Daily Bread July 23

The Universal Christ
Bill Gunlock of Taipei, Taiwan

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. -Ephesians 2:17-22

Somewhere on the mountainside I heard the peaceful cooing of an Asian dove and the chanting of a barbet bird. At the top of the long stairs stood the brick walls of Xing Tian Gong Temple. Below was the roar of the Greater Taipei mass transit and the highway to Xindian City.

Entering the temple, I heard women volunteers from the local community solemnly chanting scriptures as they knelt at prayer desks, preparing for their temple duties. They had dedicated their lives to the service of people needing blessing and healing.

In the temple’s main chamber numerous visitors were slowly gathering, forming multiple lines of the young, the old, and the feeble. Ladies in blue stood in front, each holding three burning incense sticks, the fragrant, sinuous smoke representing prayers to Tian Shang (God in heaven).

When motioned to approach, each worshiper stepped forward reverently. After a prayer, the lady in blue waved incense sticks three times in front, three times above the head, and again in front of the person. The third time the prayer smoke was “pushed” toward the worshiper’s heart.

After this sacramental act, each exchanged smiles and statements of thankfulness, a bow, and a “ping an,” meaning “peace be with you.” I stepped in line to receive my blessing, with faith that the universal Christ was present here.

Prayer Phrase

“Awake, my soul!” (Psalm 57:8)

Spiritual Practice

The Prayer of the Heart

Early Christian disciples desired to take seriously the scripture mandate to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayer of the heart invites us to pray “continuously” by repeating and returning to a prayer phrase planted for intentional reflection and deepening. Choose a word or phrase (from scripture, hymnody, or personal reflection) that has meaning for you. The Jesus Prayer is one form of the prayer of the heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:35-43). Invite this simple phrase to repeat in your heart throughout the day, awakening your soul to God’s presence.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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