Amber Congregational Church - To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose.
The ShoreLight - Amber Church Newsletter
May 2018


Praying God’s Way
  
   Prayer is simply talking to God.  It is our heart opened to the heart of God.  Nothing is hidden, nothing is reserved.  It is an overflow, what literature might call a “stream of consciousness,” where thoughts and feelings are given in a continuous uninterrupted flow.  “Pray continually,” the Apostle Paul wrote (1 Thessalonians 5:17). 

  And although there are no special words or times or positions that are required when we pray it is something that we can learn to do better, just as we can learn how to better converse and communicate with one another.  So Christ’s disciples said to him one day after observing him praying, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).  They wanted to know how to pray like Jesus prayed.  Perhaps what they noted in particular was not what Jesus said but the fact that he demonstrated a natural and an attractive relationship with God.  They wanted to have the same kind of walking talking life, an open-hearted relationship with God.

   Jesus instructed them with the words of what we call “the Lord’s Prayer” (Luke 11:2-4), but the fact that he followed these words with an illustrative story of one asking a friend for bread reveals that it wasn’t the words that were so vital but the persistence in conversation.  God wants to hear from us more than we want to talk to him.

   At the same time we must remember that “a child learns to speak because his father speaks to him.” So learning to pray will involve learning what things are important and what things aren’t important with regard to God.  “If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart.  Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray….The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.”[1]

   I have a number of books on the Psalms which seek to explain and interpret them for our use and understanding.  But I particularly like the ones that aid me in learning how to pray them.  You can get an idea of this intent from some of the titles, for example these three by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, Meditating on the Word, and My Soul finds Rest.  Eugene Peterson is another author that is very helpful.  His psalm titles include: Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, and Earth and Altar: The Community of Prayer in a Self-Bound Society.  A couple other titles that are quite revealing are Songs from a Strange Land by John Goldingay and I’m Lonely, Lord – How Long? by Marva Dawn. What all these writers are seeking to do is learn to pray and then share the reality of that life with others. 

   For the next two months in our Sunday Worship we will be focusing on a few select psalms as we talk about learning to pray like Jesus prayed.  The passages chosen were done simply in compliance with the way they are listed in the little pamphlet “Praying the Psalms Daily.”  The first three selections are all from Psalm 119.  It was Bonhoeffer’s favorite psalm although he acknowledged that it may “be especially difficult for us, perhaps, because of its length and uniformity.  Here a very slow, quiet, patient advance from word to word, from sentence to sentence, will help us.  Then we will recognize that the apparent repetitions are ever new variations on a single theme – love for God’s Word.  As this love can never end, neither can the words which confess it.  They are to accompany us through an entire lifetime and, in their simplicity become the prayer of the child, the adult and the old person.”[2]

   The second two psalm selections are from the section entitled “Songs of Ascent” (Psalms 120-134).  These were psalms that the Jewish people sang as they went up to Jerusalem for the annual festivals.  We will note only Psalm 123 and 130. 

   The last two psalms are stand-alone prayers.  Psalm 137 struggles with the question of how to pray when everything feels like exile.  Psalm 144 is a prayer of confident praise in the midst of life’s difficulties. 

   Let’s learn to pray like Jesus prayed, at all times and in all circumstances.  See you in worship.
                              Rick

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible.
[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word.



 Amber Congregational Church Church Officers (2018)

Board of Elders   (3 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - Cathy Smith, Sherry Persad, Deb O’Brien
     term expiring 2020 - Carl Barber, Mark Henderson, Sally Wilson
     term expiring 2021 - James Frary

Board of Trustees   (3 year terms)
    term expiring 2019 - Cheryl Curtis, Jeff Southard, Terry Wheeler
    term expiring 2020 - David Heath, Jack Seymour, Matt Henderson,
                                      Chuck Harris
    term expiring 2021 - Mike Curtis, Teal Trendowski

Ministry Directors   (3 year terms)
     Christian Education Director (2019) - Sue Ellen Harris
     Outreach Director (2020) - Cathy Smith
     Worship Director (2021) - Nancy Barber

Nominating Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - David Angelo, Mark Henderson (Chairperson)
     term expiring 2020 - Deb O’Brien, Teal Trendowski, Cindy Casler

Other Officers  (1 year terms expiring 2019)
    Clerk - Cheryl Curtis
    Treasurer - Gail Frary
    Financial Secretary - Faith Stopyro
    Financial Assistant – Jenn Schultz
    Ministerial Relations Chairman - Mike Curtis

Samaritan Fund Committee  (2 year terms)
     term expiring 2019 - Jim Frary, Matt Henderson  (appointed from the
                                       Elders and Trustees)
     term expiring 2020 - Faith Stopyro  (elected by congregation),  Sally
                                       Wilson, Cheryl Curtis  (appointed from the Elders and
                                       Trustees)
     permanent members - Rick Chaffee, Cathy Smith  (Minister and Outreach
                                        Director)

Other 1 Year Appointed Positions (1 year terms expiring in 2019)
    Overseer of Greeters - Deb O’Brien  (appointed by the Worship Director)
    Overseer of Acolytes and Nursery – Nancy Barber  (appointed by the
                                       Worship Director)
    Librarian – Cheryl Curtis  (appointed by the Education Director)
    Historian – Sally Wilson  (appointed by the Clerk)

Appointed Positions by the Trustees  (indefinite term)
    Janitor - Rich McVicar
    Music Director - Lois Chaffee

 


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