malcolm marler

on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Month: January 2012

Freedom Prayer

This is the ninth in a series on My Faith Journey.  (If you prefer to listen, click on the arrow below.)

Nine years ago on January 16, 2003, I wrote the following words in my journal late one evening when I was alone:

Tonight, I got on my knees by my couch at home after feeling a strong urging in my heart or gut to do so.

God, I am ready to be free from the effect that my mother’s death had on me when I was 10 and how it has affected me regarding relationships since.

Simple, clear, concise . . . from my heart.

Inside, I felt it was time to accept this truth by faith and begin living “as if” it was true.

I want to love someone with my whole heart, holding nothing back.

How could I know that years of therapy had prepared me to be vulnerable enough with God finally to pray this prayer and mean it?  I had unconsciously locked a corner of my heart around the sharing all of my feelings with significant relationships, thus blocking the possibility of intimacy.

How could I know that I could be changed with a prayer that was so simple?

How could I know that less than two weeks later on January 29th I would be swept off my feet by Mary Beatrice Sullivan in Chapel Hill, NC and marry her nineteen months later?

Vulnerable, heart felt prayers create intimacy with God and others.

Since then, for me the purpose of prayer is not so much convincing God to give me something as much as it is for me to be willing to change.

And then to live like it.

What have you been prepared to pray?  What areas have you locked away due to hurt, grief, or anger?

Go ahead, speak it from your heart, let it go, be not afraid.

Amen.

 

 

Still, a Child of God

This is the eighth in a series on My Faith Journey.

(If you would rather listen, click on the arrow below.)

Some of you are aware that Mary and I joined the Episcopal Church a few years ago.  When people join different churches from their birth families, there is usually a story connected to it.

Mary grew up in a Catholic family and I grew up Baptist.  When we married in 2004, both of us wanted to find a place where we could worship together and follow God’s calling in our lives.

We discovered over time that the Episcopal Church was a good middle ground for us.

The liturgical church wasn’t an easy transition for this Baptist initially.  Learning when to kneel or stand felt like religious gymnastics and distracted me from worship.  I fumbled between the Bible, Book of Common Prayer, and a couple of hymnals during worship.  I left church mad most Sundays because I couldn’t keep up.

Finally one Sunday, I let go and put all of the books down, and closed my eyes, and listened.

That’s when I heard the beautiful, inclusive, formed prayers that became my own.  That’s when I realized how much scripture was actually being read every week in worship.  That’s when I discovered how meaningful communion could be.   And that’s when I knew, the Episcopal church was my new spiritual home.

My faith journey has taught me over the years that God is not restricted to one tribe.

I experienced this lesson of God working through other tribes in a Presbyterian church when they hired me to be their youth director one summer when I was in college.

This truth was confirmed for me when I was a pastoral minister at a Baptist church in Louisville, KY because they were an active part of a community ministry where congregations of all types worked together.   Imagine that.

I was amazed when I moved to Connecticut that a local UCC Congregational church would hire me to be their pastoral minister.  They said, “We have something called ‘dual standing’ so that you can work with us while you keep your other faith connections.”

Some friends have asked me if I am mad at the Baptist church.  How could I be?

The Baptists are the people who introduced me to a God of grace, love, and forgiveness. They are the same Baptists who affirmed my call to ministry by placing their hands on my head to ordain me.  They are the same Baptists who underwrote for my two seminary degrees.  And finally, they are the same Baptists my father and grandfather served as pastors for 50 years each.

Today, I am just grateful.

I am grateful for my wife who is in her first of three years in an Episcopal seminary in Virginia as she moves toward becoming an Episcopal priest.  This is exactly where she needs to be.

I am grateful to be a Director of Pastoral Care in a hospital and going through the process to become ordained in the Episcopal Church.  This is exactly where I need to be.

Thanks to all of you, and my wife, for loving me as I travel this journey of faith.

All I really know is I am a child of God who is trying to find his way.

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How have you been surprised in your faith journey?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

The Samuel Prayer

Samuel and Eli

Another audio blog…this is a blog by voice.  Click on the arrow below to listen to the story told by Malcolm Marler.

Sometimes I have my best thoughts when I am driving into work.  I have plenty of time to think and pray in my one hour commute.

I wanted to share this simple prayer with you that I have been repeating over and over again this week.

“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

I want to thank my wife, Mary Sullivan, who inspired this simple prayer for me as she was preparing her sermon this week.

The prayer comes from a little twelve year old named Samuel who learned it from his priest, Eli.

Peace be with you,

Malcolm

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If you have problems with the audio link above, please post a quick comment below as I’m still having a little trouble with my new audio technology.  Thanks.

 

 

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