Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Awake my heart. And smile in the teeth of spears and daggers.

Sing to the LORD and bless his Name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations and His wonders among all peoples. Psalm 96:2–3

This makes it clear that intercession is also a daily service we owe to God and our brother. He who denies his neighbour the service of praying for him denies him the service of a Christian. It is clear, furthermore, that intercession is not general and vague but very concrete: a matter of definite persons and definite difficulties and therefore of definite petitions. 

But Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God. Dietrich Bonheoffer, Life Together

Man, the other ladies in my Monday night Bible study have some crazy-hard stories to share because Bonheoffer is all about intercessory prayer and definite persons and definite petitions in Life Together. Well, not all about it, but it is a manifestation of God With Us. And one of my community, a nurse who walks alongside single teenage moms talked about her group’s use of Strength-based therapy.
And I started thinking about my inquiry-based research project yesterday on seventh grade subjects the last period of a ten-hour day in a third-floor classroom with no air conditioning. And because there was a huge connection because what we are doing in math with exponents and multiplying with decimals and in science calculating accurate measurements and the visit from TEP during the previous class, I created a theoretically brilliant-like-a CFL-bulb DO NOW warm-up that was greeted with anything but engagement. And I almost slipped into the berating tone of a slightly offended pretty weary teacher, but rather I extrapolated the mild enthusiasm of two Rwandan students into a broader congratulatory almost-nonsensical pep talk of scholars tackling tough-to-figure-out multistep word problems. And slowly the eyeballs focused, the chitchat drifted over to the task-at-hand and I didn’t have to keep muttering, “Ladies and gentlemen, three, two, one, contact” over the rumble. And the kid who flapped his arm in my face and bounced up and down in his seat during my explanation and modeling moment, and when I at last called on him he asked, “Miss, where did you get those ugly shoes?” I was able to smile.
And the point of all this is that proclaiming good news is a lot more effective than pointing-the-finger condemnation. And this morning I met with Mike Birrer in the Little Chapel of All Nations to pray for downtown. And I was pretty dripping wet from IM Day in the pool, but he had a nice cup of hot tea ready, and we prayed through Psalm 57.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge.
I cry out to God Most High,
    to God who fulfills His purpose for me
God will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness!

And, just for me and my day and the day of Kathy the nurse at a huge urban high school filled with fist fights and Type 2 diabetes and asking for band-aids for scraped knees when what they really have is scraped hearts and Cathy as she stands at the apartment door of teens with big fat back-stories who are seventeen-weeks pregnant and still doing mosh pits and maybe a little weed:
My soul is in the midst of lions;
    I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.

And may I who plead for mercy from a steadfast God, offer mercy.

And I think of Andres in Maldonado, Spain. And how he says his ministry is listening. And he invites pilgrims up the big stair steps overlooking the cathedral for a cup of coffee and listens to their story.

And today, may I listen with the ears of God that I may speak the Word of God.

Sing to the LORD and bless His Name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations and His wonders among all peoples.