Prayer Changes Us – BRUNCHtalks 7

As our images of God expand, we must move beyond praying to an elsewhere god. All of life is lived in the midst of Divinity. The life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth point to the reality that Divinity is LOVE. All life is lived in the midst of Love. Prayer is seeking connection to Divinity/Love. Prayer changes us, changing us, changes creation, and so prayer changes the ONE in whom we live, and breathe, and have our being.

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? PRAYER ? – BRUNCHtalks 6

When you no longer imagine the LOVE that we call God as an elsewhere-god, a personified deity who manipulates creation to fulfill our wishes, what becomes of prayer? Our BRUNCHtalks continue to explore what it means to say we are “Progressive in approach: Christ-like in action.” Some technical oversights meant that part two of our talk was not recorded. However, part one is intact and you can view the video of Richard Rohr on Prayer as A State of Communion here which lead us into part two’s discussion.

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Microdosing on Christianity

It’s been a thing for a while in Silicon Valley. Computer engineers, seeking a creative edge, take small doses of hallucinogens on a regular basis. They claim it enhances their problem-solving capacities without impairing their ability to function. (Having lived in that part of the world for over two decades, I can attest that while IQ’s are high in Silicon Valley, EQ’s – emotional intelligence quotients – are often not up to par. Folks in that business already get away with odd behavior, so who notices or cares if they microdose on the job?)

Hearing about this phenomenon got me to thinking. What else could people microdose, to good effect? Then it dawned on me that Christianity might well be a candidate.

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All Saints – Giving thanks for the Divine in One-another!

All Saints’ Day is a day for remembering.  The word saint simply means “holy”. In the New Testament, all those who believe and were baptized were referred to as saints. It wasn’t until round about the third century that the church began using the word saint to refer to those who had been martyred for the faith. Over time these martyred saints were held up for veneration and people used to pray to them to intercede on their behalf. I’m not going to go into all of the institutional abuses that led Martin Luther and the later reformers to abolish the veneration of the saints. Except to say, that while the Reformation put an end to the veneration of the saints in the protestant churches, it did not abolish the concept of sainthood.

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Tune: Fulda (Walton) William Gardiner (1770-1853)

Creation’s splendour calls forth praise
for Nature’s wealth, for vibrant life.
This planet home, a wondrous gift,
is threatened now by greed and strife.

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River Current: The Physics of Prayer

Most religious traditions affirm the practice of prayer. But have you ever thought deeply about how prayer works?

Do we think there’s a man up in the clouds who hears our prayers and decides whether or not to grant them? Why do we need to pray over and over for something—why isn’t once enough? Why do we pray at all if God already knows our thoughts and desires? Do we think God will be more likely to grant our prayers if we pray for something fervently and repeatedly? Are we trying to prove to God how important something is to us by praying so hard? Are we trying to control God?

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Prayer and Prayings

I need to address this important subject because prayer is such a significant part of public church services and also it can be a vital part of one’s personal religious life.  Some people engage in praying very frequently and regularly.  Some people call it a time of meditation, a quiet time, time given to God, or something else.    For many people, they feel it is an important way in which they can grow in their personal relationship with God.  However many in the church have serious questions about prayer; how it works and if it does.

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On Prayer and Getting Answers To Prayer: A Hopefully Encouraging Response To Another’s Questions about the Efficacy of Prayer

I see prayer as intentionally engaging our conscious mind with our highest values. In prayer, I’m reminded of the things that matter most–not only for myself, but for others. By aspiring to focus my mind and heart on these things, I become more open to the possibilities I can wisely (hopefully) choose to make life more meaningful, purposeful, or beautiful.

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Nevertheless, She Persisted

In a late night session on February 7, 2017, during Jeff Session’s confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General, just weeks after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the United States Senate voted to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren after she read comments made decades earlier by Edward Kennedy and Coretta Scott King that criticized the civil rights record of Senator Sessions. Warren was censured because Senate Rule XIX prohibits ascribing “to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.” To silence her, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led a party-line vote that forced Senator Warren to take her seat and refrain from speaking. McConnell later said “Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

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Post 9-11 Sewing Circle

As a peace activist opposed to war, and later as a bagpiper serving with the Vietnam Vets honor guard in Florida and Texas, I played at many military funerals. None is a happy occasion. The saddest moment, for me, was the flag folding ceremony. This reflection is drawn from those rituals. Sam Gould’s poem, Don’t Stand to be Recognized, comes to mind.

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Credo Novum

I trust
One Eternal Presence,
God of Scripture,
the I am and I will be,
Creative force of the universe, the Source of life.

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Moon-Walking Bears, Jesus and Nicodemus: a sermon on John 3:1-17

I am indebted to Jim Kast-Keat, a pioneering preacher who inspired me to open this sermon with the video below. I am also indebted to Bishop John Shelby Spong for teaching me more that I can articulate with words. His excellent book The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic opened the Gospel According to John in ways that have helped me to see aspects of the Divine to which I was once blind. Much of the sermon consists of extensive quotes from chapter 9 of Jack’s book.

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Progressing Spirit

An inclusive and pioneering exploration of Theology, Spirituality and Current Events

With thousands of subscribers around the globe, Progressing Spirit is the world’s leading outlet for an intelligent, inclusive, and pioneering exploration of today’s theological, spiritual, and social advancements.

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The evolution of prayer.

As someone who considers “God” to be primordial Being, through whom and in whom I have my own being, I find it impossible to understand prayer. Do you have any suggestion as to how prayer should be embraced? I come from a Roman Catholic background, but am no longer an adherent. I have pursued the theology of Bultmann, Tillich and the wonderful Scottish Theologian, John MacQuarrie, whose existentialist/ontological approach to the mystery of Being has led me to, what I believe to be, a more wholesome and logical interpretation of God. 
My difficulty now, however, is understanding where/how prayer fits. Any advice you can give would be deeply appreciated.


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Easter Encouragement for the Journey

Remember that resurrection is more than mere resuscitation! It is life transformed!
It is faith in possibilities, when others are convinced of inevitability.

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I Pray Anyway: Devotions for the Ambivalent

I Pray Anyway. Devotions for the Ambivalent by Joyce Wilson-Sanford is comprised of 365 daily reflections and 12 monthly personal stories. It tells of the author’s return to a prayer/devotions practice as she shares her own very naked, very funny, very touching prayers and reflections.

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“Prayer for Abundant Living”

O God of empty tombs and resurrection living:
Make us mindful of the pervasiveness of hope, 
the determination of faith, 
and the persistence of love.  

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Lent: Letting Go of our Tightly Held Piety to See Our Need of Confession

When we begin to see God as the One in whom we live and move and have our being, we are able to see God as the one who dwells in with and through us. As we open ourselves to a broader understanding of God we can begin to see that the power to forgive resides in us? For it is in with and through us that our God finds expression. By letting go of our carefully held piety, perhaps we can begin to see the magnitude of the power of confession to absolve us as we evolve into all that we are created to be.

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