Praying the Prayers of Others – The Serenity Prayer

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On Wednesdays during Lent I’m posting some of my favorite prayers. If you know the world of AA at all, you’ve heard the Serenity Prayer. It’s credited to Reinhold Niebuhr, an American Theologian in the last century. Like “The Jesus Prayer” from last week, it’s short, but sometimes a short, easy-to-memorize prayer is just what one needs. And, like “The Jesus Prayer,” there’s a lot to ponder in just a few words:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

 

What resonates with you in this prayer? How have you used this prayer in your life?

BONUS: Anne’s Lamott’s comic version of the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the weaponry to make the difference.

When Your Heart is Full

red balloon

i used to think that there was only so much love to give.

then I met you and you and you and you, and i learned that love is balloon that can never be popped

After coming back from Spring Break, last weekend was so full of good things:

  • On Friday morning, I officiated the wedding of a couple in our church. It was a private ceremony – just me, the couple and 2 witnesses – in the greenhouse of the Luthy Botanical Garden. Until a group from a local retirement village came to tour the greenhouse and became the congregation. It was such a beautiful moment.
  • On Friday night I emceed a “roast & toast” at a rehearsal dinner for good friends. When you gather a group of gifted storytellers whose heart are full of love for the couple getting married, it collides to make a beautiful evening, full of laughter and tears.
  • On Saturday morning I tackled the longest run of my training regimen for the Illinois Marathon (Apr. 26). Just after sunrise, I started my 20-mile trek. My heart overflowed with love for my bride who ran the last 3 miles with me, encouraging me, affirming me. I’m generally a needy person, but especially at the end of a long run.
  • On Saturday afternoon I co-officiated my friends’ wedding. They planned such a beautiful ceremony with beautiful music in a beautiful church. We then spent the afternoon with good friends laughing, having a great time before spending the evening celebrating the marriage together. I think I hugged some of my friends multiple times (I’m looking at you Ganschows!)
  • And, just a note… my wife looked amazing and I couldn’t stop looking at her throughout the night marveling, as I often do, that I somehow ended up with her, the object of my 17-year old affection. I’m a lucky, lucky man.

And this post isn’t intended as a “humble brag.” The only thing in this post that I can legitimately brag about is the 20-mile run. (I think I’ve earned the right to brag a little after almost 3 hours of continuous running.)

What this post is about is that sometimes I feel like I’m so filled with love. I joke sometimes and say that it’s my Italian blood so full of amore, but I think it’s more than that. I think there are moments in our lives – marriages & babies are two huge ones - when God showers down on us the beauty of friends, of celebration, of good food and good drink. And in those moments, we’re supposed to lean in and allow our love to be expanded like a balloon.

And this is scary. It’s scary to open yourself up to others and tell them you love them, you miss them, you want them to move back; to tell others that you are deeply, profoundly grateful for their voice, their smile, their hugs, their presence. But this is the slow dance to vulnerability and being fully alive, fully present, arms wide open to all the love that God pours out.

(And then, on Sunday after church, this extrovert put on his sweatpants and fell asleep, because everyone has a limit!)

Praying the Prayers of Others – The Jesus Prayer

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On Wednesdays during Lent, I’m posting some of my favorite prayers. Today, we’re exploring a short prayer, but it’s one of the oldest prayers in the history of the church. The Jesus Prayer has been preserved in the Eastern Church tradition, but in these days it seems everything is spilling out into common usage. I use this as a repetitive prayer, sometimes while I’m running. It serves to focus my mind on Jesus. Because it is so old, there are some variations, I’ve chosen the most common one:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

How does this prayer resonate with you? Do you use this prayer much? How?