Sunday, July 2, 2017

Prayers -- Love is greater than fear

Max got a bath this week. That was fun. He was so stressed out that he was panting (between the excessive and dramatic bouts of yowling). He's forgiven me, as evidenced by at least two 20-minutes-or-longer-on-the-lap snuggle sessions. He is napping as I type, and all is good in his catterhood. 

I had my own anxiety, though not bath related, this week, and I breathed through it and came out the other side. Today my pastor Scott preached about love being greater than fear, and we talked about that great Bible verse that says, (oh yeah I forgot, again): "perfect love drives out fear.

I sat there in a back pew worrying and relaxing and worrying and relaxing and every once in a while thinking, "Bails, are you actually listening? Try and focus on the loooooove, to dispel some of that worry."


There were hugs. There was a perfect temperature outside. There was no rush. There was catching up with some people I haven't seen in quite a while. There was me in my red hoodie, looking like Elliott from E.T. 

I got a spicy chicken sandwich on the way home, and ate it while watching One Day at a Time, which I love love. Then I journaled and now I'm over here, dropping today's prayers off for you to pray along if you so desire.

Thanks for being here in the world with us. Thanks for being you. For being funny, for being creative, for being quiet, for being loud, for liking pictures of my cat on Instagram. Much love to you all. May the temperature be temperate for you this week, and may you be well. 


For another morning to awake, though we may be weary, let us say thanks. For the delicious layer of light grey you pulled over our heads this morning, to give us a break from the 100 degree days and hopefully quiet some of the rat race in our heads, let us say thanks. While our American minds are inclined to think of all the things we didn’t accomplish this week, let us pause for a moment to count the things that did happen for us. Prescriptions that were automatically refilled, a load of laundry done, a very consternated cat who was more or less successfully bathed. For all this and more, we say gracias, danke, thank you.

As we say thank you, the reality is that all kinds of anxiety may still be coursing through the bodies in these cushioned rows of seats. It may seem at every turn we are diapering another baby, taking another desperate phone call from our grown kid, or maybe we’re the one always making the desperate phone call. We thank you that for whatever reason we have felt called to come rest in these pews, to turn our eyes and voices to You. And we thank You for each other; may we continue to be Support with a capital S; to wrap up and sway in grief together and to squeal over shiny engagement rings and pregnant bellies. And to pray and sing through it all.

For the many moving parts of this church, we pray that you keep them well-nurtured and loved. For the ministries at Penny Lane and the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, who help our neighbors feel less alone. For our preschool, which takes the tiniest but most robust minds and grows them to live purposefully to love in this world that needs all the love it can get. For our safe campus where other faith communities, Al Anon, and Financial Peace groups can meet to work on all the nooks and crannies of their hearts throughout the week. We ask that you lift up all of these, along with our loyal staff and volunteers who send emails, unlock gates, and light candles so that we are never in the dark here at home.

It is no secret that there is much to fear in this life. If it were easy, we maybe wouldn’t be spending our Sunday mornings here. But one of the most beautiful things that brings us inside these doors is Your word, and one of the most timeless passages from that mysterious book says that perfect love drives out fear. Guide us this week, when we are crippled with the thought that we will have no love life, to think of the downright incredible friends you’ve put in our lives. When the credit card statement stack is about to topple, send us rushing to our daughter for a hug. Make us look her in the eyes, and as we focus on the speckles of green and blue, let us get lost in love, and let our fear get lost. As we hold our people in love, hold us in yours.

As you send us out today, may we each feel precious, and valuable, and oh so loved. It is so easy to tear ourselves down, but you designed us to be great. If we are scared to start that business venture, to ask that girl out, to buy that canvas at Michaels and slap some paint on it, give us the courage. Let us know that you will be right there with us, your big giant God fingers laced between ours. Help us to trust that if we make a misstep you will reset our footing. And if our feet get dusty, cracked, and blistered, you will rinse all the wear and tear right off, pour on your best perfume, and, always, call us Yours.

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