July 4/15 |
offered by Rev Gordon Taylor
~~There’s a story about a wandering Russian monk who once decided to talk St. Paul’s command to “pray constantly” (1 Thess. 5:17) seriously. He developed “the Jesus Prayer” as a kind of chant that could be recited over and over, becoming a kind of “theme song” that could hum away in the background wherever he went, whatever else going on. Apparently the monk travelled all across Russia, with this prayer upon his lips, on his mind, in his heart, shaping his actions for the rest of his life.
Here’s the prayer: “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.”
You may think the language is quaint, or even uncomfortable. (I do a bit – as a long-time feminist, I prefer the more inclusive phrase “One of God” but that is not the issue here). Quite the contrary, I have found this prayer very helpful in my life, especially on airplanes.
I think I’m a pretty calm flyer, but fear is contagious. Some people I have travelled with are “white-knuckle” flyers. So, now, after the seat belt is buckled, I imitate that Russian monk … and find total calm coming upon me.
Addressing Jesus as Lord, puts him in charge … not me. It recognizes that I do not have control of the plane, or the flight, my destiny, or even myself. (Talk about passing the buck!) Addressing Jesus as the Son (or One) of God means I’m putting myself in the hands of that One who loves me (and the world) enough to face, and endure the cross. That reminds me I am trusting One who has shown he will have mercy upon me.
Addressing myself as a sinner, far from being proof of low-esteem, rather acknowledges that I am mortal and limited; I am not perfect; and I cannot require God to give me mercy. Still, it is a comprehensive confession that clears all my guilt and fear and shame out of the way between me and God.
So then … there is nothing separating me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). And then, no matter what happens with the plane, I am in the best hands possible and I am not afraid for myself or my family. I’m ready to accept life (or death) as it comes –a happy landing, stale peanuts, the passenger in front squashing me by leaning the chair all the way back, or something much worse.
What do you think? Give it a try … chant it repeatedly … and see what happens!