“Lift up your hearts”
“We lift them up to the Lord”
“Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.”
“It is right to give thanks and praise.”
In many worship traditions these words are spoken every Sunday.These are the words which have begun congregational prayer for nearly two thousand years.These are old words.These are serious words.
Some days that is what prayer feels like. I toss my hopes, my fears,my heart up and out. Here God, catch. Some days it is a gentle toss. Some days I am distracted (oh look!) and its a wild pitch. Some days I throw a fast ball to God. Some days, not my best days, I throw a fast ball at God.
I expect God to catch what ever I throw. I assume that’s part of God’s job- to catch what ever I throw to or even at God. God even catches my errant throws. The ones in the dirt. The ones that sail high and wide.
I always expect God to lob back a softball or maybe even a whiffle ball. And so I am frequently surprised by what God throws back my way. Sometimes a gentle toss comes back to me. Sometimes a fastball is returned. Occasionally God throws a curve ball. If I miss the ball. God throws it again. And again. And even again.And again until I catch it. This can take quite a while. Fortunately God is willing to spend an entire Saturday afternoon tossing balls my way. I need quite a bit of practice. Slowly I learn to throw better, more accurately. Even more slowly my ability to catch what God throws to me improves.
I’m quite sure the early church father and mothers didn’t have a game of catch in mind when they said those ancient words. More likely they image they held was of the congregation ascending up into heaven with their hearts open and freely offered to God. Often when we say those ancient words I have that image also. Coming into God’s presence with open hearts is a holy moment.
And so is a game of catch.