Lucky Man

Thinking about the power of gratitude practice and spiritual practices like the examen to curb our negativity bias, aiding us in really letting the positives in our lives sink in, reminds me of this old country music song.  Hope it helps you focus on how to take time to “remember” and “not forget” the blessings life gives you, blessings our Christianity spirituality acknowledges as flowing from the lovingkindness of God.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

Forgetting Not

remember-brain

As I take a detour from Exodus 3, to reflect on what Psalm 103 shows us about who this one named in Exodus 3 as Being and Life itself, the “I Am who I Am, is, I am struck by the command the Psalm gives us:

Bless the Living One, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Living One, O my soul,
and do not forget all Their benefits—“

“Forget not” is such a striking phrase.   In the powerful book Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, Dr. Rick Hanson explores the ways in which evolutionary tendencies have shaped our brain wiring and spiritual practices help re-wire our brain for greater happiness, contentment, and compassion.

negative-biasIn his book, Hanson explains that at one point in human and animal evolution, focus was wholly on survival.  This meant behaving as if food was scarce, since to survive we had to constantly be searching for the next food source. Drought, torrential rain, and other animals who ate the same food as us threatened to remove our food source if we were not careful.  Also survival required being on edge, always highly mindful of potential threats, for dangerous predators often roamed nearby that could threaten our ancestors’ lives with no medicine, nurses, or assistive technologies to aid in healing the body from disease or damage.

neg-bias-1This created a negativity bias in our brains so that, unless we make a concerted effort, what is stored most readily in our memories are negative words, negative experiences, feelings of threat and anxiety.  This is why we can have a dozen wonderful things happen to us, yet that one word of judgment or one experience of rejection can ruin a whole night.  It is also why we can have countless happy surprises over the course of a year, yet our one shock to the system which creates fear or sadness we do not expect can cause us to expect danger around every corner.

This negativity bias had benefits in the wilds of the savanna where our ancestors came to consciousness, but Hanson argues, to live whole and full lives in our modern world, we need better ways to cope.  In fact, it is such negativity bias which, when unchecked, leads us to so easily fall into prejudiced ways of thinking and acting without realizing it, and contributes toward our choice as a society in moments of fear or uncertainty to choose exclusion and violence against those different than us, rather than paths that bring reconciliation and healing.

negatvity-bias-3

In this thought-provoking book, Hanson explains that by choosing to regularly spend time focusing our attention on experiences of goodness, unexpected grace, examples of compassion in action we see or hear about, and positive feelings, we can actually begin to rewire our brains so that this negativity bias does not dictate our responses.

Hanson fleshes out practices from Buddhist spirituality and modern mindfulness research which, when done regularly, can begin to allow us to more fully see the positive, the good, the life-giving, in our own lives which can help us cultivate more joy and compassion every day.

Is it any wonder then that the Psalmist suggests to us if we want to connect with the One revealed to Moses as Yahweh, the Living One, the One Who is, the source of Being and Life itself, we ought to “not forget”.  We ought to practice paying attention to the benefits that flow from life and being, which are gifts of the Living One, the great I am whom Moses experienced in this burning bush moment and who Christians see embodied in Jesus’s life.

It is easy and natural if we do not take time to intentionally, mindfully, pay attention to the good gifts that our life brings to us, to fall into this negativity bias and see life only in terms of challenge, loss, heartache, and pain.   It is easy to not even recognize the goodness before us each day in the beauty of nature, the strength of our bodies, the warmth of our friends, the love of our partners and family.   It is easy to only feel our struggles and not the sources of strength within us and others that make us able to face these challenges with confidence.

remember

Taking time to see, remember, and celebrate these gifts in our lives which Psalm 103 calls the benefits of the great I-Am who guides our days, is essential.

How can we do that?

Some practices which many people find helpful are:

  1. Mindfulness meditation

Various types of mindfulness meditation exist. At heart this type of meditation is simply sitting with and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgment.  As you do this, you will notice both areas of concern but also positive feelings, experiences, and memories

 

  1. Ignatian Meditation

I talk about Ignatian meditation on this blog post:  https://progressiveredneckpreacher.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/practices-for-embracing-our-many-sided-lives-examen/

At heart Ignatian meditation, or the examen, is a practice in which you take time every day to sit with the experiences of the day.  As you do so, you pay attention to life-giving and positive experiences where you feel the presence of the Living One shining through, noting where you experience them and with whom.  Then you notice areas of pain, heartache, and sorrow where you feel far from what is Life-giving, and you ask where, when, and with whom you experience these.  As you do so, you reflect on what allows you to get through such experiences.

I have only done this spiritual practice in a limited way, but when I have done so I have been amazed how much I began to notice even on my worst days that were life giving, were gifts, were positive moments.

 

  1. Gratitude practices

A gratitude practice is a regular practice – be that daily, weekly, monthly – in which you take time to list what you are grateful for and possibly even thank those ones in your life through whom such gifts come (be they friend, partner, neighbor, coworker, or God) for those gifts.

Some people write lists each day of what they are grateful for, maybe in a journal or on their fridge.   I know some people who do this on their social media like Facebook, Google +, or Twitter.

I think some people actually share pictures on Instagram and Facebook as a kind of gratitude practice: they share with others the high points of joy in their day.  Then they return at the beginning or end of their day to look at those high points.

Positive psychology research has found that just taking time to note through a gratitude practice 5 or 10 things you have experienced you are legitimately thankful for greatly changes your outlook, giving you a capacity to better recognize blessings and connect with the positive in your life.  This makes you more emotionally and spiritually resilient.

 

These are just a few ways to recognize and celebrate the goodness each day brings, a practice of “Blessing” in which the Psalm invites us to take part.   Such practices in able us to see the life-giving parts of our own lives, both when we are experiencing easy and comfortable moments and when we experience difficult ones.   These life-giving parts of our life are also where we see God, for if God is I-Am, the One who Is, or the One Who Lives, that means that where life flourishes, God is present.

 

How do you resist this negativity bias in your life and open yourselves up to the ways the Living One breaks forth throughout your life?  Please feel free to comment and let us all know.

 

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

(repost) Born as a Bundle of Blessings

Here is a message I gave some years ago, about the life of Christ and its lessons for us.  Hope it blesses you.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

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Luke 2:22-40simeon and anna

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

native american nativity
This reading comes just a short time after the story of Christmas – roughly a week after Jesus is born to Mary, when his parents take him to the Temple, to celebrate his birth and for him to be blessed by the priests who are there. And blessed Jesus is! The old wizened priest Simeon falls down, amazed, to see this tiny child held in Mary’s arms. Anna, an old widow who has served God for years, has her heart leap for joy and cannot stop praising God for the wonder of this little one.

So often, coming after the Christmas celebration, such a story can be for us a way of thinking of how different and wonderful Jesus is. After all, he is the Son of God come to save us. This is a part of why Anna and Simeon turn from there quiet prayers to songs of praise and celebration.

But I cannot help myself from thinking of the joy surrounding seeing other babies blessed in the house of God – of seeing my little nephew Mark at my brother’s home church, when one Easter he awoke with a shriek of surprise as cold water fell on him at his baptism; of when Kat took oil and anointed my god-son Jordan, praying God’s blessing on his life, of when Rebecca and Christina’s god-son was blessed at the church earlier this year.

IMG_20111223_155806Though Jesus is unique – God the Son come to earth to save – in a way none else have, there is also a way that Jesus being greeted with these songs of praise when he is brought as a baby to blessed at the temple ought to awaken us to our own blessedness.

So often we can think we are so broken, so hurting, so weak, so sinful, that God is way up there and we are down here. But in Jesus, God showed us – God always comes to us as God with us, God entering into our life. The early Christians liked to say, that what God becomes, God heals.

And so in this little crying baby who is greeted by Anna and Simeon, God has come … in the flesh. In his crying, and his burping, and his diapers, God has come. In skin and bones, and blood beating in a tiny heart, God has come. In vulnerability, so vulnerable he cannot eat or walk without his mother nursing him or carrying him, God comes. In someone who must learn as we all did how to speak, how to crawl, how to walk, how to read, how to dress himself but until he does must have others do it for him, God comes. In Jesus God comes into every aspect of our lives, God comes as the innocent child, God comes as the toddler crawling on dusty floors, God comes as the little boy learning to play, God comes as the young man finding his way. God comes and blesses each of every aspect of our lives.

This means that there is not a part of your life or my life that is not holy in some way. Not a one of us are a mistake, but in a way very similar to Jesus, each of us have entered this world as promised children who can say with the Psalmist in Psalm 139,

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Master PotterEach of us are works of art, our lives canvasses upon which God can paint the most beautiful of pictures. Each of us are children of God and in us, as in Jesus, God can be made flesh in our lives by us choosing to take each moment that lies ahead of us as a place where we can encounter God and let God’s light shine through us.

In the next several weeks I hope in my sermon series to look at the way different aspects of Jesus’ life shed light on how our own lives can be places where we encounter God every day and also where we let God’s light shine through us in others. But what I want to challenge you with as we enter this time  is to embrace the fact that your life is special, that you are a unique child of God, and that you are someone in whom Christ’s light shines most beautifully.

 

That said, I want to conclude this reflection with the words of Christian writer Marianne Williamson, in her book

self acceptance 1

A  Return to Love, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful  beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Song of the South: (repost) Corpus Christi

As we continue to reflect on what it means to be a continuing Incarnation of Christ, during this season from Christmas Day to Epiphany, I thought I would share a poem I wrote about this theme, “Corpus Christi”.  I hope it blesses you!

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

 

Corpus Christi

 

breakbreadI lift it up, firm yet pliant, aromatically doughy

hear the rip of it tearing in my hands

and think of the calloused skin

of men toiling under the hot sun

often with little pay

in constant threat,

ever asking themselves:

Will I be sent back as illegal

unwanted

rejected?

despite their long labors

and searching for hope

toiling to plant and harvest the grain that bore this loaf.

 

As I open my mouth, ready to whisper ancient words

I cannot but think of the body I watched

chaplain 1laying still and quiet

a tangle of cords its shroud

entombed amidst white hospital walls

just as sure as that fated Galilean lay

in rocky borrowed grave

the only sounds surrounding it are

the constant beep of machines

we call life support

which instead of bringing life

simply delay the inevitable

freeing of that one woman’s soul

from a body

transformed from a house of joy

to a stifling prison of pain,

a sound that mingles with

machine-borne labored breaths

which together resound in that room

like water dripping

on stalagmites

deep below Linvern caverns.

 

“This is my body,” my lips whisper

and I cannot but have my mind transported

revelation idi aminto the hills and seas of Uganda

where Idi Amin left bodies

piled in the sun

of little girls

just like that African princess

who is like a daughter to me

whom he thought defective,

and the smoke clouds of Aushwitz,

which rose engulfing all those

whom madmen called unworthy

while good people watched unmoved.

 

“Broken” I whisper

Child Abuse Statisticsand think of the man

whose life remains shattered

by one he trusted as a boy

who left scars no , nor time itself, can heal.

“Broken” echoes

as I remember little girls and mothers

hiding for their life

from the ones that left them bruised.

 

I take the cup, I raise the glass,

and realize

in each of them the Sacred Light burns bright

inner-peace (1)just as surely as it shined in Mary’s baby boy

and in me.

This is my cup, I hear him whisper as I say his words

poured out in you and many.

 

As I hear Him, I remember

how often we fail to see.

We say “keep those dirty souls out of our parks”

not letting love win for the likes of them.

Stop-Hobophobia-Front-Black-Copy-21We say “send them back”,

forgetting that it is in their eyes,

eyes of the stranger

the broken

and the poor,

that the Savior’s eyes shine back upon us.

We say “they are too far away”

while so many baby girls

fall under tyrant’s tank

and terrorist’s bomb

their fathers likewise

helpless to save them.

 

And I fall to my knees

broken

remembering

breath prayerall those I turned away

not seeing

calling crazy, faggot,

wetback, and gimp

heart broken wide,

face wet with tears.

 

And somehow, somewhere,

in the music of the moment

I hear a whispered reminder

This, broken, is my body.

This one poured out bears my life.

Be my body, broken with the broken,

be my life, poured out to the empty.

Let us lay a table together

in the valley of death

so your cup overflows

with drank of healing

for all my who lie broken

trembling in fear.

 

Continuing Incarnation

As we continue in the 12 Days from Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus to Epiphany, which remembers both the arrival of the Magi (or Wise Ones) to Jesus as a small child and the baptism of Jesus, I thought it would be good to share a poem about the Continuing Incarnation, which is the task of our lives at least for those of us who ascribe to Christian faith.

Incarnation means a taking on a flesh and bone, blood and heart.  It is the technical term in theology for the miracle Christians believe happened in the Christmas story: in a unique and complete way, God took of flesh and blood, bone and heart, in the life of the man of Nazareth, Jesus son of Mary and Joseph.   Somehow in his life he embodied the life and love of God in a way that endures through the ages, demonstrating in his life, his teachings, his death, and his follower’s later experience of him alive beyond death through an experience they called “resurrection” who God is for each of us and who we all can be.

Yet far from pointing to some special uniqueness of Jesus, this experience of Incarnation is a call for each of us to in our own way join that man Jesus in the journey of Incarnation.  We, too, can become ones in whose live the guiding lovingkindness which can shape our days, which Christians call “God”, can take on flesh and blood, bone and heart.  By living out this same lovingkindness in our own incomplete way we too can become embodiments  of the grace and justice which Jesus revealed in his life: grace as the lovingkindness which surrounds every life freely, before and besides anything good or bad we can do, which calls all people and all creation into an embrace of loving acceptance. Lovingkindness also as the way in which we are called to treat ourselves, other people, and all living things.  And justice which is, as Dr. Martin Luther King once said, a tearing down in our own life every barrier we encounter within ourselves, our relationships, our life together in our community to that lovingkindness being fully expressed to ourselves, to other people of all types, to all living things in the web of life which surrounds us.

St. Paul called this ongoing Incarnation being “the Body of Christ”.

Interestingly enough, this concept does not just exist in Christianity.   In Buddhism, we see this in the promise in some strains of Buddhism that some can develop a “Buddha mind”, an enlightened awareness of the interconnectedness of all of life which flows forth into compassion.  In Tibetan Buddhism the ultimate expression of this is the image of the bodhisattva, the one who discovers enlightenment yet chooses not to leave the mortal realm fully but reach back in various ways to help those stuck in life in this world find similar spiritual freedom.

pregnant motherThis exists also in Islam, and is beautifully expressed in the poem of Muslim mystic, Rumi, called “The Body is Like Mary”.  May its words draw you more deeply into asking the question of how you can continue to allow God to put on flesh and blood through your life.

“The body is like Mary and each of us has a Jesus inside.
Who is not in labour, holy labour?

Every creature is.
See the value of true art when the earth or a soul is in the mood to create beauty,
for the witness might then for a moment know beyond
any doubt, God is really there within,
so innocently drawing life from us with Her umbilical universe,
though also needing to be born, yes God also needs to be born, birth from a hand’s loving touch, birth from a song breathing life into this world.
The body is like Mary, and each of us, each of us, has a Christ within.”

 

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

Finding Ourselves in the Christmas Story

AngelLuke 1

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”[b]29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”[c] 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

 

native american nativityAs we come to Christmas day, I can’t help but think of the beauty of this rich story and its image of mother Mary, child Jesus, father Joseph.   I am struck too, by the point I recently heard my pastor, Rev. David Mateo, make about the Christmas story.  He said that often we think of the story in terms of how great and wonderful Jesus is, finding his star and following it.  But perhaps we need to see ourselves in this story, asking what star lies ahead of us that, if we follow, we can find our own worth.

I am helped by this analogy by recently having heard the beautiful folk/bluegrass rendering of Psalm 131 by bluegrass singer & songwriter and sometimes theologian Charles Pettee:

This song joins this beautiful Hebrew Psalm in inviting us to imagine ourselves as a child cradled in God’s arms as if God is our mother, quiet and trusting.  In a way, it pictures us becoming the Christ Child with God the loving mother Mary was to Jesus.

To me this beautifully pictures the theological idea about which Count Zinzendorf of the Moravians wrote. Jurgen Moltmann, in his book, The Source of Life, writes of Zinzendorf’s contribution:

 

mother-and-child“If the experiences of the Holy Spirit are grasped as being a `rebirth’ or a `being born anew’, this suggests an image for the Holy Spirit which was quite familiar in the early years of Christianity, especially in Syria, but got lost in the patriarchal empire of Rome: the image of the mother. If believers are `born’ of the Holy Spirit, then we have to think of the Spirit as the `mother’ of believers, and in this sense as a feminine Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, as the Gospel of John understands the Paraclete to be, then she comforts `as a mother comforts’ (cf. John 14.26 with Isa 66.13). In this case the Spirit is the motherly comforter of her children. Linguistically this brings out the feminine form of Yahweh’s ruach in Hebrew. Spirit is feminine in Hebrew, neuter in Greek, and masculine in Latin and German.

 

“The famous Fifty Homilies of Makarios (Symeon) come from the sphere of the early Syrian church. For the two reasons we have mentioned, `Makarios’ talked about `the motherly ministry of the Holy Spirit’. In the seventeenth century, Gottfried Arnold translated these testimonies of Syrian Orthodox spirituality into German, and they were widely read in the early years of Pietism. John Wesley was fascinated by `Macarius the Egyptian’. In Halle, August Hermann Francke took over `Makarios” ideas about the feminine character of the Holy Spirit, and for Count Zinzendorf this perception came as a kind of revelation. In 117411, when the community of the Moravian Brethren was founded in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Zinzendorf proclaimed `the motherly ministry of the Holy Spirit’ as a community doctrine for the Brethren. He knew very well what he was doing, for he wrote later: `It was improper that the motherly ministry of the Holy Spirit should have been disclosed to the sisters not by a sister but by me.’

new image of motherhood“As a vivid, pictorial way of explaining the divine Tri-unity, Zinzendorf liked to use the image of the family, `since the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our true Father and the Spirit of Jesus Christ is our true Mother, because the Son of the living God is our true Brother’. `The Father must love us, and can do no other; the Mother must guide us through the world and can do no other; the Son, our brother, must love souls as his own soul, as the body of his body, because we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, and he can do no other’ (see also my book The Spirit of Life, pp.158-9). Zinzendorf then also describes the influence of the Spirit on the soul in romantic terms of great tenderness. And in a German hymn, Johann Jacob Schutz describes the leadings of the Spirit similarly as a guiding `with motherly hand’.

 

“It is right and good that contemporary feminist theology should have discovered the `femininity of the Holy Spirit’ and reinterpreted it, and it is quite out of place and a sign of ignorance when official church organs in Germany believe they can scent heresy in this discovery.

 

“Of course the picture of the family of God Father, God Mother and God Child is no more than an image for the God to whom no image can approximate. But it is much better than the ancient patriarchal picture of God the Father with two hands, the Son and the Spirit. This icon of the Trinity draws on the feminine images used in Scripture for the Holy Spirit, as a reminder that women as well as men can bear the image of God.For there God is a solitary, ruling and determining subject, whereas here the Tri-unity is a wonderful community. There the reflection of the triune God is a hierarchical church. Here the reflection of the triune God is a community of women and men without privileges, a community of free and equal people, sisters and brothers. For the building of this new congregational structure, the motherly ministry of the Spirit, and the Tri-unity as a community, are important”.

Zinzendorf’s invitation to envision the Holy Spirit as our mother, from whom we are being born, then held, nurtured, and brought to full flowering as Jesus was by Mary; and Jesus as our big brother protecting, helping, companioning, and guiding us; together with the Father as our own father, is a powerful call to us on Christmas.

As mystic and theologian Meister Eckhart once wrote, “We are celebrating the feast of the Eternal Birth which God the Father has borne and never ceases to bear in all eternity… But if it takes not place in me, what avails it? Everything lies in this, that it should take place in me. “

dying child 2Discovering ourselves as ones born of God into this world, full of purpose and meaning, is I think ultimately an often forgotten lesson of the Christmas story.

What would it look like if you saw yourself as loved, embraced by God?  As one with a star ahead of your own life, leading you on to, in your own small way, join Jesus in shaping our world for beauty and healing?   In seeing yourself as the Gospels called Jesus as God’s Child, one whom whom God loves unreservedly, one deserving of love, in whom God takes delight simply because you are, and who deserves delight?

For me, two pieces of spiritual practice really picture personally what this looks like.

One is the old Gospel home I often sing with my patients on my hospice line, “Blessed Assurance”:

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

“This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

 

“Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

“This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long”

 

Also it I picture it in my own way in a repeated prayer I use in my chaplain ministry:
“Oh God, who is nearer to us than the breath in our lungs or the warmth of the sun on our skin that refreshes us from the cold winter days,

Your word to us is love

It is your love that births us into this world

And to your love we all one day, inevitably, will return

And it is that same love that gives us strength to stand in all of our days

In days of wonder and joy which nearly floor us with gratitude and delight

In days of sorrow, heart, and pain that make our knees knock and legs tremble

And every kind of day between

When we cannot stand, it is that same love that lifts us up and carries us

As a child in their mother’s arms

So your love encircles us and all of our days

As the sun and stars encircle the earth.

Amen”

May you experience this embrace of love, your place in the Christmas story, this Christmas and all your days.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah