Night-Friday Richard’s Breviary

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Gracious God,

In the silence,
Darkness surrounds us.
Though we cannot see,
We do not fear.
You are here.
Our words and songs are carried beyond this place.
Thank you for our day and all we have encountered.
The good gifts of time and place, people and love are fresh in our minds.
We lift up to you those whose journeys are encumbered by sickness and grief.
May we help lighten their burdens tomorrow as we seek your peace tonight.
Words come slow and still in the dark.  In the spaces between words, we listen.
Hear us, O Lord, as we pray.
Thank you,

Amen.

–Richard Bryant

Dusk-Richard’s Breviary

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Gracious God,
I sit and wait,
Watching,
As darkness prepares to descend,
Your light is greater than the approaching night.
May we not forget,
As we go forward toward the shadows,
We do not travel alone,
Should we walk, shuffle, or merely crawl;
We go with you.
You await our arrival with sustenance and warmth.
Remove from us now:
The fear,
The spectacle,
And barriers of today.
May the shimmering rays of dusk,
Settle our souls and prepare our hearts for night.
Thank you.

Amen.

–Richard Bryant

Mid Day Prayer for Friday

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Gracious God,

I am drawn to your word in ways I do not fully understand.
Despite these addled days, we come before each other,
You and I.
At times of worship, work, love, and life,
we meet not to see or be seen but to speak,
These sounds,
when gathered across the sacred pages,
Make words…
Words that comfort, challenge, and even annoy me,
Because I cannot ignore the self-evident reality,
Though I sing without melody,
And pray in hushed tones,
I am speaking to you,
I cannot hide,
I am heard and understood,
Convinced of things I do not know,
I end this prayer, O God,
With this acknowledgement:
I am a beginner,
Called to live,
And to forever try.
Thank you, O God.
For drawing me nigh.

Amen

–Richard Bryant

Mid Day Office

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Gracious God,
I seem wrong inside,
off kilter and slightly askew,
Because I fear seeing my mess,
I step back from what I feel,
I turn my eyes from what I see,
And wait for my soul’s nausea to pass,
While I hum, “I shall not be moved”,
You place me in the path,
To be, to live, to take,
An unavoidable step forward,
Where I wander freely,
Where I no longer care,
About the burden,
Of being wrong,
On this path,
For these reasons,
Narrow becomes wide,
And my ordered mess,
Becomes alive,
Despite the fear,
And my feet,
Which I’ve only shuffled,
Down the street.

Thank you,

Amen.

How To Survive Western Civilization (Part One)

 

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One day you’re going to find yourself out in the big, bad world.  What are you going to do?  How are you going to survive?  What skills might you need to make it from one day to the next?  I’m not going to lie; it’s going to be tough.

My first question:

Do you want to survive or thrive?

You can do both.  You will have to survive before you thrive.  Survival precedes everything.  You need to be alive.  Let me help you stay alive.

What do you need to stay alive?

You need food and water to stay alive.  Snickers has it right, you’re not yourself if you’re hungry.  Eat right, regularly, and stay hydrated.  Survival starts with these three basics.  Drink some water, eat right, and eat regularly.

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Bring a sweater. Sometimes it gets cold.  Life gets cold and you’ll rarely be the one who is in charge of the thermostat.

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Space is important.  Not for you, though, for other people.  Give space to other people.  Give other humans room to exist.  Call it the benefit of the doubt, grace, time, patience, or whatever you want to call it.  Space changes the dynamic of life.  Everything isn’t supposed to be slow dance.  Let something precious grow in the space, something that might nourish both you and someone else.  Dancing from a distance, give it a try.

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You need to remember “again”.  Once is never enough.  One smile doesn’t do it nor does one wave.  Scrooge was visited by three ghosts.  If you want to change the world, multiply goodness.  Carry a box of matches.  One light, one action, one fire, one chance to spark a fire can illuminate total darkness.   Look at this guy.  He practices this look.  He should practice smiling, laughing, or waving. Again, I say, again.

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Are you holding on to extra baggage?  Everything you’re carrying isn’t crucial to survival.  Ask yourself, “What is crucial?”  Do you need that scowl?  People who scowl die alone in civilization?  People who smile get help much quicker.    It doesn’t have to be a scowl.  It might be a tendency to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

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If you’re not surviving, ask for help.  Survivors ask for help.  No real survivor lives in bunker or shelter alone.  Help is good.  You need it.   Ask.  Life is not like hiring a friend.  Humanity isn’t a commercial transaction.  People who help you, in this wilderness, shouldn’t want anything in return.  If they do, keep asking.

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You can survive in increments.  Here’s what I mean.  Today’s key to survival may mean taking a small bite of something, a tiny sip of life, or finding that inch of space.  Do another bit tomorrow.

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Remember:  you can’t plan for the unexpected.  Plan for what you need.  Expect the unexpected.  Roll with the punches.  Get up again.  There’s that word…again.

Minimize risk by going to bed before two o’clock in the morning.  Nothing good happens at that time of night.  Put up your tent.  Find a pillow. Seriously, go get some sleep.  You’ll thank me.

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Birthday cards tell you that age is just a number.  I’m telling you living isn’t about moving from crisis to crisis.  Life isn’t measured in moments.  Can you weave those moments together into a blanket to keep you warm at night?  Stop measuring and start learning.  Survival takes you into tomorrow and is practical.  Use the moments you made today, whether good or bad, to grow.

Know what to care about and what to blow off.  Do you chase the raven or kill the bear? Most of the things you taking up your survival time are inconsequential.  Be Kenny Rogers. Know when to walk away, when to run, and when to say, “you know what, I just don’t care, this whole situation isn’t healthy and I’m moving on to find people who love and care about me.”  Or some variation thereof.

You have flaws and limits.  Despite this, you can survive.   You can even have a good day.

End of Part One

 

 

Richard’s 13 Commandments of Happiness

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1. Be you.

2. You can deal with this; whatever this is.

3. Do it, whatever it is.

4. Live the way you want to feel.

5. Look around and lighten up. Really.

6. Embrace your mistakes.

7. Be kind and polite.

8. Don’t bottom line life.

9. Love

10. You don’t have to fix everything.

11. Unfixed doesn’t mean unhappy.

12. Most messes, even the emotional ones, can be fixed with soap and water. Keep your spiritual soap and water handy.

13. Write it down if you must, talk it out if you can. Happiness isn’t silent.

You Are About To Die

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I saw one of those “click bait” posts the other day “10 Ways to Know You’re About to Die”. I didn’t take the bait. It did pique my curiosity. What are the surefire signs you’re going to croak? Here’s my list. If you’re experiencing these things, one day, you might be about to die:

1. You are breathing.

2. You can see things.

3. You are talking.

4. You can smell stuff.

5. When the lights are off, you sense darkness.

6. You have eaten a meal recently.

7. You experience the need to sleep for eight or so hours a day.

8. People and their idiosyncrasies, sometimes annoy you.

9. You are thirsty.

10. You sneeze.

If you’ve experienced any of these ten conditions/symptoms you might, one day, be about to die. Call someone fast, tell them you’re still alive.

Jesus Is In The Riots

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It’s been another tough week for race relations in the United States.  Shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte have ripped the loose scab off the fresh wounds from earlier in the summer.  I have no grand insights on race relations.  It’s the pessimism and hopelessness I’m seeing in my congregation and community which bother me.  As such, I’m thinking about hope, Jesus, and Jeremiah.

I have an idea how he might have handled this week.  I do believe, had he owned a smart phone or computer, his first instinct wouldn’t have been to take to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  Jesus didn’t do name and shame.  Nowhere in the gospel do you find the parable of the passive aggressive savior, where Our Lord cajoles people into joining the Jesus movement.   Jesus never ends a parable with the words, “Just saying.”  If Jesus couldn’t meet with people directly, particularly those opposed to his work, he’d wait for the opportunity to arise or create the moment.  Jesus says I want to break bread with you not because I disagree with you or I’m opposed to how you think or you represent the most reprehensible elements of society.  He says, “I want to come to you because I love you, God loves you, and love is bigger than all of that.”  Each parable, story, and encounter returns the hearer to this message:  God’s love is at work when you don’t see it, feel it, expect it, or deserve it.  You are not disconnected from what God is already doing, simply because we can’t see it, because it’s not on TV, or the we’ve been conditioned to believe the world is about to end.  Don’t bet against hope.

Jeremiah was once told to do something hopeless; buy a field in his hometown when the country was about to collapse.  God tells Jeremiah and Jesus says to us that hope depends on our investment, with God, in an unseen tomorrow.  The received wisdom of the moment is as seductive as it is wrong.  There are no more words to say about the shock and horror of America’s racial nightmare.  We must live with riots as we must live with the occasional questionable killing of a civilian by police.  This is the new normal.  A police state or anarchy, what will we be?  No, no, no.  If we have run out of words then we are only staring blankly into today’s dystopian nightmare.  Today is not tomorrow and God owns the future.  Good Friday is not Easter Sunday morning.

God is out there, going ahead of you, already at work.  When you pray, God is waiting to meet you; you’re not calling upon God to come to you.  God is already there, out there, ahead of you, in the mess.  We find this in Jeremiah and we see in on the news.  You see rioting on television, suffering refugees, or flooding in Louisiana and you ask; where is God?  God is right there in the midst of the chaos, already there, at work, ahead of us, trying to do a new thing.  What do you think, God waits until the crowds go home and the tear gas fades away?  God doesn’t show up when it’s safe.  If God waited to move until all the cosmic ducks were in a row, the money was in the bank, and safety was paramount, we would be nowhere.  Our churches would be empty and our story unwritten.   God moves in the darkness, among the chaos.  That is what Genesis says.  God came to Jeremiah with that same question and God is also asking us:  Do you believe that creation is an ongoing process and what appears hopeless or foolish today will be alive tomorrow?  I think it’s a good question; one I’ll keep asking.

 

What Prayer Is Not

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Prayer is Not…

1. Self-help speak.

2. A way to fix things.  God’s Grace is the “fixer”. Prayer may reassure us of Grace but it isn’t Grace.  Prayer doesn’t fix things, Grace does.

3. An invitation we extend for God to meet us at our lowest emotional convenience.

4. Therapy with an unseen counselor.

5. Always about words.  Silence works wonders in Prayer.

6. Confined to worship.

7. Like a movie, with a start, stop, and pause button.  It really never stops because we simply join in to what God’s already doing.

8. A half full or half empty thing, it is a glass which can always be refilled.

9. What you probably think it is.

10. Paper, Words, or Thoughts alone. Presence is also Prayer.

–Richard Bryant