A prayer @ the start of a new adventure

This post will not be the typical Karl’s Questions essay but a prayer written by the same author as the customary Socratic discourse.

This prayer was written for some friends of mine who were moving to New York to begin a new stage in their lives.  This young family was leaving their family and friends on the west coast and relocating themselves to not only a new state but also a new career and different environment.

O God, we stand in Your presence with those who are beginning their new adventure and we cannot help but come carrying various complex feelings of excitement, happiness, fear, concern and sadness.

In these times, we reach for security yet we only find Your loving presence.

In these times, we reach for answers, yet we only find Your listening heart.

In these times, we reach for assurance, yet we only find Your peaceful trust.

In these times, we hold tight to our pre-defined understanding of Your comfort, yet we only find You calling us to let go and experience Your unexpected and matchless strength.

In these times, we reach to receive from You, yet we only find Your joy in giving ourselves to You and each other.

O God, it is because of Your love, we stand before You with our vulnerability not asking for Your nearness because You are always with us instead we ask for the courage to open ourselves to Your life-affirming love.  For it is because of Your unwavering love and gentle courage, we can be Your loving presence to each other.

O God may Your loving presence be made “real” to those who embark on a new stage in life and may we be Your loving “arms and legs” to them and to others.

We ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Does God have a Hero-Complex?

It seems inevitable that after a tragedy like a mass bombing, school shooting or someone shoots up a movie theater the articles entitled, “Where is God?” make headlines.  In these “probing” articles, you get the sense that God should have flown down from his lofty throne and scooped up children just before the bomb exploded or a ray of bullets violated their bodies.  When we ask this question, are we really searching for an objective proof of a deity or are we asking, “How do we find meaning is this horrible act”?  In a time of chaos and complexity, our tendency is to move towards our instinctual humanity and search for meaning.  In our search for meaning, why do we ask as if God can only be found as a “protector”? Is it our expectation that God’s role is to “grab our arm and pull us from danger”? But, are we really asking why God did not reach out and save our precious children from this unspeakable act of evil?  It seems as if God’s only reason for existence is to save helpless little ones from a short-lived life. And of course, that did not happen so we must conclude that God is not to be found. Yet I ask, can God only be found in acts of protectionism?   Is God trapped by our primal preoccupation to be safeguarded from the evils of our world?

Or maybe, God is less about guardianship and more about companionship.  Can God be found in the bravery of a man who runs towards the blast to aid the injured? Or in the courage of a police officer who confronts the madmen in order to bring them to justice?  Or in the boldness of a concerned citizen who calls “911” to report blood on his boat? Or in the determination of doctors and nurses who with great skill prevent the death of severely injured people?  Or could God be found in the hope it takes the injured to decide to amputate their leg and replace it with a prosthetic one? Maybe, God is discovered in turning the trauma of losing a child into a life-giving gift by donating her organs and creating a foundation to urge people to register to be an organ donor.  In our wanted pursuit to find God the hero, do we overlook the God of unrelenting love, unwavering courage, deepening strength and restoring presence or more simply stated, God with Us?

 —Move beyond just tolerating each other and towards truly appreciating one another.