel good. It goes part and parcel with the entire Christian market that focuses on creating a product for American Christians to buy. It’s really no different than the market that sells you sanitized, “Christianized”, Americanized products to fill your life with. Products that we use as insulation from the difficult parts, the ones that include actual people. It’s the inspirational bible quotes decor that costs $30 and was made in a sweatshop, it’s the Christian music industry that fills the airwaves with songs that are more motivational than religious, it’s the desire to find a monetary solution to every problem instead of actually having to sacrifice something we care about. It’s being at a comfortable distance from other people.

But, I believe we are called to a more rigorous kind of faith. One where we actually have to give of ourselves in ways that are uncomfortable and difficult. A faith where the answers aren’t easy. A faith that forces us to form relationships with each other, instead of just writing a check and forgetting about it. I think that the faith we read about in the New Testament is the kind of faith we can live out every day. And it’s not always, or even often, easy.

Because, sometimes, living your best life through Christ looks like this: 

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Beheading of Saint Paul – Fresco in Saint Paul’s Church of Lyon

Lord, prepare in me a clean heart that is ready to do Your will. Find in me a willing spirit to follow where You lead. Bring forth in me Your love so that I may give it to all people. Give me the courage to draw close to people, and the strength to love unconditionally. As I draw closer to others may I also draw closer to You. Amen.

Religion

Monday of Holy Week | Morning Prayer

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Faithful Midwife,
as you delivered the Hebrews safely
out of the long labor of slavery,
so, morning by morning,
you draw us forth into the new day.
Surround us with a cloud of witnesses,
and sustain us by your powerful word,
that, in the night of loneliness and fear,
we, being weary, may not lost heart
but push toward the joy that is to come,
laboring with Christ
to give birth to your promised kingdom. Amen. 

Source: Revised Common Lectionary

Midwife with a newborn infant (8771281412)

Religion

33rd Day of Lent | Evening Prayer

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Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.

From evil dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Tread underfoot our deadly foe
That we no sinful thought may know.

O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, your only Son;
And Holy Spirit, by whose breath
Our souls are raised to life from death.

Source: The Church of England

Religion

25th Day of Lent | Morning Prayer

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Canticle of the Sun by Saint Francis of Assisi

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.

No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

 

Religion

23rd Day of Lent | Evening Prayer

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When I was in college the pastor taught me to say the Jesus Prayer. It is one of the most ancient prayers in the Christian tradition and it goes like this:

O Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
Have mercy on me,
A sinner.

This prayer is a breath prayer, and the pastor explained how to say it like this:

“O Lord Jesus Christ,”

You start by drawing in a breath. As you do so you also draw in the words. You bring Jesus into your body along with the air you breathe.

“Son of God,”

You exhale your breath. You are proclaiming who Jesus is and the nature of his being. You publicly exclaim the glory of the person of Jesus.

“Have mercy on me,”

You draw in a second breath. You ask for mercy and you take it in. You fill yourself with the life-giving mercy of God.

“A sinner.”

You release the breath. You make a public declaration of who you are. You can hold no illusions about your own righteousness when you denounce yourself as a sinner in need of Jesus. However, this breath holds a secret. When you announce your true nature to the world you are also released from your sin. You exhale your sinfulness just like you exhale your spent breath. And like an old breath your sin is gone from you and forgotten. It has power over you no longer.

“O Lord Jesus Christ,” (Draw in Jesus)

“Son of God,” (Breath out God)

“Have mercy on me,” (Draw in mercy)

“A sinner.” (Expel sin)

This prayer is sweet and melodious. Using the breaths while you pray has a way of creating a deep and restful peace where you can focus on God and be transformed. It is one of my favorite prayers and one that is comforting to fall asleep to.

Amen.

Religion

19th Day of Lent | Evening Prayer

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Lord,
Guard me through the coming night,

Grant that I see morning light.
Give peace to those who mourn and weep,
Grant them deep and restful sleep.
Pour out your mercy far and near,
Give rest to those who shelter here.
Carry us through night’s long hours,
Make us new through Jesus’ power.
Give us grace for coming days,
Lead us in your holy way.

Amen.

Religion

15th Day of Lent | Evening Prayer

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Lord Jesus I surrender to you this day,

I surrender to you my worries,

I surrender to you my fears,

I surrender to you my failures,

I surrender to you my hopes,

I surrender to you my dreams,

I surrender to you my self, past, present, future.

I surrender myself to sleeping at your bosom and resting in your everlasting arms.

Amen.