21 02 2010

Just wanted to share a poem by Frederick Ohler that spoke to me today:


Great and holy God
awe and reverence
fear and trembling
do not come easily to us
for we are not
Old Testament Jews
or Moses
or mystics
or sensitive enough.
Forgive us
for slouching into Your presence
with little expectation
and less awe
than we would eagerly give a visiting dignitary.
We need
neither Jehovah nor a buddy —
neither “the Great and Powerful Oz” nor “the man upstairs.”
Help us
to want what we need…
and may the altar of our hearts
tremble with delight
Your visitation

At our Ash Wednesday service last week, Ashley talked about the spiritual practice of confession. She made the point that we often we get into the habit of thinking that the Protestant Reformation did away with the necessity for confession. But that’s not the case! It only did away with the necessity for an intermediary (the priest). It still is an important part of Christian practice to recognize the ways in which we fall short, and then to confess them to God and/or other people.

And sometimes we think that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer — forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us — that we are making some sort of blanket statement to absolve ourselves from everything, all at once. It’s not that we need to be keeping tallies of our sins in our heads…but true confession requires us to search our souls and notice the specific ways in which we have missed the mark. Ohler’s poem employs a sort of linguistic precision that speaks directly into my own heart:

Forgive us for slouching into Your presence…

Let this be my prayer today…