Advent Day 21

Caleb, the Shepherd

By Zoanna Pearson
Selah Companion

It was an ordinary star-filled night. Jesse, Levi, and me, Caleb, three poor shepherds, were minding our own business keeping our flock safe from wolves. We were sitting around the campfire listening to Jesse play his flute, Levi was dozing, and it was my watch. I was lulled between the music, the warm fire, and a cup of hot wine. We were wrapped in sheepskins and huddled close to the fire because the night was cold.

Suddenly, the sky became as light as day. No, that’s wrong, it was the brightest light I had ever seen; a thousand full moons would be dim in comparison. Startled, we jumped up, tripping over each other. What was happening, was the world ending? (We were later to discover that our world was beginning.)

The sky was filled with…you won’t believe this, but the sky was filled with angels. You might wonder how I knew they were angels; it’s not like I’ve seen one before. 

I am telling you that these beings were bright and shimmered with gold and silver, they had wings and flowing gowns. Some played what looked like golden horns and sang, “Hallelujah, Glory to God, Praise the Majestic Creator, Gloria.” 

What else could they be but angels? It was loud but joyful, like a heavenly party! Their light and voices fell on us like warm fog, and we were transfixed. Oh, how I wish you could have been there. We stood in wonder, our mouths open, holding on to each other. I confess we were scared to death.

Without taking my eyes off what I saw, I whispered to Jesse and Levi, “Do you see what I see?” They both nodded but couldn’t speak.

Then an angel stood before us and told us to go immediately into town and find a stable with a baby in a manger. The angel said that the baby was Christ, the Lord and that we had been chosen by Yahweh to be the first to see this child. Chosen! While I am telling you this, it sounds crazy and unbelievable. See the Lord? We stood dropped-jaw, I mean, who would argue with an angel?

We ran over the hills into town without a backward glance and trusting that the flock would be safe. We raced around town, checking stable after stable. 

And then, near an inn, it was just as we were told. This stable was filled with a light as if all the candles in the synagog were lit, and the light fell upon us. In the manger wrapped in a soft cloth lay a baby, not just a baby, but the most beautiful, radiant child I’d ever seen. His parents called him Jesus. We didn’t know if we should close our eyes or gaze at him. The three of us fell on our knees in awe and worship.

I, Caleb, a shepherd boy,
was looking on the
the face of the Messiah!

I realized that just being in the presence of this child was changing me. I am not ashamed to say that tears ran down my face, I sobbed prayers of praise, and words I’d never spoken before left my lips. I, Caleb, a shepherd boy, was looking at the face of the Messiah! I was in the presence of the Holy One. 

We wanted to stay forever, but we were concerned about the sheep. As you would imagine, all night and nights forever after, the three of us told and retold this story, each time remembering what could not be explained. We would always wonder, why us? We were three young boys, shepherds, outcasts, despised by many. We told our story to others, some believed us, and others thought we had been out in the fields too long.

As I tell this story to Ari, the scribe, I wish I could say that I went on to learn Hebrew and become a scholar and a teacher. But I knew in my heart that because I had met my Messiah, my job was to be the best shepherd I could be. I was called to tell my story that once on an ordinary, star-filled night in a field near Bethlehem, I, Caleb, a shepherd, looked at the face of Jesus and was transformed.

—Caleb, the shepherd
as told Ari Israel, the scribe

Third Week of Advent

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Day 15

Scripture
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 146:5-10 or
Luke 1:46b-55
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

The Revised Common Lectionary

On this third Sunday of Advent, we light the Rose Candle representing joy. This Sunday is also known as Gaudete Sunday (Latin).

The Advent Wreath

By Debora Buerk,
Editor, Here & Now,
Selah Companion

The Advent wreath originated among German Lutherans in the sixteenth century. However, it was not until three centuries later that the modern Advent wreath took shape, thanks to German protestant pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881). Along with Wichern’s wreath came the tradition of lighting candles during Advent worship services. 

Pastor Wichern’s wreath consisted of a large wooden ring (made from an old cartwheel) with twenty small red candles and four large white candles. The small red candles were lit during the week, the white candles on Sundays.

While the form of the Advent wreath changed over time, the tradition of lighting candles during Advent spread throughout Germany and beyond Lutheranism. The Advent wreath expanded into the western Church and took hold in the United States during the 1930s. 

Symbolism. Advent wreaths are circular, representing God’s infinite love, and are usually made of evergreen leaves, expressing the hope of eternal life Jesus brings. 

Hope


Peace


Joy


Love

Within the wreath, four prominent candles represent the four weeks of the Advent season. Collectively, the candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus. 

The colors of the candles have their significance. In the Western Christian church, violet is the liturgical color for three of the four Sundays of Advent. Rose is the liturgical color for the third Sunday of Advent. White is traditionally chosen for the Christ candle to represent the liturgical color for Christmas. 

The centerpiece of the wreath is a white candle, the Christ candle, to represent the arrival of Christmastide. Lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the Christ candle is the fitting completion of Advent.

Traditionally, the candles stand for the Christian truths of hope (week one), peace (week two), joy (week three), and love (week four). 

The rose candle, lit on the third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday—from the Latin meaning “rejoice, ye”—represents joy

May this third week of Advent be joy-filled for you.

Second Week of Advent

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Day 8

Scriptures

Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Romans 15:4-13

Matthew 3:1-12

from The Revised Common Lectionary

Peace


God of peace,


Instill in us Your peace


That surpasses all understanding.


As we prepare for God’s coming,


Make us instruments of Your peace


And held us to find rest


In the Prince of Peace


Your Son, Jesus the Christ.


Amen.


ON THIS SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT, we light the candle of peace. A state of being that means tranquility, mental calm, and serenity. We bring our request before God in asking for peace, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Christmas is typically a time of celebration and joyous expectations. 

Anticipating the Christ

By Debora Buerk
Editor, Here & Now
& Selah Companion

Advent.

[ˈadˌvent] (noun).

Old English, from the Latin

adventus ‘arrival’

and from advenire,

from ad- ‘to’ + venire ‘come’.

Synonyms: arrival,
birth, approach, nearing.

For Christians, Advent is a time spent preparing for Christmas. For many of us, this can include decorating our homes, putting up a Christmas tree, creating an Advent calendar, writing Christmas cards, gathering with family and friends for dinner, and giving gifts.  

The word Advent originates in Old English from the Latin word “adventus,” or “coming”—the arrival of God in human form, umbilical cord, and all. 

While some are tempted to think of Christmas as an event to be observed at the end of the calendar year, they would miss the origin and meaning of Advent.

We don’t know when the period of preparation for Christmas, now called Advent, began. It existed from about 480, with the Council of Tours in 567. What we know and celebrate is a time of preparation for Christmas Day, when we celebrate the birth or beginning of the Christian liturgical year. 

Advent anticipates the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives:

  1. The physical Nativity in Bethlehem
  2. The reception of Christ in the heart of the believer
  3. The eschatological second coming 

This third meaning, I believe, was the focus of the early church—to wait for Christ’s second coming. This, however, has become downplayed among today’s Christians.

What if our focus

was to shift to waiting

for Christ’s

second coming?

What if our focus shifted to waiting, anticipating, and preparing for the King’s return to earth, the defeat of Satan and sin, and peace on earth? Now that would be something to anticipate and celebrate.

So this Advent season, as you decorate for Christmas, sing the carols, and light the advent wreath, try to anticipate—look forward to Christ’s return and, with it, peace on earth. What if we wished each other a “Blessed Advent” as a prelude to “Merry Christmas?”

In doing so, we can simultaneously give and receive the love of God to each other—as we anticipate and draw near his birth.

I wish you a joy-filled Advent for all of us in the growing Selah community.

Advent Day 2

A Day of Quiet

By MARY PANDIANI
Executive Director
Selah Center

Blessing in the Chaos

To all that is chaotic

in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be
a calming
of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that
have laid their claim
on you,
that have made their
home in you,

that go with you
even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you
hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace
that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you
cease.
Let what divides you
cease.
Let there come an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find
the peace
you did not think
possible
and see what shimmers
within the storm.

By Jan Richardson, 
Painted Prayer Book
.com

“Christmas, already?!!” Do you hear the impatience, the lack of wonder in the season, the when-will-it-be-over attitude? It’s why I need this blessing for all that is chaotic in my life. With this week, we start Advent. It’s a time to lead us gently into Christmas. To enter into my desired place of appreciating the birth of Jesus the Christ, I need a calming before the storm. And more, I need to cultivate spaciousness that allows God to open my heart in and through this season.

Selah begins the season with a Quiet Day today. It’s an opportunity to listen to the wonder and pregnant moments that this season can bring. In the quietness, we slow down long enough to “see what shimmers within the storm.” Join us if you can. Our Quiet Day for Listening into Advent begins at 9:30am. If you registered, check your email from Erika Mariani for the zoom link and materials to facilitate the day.

May this Advent, a time of waiting, be filled with sweet surprises that breathe new life into you. As fresh expressions of this season awaken in you, remember the birth of a human baby that reminds us of God’s tender and abiding love. Holy Advent, Merry Christmas.

Upcoming Events at Selah Center

Going Deeper

Two-part Workshop
September 24, 2022: Session One
October 22, 2022: Session Two
9:00am-12:30pm (PST)
Hybrid – In Person in the Edmonds area and Online

Miss being a part of Living from the Heart 
with the community who walked with you,
the material you explored, the practices you engaged?

Do you have a longing for going deeper
 in your understanding of and encounter with God?

Want to continue your contemplative journey 
with the help of others who have also been walking along the road?

Join us in the first post-Living from the Heart 
offering for those who have already been a part of
Living from the Heart 
and others who have traveled for a while along the contemplative journey.

We will explore both collectively and personally the 
invitation toward integration and encounter with God.

Facilitators Mary Pandiani, Jeffrey Brusseau, and Edie Finnell
will lead our time of your engagement with God, others, and yourself.


$140 for both sessions
Register Here
Questions? Contact Mary Pandiani
at director@selahdirector

Happy Anniversary Selah!

August 20, 2007-2022

Message from John Kiemele, 
Founder and Director Emeritus

Dear Selah Community,
On this 15th Anniversary of our Selah Center, we want to extend our prayers and blessings for all the gratitude we feel. Thank you for fanning our community flame and for shepherding the movements of our collective hearts. What a deep and abiding gift to share this contemplative journey with you all!

The traditional gift marking the 15th anniversary is crystal. May we all receive the gift of God’s Spirit, clarity, and clearness toward the fullness of life that extends such experiences to others.

The contemporary gift for a 15th anniversary is a clock or other timepiece. May this birthday greeting be received as a reminder from the Creator of Time Eternal to take time for ample pause, reflection, and response to the Loving Presence among us and through us as a dispersed community of contemplative companions.

May God’s blessings continue to fill and lead us all. And may we remain in the awe and wonder of life with God.

Our hearts and prayers hold Selah,
John and Marissa Kiemele

Mary Pandiani,
Executive Director,
Selah Center

About Selah Center

Selah is a welcoming community that pauses, encounters the Spirit through contemplative practices, and grows together toward wholeness and loving others.
Learn more at SelahCenter.org.

About John Kiemele

John Kiemele
Founder of Selah Center
Seattle, Washington
Program Director
Rolling Ridge Retreat Center
Andover, Massachusetts

John Kiemele is a wellbeing educator and spiritual director who currently companions individuals, teaches various seminars and lifestyle classes, leads contemplative retreats, and also serves as Program Director at Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in North Andover, Massachusetts.  With a focus on contemplative soul care, John gratefully walks alongside individuals, small groups, classrooms, and congregations.  Recognizing how intentional pausing and listening unlocks life, John strives to engage the whole person – body, mind, soul – in the lifelong process of living well.  John received his Ph.D. in education/spirituality from Talbot School of Theology, with post-doctoral emphases in Spiritual Direction

Good Morning

On the Pulse of the Morning

(Excerpt)

…Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream….
Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope—
Good morning.

Maya Angelou

Thoughts from Mary

I am grateful for sabbath, even when it doesn’t turn out as you had hoped. My aspirations for the month included down time along with organizing my office, playing with friends and family, and spontaneously saying yes to whatever showed up for the day. Instead, I spent over a week in bed with Covid (and a couple more weeks of tiredness) along with grieving the loss of a dear and close friend who while struggling through her cancer seemed to be living a full life. The sabbath that I hoped would restore some strength and perspective became a time of recognizing my weakness and need for God and others.

Sabbath is not something we accomplish or acquire or strive towards. It’s a resting in what God has for us.

Mary Pandiani

And so it is that I return to the call of Selah and my other responsibilities with a bit of heavy heart and weariness. Yet, I still remain grateful, not only for sabbath in whatever form it takes but also for this day. I want to claim, as Maya Angelou does, that I can say “good morning” to today, trusting that God will provide me with what I need for this day.

Sabbath is not something we accomplish or acquire or strive towards. It’s a resting in what God has for us. And for today, all I have is today. So may you, along with me, find the voice to say “help” where help is needed, trust that God shows up even when grief feels oppressive, and lean into “good morning” as a reflection of the hope that rests in God’s abundance, not my capability or circumstance.

Pax Bonum,
Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

Mary Pandiani, D.Min, serves as Selah’s Executive Director, leading the community and organization through its current transition period into future possibilities. Mary has served in various capacities for Selah, including as a founding board member, seminar/group leader, and co-facilitator for Selah’s extended programs, Living From The Heart and Way of the Heart. Mary is a spiritual director and coach, co-facilitator for a spiritual direction training program, and advisor for doctoral students. Mary received her Doctorate of Ministry at Portland Seminary, and her work focuses on a posture of contemplative living across the seasons of life. Her foundation starts with a love for the God who wants to be known and a desire to help others to pause-notice-listen-respond in ways that lead to a deeper understanding of God’s divine invitation. With the support of her husband Bill, Mary serves Selah while also enjoying her family of four adult daughters and their families. Mary lives in Gig Harbor WA where she knows the value of beauty in creation and the gift of community.

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Join Mary every Friday at 10:00 AM for Kairos. It’s a time for conversation the “selah way.” Welcome friends, old and new. Kairos is open to everyone interested in learning more about Selah. Kairos meets on Zoom for an hour at 10 AM. Click Here & Now for more info.

Am I Really a Contemplative?

Someday I Will Visit Hawk Mountain

By M. Soledad Caballero

I will be a real birder and know raptors
by the shape of their wings, the span of them
against wide skies, the browns and grays
of their feathers, the reds and whites like specks
of paint. I will look directly into the sun, point and say,
those are black vultures, those are red-shouldered
hawks. They fly with the thermals, updrafts, barely
moving, glide their bodies along the currents, borrowing
speed from the wind. I will know other raptors,
sharp-shinned hawk, the Cooper’s hawk, the ones
that flap their wings and move their bodies during the day.
The merlins, the peregrine falcons, soaring like bullets
through blue steel, cutting the winds looking for rabbits,
groundhogs that will not live past talons and claws.
I will know the size of their bones, the weight
of their beaks. I will remember the curves, the colors
of their oval, yellow eyes. I will have the measurements,
the data that live inside their bodies like a secret
taunting me to find its guts. Or this is what I tell myself.


But, I am a bad birder. I care little about the exact rate
of a northern goshawk’s flight speed. I do not need
to know how many pounds of food an American kestrel
eats in winter. I have no interest in the feather types
on a turkey vulture. I have looked up and forgotten
these facts again and again and again. They float
out of my mind immediately. What I remember:
my breathless body as I look into the wildness above,

raptors flying, diving, stooping, bodies of light, talismans,
incantations, dust of the gods. Creatures of myth,
they hang in the sky like questions. They promise
nothing, indifferent to everything but death.
Still, still, I catch myself gasping, neck craned up,
follow the circles they build out of sky, reach
for their brutal mystery, the alien spark of more.

(Helpful to read out loud if you don’t listen to the audio)

A poem touches each of us a bit differently, yet the same – a moment of encounter in the imagination that reaches deep within us. The bold italics indicate what captures me from what the Allegheny College professor and poet, M. Soledad Caballero offers. To hear these words read by the Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama further enhances the resonance I experience in the listening.

Walking along a slough bordering Camano Island, I witness a flock of herons, or the proper group name siege, hurling into the sky when Caballero’s words speak to me “what I remember: my breathless body as I look into the wildness above.…” In that moment, I hear my own thoughts that there is a wildness that runs through my own remembering and breathless body. It’s contemplation. That’s how the contemplative life engages my heart and soul and mind.

Analogous to the poet, I forget all the knowledge of what makes a birder a birder. For me, it’s the contemplative life. I want to live contemplatively, but I forget. I’m a “bad” contemplative in the sense that I fall and rise again, fall and rise again. I try harder, only to fall down again. The knowledge of what it means to be contemplative is helpful. But it quickly flies out of my head, especially in my greatest need.

My longing suggests that I want to know more, but seeking knowledge in the way of information lacks the power to transform my engagement with the world, others, God, even my own life. There is an “alien spark of more” when it comes to the contemplative life. I want to encounter more, go deeper more where wonder and curiosity generates movement and engages mystery.

As the poet seeks to know more about the birds, she recognizes they capture her heart not by the important details that she can learn, but how they live in the world. Witnessing their flight brings about questions, hopes and fears, stories of mythological gravitas. Interestingly, she does know quite a bit about the birds. Yet she longs for something more.

For me, I too learn about God, and want to know more about Divine Holy Mystery. But how quickly the energy in engaging God dissipates if I only stay in the grasping of intellectual attainment for what I think I need. My encounter with the Divine requires, demands, invites me into something that goes beyond my thinking. In the wonder and colorful mystery of who God is, I find a depth crystalizing the beauty of encounter. The crystalizing depth becomes a way of remembering. It is there that I see God move in and through my being so that when I do fall, or am a “bad” contemplative, I am not alone.

Perhaps the remembering is the spark for knowing birds, for knowing what is unknowable.

By Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

Mary Pandiani, D.Min, serves as Selah’s Executive Director, leading the community and organization through its current transition period into future possibilities. Mary has served in various capacities for Selah, including as a founding board member, seminar/group leader, and co-facilitator for Selah’s extended programs, Living From The Heart and Way of the Heart. Mary is a spiritual director and coach, co-facilitator for a spiritual direction training program, and advisor for doctoral students. Mary received her Doctorate of Ministry at Portland Seminary, and her work focuses on a posture of contemplative living across the seasons of life. Her foundation starts with a love for the God who wants to be known and a desire to help others to pause-notice-listen-respond in ways that lead to a deeper understanding of God’s divine invitation. With the support of her husband Bill, Mary serves Selah while also enjoying her family of four adult daughters and their families. Mary lives in Gig Harbor WA where she knows the value of beauty in creation and the gift of community.

Living in the Paschal Mystery: Leading to Ascension

[This message was given at Kairos: Friday Morning Contemplative Gathering on April 29, 2022]

From Mary Pandiani, Selah Executive Director

Easter has come and gone for many. And yet, looking at the church liturgical calendar, we’re still in Eastertide, namely the 40-days before the Ascension of Christ Jesus takes place. These 40-days and Ascension are part of the story called the Paschal Mystery – a living remembrance of Christ Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, the Ascension (the rising from earth to be with God), that culminates with Pentecost (the unleashing of the Holy Spirit). The connection to the celebration of the Old Testament Passover reminds us of the lamb whose blood protects the Israelites who finally leave Egypt, leading them to freedom from slavery.

We’re called into this Paschal Mystery where we’re connected to the story as well. Our lives operate out of a Paschal Mystery – a life, death, and new life rhythm in the everyday and final death of our lives. That means we’re participating, in intentional and unintentional ways, with the 40-days and Ascension. We, like the disciples and followers of Christ Jesus, don’t quite understand the resurrection, yet want to believe in hope, that it brings changes in us and our relationship with God. The stories include walking the road to Emmaus, eating breakfast with the disciples, doubting and believing with Thomas who wants to see the wounds of Jesus. Confusion, joy, despondency, loss of faith, gaining faith, amazed, hope, and deep longing. These are the mundane and miraculous ways Christ Jesus enters into our world, different but the same, as a result of the resurrection. All of these emotions and new realities occur within the 40-days, inviting us to consider the change that has taken place.

Is that not like how change impacts us, especially the one where there is resurrection – a new power of and in life? We are grateful, excited, yet confused and dazed by the reality before us. We hold hope while wondering what’s next. When my youngest daughter left home for the first time at 13 years old (she decided she wanted to go to a boarding school – ask me about that story sometime), I held promise for her in the new experience, yet deep loss in no longer having her around. I was both faith-filled and faith-less. The liminal space of the unknown, yet newness, felt both awkward and comforting. How was I to enter into this change?

It’s in these places that lead to the Ascension where we ask the question of transformation: what do I need to let go of in order to experience new life to its fullest? Jesus tells the disciples that he must leave; he even goes on to say it will be better that he leaves. In his leaving, he offers something more. Or as Ronald Rolheiser suggests, “Ascension is to refuse to cling to what once was, let it go, and let it bless you, so that you can recognize the new life you already have with and within you and receive its spirit.”[1] There is new life in leaving, as counter-intuitive as that may sound, for that’s where new life begins.

As we live in this season of the Paschal Mystery, let us ask ourselves, what do we need to let go of in order that new life may arise? If we desire change and transformation, how we can move towards it, rather than cower away? Can we receive the spirit of life, revealed in these changes, that brings deeper and more meaningful encounters with God, with others, and with ourselves? Let us consider the invitation that the Ascension is asking of us.

The ascension deepens intimacy by giving us precisely a new presence, a deeper, richer one,
but one which can only come about if our former way of being present is taken away.
Ronald Rolheiser[2]

[1] https://ronrolheiser.com/managing-an-ascension/#.Ymh3hy-B23U

[2] https://ronrolheiser.com/a-spirituality-of-the-ascension/#.YmnKUy-B23

O Incomprehensible One

O Incomprehensible One,
you have taken the sharp knife of this life
and hollowed me out.
Scraped my insides.
Everything taken. Scoured. Empty.
You have punched holes in me
in painful places.
Helpless.
The wind blows through me.

And what is this?
Flute music!
             -Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Ah, flute music. “Really, God, that’s the way the music happens?” It’s the cry and joy of my life to experience the emptying that takes place as a result of pain. The cry comes from the act of scouring that grates, rubs, bruises my soul. Yet, as a result of the pain, joy comes in the music that plays through my holes. It’s not usually right away. In fact, I’m not sure the joy ever is immediate. Instead it comes after the place of helplessness. In that long waiting pause between punched holes and wind blowing, I often wonder if there will ever be music.

It’s not unlike the waiting we’re experiencing during Lent. From the dust-to-dust reality of Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, it’s a long pause. An ongoing of emptying more, and then some more, and then even more. Will there ever be music again? Will there be a place of celebration for new life?

How do I wait there? Part hope from previous times where new life showed up. Part discipline by abiding in the container of Lent that sustains me with grace. And finally, part trust in the Incomprehensible God who has never failed me yet. I’m reminded in this space that all I can pray is what Teresa of Avila prayed: “Oh God, I don’t love, I don’t even want to love, but I want to want to love you!” That’s how I wait for the music.

by Sandy Shipman
Selah Companion and Flute Player

Selah Prayer

Presence
in gentle flow
in sacred rhythm

Pause
Pause deeply
Until your heart stops pounding
Until your mind stops racing

(selah)

Listen
Listen profoundly
To the silence
Until the chatter stops
Until the silence speaks

(Selah)

Respond
Respond freely
To life’s encounter
To joy and pain
To divine love
With love
With a cry or a tear
With dance or song
With life fully lived
in an eternity-moment

(Selah)

in gentle flow
in sacred rhythm
let it come again

Have Presence

by Troy Fenlason
Selah Community

In Solidarity

My plan for today is to share about the first of three temptations that Jesus experiences in the wilderness. But after receiving a note from one of our Selah companions, Zoe Pearson, I realize something else is needed. Here’s my wondering.

Before the temptations, Jesus has to choose to walk into the wilderness, a place of unknown outcomes and presumed scarcity. When Jesus enters the wilderness, he had no idea what will happen. In previous wilderness experiences for the Hebrew people, they fail to trust for their provisions. They are afraid and hide in their fear. What is different about Jesus?  What does he practice that gives him strength to face the temptations?

He prays.

What strikes me by Zoe’s note, and now I share with you, is that we’re in a similar place of wilderness, a place of unknown outcomes and presumed scarcity where we are we cry out to God for the people of Ukraine. What can we offer in this place of wilderness?

One of the gifts of Lent is the call to prayer. It is a time to intentionally seek to listen and cry out to God. In times such as these while our world watches those in the throes of war and displacement, it can be difficult to know how to pray or wonder if prayer does anything at all. In her note, Zoe sent me a NY Times article by Tish Harrison Warren (see below). The article speaks of the many ways people are praying for and praying by Ukrainians.

What compels me and Zoe is a video created by the Bible Society that shows Ukrainians, some in basements and bomb shelters, who pray Psalm 31:

“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame;

Deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly

To my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name

Lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for

You are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit;

Deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.”

The Prayers of the People

 

For Lent, let us pray together with them, in solidarity. For all the world that is broken, hurting, and torn apart, we remember that God is our rock of refuge, even in the place of wilderness.

 

“How readers around the world are praying for Ukraine”, by Tish Harrison Warren, The New York Times