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Although I have blithely gone through life thinking I knew how to ask for forgiveness and to sincerely apologize, my adult children have attempted to correct this delusion. They tell me I am terrible at apologies. So I have searched for some direction in this matter to no avail – sort of a “if you don’t know I can’t explain it!” What no win situation. And yet, God answered their prayers today when I received a recmendation from another blog
And here I quote the salient points:

1) I’m sorry for…: Be specific. Show the person you’re apologizing to that you really understand what they are upset about.

Wrong: I’m sorry for being mean.
Right: I’m sorry for saying that nobody wants to be your friend.

2) This is wrong because…: This might take some more thinking, but this is one of the most important parts. Until you understand why it was wrong or how it hurt someone’s feelings, it’s unlikely you will change. This is also important to show the person you hurt that you really understand how they feel. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this makes! Sometimes, people want to feel understood more than they want an apology. Sometimes just showing understanding– even without an apology– is enough to make them feel better!

Wrong: This is wrong because I got in trouble.
Right: This is wrong because it hurt your feelings and made you feel bad about yourself.

3) In the future, I will…: Use positive language, and tell me what you WILL do, not what you won’t do.

Wrong: In the future, I will not say that.
Right: In the future, I will keep unkind words in my head.

Now let’s practice using positive language. It’s hard at first, but you’ll get better. Can anyone think of a positive way to change these incorrect statements?

Wrong: In the future, I won’t cut.
(Right: In the future, I will go to the back of the line.)

Wrong: In the future, I won’t push.
(Right: In the future, I will keep my hands to myself.)

Wrong: In the future, I won’t take your eraser.
(Right: In the future, I will ask you if I can borrow your eraser.)

4) Will you forgive me? This is important to try to restore your friendship. Now, there is no rule that the other person has to forgive you. Sometimes, they won’t. That’s their decision. Hopefully, you will all try to be the kind of friends who will forgive easily, but that’s not something you automatically get just because you apologized. But you should at least ask for it.

As a teacher, I know that asking for forgiveness puts the offender in an uncomfortable and vulnerable place of humility. However, this seemingly obvious yet widely underused phrase is very, very powerful for both the offender and the offended. It is the key to reconciliation and often the first step in restoring friendship.

I also know that the second item, “This is wrong because…” is powerful in changing the longer-term behavior of the offending child. Forcing the child to put themselves in another’s shoes will increase empathy and help them understand better how they have hurt someone else. This exercise in trying to see themselves from someone else’s perspective can be very powerful.

I don’t know about you, but now that I have read the directions. I have a whole lot of phone calls to make and letters to write. I wish I knew this 40 years ago! Thank you CuppaCocoa.com.

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Ever-Recreating God, when we cling to old identities, forgive us into new being. When we hang on to old ideas and understandings, forgive us into new thought. When we clutch old practices and traditions, forgive us into new spirit. When we nurse old grudges, forgive us into forgiveness. Re-create us as your new people, who sit so lightly with our lives that we can rise with ease to follow Christ through this world to the next. Amen.

( Rev. Curtis Whitman- First Congregational Church Greene NY)

I was stunned by tenderness and depth of this prayer during worship yesterday, For me, words aren’t just words. They can be icons, means of grace, life-transforming vehicles of Divine loving power. Thank you, Pastor Curtis for being a vessel of grace.

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“What is therapy and why do people seek it?” asks A.G.S.
I’ve become a bit cynical and jaded about this question. On a personal level, I spent a total of 20 years in one form of psychotherapy or another. When I was a pastor and a chaplain, I found it a necessary tool to keep myself honest in facing my own limitations and tendency to codependency. As far as actually growing and changing in the process, I have to honestly say that only happened when it was just too painful to not change. On one hand, there is this desire within us to grow and improve. But there is also the inherent sin of laziness. Author and psychotherapist M. Scott Peck calls this “original sin.”
And yet I have changed and grown and come to a place of eternal joy. I’m sure the therapy I participated in over the years is due some credit for positive change but the lion’s share has come for practicing the presence of God.
I’ve kept a journal off and on for most of my life. One entry from my adolescence observed: “The more I try to change something about myself, the worse that thing gets.” The corollary to this is the spiritual truth: “What we focus on grows.” I think this is why most psychotherapy doesn’t work. Gerald May in the book Addiction and Grace is wonderfully helpful in understanding the brain chemistry that makes this so.
Nearly 2000 years ago, the Apostle Paul lamented about this in the seventh chapter of the book of Romans and his answer to this dilemma in chapter eight has proven true for me: “Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!… The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Let me give a practical example of how this is done. It is important to have a space somewhere in your home that is your personal sanctuary in which you pray and meditate. It is helpful to have some sort of altar in this space with things on it that symbolize your experience of God. (For me this is an old family Bible, three candles to represent the Trinity, a carving of the Holy Family from Jerusalem, a cross and a number of pictures.) Such a space helps to create new neurological patterns that bring to your mind and body an accumulation of Spirit-based experiences. Spend at least 15 minutes a day in this space. If this is not possible, begin with five minutes. Begin this time by deeply breathing in God’s presence and exhaling your worries. Do this three times. Then recite the Lord’s Prayer Follow this by just sitting in silence knowing that you are surrounded inside and out with God’s loving presence. As concerns or fears or distractions come to your mind, silently pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy.” (aka The Jesus Prayer or the Prayer of the Heart) Again breath in God’s grace and breath out your distractions. As you practice this, over time you will sense a deep peace. Through out your day, when faced with your own limitations, just repeat this process. Instead of struggling on your own to change yourself, use this technique to remind yourself that it is God who changes and redeems us from the inside out.

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Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Christ is born; glorify Him.
Christ comes from heaven: go out to meet Him.
Christ descends to earth: let us be raised on high.
Let all the world sing to the Lord; let the heavens rejoice and let
the earth be glad, for His sake who was first in heaven and then on
earth.
Christ is here in the flesh: let us exult with fear and joy –
With fear, because of our sins;
With joy, because of the hope that He brings us.

Once more darkness is dispersed; once more the light is created.
Let the people that sat in the darkness of ignorance now look upon
the light of knowledge.
The things of old have passed away; behold, all things are made new.
He who has no mother in heaven is now born without father on earth.
The laws of nature are overthrown, for the upper world must be filled
with citizens.
He who is without flesh becomes incarnate;
the Word puts on a body;
the Invisible is seen;
He whom no hand can touch is handled;
the timeless has a beginning;
the Son of God becomes Son of Man – Jesus Christ, the same yesterday,
today and for ever.

Light from light, the Word of the Father comes to His own image, man.
For the sake of my flesh He takes flesh; for the sake of my soul
He is united to a rational soul, purifying like by like.
In every way He becomes man, except for sin.
0 strange conjunction!
The Self-existent comes into being;
the Uncreated is created.
He shares in the poverty of my flesh,
that I may share in the riches of His Godhead.

From the Orthodox Christmas Liturgy

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Christmas Liturgy – Orthodox

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Christ is born; glorify Him.
Christ comes from heaven: go out to meet Him.
Christ descends to earth: let us be raised on high.
Let all the world sing to the Lord; let the heavens rejoice and let
the earth be glad, for His sake who was first in heaven and then on
earth.
Christ is here in the flesh: let us exult with fear and joy –
With fear, because of our sins;
With joy, because of the hope that He brings us.

Once more darkness is dispersed; once more the light is created.
Let the people that sat in the darkness of ignorance now look upon
the light of knowledge.
The things of old have passed away; behold, all things are made new.
He who has no mother in heaven is now born without father on earth.
The laws of nature are overthrown, for the upper world must be filled
with citizens.
He who is without flesh becomes incarnate;
the Word puts on a body;
the Invisible is seen;
He whom no hand can touch is handled;
the timeless has a beginning;
the Son of God becomes Son of Man – Jesus Christ, the same yesterday,
today and for ever.

Light from light, the Word of the Father comes to His own image, man.
For the sake of my flesh He takes flesh; for the sake of my soul
He is united to a rational soul, purifying like by like.
In every way He becomes man, except for sin.
0 strange conjunction!
The Self-existent comes into being;
the Uncreated is created.
He shares in the poverty of my flesh,
that I may share in the riches of His Godhead.

> From the Orthodox Christmas Liturgy

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The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of the Trinity is a CD of Richard Rohr, OFM lectures on the Trinity. It is by far the most profound and helpful discussion/explanation of the doctrind of the Trinity I have ever experienced.
In my research about mystical traditions across cultures and religions, I have been surprised to find the concept of the trinity to be central to each. It is a doctrine that has been central to the teaching of the church from early on and I believe the Church universal has suffered from ignoring this mystery of the divine. This prayer by Richard Rohr gives a glimpse of the mystery:
God for Us, we call you Father
God Alongside us, we call you Jesus
God Within us, we call you Holy Spirit
You are the Eternal Mystery
That enables, enfolds and enlivens all things,
Even us, even me.
Every name falls short of your Goodness and Greatness
We can only see who you are in what is.
We ask for perfect seeing.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, Amen

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The following is a prayer used by the Anglican church in it’s ministry of deliverance. This is a powerful prayer to counteract any sense of psychic attack. You will also find it in more traditional hymnals.

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord
.

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