Thursday, March 10, 2011

One of two angels by Armstrong

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Prayers embrace many forms in content and expression, all of which are welcome at God’s literal and figurative altars whether they are whispered, spoken or sung. Each of us has our own expression.

Contained in today’s readings are several forms. One appears to be spoken, John 17:1-8; another, Habakkuk 3:1-18, is considered a poem and a hymn according to various sources; and Psalm 37 addressed to David.

As prayers they are very different. The Gospel prayer occurs near the completion of Jesus’ earthly ministry focusing on the completion of his work and includes a prayer for his disciples who are to perpetuate his ministry after his departure. The Old Testament Habakkuk prayer is visual and at first blush one cannot help but wonder what a Julie Taymor or a Franco Zeffirelli would do with this visual material.

The Psalmody contains the full range of human emotions. 37, today’s Psalm, provides a window into the range of David’s emotions. (One wonders if it was sung to David by the quality voices we experience at Ascension.)

God may not be as persnickety about format as we are. We are all called upon to not just pray for ourselves, but others in our immediate and extended communities that we may give witness to the light of God. And in our differences we are called upon to be tolerant of each other’s expression. Prayers, no matter the form, are welcome by God.

Habakkuk 3:1-18
Psalm 37: 1-42
Philippians 3: 12-21
John 17: 1-8

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Detail of "The Beatitudes Sermon," painted by James Tissot, circa 1890

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