We moved from our hometown when I was entering middle school. We left a community in which I felt known, valued, and loved. The center of our life was the little brick church with colored windows and five tiny Sunday school rooms. We’d had many picnics in the grassy area out back. I loved that place.
I returned to my childhood hometown in my adult years and found that my church had been removed and there was now a convenience store in its place, complete with a large trash dumpster where we had once picnicked. I was sad and deeply disappointed. As I looked at the pavement where there had been grass and the gas pumps where there had been a church, I sensed the presence of those who meant so much to me. I remembered the spirit that had permeated that congregation. As I relaxed and concentrated, this presence became more real. Even without the tangible symbols, the memories of what had been there were still alive. I felt my Sunday school teacher’s warm embrace, heard the joyful music, and sensed the love of those who affirmed and nurtured me in childhood.
Today’s scripture calls us to remember Jerusalem, that tangible manifestation of God’s community. Having something manifest—a person, building, or symbol—helps us remember, but it is not necessary. The felt presence of those who love and nurture us is a manifestation of God’s Holy Spirit, and that presence is always with us. Our sacred memories of loved ones and loved places represent the kingdom of God within us. We can never be apart from it—unless we forget.
Prayer focuses our attention on the presence of God. It is a practice of remembering. Remember Jerusalem, the manifestation of God’s presence. Remember every day, every moment, in every relationship.
In the midst of change, may I remember all the ways God is present in my life. May this remembering give me strength and hope.
Lamentations opens with a description of the plight of the people of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. The people have been taken into exile as part of God’s judgment for their idolatry. The psalmist struggles to sing the songs of the Lord. In fact, those who overthrew Jerusalem have forced them to sing for their amusement, so the joy is gone. The psalmist prays that one day God will repay the invaders. In Second Timothy Paul praises God for Timothy’s faith and for the legacy of faith that comes through his family. He charges him to preach boldly and without hesitation the gospel of Christ. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges the disciples to show greater faith and to understand that we are all servants in God’s kingdom.
Read Lamentations 1:1-6. How do you allow your imperfections and failings to transform you?
Read Psalm 137. How do you remember your spiritual traditions and sacred places without clinging to them in the rapid changes of our world? How do you look for God’s work in change?
Read 2 Timothy 1:1-14. What spiritual practices help you to “guard the good treasure entrusted to you”?
Read Luke 17:5-10. How might a posture of cyclical servanthood to and with all creation transform or increase your faith?
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