Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 28, 2019

 There’s an old African tradition that says, “When you pray, move your feet.”  I like that image, mostly because as Catholics ( at least most Anglo-Catholics) we tend to pray from our shoulders up, don’t we?  We don’t often even raise our hands in prayer.  And for God’s sake, don’t ask us to clap in rhythm to a song of praise!    

So I’m not asking all of you to stand up this morning and break out in prayerful dance, but in a deeper sense, when it comes to our prayer, I do believe God is asking us to move our feet.  Because prayer can never be about asking God to be where we want God to be; prayer, prayer at its best, moves us to the place where God wants us to be and needs us to be. 

Prayer is about stretching our imagination to connect with God, about loving as God loves, becoming compassionate as God is compassionate, forgiving as God forgives.  It is about being moved of mind and heart, body and spirit to create the world as God intends it to be - a place of justice and peace. Prayer is about changing how we see the world, how we see each other, until we see the world and each other through the eyes of God.  Pray should move us, if not literally, certainly of heart, to move out of a place of uncertainty to a place of trust, out a place of vengeance to a place of forgiveness, out of a play of complacency to a place of action.

It may have sounded like Abraham was trying to convincing God to be more compassionate and forgiving and tolerant of his people’s sins (and maybe Abraham actually thought he was) but really, what did he did in his long and incremental prayer was to move himself to where God always was: eager to forgive, eager to spare the innocent. 

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer – it is anything more than bringing ourselves closer to the heart of God: “your kingdom come, your will be done…we want to be forgiven, so help us to forgive each other.   

Prayer, good, healthy, faithful prayer allows us expand our image of God, allowing God to be as responsive and loving to the extent that our prayer allows us to imagine God to be so.  So that when the poor reach out to us in hunger, we will respond out of our generosity as God would want us to respond.  When a stranger seeks shelter among us, they will receive what God would offer if God were there to welcome him or her.   If someone who makes us uncomfortable knocks on the door of our church, they would be welcomed as if God was welcoming them.

So yes, when we pray, I am confident that God is asking us to move our feet because, I’m pretty sure where we are standing right now in live and love and faith is not where God wants us to remain.  Pray well.

   

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