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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (May 2013)

posted May 9, 2013, 9:52 PM by Pastor Russ Crouthamel

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. ~ Mark 1:35; Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. ~ Luke 6:12

One of the books I am currently studying is The Missional Journey by Robert E. Logan.  The chapter I recently read was entitled “What does incarnational ministry actually look like?”  First, let me begin with a brief overview of incarnational ministry.  It means living with the expectation that Christ keeps his promise to be present with us in this current age and will keep his promise to return in the future.  We live incarnationally with others by: living as Jesus lived, being Jesus to others, and bearing the presence of Christ to this world.  In other words, we follow Jesus, living and loving others as he did.  The Gospels give insight into how Jesus lived and loved others.  One of these ways Jesus lived was his continual connection to the Father. 

Prayer… it is an integral part of the faith life of one who believes in God and follows the path of the Son, Jesus Christ.  It was an integral part of Jesus’ ministry as he proclaimed the kingdom of God and shared the love of God.  There are many different times we read in the Gospels that “Jesus went off alone to pray” (two of these instances are quoted above).  There were occasions where Jesus stressed the importance of our connection to the Father (read John 15).  Jesus needed his time alone with the Father.  He needed that source of strength, comfort and peace as he made disciples, embraced the outcasts, argued with religious leaders, performed the works of God, and sacrificed himself of the sake of the world.  Prayer helped him stay on his path and accomplish the work God commanded him to do. 

Logan asks the question, “If [Jesus] needed the connection [to the Father], how much more do we?”  The Son of God needed to stay connected to his Father through prayer to complete his work.  If he needed prayer, so do we! We need prayer to stay connected to God our Father.  We need prayer to hear the call, guidance, and direction of the Holy Spirit.  We need prayer to feel Christ’s presence in our lives.  We need prayer as we proclaim the kingdom, bear the presence of Christ to the world, love one another, and make disciples.  Prayer keeps us connected to God, who is the source of our mission and ministry to this world.     

How is your prayer life?  Every year, Portico Benefit Services (formerly, ELCA Board of Pensions), encourages individuals covered by their health insurance plan to participate in a health incentive program through the Mayo Health Clinic.  The program promotes healthy changes to one’s life style and offers wellness dollars to participants who complete the programs.  A couple of years ago, the Mayo Clinic published a chart to help participants look at their overall health: physical, emotional, intellectual, mental, and spiritual wellness.  The participant was supposed to check off each day the different activities he or she completed.  The one stated, “I spent 30 minutes or more in prayer…”   

How much time a day do you spend in prayer?  I know I am not always good at offering my time to staying connected with my Father in heaven.  Nevertheless, Jesus reminds us it is important to our faith lives.  It prepares us to live the gospel in our words and deeds.  It aids us in our mission to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, care for the sick, clothe the naked, and embrace the outcast.  It gives us strength to face this world that often times rejects the love of God and power of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ.  It centers us on the call of the Spirit, who empowers us for the life of faith.  

I encourage all of you to examine your prayer life.  Then, I invited you to join me in prayer: pray that our parish may continue to witness to Christ in Punxsutawney; pray that we will listen to the call of the Spirit; pray that we will share the love of God in all that we say and do; pray that God will always be merciful to us, poor sinners that we are, but made worthy by God’s work in Jesus Christ!

In Christ ~ Pastor Maureen

Lord Jesus, teach me through your Spirit to rightly pray so that I may hear your voice and live.  Amen.