Monthly Archives: September 2018

Go To The Humble Places, Be An Icon Of Christ

Go to the humble places, be an icon of Christ there…

“Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.”

― Charles Thomas Studd, English missionary

Humbleness and Success
Often people are known, their names are recognized, usually because they are in big, important places, with titles and accolades. Most of us have a desire to be recognized, esteemed, and seen as an important contributor. This is called success, It requires hard work, the right connections are very helpful, and sometimes being at the right place at the right time is crucial.

Humble places require only a willingness and obedience to go and serve. In other words, it requires nothing less than everything (to quote T.S. Eliot), which also includes much hard work. Few desire unacknowledged silent service. Few seem available for the beginning of something when no one is noticing, the small start, the humble place. No one knew who Saint Francis was in the beginning, and he didn’t care. But the order quickly grew to the point that it was ultimately strongly encouraged that he abdicate leadership of the Franciscan Order, the order he had founded. In a real sense, the thing he started was taken away from him. Most of us would not willingly give up our “baby,” but he did, while also praying that the order wouldn’t lose the humbleness it had begun with, now that everybody knew the name of Francis, and knew of the Franciscan order.

Humble Prayers and Small Beginnings
Humble vision is right vision. (Meaning, you have no false imaginations about self, and acknowledge God’s primacy in all things) Humble vision can accomplish great things, if it is following God in obedience and in humility; it doesn’t care so much for acknowledgement, as long as the work gets done.

Talking with the COO at our local homeless outreach, The Community Kitchen, the opportunity presented itself to serve in a unique way. They have very few groups come in to provide spiritual worship opportunities there, so we began a Thursday Morning Prayers & Communion Service at The Community Kitchen. With a box of supplies and a mobile communion kit, we invite the homeless to join us in Morning Prayer in the facility Day Room where everyday social services and various activities still go on. We step into sacred space as we read the psalms and lessons, pray silently and together, and then celebrate communion. About a dozen people come forward to receive that special grace. Afterwards we greet each other, pass the peace, and chat… not “church people” and “the homeless”, just “us”, “we”, all of us together.

A few years ago now, I felt the Lord had given me a vision of the homeless being invited into the work of prayer, the prayers of the people, for the city and for the world. A piece of Saint Basil’s “Urban Monastery” idea, a unique piece, inviting the unlikely into participation in the Prayers of the People. I think God hears the prayers of a Billy Graham, or Tim Keller, or even my prayers, but doesn’t God also hear the prayers of the widow, or perhaps the homeless person, as much? Maybe even more? Yes, maybe.

Icons of Christ in Humble Places
Saint Lawrence, third century martyr, beheld the treasures of the church in the poor. Saint Francis saw in the faces of the poor the brother or sister of the firstborn, Christ. Mother Teresa, and others have seen an icon of Christ in the poor around them, in humble places. In turn, they were also icons of Christ as they served the least and the last. As an Anglican I was first ordained as a deacon, first called to serve. I am reminded that Christ did not fear the humble places, in fact, he sought them out. He sent first the twelve, and then the seventy two to go out to the humble places, to be an icon of Christ there.

What humble place is God sending you to? How does he desire to reshape your heart? Do not fear the humble places, but rather, allow yourself to find Christ there, and let us seek to be an icon of Christ in the humble places, and wherever we go.

(similar blog originally posted on anglicanpastordotcom)

God’s Kindness Heals Me

It’s easy to be hard in this world. It’s easy to be frustrated. It is easy for us to get into a cycle of frantic mediocrity as we go throughout our work-weeks. Have you found yourself impatient and over-reacting to things that are really too small to merit the response given?

This week I have been reminded of God’s kindness, and I have also been praying to be aware of His kindness, and to experience and receive His kindness. God’s kindness heals the deepest wounds I have.

The Expressions Of Faith from The Northumbria Community are a perfect reminder of God’s kindness, and a perfect prayer if you are seeking to experience afresh God’s kindness towards you.

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always kept
me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.
Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now,
today I believe.

Sacred Creation and Saint Francis

Creation is so much more sacred than we acknowledge on a daily basis. Every few days it seems there is another headline of ecological tragedy. You don’t even have to believe in global warming to know that we still have a problem with pollution. We poison our streams and rivers without thought.

In light of the hard hits the earth has been taking lately I think it’s appropriated to pause and humbly give thanks for creation. We should also consider how we can get back to our original work to keep and tend the garden. If we do then maybe we can leave the world better than we found it.

Saint Francis Canticle-Giving Thanks for & Celebrating Creation:

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin!

Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.

Francis in the 21st Century

What does Saint Francis have to do with us in the 21st century? Possibly everything.

We are not, in many ways, that far removed from Francis of Assisi. In his day the church had been tainted with greed, and it was in need of renewal. He saw a need for prayer, for a new kind of monasticism, not cloistered off away from the world, but in the thick of it, in the nitty-gritty-ness of every day life. We must also embrace the outcast, those who are “lepers” in our world, as well as those who are simply wandering lost all around us. Francis seemed to have time for anyone in need. Do we have time or are we too busy?

In his day and age he was an apostle, pretty much as the original apostles had been in the Roman world which they had lived, only with the additional challenge of how do you convert people who already see themselves as “christian” at least culturally?

We find ourselves with these challenges and opportunities: How can we be apostolic in our world? The world is our cloister, therefore ministry can happen anywhere. We can be peacemakers in a violent and changing society; ours is changing, and is also very often violent full of angst, hypocricy, and rage.

Man’s anger does not produce the righteousness of God. Father Francis challenged us to walk in peace. Sometimes we fail, but we are called to be missionaries to our local area, to those who are not “christian”; showing the way of Christ and peace. Also, we are to convert many from “christian” to “follower of Jesus.”

As Francis said “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” Go.

 

(“Francis of Assisi” by Cook & Herzman may be helpful for your further exploration)