Active forgiveness: how to intentionally practice love

Today, as I look with great sadness at the anger erupting in communities in the United States, I realise that Christian leaders need to stand up and overturn a few more tables within the temple! Obviously, we haven’t overturned the tables of oppression!

Oppression can take so many forms: whether it’s the orphans (or children who are being trafficked), the widows (or human trafficking), the poor, the sojourners/immigrants/foreigners, or someone who you haven’t even recognised as your equal (race, education or any other standard).

The first table that needs to be overturned is the alter on which our individual egos sit.

Ego – that part of us that fails to understand that illness would become wellness if we would replace “I” with “WE”.

The illness of division could be the wellness of unity and cooperation, if we are willing to start within: with an awareness of our own feelings, anger, hatred and division. It is my ego that tells me that I am separate from those in pain.

When I saw the first posts about the events, questions came to mind – even along the lines of “is this another false flag operation” to get people to focus their attention onto something divisive, rather than awakening to creating the world and society in which we wish to live.

But the reality is that these events show the brokenness of the “normal” to which we wish to return.

How is it possibly okay for a white man (just because he has a uniform) to kneel on the neck of another man, already cuffed and in custody, until he stops breathing? Even if this was “created” to divert attention from something else: this requires our collective attention and healing! It is no less oppression, irrespective of the purpose which it serves.

My arrogance: daring to think that I am somehow above these events, says “not my problem”. But that’s not true.

It is exactly my privilege that is the problem!

It’s the fact that this would NOT happen to me that makes me the ideal person to say “something needs to change”. Deep within, I know that it’s time to heal within me the coldness and apathy that say “not my injustice”!

The collective pain

What springs to view with these events is the pain that many are suffering, sight unseen.

Today I read about the father that goes for a walk with his young daughter and the dog because he’s fearful of walking around his neighbourhood alone. I read about the young man being the only person of colour in his school, and constantly being pulled over by the cops, while his friends never received the same treatment.

And I realise that we are called to overturn the tables that allow some to be down-trodden, while others continue to live with privilege.

I’m not saying that I should “lose” my privileges, but rather that they should be the same privileges afforded to every person, regardless of race, creed, or economic strata.

Perhaps we need to learn a little more about restorative justice: the process where entire communities taking responsibility for restoring balance, harmony and the practice of forgiveness.

I’m talking about Ho’oponopono.

“Restorative justice is a philosophy that embraces a wide range of human emotions including healing, mediation, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation as well as sanction when appropriate. It also recognizes a world view that says we are all interconnected and that what we do be it for good or evil has an impact on others.”

— “Restorative Justice – The Pacific Way” Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Prison Abolition; Barcelona, Spain, 17 – 19 May 1995;  by Jim Consedine (see link at the end of this post)

I first learnt about restorative justice in law school in Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand.  Thankfully, I was at a very culturally connected law school, where we openly spoke about community justice systems and how the Pākehā system failed to take into account restoration of balance within the community.  It simply punished the offender (like a criminal justice system). 

But the community continued to suffer and hurt: with the criminal justice system, nothing is actually done to restore balance within the community.

Most people only know Ho’oponopono as 4 lines:

  • I love you
  • I’m sorry
  • Please forgive me
  • Thank you

But it’s more than just repeating the mantras… It’s opening up our awareness and emotions.

Ho’oponopono Practice: The Practice of Forgiveness

The origins of the Huna practice known as Ho’oponopono are a community reconciliation process. It is very similar to other Pacific Island restorative processes – which involved entire communities taking responsibility for restoring balance, harmony and the practice of forgiveness when harmony in the community has been broken.

Coming to Ho’oponopono from a lawyers perspective of community justice, I knew that it was so much more than simply 4 lines:

  • I love you
  • I’m sorry
  • Please forgive me
  • Thank you 

Not because I knew anything about the Hawaiian Huna practice itself, but simply because I recognized that there was so much more to restoration than simply saying “sorry”!  It’s much more than sending the “offender” to jail.

Restorative justice means righting the wrong that allows the crime to be committed in the first place. It addresses the question: “Why would four white men consider that it was okay, under any circumstances, to pin a man down under their knee until he stops breathing?”

True healing happens when we allow ourselves to experience what is happening in the community from every angle and clear the pain from every perspective:

  1. the perpetrator (Can I forgive him and his companions? Do I need to forgive myself for any hatred, anger or other feelings against them?);
  2. the victim (Can I forgive what others did to him? Do I need to forgive myself for any prejudice or feelings against him?)
  3. the bystanders (Is there any judgment in my heart against them? Do I feel that they failed in any way?)
  4. the family members (What forgiveness do I need to practice for the family of the victim or the perpetrators?)
  5. others in the community, including the protestors, police, first responders, or leaders (How do I consider that they have failed?)

It’s literally saying… I understand ALL of the pain and frustration – of every person involved and forgiving for each and every one of them for whatever I hold them at fault for. It is a process and quite possibly not something you can do in a single moment.

It begs the question: why were onlookers too afraid to intervene? It asks: “How did we create officers of the law that were so lacking in empathy and awareness, that they failed to hear this man begging and be moved by any compassion?”

be kind, love, forgiveness, ho'oponopono, practicing forgiveness, learning to forgive, I'm sorry, please forgive me, gratitude

Where do we start?

Forgiveness always starts within.

If you’re a Christian and you are moved to pray, then I invite you to start asking to be shown within yourself everything that needs to come to the surface and be dealt with! Before you go praying for peace in Minnesota or Minneapolis, ask to be shown the plank in your own eye that should be removed!

What are the little ways that you are failing to stand up for justice in your community? Where are you unconsciously supporting “the status quo”, rather than overturning the tables of inequality?

It’s so much easier to think that there’s a problem in Minnesota than to acknowledge that there is a problem in my own heart!

Don’t righteously pray to forgive those who are rioting and angrily violent: pray to understand the underlying emotions of that anger and violence, so that it touches your heart. Pray for empathy and understanding.

Yourself.

Hooponopono practice is the practice of forgiveness based on the knowledge that anything that happens to you or that you perceive — the entire world where you live — is your creation.  Whatever you have become aware of that exists in the world, has become your responsibility to set to right.

Everything in your life is entirely your responsibility: 100%. No exceptions.

Please don’t misunderstand what I mean.  I did not say it was your fault.  I said it’s your responsibility

You are 100% responsible for:

  • healing yourself and breaking down the barriers within your beliefs, emotions and fears;
  • changing the relationship you have with any other person of another race, religion or background that you have not been able to fully understand and relate to; and
  • changing your perception of the world, making it possible for you to overturn the tables of injustice.

Before you try to put in order what is wrong “out there in the world”, have a deep look within and see what needs to be put right within your heart.

homesless, beggar, guilt, forgiveness, prejudice, overturning tables of injustice, racism, discrimination
Who needs to feel your love and acceptance?

Ho’oponopono practise is a journey to restore inner peace and balance.  It begins by changing my inner world in order to effect change in the exterior world.

Three steps PLUS gratitude

How can we heal this pain with Ho’oponopono?

I love you

Start simply reminding yourself, regularly and consistently of Divine Love – “I love you”.  “I love you” just as you are today, with mistaken views and perceptions of the world, with perceptions that have not allowed you to grow and change your community, and with all the baggage that you have chosen to carry around.  I love you in spite of your fears and weakness. And because I love you, “I recognise that whatever comes to me in this life is my creation.”

Can you expand the circle of “I love you” to your neighbours?

What about to your whole suburb? Or the suburb next to yours? Can you extend that “I love you” to your town or city? How comfortable are you putting a face on “I love you”? What resistance are you feeling when you say “I love you”? Acknowledge it, so that you can forgive yourself fully.

I’m sorry

Once you recognise love and even those areas of lack of love, you can tell yourself “Sorry”.  Sorry for the errors of thought, words and actions that created those memories and held onto that energy. Sorry for failing to love fully and completely. I’m sorry for not practising unconditional love.

  • What do you need to forgive yourself for?
  • What do you need to ask your neighbour forgiveness for? What are you sorry for?

Don’t just say it: allow yourself to connect with the emotions. Perhaps you feel shame as you say “I’m sorry that I looked the other way” or “I’m sorry when I laughed nervously when someone said something rude to you, because I was too weak to stand up to them for you.”

Allow yourself simply to feel what needs to be felt. What you resist, persists in your life. If you fail to acknowledge what you are feeling, you cannot forgive yourself for it.

Please forgive me

It’s not just about asking for forgiveness: the miracle happens when you give yourself permission to release the burden you’ve been carrying. Forgiveness is about letting it go.

It’s impossible to turn over a new leaf unless we are willing to allow the old leaf to fall off the tree, decompose and become dust.

Take a moment to imagine a new relationship with yourself and with your neighbour. How will your view of the world change? How will you change your interaction with them?

Thank you

And then, of course, the practice of gratitude – gratitude for the freedom that this brings!  Gratitude for the change in my way of thinking, speaking and acting.  Thank you for the new opportunities this creates.  Thank you for the changes that will start happening in my relationships and how I relate to others.

coming together, building bridges, understanding, compassion, building communities, trust, love

Coming together as a community

Once we have taken care of the sty in our own eyes, maybe we can come together in small community groups and begin to work on this collectively: slowly building the size of the groups that do this together, until we have rebuilt love and trust.

But if we aren’t willing to overturn the tables of the status quo – nothing will change.

I invite you to join me on this journey of discovery – where we can learn together what it means to heal the world and restore balance to hurting communities, by starting within.

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Practicing presence effortlessly

I love it when I meet someone that just effortlessly is spiritually mature – they function and interact with others effortlessly, one foot in the spiritual and the other in the physical worlds. Spiritual maturity brings with it a level of inner wisdom that is impossible to imitate.

Nonetheless, from the outside, their emotional intelligence seems simply innate, as if they were born with it. Admittedly, I have no idea of all the inner work that they have done to get there! I wasn’t present to witness their perseverance in the face of difficulties – their dark night of the soul.

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Rising up on wings like eagles

Readings: 

  • Isaiah 40: 21- 31
  • Mark 1: 29-39

Isaiah 40:21-31 (NRSV)

21 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to live in;
23 who brings princes to naught,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

25 To whom then will you compare me,
    or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
    calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
    mighty in power,
    not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.

If you’ve experienced a storm in your life, you know being patient and waiting for a resolution can be so hard. If right now you are passing through a hard time, “waiting on the Lord” can seem like a tall order. Like the Israelites, you may be feeling and saying:

“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?

The Jewish people that had been taken into exile in Babylon were in a precarious position. Nebuchadnezzar had long since passed, and he had been replaced by Nabonidus. Now Nabonidus had left the city of Babylon to live in the Arabian desert and worship the moon god, leaving his young son Belshazzar (Belsharusur) as regent king in his place. And this young regent was all about partying and having fun with his friends. You may remember in Daniel 5, with the hand writing on the wall, when the young king is partying with all his friends, drinking wine from the sacred temple goblets.  Belshazzar was far from a good king.

Those who were taken into captivity were the old Judean aristrocracy. In Jerusalem, they had held positions of power, status and wealth. This was not the case in Babylon.  They were forced to live in ethnic enclaves, something like our 20th-Century concentration or force-labor camps.  Such a change would have created doubts in their mind as to whether they were truly the elected people of God on earth.

While the aristocracy was held in Babylon, society in Judah had disintegrated after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The population was reduced by 90%, meaning only 10% of the population was left: death, exile and destruction of the temple gutted all the institutions that held the society together.  There was no hope in the past, there seemed to be no future and way forward.

And so, in 550 B.C., Cyrus the Persian captured Ecbatana, the capital of the Median Empire. After this victory, he began to look south toward Babylon. Because of the way that Nabonidus and his son Belshazzar had been ruling, Cyrus  was very welcome in Babylon. When Cyrus finally arrived, in 539 BC, he was greeted with shouts of joy from the conquered.

Isaiah chapter 40 starts with “Comfort my people”, and it is the beginning of the second Isaiah (as it is believed that chapters 1 to 39 were written by Isaiah, and the second half were written by a disciple of Isaiah). Regardless of who wrote chapters 40 to 55, there is a distinct change of tone: chapters 1 to 39 speak of judgement and disaster. Chapters 40 to 55 speak to salvation, hope and restoration.  For 50 years, they have been “hidden from the Lord”, and so in chapter 40 we read “Comfort my people… Speak comfort to Jerusalem… her warfare is ended… her iniquity is pardoned”.

We find words of hope, “wait on the Lord”.

21 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    23 who brings princes to naught,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

25 To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

What’s bigger? Your problem? or God? How often do we become so embroiled and caught up with our problems, that we make them into mountains? And even so, what is bigger: your mountain of problems, or God?  When you go through something awful or unexpected, you get the chance to see whether or not your faith in God is real. Do you really wait upon the Lord when you are faced with challenges?

Some key questions we might ask are:

  • What does it mean to wait? What’s involved?
  • How are we to wait?
  • Who and what are we waiting for?
  • Why should we wait?
  • How long do we wait?

Habakkuk 2:1 says,

I will stand at my watchpost,
    and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
    and what he will answer concerning my complaint.

Are you keeping watch, at your watchpost? Are you continuing at your station or on the rampart, to see what God has to say about your complaints?  I read somewhere:

“Hurry is the death of prayer. The reason why you don’t hear God is because you’re in too much of a hurry. ‘God, I want to hear from you. But hurry up! I’ve got to make it to my next appointment.’”

“Psalm 130:5-6: “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning,” he was comparing waiting expectantly on the Lord to the night guards of the city who watched the passage of time in anticipation of the coming dawn when they would be released from duty. The coming of the dawn was certain, but not without the passage of time.”

Psalm 46:10 reminds us:

Be still and know that I am God.

There is a moment to simply wait on the Lord, in order to renew your strength.  Be still.

Psalm 62:5  (NRSV)

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
    for my hope is from him.

Are you waiting in silence?

Psalm 27:14 (NRSV)

14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

There are at least 29 verses in the Bible that speak of “wait on the Lord”. Psalm 23 speaks of waiting in rest: lie down in green pastures, restoring our souls.  Ours is a society that has grown accustomed to immediate gratification. Due to modern technology and all our conveniences—telephones, refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, fast foods, airplanes, etc.—we have many things immediately at our fingertips. But yet we find a growing group of people that are learning mindfulness, breathing (“Just breathe”) and sitting quietly in silence. And we, as Christians, need to learn to wait upon the Lord.

But like the Jewish exiles, we are impatient for salvation. How long? How much longer? Are we nearly there yet?

In Mark 1, we read:

35 Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.

We also read in Matthew 14: 23:

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

Mark 6:46

After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.

Luke 5: 16 

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Luke 6: 12 

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.

Luke 9: 18 

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him,

Matthew 26 & Mark 14, in Gethsemane:  “Sit here while I go over there and pray. “And he went a little beyond them and fell on his face and prayed.” “He went away a second time and prayed.” “and he left them again, and went away and prayed a third time”

We are reminded in the Bible repeatedly to “wait on the Lord”, and we see the best example in the life of Jesus. Pulling away from the crowds, pulling away from the hustle and bustle of life, pulling away into the wilderness, or onto a hill, or up a mountain, to pray.  Before and after teaching and preaching, before and after healing the sick and throwing out demons – Jesus went aside to pray.  He knew where his strength and stamina truly came from.

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.

 

Sermon: Palm Sunday

How many times, on a Palm Sunday, have you sat in a Church pew and listened to the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the donkey’s colt or on the donkey or on the donkey with the colt walking next to her – to not say straddling the 2 donkeys?

Every year, since I started attending Balboa Union Church, we have started the Palm Sunday service singing “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” as the children of our church proudly, and chaotically, walk down the aisle waving palm branches.  Every Palm Sunday, our Call to Worship and responses and prayers have been based on Psalm 118, and, more often than not, we have sung “This is the Day”!

Every year, we torture you with the task of trying to bend a palm frond like origami to create the perfect cross that you could actually hang up in your home until Easter, instead of throwing it in the back seat and then trash when you clean out your car next week.  And you’re possibly secretly relieved, that at least in this church we fold the palm frond into a cross, which you can stick in your purse or your Bible, rather than leaving you uncomfortably holding a palm frond, or worse yet the palm branch, in your hand for the entire service, unsure what you are supposed to do with it and yet reluctant to put it down.

And when we got to the gospel reading this morning, we read, once again, the description, this year by the disciple Matthew, of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, knowing full well that next week’s reading will be his death and resurrection…  But, every Palm Sunday, we read the same story, some years from Luke, others from Mark or John, and then every third year, like this year, from Matthew.  Because, as you may have noticed, every gospel contains the story of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem…

WHY SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON THE TRADITION OF A PALM SUNDAY?

Tradition. Is it an essential part of the Christian faith? Why do we attend a church based on Christian traditions such as Liturgy, The Church Calendar, Corporate Written Prayers, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday followed by a potluck and the Easter Egg Hunt for the kids, Christmas Eve service and the plethora of other traditions that have become an essential part of the Christian faith?  The traditions of our faith, such as the church calendar and the revised common lectionary which we share, should cause us to contemplate, reflect, and journey deeper into our faith day by day and year by year.

Now, some might object that “tradition” is merely dead orthodoxy: a Spirit-quenching fire extinguisher.  Some go as far as to say that tradition is simply shorthand for “having the form of religion but denying the power thereof.” Historian Jaroslav Pelikan quipped that “tradition is the living faith of the dead while traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” This evangelical suspicion of tradition and a yearning to live “simply by the Bible” go back as far as the Reformation.

When scriptural passages become overly familiar, matters of rote, memorised prayers instead of living words, religion is paralysed and loses it capacity for transformation.”  [Matthew Fox, Foreword, Prayers of the Cosmos, HarperCollins 1990].

Yet, on the other hand, there is a mystic wonder of being connected and unified with millions of Christians around the world who are celebrating the same feast as us at the same time, praying the same or very similar prayers, reading the same Bible readings, and practicing the same practices. Tradition is a way to unite people to the past and future.  It not only enriches our corporate worship experience, but also deeply enhances our spiritual life and connectedness, if we let it.

The same way our daily habits do in our personal life: The good ones that build you up.  And the not so good habits, that tear you down.

Like tradition, the term “habit” refers to a settled or regular tendency or practice. A habit is something you do daily without thinking much about it.

More than 40 percent of the actions you perform each day aren’t actual decisions, but habits.  When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.

It can be used in a negative way in reference to bad habits, such as “he has the bad habit of never following through”; in more Biblical terms, the habit of being “unfaithful.” But the term “habit” can also be used in a positive way, in reference to good exercise habits or good eating habits. Habits can be extremely useful and it would be impossible to run our lives without them. They automate many of the routine activities in our lives and free up our minds so that we are capable of concentrating on higher level activities.

The automatization of your actions free up energy that can be used focus to other tasks. If we had to consciously think about basic functions like walking or chewing our food or talking, we would have no mental ability available to perform other functions. “Walking by automatic processes allows us to be able to think about where we are going! This can work to your advantage!

You probably have a habit of waking at a certain time, brushing your teeth a certain way, and driving to work by the same route every day. Habits become such a part of your routine that they become who you are.

Do you want to be a different person? Just start a new habit!

For bad habits, you need to interrupt it and “install” a new one.  If you want to unlearn a bad habit, you need to make the familiar unfamiliar and the unfamiliar, familiar.  You need to develop a new “normal”.  If you want to stop using processed sugar, you might decide to replace it with honey or stevia or an artificial sweetener.  Or you might simply choose no sugar or sweetener at all in your morning cup of coffee.  The first week, it tastes terrible: you may feel like gagging or spitting it out; the second week it becomes passable and within 3 months it becomes “normal”.  You’ve made the unfamiliar, familiar.

If you have a life goal, it isn’t the goal itself that will help you reach your dreams, it is the habits that you form and follow while you are trying to get there.  It’s the habits of how you manage your money that will lead you to financial freedom, not how much money you earn.  Obviously, the more money you earn, the more money you will have to save and invest.  But if your habits are simply to spend everything you earn, the more you earn, the more you will spend.  It’s not until you change your money management habits that you will start to see a change in your financial situation, even if you are still earning the same amount of money.

So, what are your habits with respect to God and practicing God’s presence in your life? What are your habits for contemplating, reflecting and journeying deeper into your faith day by day and year by year?

Matthew 1:23 tells us:

“…and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

God has promised you His constant presence (Hebrews 13:5), but are you conscious of His presence every day? Do you practice his presence regularly?  A friend of mine suggested to me years ago that every morning when I arrived at the office, I should pause, and allow God to walk before me!  It was a game changer for me!

Psalm 118, which we read earlier in the service reminds us:

118 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

How many times have you read or heard those words of Psalm 118, and let them fall on deaf ears? How many times have you sung “This is the Day” without letting the words reach your heart? How many times have they just been part of the tradition of Palm Sunday, rather than living words that draw you in to contemplate and reflect?  When have you allowed those words to take you into the presence of God, journeying deeper into your faith?

I want to invite you to make, actively go out and make this week different! They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.  So today, I’m asking you to leave this service and respond differently.  I want you to choose to practice God’s presence, at least 5 times a day (yes, like the Muslims do – 5 times a day!):  when you wake up, at breakfast, at lunch, at dinner and just before you go to bed.  There are some of you who might say, well, I don’t know how to practice God’s presence or I don’t know how to meditate.

Let me ask you this:

  • Do you know how to worry?

“When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that’s called worrying – or maybe you could call it meditating on the wrong thing! When you think about a word (like love or peace) or a phrase (like “I am loved”) or a verse, over and over in your mind, that’s called meditation. So, if you know how to worry, you know how to meditate! (Taken from a quote by Rick Warren)

All I’m asking you to do is switch your attention from mulling over a particular problem that you have, and instead focus on this one little line from Psalm 118:

This is the day which the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.

You could choose any verse, but I want you to choose this one:  It’s easy, I’m sure you know it, and it reminds you to be thankful and joyful.  And until Easter Sunday, I want you to practice the new habit of the presence of God in your life:  5 times a day, with this short line from a special traditional reading on Palm Sunday:

This is the day which the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.

And repeat this short verse 3 times, 5 times a day.  That’s 15 times a day total.  Let’s practice saying this 3 times, so you can see exactly how many seconds this is going to take.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day which the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day which the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.

And maybe this will be the year, that the traditional readings lead you to contemplate, reflect, and journey deeper into your faith day by day.