There is a legend that on July 4, 1776, King George III of England wrote in his diary, “Nothing of importance happened today.” Like many legends, this is false, a piece of history transposed and transmogrified to meet a need. Rather, on July 14, 1789, writing of a hunting trip where he got nothing, King Louis XVI of France wrote, ‘Nothing.’ (Technically, “rien,” as he wrote it in French. Here is a link to the article about it.) In the onset of a major, consequential shift in human history, the people in power (whether legendarily or historically) missed it. (I understand George 3 was across the ocean in the pre-modern age; just go with me on this for a little bit.)
Some days, I find myself wondering about an underground church in Burma. I get caught up wondering what is happening in the life of outspoken Christians in Uganda. I think about children working in sweat shops, about elderly being abandoned, about women being marginalized and attacked, about men dying in war. I wonder what it would be like to be starving—not just hungry, not just a little irate or cranky from being more than puckish; I think about how amazing it is there is water just waiting to be used underneath my desk. And when I turn everything off and shut my eyes, I can hear so much more happening than that which surrounds, distracts, amuses and otherwise deafens out the cries of God—justice; provide for those who cannot provide for themselves; love your neighbor; mercy; the measure given is the measure used.
It is overwhelming. It is challenging, frightening, worrying, unforgettable, at times paradoxical and seemingly impossible—but there in the silence I escape the minutia, molehills and mountains of everything else and just listen for God. I recharge. I recenter. I listen for what comes next. In that rien—nothing—the great Something tends to speak most loudly. And it is always about hope.
As we look at Jesus praying in the Gospels for the next few weeks—part of our series on The Lord’s Prayers—I encourage you to take time to examine how, when and why you pray. Remember what Amber said Sunday—some folks pray non-verbally. Some folks pray in action, in relationship, in movement. But stop and take notice of how, when and why—this Sunday, we’ll start to look at the what and the who as well. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.