April 21 Devotional
Opening Prayer: Lord God, may your presence, your Spirit, and your glory cause a celebration to rise up from deep in our hearts. May we dance before you this day with all our might, whatever that may look like. Amen.
Scripture: 2 Samuel 6:1-15
Journal: What do you think it was that caused David to dance before the Lord with all his might? What does that look like for you?
Reflection: In the little blue book, on page 115, in the readings for week 17, where I would have started in with my father had I started in when he gave me the book and the note, there is this sentence written by Nikos Kazantzakis: “Only he who obeys a rhythm superior to his own is free.”
More than a decade has now passed since I first read that sentence. I did not even highlight it then, the way I did so many sentences in the book. I was not seeking anything like that at the time and could not have had any idea what such a sentence might mean to me or anyone else.
Nothing in my life is the same now. I do not live in the same house or even with the same people. Most of the material possessions that I had then are long gone, not by some great devout sacrifice on my part, but torn from my grasping hands by bankruptcy or divorce or other crisis. I fight a constant battle against depression, and I live a life that pretty much keeps me out of the mainstream most of the time. I am not complaining, nor am I bragging. I am simply trying to make the point that since the day I said yes to the tune that called me to the Dance, nothing has ever been the same. That is not to say, as some would have you believe, that everything has gone along swimmingly after my grand experience of the Transcendent. Much of it, most of it, has been really hard.
But from this vantage point, I can look back across those days and see that the rhythm of the Dance had begun to call me. It was so new to me then that I did not recognize it for what it was, and for what it is.
A life of prayer - or the spiritual life or the interior life, whatever term one uses for this journey that we have undertaken—is not completely linear, any more than one’s intellectual or emotional life is linear. It is cyclical; it turns and turns again, and carries us along with it.
It is that turning that caught my attention then. It is that turning, that Dance, if you will, and its rhythms and steps and habits and joys and sorrows that draws me now.
If we are to live lives that enable us to hear more clearly who we really are, then we will have to learn to move to a rhythm that is superior to the ones we have fashioned for ourselves, or the ones a consumer society has foisted upon us. We will have to discover the rhythms of prayer and life that can be found in the steps of the Ancient of Dance of the Ancient of Days: the liturgy, the Eucharist, the calendar and the mass, the prayers of confession and intercession and recollection and contemplation, the habits of reading and retreat and working with our hands, the practices of hospitality and forgiveness and being with the poor.
Our lives must be shaped by the same rhythms that shaped the ancients, those who have gone before us. Only then will we be able to take up our places and join the general Dance. (Living Prayer by Robert Benson)
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Andy and Bev Warren serve with an MTW team that is involved in HIV/AIDS work and church planting through the Ethiopia Aids Care and Treatment (ACT) Project. The project targets slum communities in Addis Ababa which contain the neediest people in the community - large percentages of women with small children. In recent years the project has served more than 500 AIDS-affected families, reaching more than 1,200 people. Pray today for the team that they will know how to continue to care for the people they already work with.
Knoxville Inner City Kids Outreach (KICKO) is a para-church ministry with a mission to “Mobilize the Message of Hope” to the at-risk children in our inner-city neighborhoods. This is done through a unique program called Sidewalk SONday School. Large trucks, outfitted to take the church into these communities, allow them to share the gospel with children at multiple locations each week. Pray today for the children that will be reached by the Spring series called “Faith Works.” It helps the kids understand where faith comes from and how to build their faith in God.
Closing Prayer: Lord God, draw me out on the dance floor of life this day and fill my ears and heart with the beautiful music of Your great affection. Give me such an awareness of your presence that my feet just can’t be still. Dance with me as I dance with you. Amen.