Our focus in this class is to talk about ways we can live in a world that hurts, is not often kind, and be a representative of our vision of a loving God. The way we are approaching this topic is through study and conversation about the history and practices of the Spiritual Disciplines. Before going on to study the early church mothers and fathers, it became clear that our group wanted to spend more time on prayer first.
Our conversation for this week is about the power of love in our intentional prayers. Each week we start our conversation with a prayer chosen from the church’s history, the LBW, or the Psalms that address our particular topic of the day. The topic in prayer this week is love. How do we choose to love our enemy and do good to those that hate us when it’s hard sometimes to love and do good to those that annoy us?
As we think about our world today, everything seems overwhelming. Martin Luther said that the busier he was, the more he prayed. In our busy lives, our prayer time is often the first to suffer. Yet, when we take time to pray we are given more than time because our understanding of our own needs as well as the needs of others becomes clearer. Often we can also begin to better discern the things/events which we need to let go of and allow God to be the one in control.
For this week, our prayer exercise will be to use the worksheet The Power of Intention in our Prayers to pray about love. How is it that we recognize the love of God, the love of others, and the love of self in the coming week? Write your answers down in the columns. Which column has fewer entries? What does it mean to recognize the love around you?
If you cannot join our wonderful group on Sundays, we would be blessed to hear from you. You can comment below or send your information to our church. Please pray for us. We are praying for you.
Here’s an excerpt from the October edition of The Shepherd’s Voice newsletter. We will be posting parts of the newsletter throughout the month. Don’t get the newsletter in print and want one? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and request one!
Ask the Pastor: What is Sirach? A few weeks ago, our bulletin listed something from the book of Sirach as an optional text for the day. What or who is that?
Sirach is a book of the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha is a set of writings that have, at different points in the history of Christianity, been included or excluded from the official set of biblical texts. They are Hebrew writings but were probably not considered scripture by Jews (and therefore would not have been considered so by Jesus, who would have known what we call the Old Testament as the Tanakh.) Unlike most of the Old and New Testament, the authorship and validity of these texts has never been completely set and, as such, have been the source of debate amongst Christians since the earliest days of the church.
Martin Luther and other reformers determined that these texts weren’t appropriately described as authoritative but they might be good for devotional reading. In other words, we don’t study them the same way we do the other books of the bible but it is ok to have them if we wish. Occasionally, we will see books of the Apocrypha show up as optional readings in the lectionary, as happened on the first Sunday in September this year. This is because the lectionary is used by many different denominations, including Roman Catholics who consider the Apocrypha to be part of the bible.
Some of the texts in these books are interesting, such as Tobit, an exciting and dramatic story, or Susanna, sometimes called “the first detective story”. Sirach is a book of wisdom similar to Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. If you are interested in these Apocryphal books, I have a bible in my office which includes them or you can find bibles that specifically state that they include the Apocrypha.