Everyday Liturgy Episode Three: A Hymn of Praise at the End of a Year

(I’ve been writing my prayers in poetic form in a google doc. Episode Two was a little too personal to publish online for all to see, but I think some of the episodes might be more relatable and meaningful to others, so I’ll be publishing them here every once in a while.)

Lord, I am overwhelmed
That you’ve given me another year.
A full year with you,
In the glory of the life you’ve given
With such potent and beautiful gifts
That I can’t help but notice.

You are with me in the smallest ways
In tiny baby smiles
In a helpful woman at church when my son throws a fit
In a full tank of gas and open road

You are with me in the biggest ways
In a supportive husband
In kind-hearted, loving family
In gracious long-term friendships I inherited through marriage
In a wonderful home
In jobs that provide much more than what we need
In gracious gift-giving family

I look back over this year
And I see your hand,
Just like I see your hand in every year
Guiding, directing, goading, nudging, moving me
To do your will.
Even in the conundrum of uncertainty
I can know that you’ll guide me again and again
Like you’ve done before and before

You
Hem
Me
In

Elsa in a burp cloth

Like a tiny doll
Snuggled in her blanket

Like a little action figure
That clips perfectly into his car

Like Tommee Tippee pacifiers
In a certain little 6-month-old mouth

How is it that you are so great a God
And can somehow be small enough to see me?

And how is it that in your holy, perfect majesty
Way too good to care about little ole’ peasant me
You can look with kind eyes and grant me so many wishes?

And how in the world is it
That I can miss your gifts and your kind eyes and your care?
How truly impressive it is that I can be so easily distracted!
How truly impressive it is that you remain staid
With love for me

Even as a three-year-old, I talked about my elementary understanding of your greatness
“You are so big
That I can’t even see you”

Yet your bigness didn’t stop you
From becoming small
The smallest
The meekest
The lowliest

Oh Lord, help me to see myself as lowly
Meek
Small

How funny that the biggest, greatest God had such an easy time making Himself small enough for me
But I have such a difficult time making myself think that I’m as small as I actually am!

Last shall be first
First shall be last
Lowly shall be great
Great shall be lowly

Oh God, I praise you for your backwards kingdom.
Somehow, you’ve made my life so great.
So undeserved.
Such favor.

Your grace is so much more than enough.

James 4 (For Kids)

Continuing as part of the Matthew 19:14 Project, in which I am paraphrasing the bible in a developmentally appropriate way for elementary-aged children.

James 4

Why do we fight with our Christian family? Isn’t it because of desire – “wanting it?” We fight because we want things that we don’t have. You ache for things that other people have – that’s called coveting – and you can’t get those things, so you argue and fight. You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God for it. Or, you do as God for it, but with the wrong reasons for wanting it in your heart – you want whatever it is because it makes you feel good instead of wanting it because it shows God’s goodness.

You have cheated on the promise-deal you made with God. You promised to love Him the most as your part of the deal, but you love all the stuff in the world more than Him, and that broken promise sets you against God. Do you think the bible says that God is jealous for no reason? It says He is jealous because He wants to spend time with us without our sin standing in the way and separating us from Him. But, wow, He gives us so much grace – that is, a present that we don’t deserve – even though we should be separated from Him. It says in Proverbs that God stands against people who only think about themselves, but He always gives good things to people who think about others first. So, make the decision that God leads and you follow, not the other way around. Stand up to that bully named Satan, and he will run the other way. Come close to God, and He will come close to you. Clean your dirty hearts that are messed up by sin by doing the right thing. You should feel sad and lost about all the wrong you’ve done. Stop laughing about it. Cry instead. Show God that you know He is great and you’re not so great, and He will help you to become great.

Don’t talk bad about anybody. You don’t have any business deciding who gets credit for following the rules and who doesn’t. You act like you follow all the rules perfectly, but you don’t. There is only One who does: He is the Rule Maker and the One who decides who has followed the rules and who hasn’t – He is the only one who can save you from the punishment you deserve for breaking them. So who are you to point out how poorly someone else follows the rules?

Are you one of those people who plans out every second of every day? If so, you are silly. You don’t even know what’ll happen tomorrow. When you think about all of forever, your life is only like one second long. Instead of planning every second of every day, you should say, “God, I’ll do whatever You want me to.” When you brag about all the plans you are making to do great things, that is evil. If you know there is something you should be doing, but you don’t do it, you are sinning and separating yourself from God.

   

James 3                                                   James 2                                                 James 1