Monday, July 20, 2009

Something to think about...

With summer upon us and baseball in full swing, this story and my comments below gives us something to think about as we live our lives from day to day...

Dick Wade, a Kansas City sportswriter, once decided to find out exactly how much "action" occurred in a baseball game. So, on June 21, 1956, he took a stopwatch to a game between the Kansas City Athletics and Washington Senators and counted the time it took a ball to leave the pitcher's hand until it arrived at home plate; then on all hit balls, he let the clock run until the batter was either out or safe. The total "action" during the two-hour, 28-minute game was 8 1/2 minutes. Kansas City won, 15-6.

Does this make you ponder how much "real" Christian action is going on in your life on a weekly basis? We meet for approximately 2 1/2 hours on Sunday, but some of that time is spent coming in and going out, turning pages in the songbook, etc. Even during the actions of worship our minds can be distracted. Besides the Sunday services, how much Bible study are you doing during the week? How much prayer? How many times do you catch yourself singing a hymn? Being benevolent? Checking on the sick and hurting? Reading spiritual material?

Remember being in the church building doesn't make you a Christian anymore than being in a henhouse makes you a chicken. It is the frame of our minds, the attitude of our spirits and the love in our hearts that determines how spiritual we truly are.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Prayer for urban justice

The following is a prayer which a friend penned for the city of Memphis. He works with MUM (Memphis Urban Ministries).

Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name.

This evening we offer prayer for your mission in this city. We do this not so much because it is our city, but because it is your city. We pray to see the borders of your kingdom broadened, Father. We pray as those in solidarity with the poor; as those who mourn; as humble servants; as those who hunger and thirst for justice; as peacemakers. Father God, we ask that your reign of mercy, equity, and peace would fall upon Memphis in a mighty way.

Father, we ask these things not as spectators, but participants. We implore you as your servants, as your co-laborers, your children, and Christ’s ambassadors. We pray your grace on us as we go about your redemptive agenda in Memphis. We beg of you the courage to love and to comfort. To proclaim your truth boldly and without apology. We ask you to prune every unfruitful branch from us: prejudice, fear, sloth, a judgmental spirit, dissension, hypocrisy, and whatever else would hinder your mission to reclaim, redeem, and restore this city. We ask that the believers of Memphis would be united as we face the task at hand, so that when you return we will not be found arguing in the kitchen while your poor, distressed people of this city are starving for the bread of life just outside our walls. We want to see this city with your eyes, and that your vision for redeeming Memphis would inspire and provoke every facet of our ministry.

We pray that churches will be planted throughout this city that will offer rescue to the lost, prosperity to the poor, food to the hungry, and shelter to the homeless, battered, and mind-addled. We pray that a generation of leaders would arise in our churches and in this city who will continue your mission of reconciliation and restoration. That the public cemetery would not continue to overflow with the babies who die every other day in Memphis due to lack of basic health care. That empty lots and blighted sprawl would be replaced by community gardens and housing for the homeless. That community meals would erase racial and economic barriers and we would clearly see that we are all your children.

We ask your grace, blessing, mercy, guidance, and protection on us as we go about your mission, Father. May it never be said of us that we have left your needy children at the mercy of a world without any mercy.

All of this we ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.