If you missed some or all of our series called Flourish!– the teaching here from June 22 may be very helpful. It summarizes a vision for flourishing, both as a church and as an individual. One new insight is that the word flouish is very much parallel to the expansive biblical word, Shalom.It means “wholeness, completeness, wellness, the way it ought to be.”
This connection of flourish and shalom can be seen in Psalm 72:7 where the Hebrew poetry places the two words in parallel.
In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace (Shalom) abound, till the moon be no more!
God created the world for shalom. Sin and evil entered as the “vandalism of Shalom.” God, in Christ, reconciled the world to himself. God restoring shalom is for everyone to hear!
Could it be that flourishing is a concept that may be more easily grasped than shalom by people in today’s world? I think so. The Good News is that God wants us all to know what it means to be fully human and fully alive.
Listen to the sermon and ask God for a vision to flourish – and then to help others flourish – aka – experience the Shalom of Christ!
For many years I have been deeply impacted by what is known in the Eastern church as The Lenten Prayer of Ephrem the Syrian. I encourage us to memorize it, and pray it each day in the morning or before retiring for the night (or both.)
Starting tomorrow and into next week, I want to share some of the wonderful commentary on this prayer as we examine each petition. It parallels the Apostle Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4 to “Put off the old and put on the new.” It is a prayer for transformation! The +++ indicates pauses where traditionally one would bow or make a prostration (face to the floor.)
O Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of apathy, despondency, ambition, and empty talk. +++ But give rather the spirit of purity, humility, patience, and love to Your servant. +++ Yes, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother or sister; For You are blessed forever, to ages of ages. Amen! +++
A Psalm and a poem by Wendell Berry in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy.
from Psalm 5 (NIV)
Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong; you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord , detest.
But I, by your great love, can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple.
Lead me, Lord , in your righteousness because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, Lord , you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:1-12 NIV)
The Peace of Wild Things, Wendell Berry
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
“Acquire the Spirit of Peace
and thousands around you
will be saved.”
(Seraphim of Sarov, Russia, 18th cent.)
Our sermon series in Advent at Christ Church is called: Give Them Jesus. We are teaching the themes of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE through Scripture, art, and personal stories. The series. None of these four virtues are dependent on our circumstances.
Let me say that again: HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE are not conditioned by “how things are going!”
In addition to the provocative quote above by Seraphim of Sarov, here are a few reminders to help us understand that Peace comes only through communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” John 20
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.
(2 Thessalonians 3)
ruminations on biblical thought and human flourishing