I am for peace – Day 1 Week 1
This week I begin my preparations for the journey into the undiscovered country of 2016. My preparations this week are Psalm 120 and the spiritual discipline of meditation. By meditation I mean as Foster describes ‘the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word’. It is not simply a detachment or emptying but an attachment, a filling of ourselves with God. Scripture teaches that the primary mode of meditation is ‘meditatio scripturarum’ – the meditation on scripture. Psalm 1 is often seen as the introduction the Psalter. The call to meditate on the ‘law of the Lord’ – the whole Pentateuch. The rest of the Psalms are often considered to be those divinely spoken meditations on the book of the law. So I will begin each day with a ‘meditatio scripturarum’ and with Bonhoeffer’s advice I will spend the whole week on one text – Psalm 120. I will meditate by memorising it, by imagining myself in the text and by re-imagining it for my context.
As I begin my preparations today I realise the obvious – spiritual disciplines require discipline! Not legalism but discipline. As Foster writes “In this regard it would be proper to speak of ‘the path of disciplined grace.’ It is ‘grace’ because it is free; it is ‘disciplined’ because there is something for us to do….The grace of God is unearned and unearnable, but if we ever expect to grow in grace, we must pay the price of a consciously chosen course of action’. So for me my chosen course of action,as is my habit, I will rise at 6am for half an hour of ‘meditatio scripturarum’. And at 12pm and 10pm I will use the prayer of examen (more about that in a later blog).
As I begin my preparations by meditating on Psalm 120 I am hit by the phrase ‘I am for peace’. As a Christian I stand for peace with God, peace with others (love, forgiveness & reconciliation) and peace with the world. I am for peace found in Jesus not a searching for happiness in greed, materialism, pleasure, money, sex, relationships. Happiness may be elusive like the catching of the wind but peace is ours for the asking. This is how Psalm 120 begins – I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me! Today I recognise I am stressed and distressed. I have listened to the lies and deceits (v2) of the world and filled my life with busyness, things, gadgets, shopping, coffee and found them enslaving me not freeing me, they simply create noise to avoid the distress of my life and soul. I have lived too long in a world of exile, a world where God is ignored and his peace not sort. So today I begin by offering him my stress & distress. I lay my palms down as turning all my stresses (saying them one by one) and burdens over to him and ask him for peace. I then lay my palms up, knowing the Lord answers me and seeking to receive his peace but also his voice, wisdom speaking into my stresses. So I declare ‘I call on the Lord in my distress and he answers me’. Psalm 120:1