Sunday, February 28, 2010

From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; Good Lord, deliver us.

From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us.

I watched my father die a slow, agonizing death. His body was violently tortured by an infection after a successful throat surgery. He couldn't speak but his eyes pleaded for forgiveness for some sin known only to him.

Mom died suddenly and I wasn't at her bedside like I was with Dad. Had she also begged forgiveness in the end?

Had either of them been prepared? Dad had been given the "last rites", although he was not conscious and couldn't confess. Mom had not received last rites, although she had rejoined her faith.

How prepared am I? I would like to think I am, but I know that I need to confess my sins daily before God. Yes, I know I am forgiven, but this is an act of contrition I do for myself, to remind me as if every day were Ash Wednesday, I am dust and to dust I shall return.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

From lightning and tempest; Good Lord, deliver us.

From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine, Good Lord, deliver us.

As I sat down to do the next entry and read the words of what I must blog about, I found this line in the litany unsettling. I remember to pray first and then write, not wanting to rush into this entry bringing my own words to print, but to remember that I desire this blog to be words of encouragement and love from Our Lord--not me.

Still, the news today has been of yet another earthquake--this one in Chile and accompanies warnings of a tsunami in the Pacific. The earthquake hits home. Not literally, but emotionally in a most fearsome way. My grandson lives in Chile where an horrific earthquake of 8.8 has occurred.

My daughter has been beside herself with worry over her child and his family there. There has been a huge outpouring of support through prayer directed our way. I had spent the day in silence and prayer as I do every Ember Saturday leaving all of this in God's care. I trust God to be with those I love and those I cannot be with and those I cannot comfort. I trust God in all manner of things.

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my loved ones. Amen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

From all false doctrine, heresy and schism; Good Lord, deliver us.

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment, Good Lord, deliver us.

"I hate God! How can you belive in a God that would do that to his son?" My own son asked incredulsouly. My son was a teenager at the time trying to figure out what God and Christianity meant to him.

You see, at the age of 9, my son had a kind of revelation during the Stations of the Cross. He got it...and it hit him hard. He cried and cried for the pain and suffering that our Lord had gone through. But he only got half of the story. It's the other half of that story, the reason behind the suffering and the victory over death that he has yet to understand. It's the love that God has for us, His beloved children that my son has yet to accept. I belive that through my son's experience at such a young age, he has experienced that love only didn't fully understand and still doesn't.

My son is still struggling with this as he proudly wears a tatoo of the Episcopal Church shield on his arm and when visiting wants to go to "his" church. He tells me (and himself) that he goes for me. I know different. So does God.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

From all inordinate and sinful affections; Good Lord, deliver us.

From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, Good Lord, deliver us.

I once had a true gentleman ask me to marry him. He was well known and well liked. This union would have meant I wouldn't have to work any more; I wouldn't have to worry about money or debt or anything. It would have been the answer to a lot of prayers. But it would have been the wrong answer.

I sat down to do evening prayer shortly after the proposal and Christ entered my heart and mind. I knew instantly the depth of love and the lengths that my True Beloved would go to that I might have what I desired. I knew instantly that what I truly desired was already with me...I need not look elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From all blindness of heart;... Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want of charity, Good Lord, deliver us.

I had to rent a car a few months ago. It came with more bells and whitsles than I could dream of. I liked it. I liked the feel of it, the look of it and the toys that came with it. I liked it a lot. It was so easy to slip into the trap of "show-off-manship." I began to wonder if I could find a way to lease a car like that. It became kind of an obsession. I dreaded the thought of turning it in. I had the car for one day. ONE DAY!

I live a life that is set apart, but I am human. I forget how easy it is to slip back into the mode of "worldly desires" and how hard it is to stay on track. I tell myself that it would be nice to have an iPod to listen to "meditating music." I'd really love to have one of those electronic books so that I could read scripture or other spiritual works anywhere and anytime. Oh, and one of those hand-held games to "keep my brain active" would be good to have too.

No, those are just distractions and I DON'T want them. I don't want anything that will occupy my mind more than my Beloved Christ. In Christ, I have all. There is nothing else to want.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From all evil and wickedness, Good Lord, deliver us.

From all evil and wickedness; from sin; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation, Good Lord, deliver us.

Oh, how much strength it takes to stay on the right path! The temptation to quit is very strong but with the grace of God, I have been able to fight that demon.

I had a dream about a week ago...the same dream that I've had repeatedly for a number of years, just a different face and a different scene. The evil one, hiding behind the mask of "trust" is trying to convince me to stray from the path set before me and I usually fall for it. But this dream was different. In this dream, I was able to, even subconciously, tell that demon, "NO!" I awoke feeling like a great victory had been won, and indeed for me it had. No longer would I fall into the trap of deception and lose my soul and all the grace that had been given to me. This time, I was in charge of my dream. This time I won.

Last night I had another dream, much like the ones before my "victory" dream. Still, I awoke knowing that I make the decision to stay or to go, no one else. I choose to stay. I still win!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses... Spare us, good Lord.

Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses, nor the offenses of our forefathers; neither reward us according to our sins. Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and by thy mercy preserve us for ever. Spare us, good Lord.

It's a little like cleaning the house for expected guests. People come into the home and see what hasn't been done--not what has been done. They won't know that I spent hours, maybe days cleaning and preparing. They won't know that I cleaned that special place that usually goes untouched except when company comes. They won't know the care that was taken to make sure their stay was as comfortable as possible. They may notice, however that little speck of something that was forgotten, the book that isn't sitting quite right on the shelf or they may see that imperfection that can't be fixed at this time.

The point is, God notices everything; all my shortcomings, all my mistakes, all of my own imperfections...and God has already overlooked all of them. God knows that I tried--when I indeed tried and God knows when I haven't tried hard enough. As for my sins, Christ has washed them away with His blood. It is up to me to do my best in all circumstances. More, it is up to me to do my best with a true heart in all I do.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God, Have mercy upon us.

Today I witnessed the Trinity at work. The community of God's people, empowered by the Holy Spirit; reaching out to those around us as members of the body of Christ.

What was it that made today any more special than any other Sunday worship, I wondered? Nothing. Yet, it felt more like the Blessed Trinity in action than it has, at least for me, in a long time. Maybe it was more newcomers in church, or the action taken to include the one less fortunate, or the listening ear to the hurting soul. Perhaps my heart was awakened today through that same Trinity--the power of the Holy Spirit; an extention of the love of Christ with God at the head.

Whatever the nature of this blessed day, it was complete in action to the will of God. The Trinity at work is always with us, and I need to be more aware of this.

Friday, February 19, 2010

O God the Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful, Have mercy upon us.

There are those wonderful souls that have gone before to set an example for us to know how to live our lives. And, there are those here today who do the same without even knowing they are placing cornerstones in our lives.

There is that well known line about entertaining Angels unaware, but there is also the truth that WE were ALL set apart as members in union with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit at baptism, to go and be diciples of Christ. When we give a smile, the right of way, a helping hand, a listening ear and so on, we are living that Truth. We were set apart to make known the Love of God to the whole world. But when we deny another the right to experience that Truth, not only are we ignoring the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are contributing to the suffering of another--whether intentionally or not.

May we all be living examples, builders of diciples, setting foundations for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy upon us.

I lived my life so I could be happy.
I lived my life so I could find love.
I lived my life so I could feel good.
I lived my life so I could know power.

I sacrificed myself for this, but I was not alive.

YOU died to life so I could be happy.
YOU died to life so I could find love.
YOU died to life so I could feel good.
YOU died to life so I could know power.

YOU sacrificed YOUR life for me. I had to change to live.

I died to life, and YOU made me happy.
I died to life and found YOUR love waiting.
I died to life and YOU made me feel good.
I died to life and knew the power of YOUR presence.

YOU lived and died for me, I died to life to live.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, Have mercy upon us.

I could be a better steward of this earth. Sure there are things that I do, I tell myself, that are helping the environment; but is it enough? I could put more effort into remembering my "green bags" for shopping instead of leaving them in the trunk of the car. I could carry with me a bag just for litter that I see on the sidewalk as I pass by and pick it up instead of just glaring at it in judgement of the person who carelessly left it behind. If I think hard enough or research other ways of greening my life, I'm sure I could do more.

I often look up at the beautiful sky, the clouds and the birds and give thanks. I often look up in awe at the stars twinkling above and I praise God. I love the smell and sound of rain and I love the way God has hand painted the flowers and the trees and how the colors change with the seasons. I am filled with a comforting sense of joy with all the creatures of this planet, both man and beast. I wonder at the creatures below the seas and the new discoveries that are made every day. So much of God's creation I'll never even know, but of those gifts that I do know, I am very thankful.

Am I thankful enough to keep it all alive by doing my part--by doing more than the usual?

Have mercy on me, O God, I am a sinner.

Ash Wednesday 2010

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. BCP p. 264.

Read it again. "You hate NOTHING you have made"..."AND FORGIVE the sins of all who are penitent."

Why then, show hatred to what God has made? How "penitent" am I being if I judge those around me? My sin IS always before me and YOU are present even then.

Yes, Lord, create in me a new and contrite heart, that I will, after all I've said and done, after deep examination and repentence, be made worthy of YOUR Truth. Amen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Noonday Prayers: Feast of the Presentation

I walked into the church this afternoon, glad to take the time for the Noonday Office, just to hear the sounds of a very loud radio behind the altar wall where the work crew has been busy with the church's reconstruction. It was as if they were in the church with me and I found it not only hard to concentrate, but offensive too. “Couldn’t they turn that thing off for one hour at noon so prayers could be said”, I grumbled to myself. I sat down to try to focus and Bon-Jovi was singing “Place your hands on me”. I have no idea what this song is really about or what the rest of the words are, but my mind wandered into a scene at the Jordan with Gospel Singers praising the Lord and singing, “Place your hands on me, Lord”…

I went on with the lessons of the Feast, although I really have no idea what I was reading. I found myself amused that in “my” need for a place to be quiet and be with God, I was taken away to a place of joy and praise of and for God.

I wondered how this might fit into the Feast of the Presentation? What was God saying in this moment? I wasn’t sure it did fit or that God was saying anything at all. Then again, was this more a time to remember my baptismal covenant than worry over whether or not “I” had the space and quiet time “I” wanted? The Presentation of Jesus in the temple is about “recognizing” God’s humanity and celebrating it; much like we traditionally do at a child’s baptism. But this is not about Christ’s baptism. That comes much later. Still, it reminded me of Baptism and the Baptismal Covenant. Had I not just this morning re-read the Renewal of Baptismal Vows, promising to SEEK and SERVE Christ in ALL persons, LOVING my NEIGHBOR as myself? Did I not also vow to strive for JUSTICE and PEACE among ALL people, and RESPECT the dignity of EVERY human being?

Noisy or quiet, I have been baptized into the Community of All God’s people. My continuing prayer for these hard workers as they do their best for us remains:
Great Creator, remember these men in their works for this parish; grant them grace in their day, safety in their works and respect for those around them; (and I add) grant me patience and respect for them in their works. Amen.