Thunker’s Weblog


A Christmas Prayer

Robert Wheadon-126x150

Christianity has a long history of writing and preserving prayers.   The Old Testament is full of prayers.  Just contemplate the Psalms.  Psalms 102:1 reads:

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.”

In the New Testament there are several examples of recorded prayer.  In Matthew 6:9-13,  we have the Lord’s Prayer.  In Matthew 26:39, the prayer the Savior offers in the Garden of Gethsemane is recorded for all to read.  In John 17 is the beautiful Intecessory Prayer.  Jesus prays for his disciples, and for all of us, to His Father, to help make us one with Divinity.

In the spirit of Christmas and the Christ, I want to share a prayer written by an Anglican in England, named Winfred, which I find both heart-touching and soul-approriate for this time of year.

The Advent Prayer

Loving God,

I come to You as one on a journey.

As I see and hear the busyness of Christmas all around me,

I now pause and rest and reflect.

It’s not an easy time for many.

I am where I am, for good or ill.

Among the bright lights around me,

I seek a truer and more meaningful light.

I am grateful that all is not darkness.

I am grateful for those who are there for me in my need,

Offering friendship, and support, and understanding.

May I, in some small way,

Be there for those who also have needs not unlike my own.

May we be gifts to one another.

I am where I am.

Lead me to where You would have me be.

I am where I am.

If I am weak, I pray to be made strong.

I am where I am.

If I am lost, I pray for guiding hands.

I am where I am.

If I am in despair, I pray for new hope.

May the God of Peace grant me His Peace,

Whatever I do and Wherever I go,

Today and every day.

Amen.

I pray that we may be the gifts, freely shared, to those whom God has placed in our lives.

Be kind, make good memories, and come back soon.

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Grace

Robert Wheadon-126x150

I’ve been reading the last few weeks on the topic of grace.  It’s a topic over-discussed, or it’s a topic where only fools dare to tread.  It’s no surprise, then, why I’m jumping right in.

The time-worn debate centers around whether faith or works grants us access to God’s grace.  Let me settle that debate right away and declare the correct answer is “Yes.” All better now?  Me, neither.  Let’s explore a little more and define some things.  I am defining grace as God’s ultimate gift to us, His children.  This gift comes in two parts.  One part is the gift of resurrection.  It is a gift given to all humanity.  All of Heavenly Father’s children will be resurrected through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The second part of the gift is exaltation.  Exaltation is the gift of living the life God lives.  It is being saved in God’s kingdom where He reigns.  Both parts of grace are granted to all of us through Jesus Christ’s atonement.  I sometimes get the impression that in our current world, Jesus Christ has become merely a spiritual friend, a cosmic counselor, or someone we mention in prayer because we were taught to.  Yet Jesus Christ is so much more than that.  He is the Only Begotten of our Father.  He voluntarily provided the way and means for us to return to God.  He has done everything for us.  He has provided the only path for us to overcome mortality and not be chained forever to the grave through the resurrection.  He has also paid the penalty we incur when we sin and distance ourselves from heaven.  In Ephesians 2: 5, 7-8, Paul wrote:

“5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

Because of verses like this, some systems of theology have understood half of what is involved with grace.  And the half is true.  Grace is free, granted by a loving Father through His Son.  But what about works?  Aren’t we supposed to keep the commandments and earn our way into heaven?  That sounds good, except it’s impossible.  It takes a simple, honest question to see how incompatible that idea is with truth.  Can we atone for ourselves?  Can we pay the price justice demands when God’s command is broken?  Can we call down mercy from heaven for ourselves?  If we were totally honest, we would know that is not in our skill set.  The grace offered by Jesus Christ is essential.  What about repentance, though?  Isn’t that how I earn heavenly gold stars and walk back into heaven?  Don’t worry.  That’s coming up.  Now it’s time to address the works part of this theology.  Just to make sure the confusion on this issue is clear, let’s look at what Paul and James write about grace, faith and works.

In Galatians 2:16, Paul writes:

“16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

In James 2:14, 17-18, 20-22, 24 we read:

“14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

 

Feel free to comment, ask questions, or tell me I’m completely off base.

Be kind, make good memories, and come back soon.