Prayer, Practice & Plagiarism

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’          (Luke 11.1)

Prayer is a lot like other things in that it starts with practice.  Prayer is unlike a lot of things in that you are encouraged to plagiarize.

A couple days ago someone mentioned the “Serenity Prayer” (as it’s become known).  Most people know or have heard the prayer that shows up on bookmarks and at AA meetings with only slightly different wording.  I suspect that fewer people know it was penned by one of this century’s most revered theologians, ethicists and teachers – Reinhold Niebuhr (who just so happened to be one of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s teachers).

According to one source, Niebuhr apparently wrote the simple, single-sentence prayer for an article that was used for a service in a little church the Niebuhr family attended in summers.  It’s funny how things sometimes take on a life of their own.  The “Serenity Prayer” is practically a living, breathing being that’s grown over the years but it’s essence hasn’t changed…

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,

courage to change the things that should be changed,

and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

In a culture and society that tells us if we want to be somebody, then we have to be unique, creative, and at all times one-of-a-kind in thought, word and deed; I wonder if there isn’t something to the humble practice of plagiarizing prayer.  “Why re-invent the wheel?” we say.  All the while, we pay the most attention to and celebrate the actor or the website or the church that is constantly “re-inventing itself.”

Sure there’s times and places and when it makes sense to pray the prayer that’s on our heart – whether it’s a prayer for the family member who sits in the hospital or a prayer of celebration for the birth of a new grand-child or the one-time, unique, simple silence of a prayer before taking one’s daily bread.

But why not plagiarize prayer, if it means taking a prayer that’s weathered time certainly as well as (if not better than) the granite Cathedral Spires that tower a few miles away?  I think I just might make my own bookmark of the serenity prayer and practice finding ways to slip the prayer into the pages of my daily life.

Maybe you’ll choose to practice plagiarizing the “Prayer of St. Francis” (Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…) or maybe you’ll go with something biblical like Psalm 51:10 (Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.)  It can be short, like the “Kyrie Eleison” we pray at worship (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.) or the “Jesus Prayer” known better among our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.)  And, of course, it can be as familiar as the air you breathe and as memorized as your name, like the prayer we’ve adapted from Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Luke 11 (Our Father, who art in heaven…).

The point is to practice prayer.  Most likely you won’t say anything that hasn’t been said before.  But that’s just fine.  That’s not the point.

The point is to give thanks.  The point is to be aware.  The point is to let go of things we can’t change.  The point is to seek strength to do the things we can change.  The point is to grow in wisdom to know the difference.

Parables of Luke & Wed. Night Life

Wednesday Night Life starts tonight!  As in years past, we’ll gather for a meal (5-5:50pm), “vespers” or evening worship (6-6:30pm), and education hour for all ages (6:30-7:30pm).  Other activities such as choir rehearsal will follow at 7:30pm.

Throughout this fall at our vespers service, we’ll be hearing the parables of Jesus as found in the Gospel according to Luke.  Tonight’s parable is the sower of the seeds from the Eighth Chapter of Luke.  We got a little help reading tonight’s parable from a number of Custer Lutheran Fellowship folks… Watch a video of the parable here:

We hope you’ll join us for Wednesday Night Life this year and join us in Custer Lutheran Fellowship’s mission… to plant the word of God, nurture growth in children and adults, and scatter the seeds of joy and faith in a diverse community.

5th Quarter

At Sunday’s Rap group meeting, the high schoolers planned an open house event called a “5th Quarter.”  On September 30th following the home football game any high school student is invited to come to the CLF “Underground” (i.e our really nice basement) for food, music, games and a place to hang out with friends following the game.  Thank you to the high schoolers who planned this event.

Also note the Rap group logo for the 2010-2011 school year.  The theme, Eye to Eye with God was chosen at the Fall Retreat at Outlaw Ranch and the logo was designed by the Rap group youth with the help of local artist, Camille Riner.

Sunday School Starts & Fall is in the Air

This coming Sunday, September 12, 2010 marks the transition for Custer Lutheran Fellowship into the fall program schedule.  We hope that you’ll join us as we celebrate the joys and challenges of living in Christian community through  Custer Lutheran Fellowship’s “Core Values” — Faith, Family, Fellowship, Mission & Welcome.

Wednesday Night Life starts up on Sept. 15 with the usual schedule — a meal from 5-5:50pm, a vespers (evening worship) service from 6-6:30pm and an education hour for all ages from 6:30-7:30pm.

Also, our second worship service on Sunday mornings switches from 10am to 11am.  This frees up hour “Sunday School Hour” with time for fellowship after the first service (which starts at 8:30am) and before the second service (now at 11am).  There’s a long list of “Sunday School” activities between services for a wide variety of ages.  Everything starts at 9:45am and meets most weeks, unless otherwise noted:

   SUNDAY SCHOOL (pre-school thru 5th Grade) – starts in the Upper Fellowship Hall; this week we’ll have a special “Blessing of the Backpacks” and an orientation meeting for parents.  On Sept. 19 & 26 Pastor Kent will lead a Bible Class for all 3rd-6th graders & THEIR PARENTS in the Fireside Room as they receive new bibles!

   YOUTH FORCE (6th thru 8th Grade) – in the Underground / Lower Level

   RAP GROUP (9th thru 12th Grade) – in the Underground / Lower Level

   ADULT FORUMS (all ages welcome!) – in the Fireside Room on select Sundays… Pastor Marlin Wangsness who works with Prison Congregations of America will lead a forum this Sunday, Sept. 12.

   PRAYER GROUP – most Sundays in the “Family Room” (except for the 2nd Tuesday of the month when they’ll meet in the Large Sunday School Room on the northwest corner of the room); this group will gather to pray through the joys and concerns of the church and all of creation… STARTING ON SEPT. 19.

There’s never a shortage of things happening at CLF.  We hope you’ll join us this fall as we ‘fall back’ into faith.