Music in the Morning

 My day starts like this. I walk downstairs to my dog, Jasmine.  She greets me like a long-lost friend. I have to rub her belly and tell her that she’s a good dog, in case she’s forgotten.  After a minute, she and I scramble downstairs to the basement for her breakfast. If it’s really early, like 5:10, I also walk the coffee grinder to the basement so that the grinding doesn’t wake Leslie and the boys. Back upstairs to the kitchen and I start the coffee. I might empty the dishwasher or make my lunch then. Ten minutes and my coffee is ready and I walk into our back room, or, if the weather is warm, to our back deck.
            It’s time for me to listen to God and pray.
            Last year, when I took the smart phone plunge, I found a few free prayer apps (if it’s free, it’s for me!). The two I use most often are The Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare (http://www.missionstclare.com/english/) and Pray as You Go, a Jesuit app that provides a daily guide, inspired by Ignatian spirituality:  http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/home/. Both can be accessed through their websites if you only use a computer.
            Sometimes I use one and on some days I use both. The Mission of St. Clare offers me a worship experience based on the Order of Morning Prayer. Typically, I read a Psalm or two; then I read the daily Scripture lesson from the lectionary. But before I even read a verse, I hear a hymn. I keep the volume low because Miles is sleeping in his room above me, but I listen to the sung sounds, glorifying God.
            I find that the music tunes my own soul. The music and text helps center me in God’s presence. Frequently, the hymn lifts me when I am tired or discouraged; and the song has a way of following me through the day.
            This coming Sunday, Mother’s Day, I’m going to be preaching about a woman named Lydia who is noted in the book of Acts (chapter 16:13-15) for her listening. The Bible says that Lydia listened and God opened her heart. What I try to do most mornings helps me enormously in arriving in the right place to open my heart and my mind to the Lord.
            I’d like to invite you to join me in the morning, whatever time that works for you, listening to God.  I have a vision:  the people of Thompson Church—teenagers, young married couples, business people and retirees—all sitting still before God with the Bible, quiet and listening.  There’s no limit what God can do with a church willing to do that.
 
“A spiritual discipline is necessary in order to move slowly from an absurd to an obedient life, from a life filled with noisy worries to a life in which there is some free inner space where we can listen to our God and follow his guidance.  Jesus…was always listening to the Father, always attentive to his voice, always alert for his directions.  Jesus was ‘all ear.’  That is true prayer:  being all ear for God. The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.”              Henri J.M. Nouwen, Show Me the Way