By Contributor Pastor Eric Blauer
I have made an unsuspected friend in my missional journey of planting a church in the East Central Neighborhood in Spokane. The Lord’s Prayerhas become a stable trellis to attach, support and sustain my soul in this ongoing experience. Word’s that used to seem trite and simplistic have opened up like blooming petals and a fragrance has been released for me, which seemed to only come about through the trials and tribulations of life, work and worship in this neighborhood. Last week I spent some time down the street where a suspected gang shooting took place, which ended up wounding a young child and young man. In the face of such violence and the complex social-economic-political-moral-spiritual realities behind these type of events, I found refugee and purpose in this prayer. “Deliver us from evil,” was a phrase that took on newer meaning by the alley where these victims could have died as fear tried to get its grip my heart as I reflected on my own kids, wife and our home down the street. “Forgive us,” resonated as I thought about all the brokenness and failure of our community and families and the repercussions upon the emerging generations. “Thy kingdom come,” and “Hallowed be thy name,” became prophetic words of invocation sought to confront and transform the spiritual conflicts taking place in unseen realms in and among the streets and homes I passed. Over these last six years I have grown quieter and smaller in prayer as I am faced with problems and possibilities that are so much bigger than I am in this part of Spokane. These situations have shaped my spirituality, or should I say whittled it down from the gregarious verbosity type of Charismatic triumphalism I had before to a more monkish contemplative posture. What I use to think represented power in prayer has been altered by the suffering of place and reborn into a form of prayer that is less in content but has a potency unforeseen by me before. When the noise of police sirens, conflict and cursing, speeding cars and community congestion dominate the atmosphere of neighborhood, I find myself longing to bring simplicity and silence to the battle more than ever before. Now when I close the Lord’s Prayer with, “Amen (so be it, let it be so),” I find myself exhaling it like Noah releasing the dove, an act of hope and fait with a slight tinge of fear of the unknown world being born, yet, I continue to pray. Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.
I am Frederick Christian Blauer IV, but I go by Eric, it sounds less like a megalomaniac but still hints at my Scandinavian destiny of coastal conquest and ultimate rule. I have accumulated a fair number of titles: son, brother, husband, father, pastor, writer, artist and a few other more colorful titles by my fanged fans. I am a lover of story be it heard, read or watched in all beauty, gory or glory. I write and speak as an exorcist or poltergeist, splashing holy water, spilling wine and breaking bread between the apocalypse and a sleeping baby. I am possessed by too many words and they get driven out like wild pigs and into the waters of my blog at www.fcb4.tumblr.com. I work as a pastor at Jacob’s Well Church (www.jacobswellspokane.com) across the tracks on ‘that’ side of town. I follow Christ in East Central Spokane among saints, sinners, angels, demons, crime, condoms, chaos, beauty, goodness and powerful weakness. I have more questions than answers, grey hairs than brown, fat than muscle, fire than fireplace and experience more love from my wife, family and friends than a man should be blessed with in one lifetime.
Beautifully written. I have attended a church where in one service this prayer is replaced with another and it has bothered me, as this is how Jesus taught us to pray, short, sweet and to the point. You have put into words what I have felt and I thank you for that. Why do we think we can improve on His words? Years ago in Tacoma, (I don’t know if they still do it) when there was a violent crime or accident where someone died, several clergymen, priest, etc. would gather with family members, friends, neighbors and pray and bless over the scene. This seemed like such a sacred act.
That was a beautiful article, Eric. Thanks! What a great reminder of the Lord’s care for us in this troubled and broken world, and what we as Christians should keep in front of our eyes daily.
‘Blessing’ has taken on a whole new reality to me in this neighborhood journey. I come from real ‘low’ church training and never really took much notice of ritual. But the longer I live in the center and peripheral of drama and trauma, the more I realize, we travelers don’t have a lot of ways to grieve.
So much happens and each event rolls on and over the next, leaving many people without a proper way to ‘bury’ stuff.
I’m finding a greater need for this myself. What does it truly mean to ‘bind & loose’ from a emotional place?
Blessing has become a path I’m exploring in more and more physical ways.