Monday, December 17, 2012

"Let Me Walk Lord, by Your Side"

Last Friday, as I was beginning to work on a paper for Christian Anthropology, I got a 'hankering' for some bluegrass tunes. I went to Pandora and found the bluegrass station. About three songs into my longing for Kentucky, this particular song from Ralph Stanley was delivered to me. Since that first listen, I have really grown to love the song.

The title of the song is: "Let Me Walk Lord by Your Side."
Here is the YouTube Link if you would like to listen:

The entire song has struck a chord with my spiritual journey as of late. It is not that I felt unwelcome in any church that I have ever attended; it is more to the fact that I never allowed myself to feel welcome there. It has taken many years to come to the realization that--- I, me, myself---am truly loved by the Lord, for exactly the way that he created me. That fact needs to be recognized by each one of us in our relationship with the Lord and, by extension, with each of our neighbors. Then, "in our Church house Sunday morning," we will all be able to stand together and praise the Lord for all His continuing gifts to us.

Without writing about the entire song, I am just going to quickly reflect on the refrain of the song (which by the idea spark of the Holy Spirit I am also using to structure my paper) which I think is becoming a great prayer for me:

"Steer me on the righteous pathway"

Each of us needs to be pushed back onto the narrow path. We get lost from time to time. Reconciliation helps to return to the Lord, to get our heart clean, and wash the sin from our blood-stained wool.

"Help me humbly to abide"

Once we are clean, our practice of vigilance and virtue begins to be rebuilt. No one is saying that it is easy, because our tendency to sin can return. We must ask the Lord for grace and assistance to continue building towards full righteousness.

"Hold me to your precious bosom"

The Lord loves us, even more than we can ever dream or imagine. I see some Christmas stamps on my desk that depict Mary holding Jesus ever so close to her bosom. Our friend Jesus holds us in that same embrace and loves us, even in our repeated brokenness.

"Let me walk lord by your side"

In the pope's encyclical letter on Hope from 2007, he reminds us of Bernard of Clarivaux's saying that "God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with." The Lord walks with us in our trials and tribulations. Our walk is never easy, but when the Lord is at our side, the path is more straight, less hilly, more smooth, and less steep.


Picture Credit:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gears of Faith

For the past several days, the intersection outside of my Seminary in Washington DC has been complete gridlock in the afternoon. Just down the street, they are working on some trees, electric poles, and some other major construction that has the road reduced to one lane. As we were praying evening prayer the past two days, the multiple car horns of frustration could be heard.

This lead me to consider an analogy that relates to my own current faith journey "rest stop" so to speak. There have been many things on my mind concerning faith and my engagement with it. When the street mess collided with my own thoughts, I began to picture my faith journey as an automobile.

Am I in "Park"? Have I been idling or is the car even on? I see this part of the faith journey as just following the rules with little to no risk. Conversely, this also means there is little to no reward. As Christians, we may have to "park" for a brief time but we are asked to do something with Faith.

Am I in "Reverse"? Am I traveling away from God? Sometimes I can find myself in a cycle of self-doubt and even self-hatred. Can God really forgive for the faults of my life? Those thoughts can be very overwhelming and make you feel as I you are all alone. This can be a torturous time. If you find yourself here, talk about it with someone. It could be the source of a great faith renewal.

Am I in "Neutral"? Just revving the engine? My faith engine can sound really good if I say the right things and appear to do the right things. However, in Neutral, you are not really going anywhere. The appearance of doing good can lead you to judge others, lead to boasting, or even using the gifts of God in a negative manner. Why waste all that energy sitting in neutral?

"Drive", Faith Engaged. Go forth with the Lord, trusting in Him for all your needs, worries, and concerns. Look for the signs of faith along the way to be sure that you are going in the right direction. You can take a retreat and rest for a time, all saints-in-training do that to regain their strength. But, keep your faith-car pointing towards the Lord in the direction towards heaven. This journey will be easier once you are pointed on the Way of the Lord. AMEN