Archive for April, 2007

Taking Refuge

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Please read Psalm 18:1-3, 21-23, and 30-33 (NRSV) out loud if possible.

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? At the end of the reading, try to summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Tyler Connoley):

There was a time in my life when I left the Church and studied other religions. And, although I chose to come back to Christianity, I still find much wisdom in Buddhist teachings, particularly those of Tich Nath Han, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Monk now living in England.

Thich Nath Han teaches his followers to repeat the “three refuges” to themselves whenever they hear a bell, gong, or even a telephone ringer: I take refuge in the Dharma. I take refuge in the Sangha. I take refuge in the Buddha.

The Dharma is usually thought of as the recorded teachings of the Buddha. Sangha means ‘group,’ and is any community of Buddhists. Buddha, for Tich Nath Han, means the “Buddha nature,” which he believes we can all access.

I’ve taken this idea of the three refuges and adapted it to my own Christian practice, saying, “I take refuge in the Word. I take refuge in the Church. I take refuge in the Christ.” I repeat the three refuges when I hear a church bell, gong, or sometimes a telephone.

Here’s some of what I think as I say the three refuges to myself:

I take refuge in the Word: The Bible is a source of strength for me. I can go to God’s Word for wisdom and comfort. I can also go there simply to hear how God has worked in the past, and will work in my future.

I take refuge in the Church: The Church has not always been a refuge for me, but I am so grateful for a community of believers who support me and challenge me. My Christian friends are also a refuge for me in times of testing.

I take refuge in the Christ: The same Spirit at work in Christ is at work in me. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever” (John 14:16 NRSV). I can access the Holy Spirit at any time and in every situation. Or, as the Psalmist says, “my God, my rock in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2 NRSV).

Thought for the day: Next time you hear a bell, gong, or the telephone, say the three refuges to yourself and think about what they mean to you: I take refuge in the Word. I take refuge in the Church. I take refuge in the Christ.

Today, let’s join together in prayer for: those we know and love who are in the midst of stressful transitions — going to school, a job change, loss of a relationship.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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