St. James the Less
Episcopal Church

Holy Eucharist - Sunday, 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.  - Saturday 5:00 p.m.     411 West Due West Ave., Madison TN  37115     615-865-4496

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Priest’s Pondering

Spiritual House Cleaning

I cleaned out my clothes closet this week. I hadn’t done this in a while, and going in there to pick out my daily attire was getting a little overwhelming. Stuff was packed in there; winter stuff, summer stuff, stuff stuff. It was all organized; the pants, the shirts, the Sunday coats, et cetera were gathered in their appropriate ranks. But they did not have room to breathe. Kathy had stolen most of my coat hangers, so it was getting hard to hang things up; however, truthfully, it was getting hard to find hanging space. I decided I needed a fresh start. Every time I think about disorder I am reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s brother. (If you haven’t read anything by Kurt Vonnegut, you might start with Cat’s Cradle.) Vonnegut’s brother, Bernard, was a scientist for GE. He discovered that you could seed clouds to make it rain. A safety officer came to his lab one day and was horrified at the state of disorder. When he informed Bernard that the horrid conditions needed to be improved, Bernard pointed to his head and replied, “If you think the lab is bad, you should see what it looks like in here.” Periodically we should ask ourselves, How is my interior clothes closet? Is it time for a cleaning and reorganization? One way to answer this question is through prayer. Find yourself a quiet, peaceful place. Pray the Jesus Prayer a few times: Lord Jesus, help me. (If you are still praying your fingers, do it five times.) Then ask the Holy Spirit, What do I need to change to grow closer to You? Listen. The first thing that comes to mind is probably what you need to work on. If you don’t get an answer, don’t worry. Try again some other time. But be assured, your prayer has been heard and God will answer in due time. Of course, that’s the easy part. The hard work comes in making the changes that bring order. Pray for God’s help to do this. We will be talking much more about this during Lent. When I went into my clothes closet this morning, I felt really good. It’s not too late to get a fresh start in 2018. At the very least, clean out a closet.

Forward Day by Day Daily Meditation

Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church, grew out of the determination of the General Convention in 1934 to counter a period of anxiety, distrust, and decline in the Episcopal Church with a "forward movement" charged to "reinvigorate the life of the church and to rehabilitate its general, diocesan, and parochial work." Daily meditation is available online by clicking HERE.

Meditation

Are you looking for a new discipline for the Lenten Season? How about Praying Your Hands? Here’s a practical way to improve your prayer life using the Jesus Prayer.

First of all, what is the Jesus Prayer? It’s an ancient prayer used for centuries throughout the church. Sometimes the words vary, but the version I’m going to suggest is “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.” The idea is that Jesus understands what we need better than we do. So, we ask Jesus to provide us with what we need.

We begin with the Jesus prayer, but we expand on the idea by adding to WHO we pray for.

1.     We begin with ourselves. The idea here is that we need to be filled up if we are going to have something to share. We ask God to bless us in order that we can bless others.

2.     We pray for our Family, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on my family.” I usually pray this prayer for each person in my family by name.

3.     We pray for our Church Family, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on my brothers and sisters.”

4.     We pray for those with special needs, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on _______.”

We also expand on the Jesus prayer by repeating each WHO three times. For example, if I’m praying for myself I would pray:

           Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.           

           Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.

           Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.

The idea is not that God hasn’t heard us the first time. By repeating the prayer three times we are focusing our attention on the people we are praying for.

So where do the hands come in? I’m a “hands-on” person. I need something practical to help with my spiritual practice. My hands are a reminder to pray. My right-hand fingers remind me of the 4 WHOs I’m praying for. My left-hand fingers remind me of how many times I’ve prayer for that person. (See the image below.)

I started this practice back in Advent, and I’ve found it very helpful. And yes, you have fingers left over so you can adapt the method to meet your special needs.

Lord, draw us close to you and close to others during the time of Lent.