Toward Outward Spirituality

Sep 30, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by Gail Ramshaw

I am an advocate for what is called Outward Spirituality. The goal of Outward Spirituality is to attend not to yourself, but to others the world over. It is as if prayer that cultivates an Outward Spirituality breaks one’s heart into pieces and sends it out to distant parts of the body of Christ.

For me, More Days for Praise functions as a guide to Outward Spirituality. Its 126 entries traverse the ELW calendar of lesser festivals and commemorations. Each entry includes a short factual biography; a short quotation for meditation; and suggestions for a hymn, a thanksgiving, and several topics for petition. Let me explain how More Days for Praise works for me.

Let’s say that it’s the morning of October 4, St. Francis day. I sing the hymn crafted from his prayer; I pray the prayer for peace associated with him; I thank God for centuries of Franciscan men and women; and I pray for their contemporary worldwide mission of care for the poor. And I discover that all day long my heart is going out to Franciscans and their ministry.

Then comes October 6, the commemoration of William Tyndale, who because of his work translating the Bible into English was burned at the stake. I sing a hymn about the power of the word of God; I thank God for Bible translators, past and present; and I pray for everyone who is incarcerated or on death row, and then for people whose contributions to the church are undervalued or rejected. These thoughts hover around me all day.

Next is the morning of October 7, the commemoration of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, a patriarch of Lutheranism in our country. Just reading the excerpt from his diary of June 12, 1763, keeps me from complaining about my tasks; I pray the beloved “Holden Village” prayer for all of us called “to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden.” I sing a hymn that was one of Muhlenberg’s favorites; and I pray for church administrators, for ecumenical cooperation, and for insight when beginning a new task.

On each of these days, what is outside me has entered in and enlarged me. Next on my schedule is Teresa of Avila on October 15. I am grateful that one day each year my mind is taken up with this extraordinary woman. Like Francis, Tyndale, and Muhlenberg, she will enlarge my heart, gathering me into more of the body of Christ.

Topics: spirituality

Gail Ramshaw

Written by Gail Ramshaw

Gail Ramshaw studies and crafts liturgical language from her home outside of Washington, D. C. A Lutheran laywoman, she has published extensively with Augsburg Fortress, including the 2016 companion to the ELW commemorations titled More Days for Praise and her 2019 study of the Revised Common Lectionary titled Word of God, Word of Life.

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