Monthly Archives: October 2017

Festivent and Thankmas

So Thanksgiving is nearing, and along with that comes family time. That’s great much of the time but it can also be stressful. If you remember Seinfeld’s “FESTIVUS” airing of grievances then you understand the paradox of complaining on a day called “Thanksgiving”.

Grumbling defined:

1) To show one’s unhappiness or critical attitude.

2) To make complaining remarks or noises under one’s breath.

3) To murmur or mutter in discontent; complain sullenly.

In the book of Exodus we see account after account of God’s miraculous move (parting the Red Sea, feeding them with manna, provision time and again; however- Moses, and particularly God, had to put up with the children of Israel’s horrid complaining:

-They grumbled because they didn’t have enough water.

-They grumbled because they didn’t like the wilderness.

-They grumbled because they thought Moses was a bad leader.

-They grumbled because they missed Egypt.

-They grumbled because they weren’t yet in the Promised Land.

-They grumbled because they thought God had let them down.

…A real “Festivus”

BUT we can be similar, often we complain and think we’ve been forsaken by God 5 minutes after seeing goodness from His hand.

What are you guilty of complaining about?

Read about the Day Laborers in Matthew chapter 20-

The owner of the Vineyard went out to hire workers:

at       -9am,   -Noon,    -3pm,     -5pm

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first. ’The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.

So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner…

But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’  “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Jesus is trying to show us The Way of a Disciple; not of complaining but being thankful.

God is just, no one will be underpaid. God is generous, everyone will be surprised.

How to practice having a Thankful Heart-

1)Thank God for the Blessings You Have Already Experienced.

2)Don’t Judge Yourself by the Way God Treats Someone Else.

3) Practice Contentment and Thankfulness

 

What are you thankful for today?

Discipleship of Thankfulness in scripture:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

     -Philippians 4:11

Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.

      – Proverbs 15:16

As maturing disciples we must practice the spiritual discipline of contentment and thankfulness, and be that in the world around us.

Humble Spaces Where Heaven Meets Earth

Holy worship in humble places
Heaven and earth meet together
Full hearts resound praise
“Lift up your hearts”
“We lift them up to the Lord”

I sat in a ‘sanctuary’ recently. There was nothing to really make the place beautiful. In fact it was a humble place. An old industrial building in downtown that is being used for a worship space; a church. My church has met in a coffee shop for several years, I have other friends who meet in alternative spaces, a building is a building…

Anyway, this old industrial space, it’s not much to look at but it’s clean and lit with candles, it is a very humble place… but what makes it sacred, what makes it beautiful, is the fact that it is a place where heaven meets earth. Whenever people sing in worship with full hearts, like, as loud as they can with all they’ve got… it’s like we are children reaching up as high as we can, asking to be picked up by Papa!

“Lift up your hearts” is a refrain I hear weekly during the liturgy; the response is always “We lift them up to the Lord”. Heaven comes to earth when we worship; God enters humble spaces to be with us.

Saint Patrick’s War-Prayer

Several years ago I was praying a good part of this prayer when I was almost taken out in a wreck. I was on my Honda scooter when a driver did not see me, it almost turned out very badly. Instead, I laid the bike down and only suffered a torn ACL.

Saint Patrick  suffered more danger than I ever will, and stood face against evil trying to kill him and take him out time and again.

If you feel weak, may HE be strong:

From Saint Patrick, known as Saint Patrick’s Breastplate:

So have I invoked all these virtues between me, [and these] against every cruel, merciless power which may come against my body and my soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of heathen, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of witches and smiths and druids, against every knowledge that defiles men’s souls.

Christ to protect me today, against poison, against burning,  against drowning, against death-wound, until a multitude of rewards come to me!

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me! Christ below me, Christ above me. Christ at my right, Christ at my left! Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height!

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,  Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me!

I bind myself today to a strong virtue, an invocation of the Trinity.  I believe in a Threeness with confession of a Oneness,  in the Creator of [the universe.] Salvation is the Lord’s, salvation is the Lord’s, salvation is Christ’s. May Thy salvation, O Lord, be always with us. Amen.

The DNA Of Worship

The early church was a vibrant worshiping community who knew each other and encouraged each other, by mutual sharing and exhortation. The gatherings were intimate and familiar, with shared meals and songs.

The church would grow and change; the liturgy would develop and formalize, and Gregorian chant would become the norm for a thousand years. There would be reformations within the church from Saint Francis, Luther, and others. Luther would write songs so lively they were called “Geneva jigs” marking a return to congregational singing after a thousand years of chant. The church is a constant expression, changing and yet looking quite familiar.

The church has 2000 years of worship to draw from. The liturgy, quotes from early church fathers, prayers, poetry, and the Eucharist (the thanksgiving) all belongs to the church.

What ties all this history together? Today I’d like to discuss three characteristics of worship.

3 Characteristics  of Worship:

1) Drawing near- seeking God’s presence:

The Psalms particularly speak of this drawing near. Worshipers describe a longing desire in seeking God.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you…Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you…  – Psalm 63

 humble, hungry, joyful…

As we draw near to God in worship we enter into his presence. He inhabits the praises of his people.

 “God has promised to be present in the worship of the congregation.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

2) Worship, Our gift to God and for God:

Our pursuit  of God, our seeking intimacy with God is expressed in worship when we are focused on God, when we sing to God; not just about Him, when we participate in liturgy; not just observe it.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. – Mark 12:30

 

3) Made to know God, Love God, and enjoy God forever:

We are made to worship and enjoy God both now and forever. Case in point as John writes of future worshipers (me & you?) in the Book of Revelation-

And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation… 

-Revelation 5:9

Augustine sums up how it is God who empowers us to draw near and seek, to express and worship, and to enjoy our creator:

  You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty  in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love.  Let us run.  ― Saint Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

Stir us up, Lord! Let us love! Let us run!

Praying in time of tragedy

Another tragedy.

Monks, and those who keep the hours of prayer, pray for the world. They sow the day in prayer, not knowing what the day will bring. This old world needs prayer, and the One who hears.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that,in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (From the Book of Common Prayer.

Feast of Saint Francis, October 4th

In a falling down church Francis had a vision of Jesus in which Francis was instructed to “Rebuild my church.”

At first he took this very literal, rebuilding the stones and mortar of the small chapel, but, ultimately, the Franciscan movement became a much needed revitalization of the church by mainly lay-people as hardly any of the early Franciscans were ordained clergy. Prayer and street preaching were the primary jobs of this mendicant order who relied on God, work, and begging for their basic sustenance.

Not even having a monastery to call their own, they slept wherever they could: in the woods, the fields, and even in a large medieval town oven on cold nights after the embers had died down from the baking of bread, but the stone was still warm. A dozen people or more would squeeze in to escape the cold.

Here Francis realized Christ’s presence surrounded by the poor and homeless. He looked into their faces, and there he saw Jesus.

Prayer:

Lord, open our eyes that we may see Christ all around us. Help us to welcome Christ as we welcome others. Help us to encounter Jesus when visiting the sick, feeding the hungry friend, and even praying for our “enemy.” Amen.