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We begin our Christian life by depending not upon our own doing but upon what Christ has done …

If someone makes a very unkind remark about you in your presence, how do you meet the situation? You compress your lips, clench your teeth, swallow hard, and take a firm grip upon yourself; and if with a great effort you manage to suppress all signs of resentment and be reasonably polite in return, you feel you have gained a great victory. But the resentment is still there; it has merely been covered up. And at times you do not even succeed in covering it. What is the trouble? The trouble is that you are trying to walk before you have sat down, and in that way lies sure defeat.

Let me repeat: No Christian experience begins with walking, but always with a definite sitting down. The secret of deliverance from sin is not to do something but to rest on what God has done.

An engineer living in a large city in the West left his homeland for the Far East. He was away for two or three years, and during his absence his wife was unfaithful to him and went off with one of his best friends. On his return home he found he had lost his wife, his two children, and his best friend. At the close of a meeting which I was addressing, this grief-stricken man unburdened himself to me. “Day and night for two solid years my hearth has been full of hatred,” he said. “I am a Christian, and I know I ought to forgive my wife and my friend, but though I try and try to forgive them, I simply cannot. Every day I resolve to love them, and every day I fail. What can I do about it?” “Do nothing at all,” I replied. “What do you mean?” he asked, startled. “Am I to continue to hate them?” So I explained: “The solution of your problem lies here, that when the Lord Jesus died on the Cross he not only bore your sins away but he bore you away too. When he was crucified, your old man was crucified in him, so that that unforgiving you, who simply cannot love those who have wronged you, has been taken right out of the way in his death. God has dealt with the whole situation in the Cross, and there is nothing left for you to deal with. Just say to him,“Lord, I cannot love and I give up trying, but I count on thy perfect love. I cannot forgive, but I trust thee to forgive instead of me, and to do so henceforth in me.”The man sat there amazed and said, “That’s all so new, I feel I must do something about it.” Then a moment later he added again, “But what can I do ?”

“God is waiting till you cease to do,” I said. “When you cease doing, then God will begin. Have you ever tried to save a drowning man? The trouble is that his fear prevents him trusting himself to you. When that is so, there are just two ways of going about it. Either you must knock him unconscious and then drag him to the shore, or else you must leave him to struggle and shout until his strength gives way before you go to his rescue. If you try to save him while he has any strength left, he will clutch at you in his terror and drag you under, and both he and you will be lost. God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before he can deliver you. Once you have ceased to struggle, he will do everything. God is waiting for you to despair.”

My engineer friend jumped up. “Brother,” he said, “I’ve seen it. Praise God, it’s all right now with me! There’s nothing for me to do. He has done it all!” And with radiant face he went off rejoicing.

– Excerpt from “Sit, Walk, Stand” by Watchman Nee

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“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant… prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”

– Henri Nouwen

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Romans 8:31-39
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

We want for nothing
if we journey with our God,
his footsteps leading,
his hand to steady
if we should fall.

We want for nothing
if we listen to our God,
his gentle whisper
breaking through
the storms of life.

We want for nothing
if we rely upon our God,
his grace enough
to bring healing
into broken lives.

We want for nothing
in the service of our God,
in blessing others
through our lives
so we are blessed.

We want for nothing
in the worship of our God,
his Holy Spirit
the comforter
will satisfy our souls.

– Faith and Worship

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Walking uplifts the spirit. Breathe out the poisons of tension, stress, and worry; breathe in the power of God. Send forth little silent prayers of goodwill toward those you meet. Walk with a sense of being a part of a vast universe. Consider the thousands of miles of earth beneath your feet; think of the limitless expanse of space above your head. Walk in awe, wonder, and humility. Walk at all times of day. In the early morning when the world is just waking up. Late at night under the stars. Along a busy city street at noontime.

– Wilferd A. Peterson

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“Generally speaking if you want to know who you really are as distinct from who you would like to think you are, keep an eye on where your feet take you.”

– Frederick Buechner

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If you were not risen,
Lord Christ, to whom would we go
to discover a radiance
of the face of God?
If you were not risen,
we would not be together
seeking your communion.
We would not find in your presence
forgiveness,
wellspring of a new beginning.

If you were not risen,
where would we draw the energy
for following you
right to the end of our existence,
for choosing you again and anew?

– Brother Roger of Taize
The Book of a Thousand Prayers

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May the Lord bless you
and keep you.
May God’s face
shine upon you and
be gracious unto you.

May God give you the grace
never to sell yourself short;
grace to risk something big
for something good;
grace to remember that the
world is now too dangerous
for anything but truth and
too small for anything but love.

So, may God take your minds
and think through them;
may God take your lips
and speak through them;
may God take your hearts
and set them on fire.

Amen.

– William Sloane Coffin
adapted by H. Stephen Shoemaker

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”Christ is Risen
He is risen indeed!
We are baffled by the very Easter claim we voice.
Your new life fits none of our categories.
We wonder and stew and argue,
and add clarifying adjectives like “spiritual” and “physical.”
But we remain baffled, seeking clarity and explanation,
we who are prosperous, and full and safe and tenured.
We are baffled and want explanations.

But there are those not baffled, but stunned by the news,
stunned while at minimum wage jobs;
stunned while the body wastes in cancer;
stunned while the fabric of life rots away in fatigue and despair;
stunned while unprosperous and unfull
and unsafe and untenured . . .
Waiting only for you in your Easter outfit,
waiting for you to say, “Fear not, it is I.”
Deliver us from our bafflement and our many explanations.
Push us over into stunned need and show yourself to us lively.
Easter us in honesty,
Easter us in fear;
Easter us in joy,
and let us be Eastered. Amen.”

Easter Tuesday/April 17, 2000

taken from

Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth

Prayers of Walter Brueggemann

Fortress Press, 2003, p. 162

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Dear God,

We give thanks for the darkness of the night where lies the world of dreams.
Guide us closer to our dreams so that we may be nourished by them.
Give us good dreams and memory of them so that we may carry their poetry and mystery into our daily lives.
Grant us deep and restful sleep that we may wake
refreshed with strength enough to renew a world grown tired.

We give thanks for the inspiration of stars,
the dignity of the moon
and the lullabies of crickets and frogs.
Let us restore the night and reclaim it as a sanctuary of peace, where silence shall be music to our hearts
and darkness shall throw light upon our souls.
Good Night. Amen.

–Michael Leunig, A Common Prayer Book
Collins Dove 1990

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The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, “What are you going through?”

– Simone Weil