Into The Desert With Christ

Solidarity with Christ is not my “achievement,” I must let Him draw me in to himself, lose myself in him, give up all that is my own in exchange for all that is his, and all that he has done that I could never do for myself… The only place to find myself is to abandon the search and  follow Christ into the desert.

I Am The Bread

“I am the bread who came down from heaven…unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.…”

Adam and Eve ate of the tree and broke fellowship with God. How is it that God chose to use something to eat to re-establish fellowship with us? Through Jesus HE reverses the curse, He reverses the effect of sin and death, HE turns this act of eating that was a form of disobedience, into an act of obedience, which sets us free. 

And that is Communion.

(credit to sparks of creativity to author dee henderson)

Plastic Rosaries

At the Street Chapel it was evident that so many were sick today. An aid worker cleaned and continuously sprayed Lysol wherever she went. The night had been cold, so many were in the day room this morning as we invited people to join us for prayers, lessons, and communion.
We keep available inexpensive plastic rosaries for people to pick up for free. The last 3 weeks we have given away dozens. For whatever reason they have been in demand. At the most basic level I’d say people desire to have something to hold on to, even if it is only a plastic set of prayer beads. But if it reminds them of Jesus on a cold and harsh winter night, if that helps them through in some small way… God, I hope in some small way we help them to make it through.
Don’t forget them-Pray for the homeless in our cities.

The Street Chapel

Weekly I provide a Prayers and Communion service at our local homeless services center. We call this the “Street Chapel.”
Today the Street Chapel was pretty busy. The day center was filled and chaotic with the throng of people who have sheltered at the local hospitality kitchen for the night, and literally for the past week, as temperatures have dipped to as low as 12 and 13 night after night.
The police made an arrest while deacon and I were there today. Various loud conversations carried on through the facility, some slept in chairs or on the floor…
Deacon began morning prayers, read the lesson, the story of the Magi following the star, a story the people would be familiar with perhaps, then paused for silence during prayers of the people. For some reason they always respect that moment…
Confession and communion, more than one homeless person rang out a hearty “alleluia” today. Several came up to receive, thankful for the opportunity. They received the benediction for God’s face to shine upon them and give them His peace… on one of the coldest, harshest days of the year. May it be so.

This Night – The Nativity Sermon of Isaac the Syrian

After all the hubris of 2017 the simplicity of Isaac’s sermon seems particularly poignant and relevant for us.

This Nativity night bestowed peace on the whole world;
So let no one threaten;

This is the night of the Most Gentle One – Let no one be cruel;

This is the night of the Humble One – Let no one be proud.

Now is the day of joy – Let us not revenge;

Now is the day of Good Will – Let us not be mean.

In this Day of Peace – Let us not be conquered by anger.

Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;
So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.

Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;
So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.

This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;
Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.

Today the DIVINE BEING took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,
In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of DIVINITY.

— St. Isaac Syrian, Nativity Sermon, 7th century

Vulnerability

Winter is here. Our local homeless shelter had their first “warming shelter” night where they opened the local community kitchen up overnight for people to come in from the inclement weather. This morning their were several more people in attendance there for our weekly Morning Prayers & Eucharist Service.

In Saint Francis’ day, on a cold night, many took what advantage they could of a big medieval community oven. The stones held the heat from the fire well into the evening, so people found shelter huddling together in the oven. However, as the oven became more crowded the more some complained. Perhaps Francis was tempted to complain as well, instead as he looked around he saw in the ruined faces of the homeless the faces of the brothers and sisters of Christ, and in fact, the face of Christ himself.

In a couple of weeks on December 21st we’ll hold a Memorial Service for those in the Homeless Community who have departed this year. Anyone who has lost someone dear to them, or who is facing their own vulnerability can more easily relate, understand, or have compassion.

Remember the vulnerable.

Between Thanksgiving and Advent

This year is an oddly timed year. Most years Advent begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but this year Thanksgiving is early, and Advent doesn’t begin until December 3rd. So what to do in the in between?

Unfortunately for me, I am dealing with a mechanic for my truck, a plumber for my house, and setting an overdue doctors appointment for…me. Stress, inconvenience, and unwanted necessity seem to be the order of the day.

I walked past a shelf in my home, it holds some icons, a communion cup, some prayer beads, a couple of candles, and my wife just set out a nativity scene in preparation for the holidays ahead. Also, a prayer book is nearby.

I took a few moments, I just breathed and sipped a cup of coffee. I then picked up the prayer book and read the prayers and passages appointed for the day, taking a little time to think and meditate.

And I think that’s what you do with the in between. Do what you must, but don’t forget to breathe and pray.

Practicing Peace

Father, forgive me, and help me to forgive and release those who may have hurt me, intentionally or not. I give the hurt to you and ask in return for more of your love.

And for those I may have hurt, intentionally or not, forgive me and release them from any hurt as well. May they be recipients of your overflowing love.

Amen

Elvis Has Left The Building

…The Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands… – Acts 7:48

When you think about “church” what comes to mind? Many people think about the building; a place where songs are sung, a preacher preaches, maybe a place where weddings are performed. The disciples were quite impressed with the Temple in their day. Many churches are small and seemingly unimportant, many churches in America are huge, and some we call “mega”…

In Mark 13 it’s recorded:

As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus.  “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (V 1-2)

Every church, big or small, massive or not, may well end up with not one stone on top of another. God may not be so concerned about buildings as we are. He is not necessarily as impressed with our pedigree, status, or building, as we are. Look at the disciples and the early church; The Pharisees and Sadducees  looked with disdain at the unlearned disciples. The early church was basically homeless (by today’s standard), like their Lord, meeting wherever they could.

Peter writes: Living Stones for God’s House

…You are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple…  -1 Peter

Here Peter is using a building as an analogy. God is not building a “Brick and Mortar” church, He has a different building material in mind. Peter is saying YOU are the stone God is building a house from…”living stone”… Not a temple made of brick and mortar, but a “spiritual temple”. 

After we gather we are called to go, to leave the building and go out into the world in peace, to strengthen others, to help them along their way, because we are the church, not the building we meet in.