The Carmelites of Indianapolis do not teach or nurse or spread the faith, as other Roman Catholic Sisters do. They pray. Secluded in a fortress of stone, behind thick, high walls to block the world, the eleven remaining Sisters of Carmel of the Resurrection live in austere silence. The only sound is the prayer bell chimes.
The Sisters pray as they sit in rocking chairs, watching the birds peck seeds. They pray as they walk through the courtyard garden. They pray all the time, and seldom venture out into the world. The silence has brought them joy, but it has also brought them a crisis.
Their average age is 70, and their number is dwindling... fast. To ensure their ministry will survive, they have forsaken the seclusion they so cherish, hired a development director, and have gone online with their marketing plan to seek new blood.
After spending an hour with the Sisters, the president of their new ad agency asked the nuns: "So, what do you do?"
"We pray," the sisters replied.
"What do you pray?"
"We pray the news."
The Sisters devour current events, and one will don headphones during prayers to catch National Public Radio.
Oh, my soul! How many times have I asked, "What shall I pray tonight?" What a marvelous lesson we can learn from these devout sisters, to pray for our state, our nation and the world. In turn, we will be praying for each other! And, prayers of intercession are among the highest types of prayers which can be uttered. Beloved, let us join with the Sisters of Carmel and "Pray the News."
Imagine someone saying to you, “I raised you to be an extraordinary person.Anyone can fall in love, but it takes something special to use a scalpel to save someone’s life.Imagine my disappointment to find out you’re just ordinary.”
Have you experienced the sting of similar words?The quote above was dialog from Grey’s Anatomy, a popular TV show.
As human beings we are all capable of saying and doing things that are hurtful.And while we say “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” that’s an untruth!The pain of those words lingers for a very long time.
But mercy, mercy me, things ain’t what they used to be when mercy triumphs over judgment.The character on the show is quite judgmental, and yet she is not perfect, not without sin.
No matter how difficult it is, we need to give mercy away.James 2:13 (Amplified Bible) says it best:
"For to him who has shown no mercy the judgment [will be] merciless, but mercy [full of glad confidence] exults victoriously over judgment."
GospeLines Prayer:Father, many of us are too quick to judge.We see things through a narrow prism and don’t see the big picture the way You do.
Our words and behavior significantly impact those we “say” we love.How many examples have You shown of us mistreating one another or our pets, yet they somehow still love us despite ourselves.
It is by Your grace and mercy that we do find comfort and the victory.When our spirits are broken and our world shattered, we find strength in You.
Ah, mercy, mercy me, things ain’t what they used to be.Your love covers a multitude of our sins.
During the 15th century, near Nuremberg, there lived a family with eighteen children.Two of the sons, Albert and Albrecht Durer, were especially gifted artists and both wanted to further their education and pursue a career in their specialty.They knew that their father would never be able to send either of them away to study, so they devised a plan.One would stay and work in the mines while paying for the other to go away to school.After four years, the graduate would then provide the resources to send the other.
So they tossed a coin, and Albrecht went away to Nuremberg to study and Albert supported him by working in the mines.Albrecht was an immediate success, creating works of art more beautiful than most of his professors.Four years later, at his graduation party among family and friends he announced that now it was Albert's turn to go to art school.
"No, no, no!" Albert protested."It is too late for me."Holding up his hands he showed fingers which had all been smashed at least once in the mines, and an arthritic condition so severe that he could hardly hold a glass.The sacrifice he made for his brother had cost him a promising career.
The paintings and etchings of Albrecht hang in museums all over the world, but no work is more famous than the one he created in honor of his brother.With painstaking skill, he painted his brother's hands, palms together with thin fingers pointed skyward.He called the powerful painting simply "Hands," but we know the masterpiece today as "Praying Hands."
Next time you see this painting by Albrecht Durer, remember that no one can make it alone!We are a relational people, we need each other.You are the "hands" for someone in need.And there will be a time when others will reach out to you.Embrace the love of your fellow-Christians.It is God's way of providing the nurture we need.Amen and amen.
While some men (and a few women) are probably grieving now that football season is over, I’m happy for the break.The Super Bowl was a fitting end.No matter which team you supported, we learned a valuable lesson Sunday.Tony Dungy, the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the Super Bowl champs, was quoted as saying, “The Lord doesn’t always take you in a straight line.He tests you sometimes.”
This humble and dignified man has been through so much and yet he possesses an unshakeable faith and perseverance.His success is attributed to staying true to himself and his Christian principles.
This is Tony Dungy’s season according to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8--
"TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,
A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away,
A time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."
While he has led teams to the playoffs 10 times in the past 12 years, the seeds were planted in their season… quietly, patiently and with God’s touch.And, while he may not have reached the ultimate goal at that time, as his path was not always straight, he persevered.
The coach and team then entered the winter season… when nothing seems alive… but that’s far from the truth.He nurtured his team through his quiet presence and God was there working with him as well.They were in preparation mode… awaiting Spring when all things are awakened, refreshed and renewed.All, according to God’s plan and purpose for His victory.
GospeLines Prayer:Oh Father, thank You for Your seasons and for planting the seeds of Your love. While winter can appear cold and dreary, it is a time of preparation. We need to be ready for Spring... when You take the soil that has been rocky and dormant, and give it a chance to be reenergized and nurtured as You nurture our spirits and give us a new purpose.
We thank You Lord for those days and the new paths and for ALL that You are to us.We rejoice at the victory through You.
Gethsemane shows the height of Jesus' humanity.We cannot fault him for asking if there could be another way.Jesus was facing death by the cruelest means, and His cry was not one of shirking his duty, but to ask if He could get His redemptive work done in some other fashion.The Father's answer was "No."
There are three answers to prayer:yes, no, and wait.
When the answer is no, it could mean that God has something better, or that we have asked amiss.Either way, you may be sure that the Father has our best interests at heart.Looking back, I am glad that God didn't let me have everything I asked Him for, aren't you?It taught me discipline, and how to overcome disappointment, and the value of the theology of "enough," and how to live within my means.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, the lessons you have taught me by saying 'No' are valuable!It took me a long time before I could say thank you for this, but maturity has led me to understand your wisdom.Now, in the afternoon of my life, let me know your will enough that I won't be asking you for things that aren't mine to have, or yours to give."Amen and amen.