Rev.  Jan Bihl
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STEPPING:  In, Out and All About

This is Part 2 from: Lord, Teach Us to Pray
Excerpts from a Sermon by Rev. Jan Bihl
July 28, 2019

You can reference the first part of the sermon here: Part 1 Come Alive
 

So what can aliveness in prayer look like for us?

 

I call it:

Stepping Up

Stepping Out

Stepping In

Standing Up

Staying Still

 

Whether you have been praying all your life or consciously just for a short time, I think you will recognize some if the ways that God has already been drawing you into “alive” in your prayer life.

 

You could pray with many situations, but I chose ONE for today:

 

Say you are standing at the corner of  the construction site for our new church development

 -          A month ago it felt like they had been working forever on the foundation…

 -          A month later – yesterday – all of a sudden it’s taking more shape…

 

How could prayer be alive here?

 

Because, let’s face it, you and I have a choice. We could:

-          Grumble – it’ taking so long!!

-          Ignore – bide time – wait – kick back…

-          Frantically run around…in fear about survival…

 

Stepping In

 Or…we could step in…step into prayer – consciously.

 

What if…you imagine standing at this site…and having a conversation with God, praying for the Holy Spirit to enliven your prayers. Paying attention to the heart as well as all our senses…

 

Our Abbq (intimate term)…who art in heaven – in that realm of soul – hallowed be our name – let your name, your DNA of love and truth be sacred, blessed, and revered here.

Your kingdom come here in this place and people and surrounding community. Your will be done here.

Give us what we need to get from now to the time we begin to inhabit this space….not only money but the spiritual resources and resolve we need to be a new kind of spiritual community that is needed in this time and space.

 

You might find some thoughts forming  - a wondering about at all the rebar and cement…and the time and effort and precise planning and measurement has gone into the foundation – how important it is that the foundation is strong. Solid. It has to hold everything else. 

And how life and faith are like that. 

 

Like the hymn - How firm a foundation…is given in God’s excellent word…and leaning on Jesus…

 

Or Jesus’ parable – don’t build your house on sandy land – build on solid rock. When the rains and storms come, your house will stand. The punchline of the parable, Jesus says, is “if you hear the words that I say and do them, you will be like the one who built their life on solid rock.”

 

O God, enliven my intentions, our intentions, your intentions – for this re-purposing. What are they again? Let us trust in You as our foundation.

 

Like A Rock…

 

 

Stepping Up (Construction site- Community – Blessing)

 

When we pray we very often ask God to do things:

-          We pray for the construction managers and workers – for God to bless them and for safety

-          For the design team and architects – Peg and Charlene

-          For Terry and Mike and all those involved in the various committees

 

But what if God says – You bless them…I have blessed you. Now receive that blessing. Most of us have been given more blessings than we have given.

 

When we have truly received a blessing, the natural thing is to bless others.

 

God has given this congregation a huge blessing. Have you received it?

 

If so…

You bless the project – You bless the community… Step up and trust that your blessing has power and is required.

Bless the workers and their families. Bless the city of Coquitlam planning department. Bless the project…bless the people in this community.

Bless…in the Name of the One who gives life…

And then let it go…and trust it to God.

 

David Whyte poem – To Make a Promise

TO MAKE A PROMISE

Make a place of prayer, no fuss,
just lean into the white brilliance
and say what you needed to say
all along, nothing too much, words
as simple and as yours and as heard
as the bird song above your head
or the river running gently beside you,
let your words join to the world
the way stone nestles on stone
the way the water simply leaves
and goes to the sea,
the way your promise
breathes and belongs
with every other promise
the world has ever made.

Now, leave them to go on,
let your words alone
to carry their own life,
without you, let the promise
go with the river.
Have faith. Walk away.

 

Stepping Out

 

Musing with God – what could be different in this community? What might be in store for this congregation and community in the next 1,2,5,10 years?

What are the possibilities? What is the bigger picture?

Where are you already at work?

 

Share with God your desire to make things better - for individuals, for the community, the earth. And your desire to do that using your spirit-given gifts – sacred gifts. 

It may mean starting something new…learning something new…doing something differently…

 

Jesus said  – you can’t put new wine into old wine skins…

New wine = new wine skins.

 

Standing Up

      Sometimes our prayer – our conversation with God – is a time of our own wrestling with the unfairness and inequities we see around us – we search for answers, we wrestle with God, moving from doubt to faith…learning to confront based on ethics and principles…speaking and acting to change systems and structures that are unfair and injust.

 

-          Aladdin – speechless (You Tube – or better yet, see the movie!)

o   Here comes a wave meant to wash me away
A tide that is taking me under
Broken again, left with nothing to say
My voice drowned out in the thunder

o   But I can't cry
And I can't start to crumble
Whenever they try
To shut me or cut me down

o   I can't stay silent
Though they wanna keep me quiet
And I tremble when they try it
All I know is I won't go speechless

She was standing up on the inside…then she acted it on the outside.

 

 

And finally – Connect with Your Still Place – not a contradiction..

 

-          There is a place in us where the water is deep and still. Jesus calls it his peace that passes all understanding.

-          The psalmist said – you lead me beside still waters…

-          It’s a place where we know and experience the Presence of God whatever else may be going on.

 

 

Ending

 

Alive does take effort.

 

Apparently, of all mammals, humans have the longest time to maturity!

 

So take heart and be encouraged! Learning to pray alive is a lifelong adventure!

 

So, I invite you to:

 

-          Step into your prayer. God is already in 100%!

 

-          Step up in prayer to do your part. Bless.  

 

-          Step out in prayer and imagine with the Holy Spirit… What if…?

 

-          Stand up. It begins on the inside. And as Jesus says in the  movie Shack – Let’s do it together. It works best that way.

 

-          Connect with your still place – where the unshakeable presence and peace of Christ resides in you.