Thursday, November 20, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
excerpted from Hearts on Fire

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Scottish Blessing

May the blessing of light be on you - light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you,
may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;
and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.
May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.
And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.
Scottish Blessing

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Morning Prayer - Breastplate of St. Patrick

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today through the strength of Christ with His Baptism,
through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial,
through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

I arise today through the strength of the love of Cherubim
in obedience of Angels, in the service of the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven:
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendour of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
stability of Earth, firmness of Rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me:
against snares of devils, against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature, against everyone who
shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul, against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul.
Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning,
against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.
Last week whilst preaching I made a very bold assertion -- that what separates humans from all the rest of creation is that we can forgive.  Forgive and not just forget.

This week I think that’s probably a gross exaggeration.  There are many things that separate us from all the rest of creation.  We make tools, we have language, we have a sense of history.  We also have culture/civilization. We grow and harvest food and then we cook that food.  No other part of creation does this.

Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”  We have been shaped by many things – I am pondering now how we are shaping our buildings and then how those buildings are shaping us.  The movement to have or buildings become more “plain” shaped the Protestant reformation.  Our movement away from special use sacred spaces to general use areas in church – how is this shaping us?  Is it just a sign of our lack of place within our souls for a devotional space? In our busy society, are we taking the space and time to be intentional in our relationship with God (much less with our relationships with others?)

There is a movement called “mindful eating.” There is much in our lives that has become mindless.  We need more mindfulness in all that we do; more intentionality.  We have a choice to be proactive rather than reactive (another thing that separates us from the rest of creation.)  How might I be more proactive today?  What may I be more mindful of?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

  • God of all who wander in the wilderness,
    you go before us as beacon and guide.
    Lead us through all danger,
    sustain us through all desolation,
    and bring us home to the land
    you have prepared for us. Amen.
Matthew 20:1-16
20:1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
20:2 After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.
20:3 When he went out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace;
20:4 and he said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went.
20:5 When he went out again about noon and about three o'clock, he did the same.
20:6 And about five o'clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, 'Why are you standing here idle all day?'
20:7 They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard.'
20:8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, 'Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.'
20:9 When those hired about five o'clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.
20:10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.
20:11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner,
20:12 saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.'
20:13 But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
20:14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.
20:15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?'
20:16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Monday, September 01, 2014

Morning Prayer -- God at my Aid -- Celtic Prayer

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.

God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.

God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my hands,
God in my heart.

God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber
God in mine ever living soul,
God in mine eternity.


Matthew 18:15-20
18:15 "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

18:16 But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

18:17 If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

18:18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

18:19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Thomas Merton -- Discernment

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. Nor do I really know myself.
And the fact that I think I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.

And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road
Though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always
Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death
I will not fear for you are ever with me.

And you will never leave me to face my struggles alone.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Evening Prayer - St. Augustine - Enkindle my tepid soul

Holy Spirit,
powerful Consoler,
sacred Bond of the Father and the Son,
Hope of the afflicted,
descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion.

Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your Love
so that I may be wholly subject to you.

We believe that when you dwell in us,
you also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son.
Deign, therefore, to come to me,
Consoler of abandoned souls,
and Protector of the needy.

Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak,
and support the wavering.

Come and purify me.
Let no evil desire take possession of me.
You love the humble and resist the proud.
Come to me, glory of the living, and hope of the dying.
Lead me by your grace that I may always be pleasing to you. Amen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Morning Prayer -- St. Augustine -- Too late have I loved you

Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you! You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you - the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.
            Confessions, X, 27, 38

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Morning Prayer -- St. Augustine -- I believe in you

O Lord my God, I believe in you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Insofar as I can, insofar as you have given me the power, I have sought you. I became weary and I labored. O Lord my God, my sole hope, help me to believe and never to cease seeking you. Grant that I may always and ardently seek out your countenance. Give me the strength to seek you, for you help me to find you and you have more and more given me the hope of finding you. Here I am before you with my firmness and my infirmity. Preserve the first and heal the second. Here I am before you with my strength and my ignorance. Where you have opened the door to me, welcome me at the entrance; where you have closed the door to me, open to my cry; enable me to remember you, to understand you, and to love you. Amen.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Morning Prayer -- St. Augustine - Prayer for self knowledge

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You, and desire nothing save only You.
Let me hate myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think of nothing except You.
Let me die to myself and live in You.
Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You, and ever desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,
That I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me fear for myself.
Let me fear You, and let me be among those who are chosen by You.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.
Let me cling to nothing save only to You,
And let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You, and for ever enjoy You. Amen.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Morning Prayer -- St. Augustine -- For your mercies' sake

For your mercies' sake, O Lord my God, tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul: "I am your salvation." So speak that I may hear, O Lord; my heart is listening; open it that it may hear you, and say to my soul: "I am your salvation." After hearing this word, may I come in haste to take hold of you. Hide not your face from me. Let me see your face even if I die, lest I die with longing to see it. The house of my soul is too small to receive you; let it be enlarged by you. It is all in ruins; do you repair it. There are thing in it - I confess and I know - that must offend your sight. But who shall cleanse it? Or to what others besides you shall I cry out? From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord, and from those of others spare your servant. Amen.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Morning Prayer -- St. Augustine -- So that I may find my happiness in you

My God, let me know and love you, so that I may find my happiness in you. Since I cannot fully achieve this on earth, help me to improve daily until I may do so to the full Enable me to know you ever more on earth, so that I may know you perfectly in heaven. Enable me to love you ever more on earth, so that I may love you perfectly in heave. In that way my joy may be great on earth, and perfect with you in heaven. O God of truth, grant me the happiness of heaven so that my joy may be full in accord with your promise. In the meantime let my mind dwell on that happiness, my tongue speak of it, my heart pine for it, my mouth pronounce it, my soul hunger for it, my flesh thirst for it, and my entire being desire it until I enter through death in the joy of my Lord forever. Amen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Morning Prayer -- St. Augustine -- Watch with those who wake

O thou, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the wills that serve thee; help us so to know thee that we may truly love thee; so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom. Watch, dear Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and let your angels protect those who sleep. Tend the sick. Refresh the weary. Sustain the dying. Calm the suffering. Pity the distressed. We ask this for the sake of your love. Lord Jesus, our Saviour, let us come to you. Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love. Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood. Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with our joyous Spirit. Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence. Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Morning Prayer -- William Laud -- A prayer for the Church

A Prayer for the Church, by William Laud (1573-1645)

Most gracious Father,
we pray to you for your holy catholic Church.
Fill it with all truth;
in all truth with all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purge it.
Where it is in error, direct it.
Where anything is amiss, reform it.
Where it is right, strengthen and defend it.
Where it is in want, provide for it.
Where it is divided, heal it and reunite it in your love;
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Charles Kingsley -- Take from us

A Prayer of Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

 Take from us, O God, all pride and vanity, all boasting and self-assertion, and give us the true courage that shows itself in gentleness, the true wisdom that shows itself in simplicity, and the true power that shows itself in modesty.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chaos Vs. Entropy - sorting paper

When my parents died, they left me to sort literal hundreds of boxes of paper.  Some of this paper is in a storage unit; some of these boxes have been in our garage for 8 years.  It takes a certain kind of strength to go through these boxes.  I sorted and shredded all the checks they wrote and the check registers that went with them and their bank statements from the era around 1960 to 1975.  They had moved them when they moved from Tucker to Stone Mountain.  Nicely ordered, each statement and collection of checks filed neatly in boxes.  I shredded them one check at a time and it seemed like I was erasing their lives.  It was painful.  It took me days to mourn all over again.

I found my mother's checks she wrote while she was single in a nicely ordered neatly packed box.  I didn't have the wherewithal to shred them.  I took the coward's way out and just repacked them in a box to go through later.  I am shredding all the Federal Income Tax returns that are over 15 years old (each neatly filed in a box labeled "FIT 1996, FIT 1997" and so forth.)  Not only did she keep all these - since she also did my grandmother's and my father's father's taxes, I also have boxes labeled "FIT Papa 1984, FIT Papa 1985" and so forth. I suppose I could throw them out without shredding but some of the papers in the boxes have Social Security Numbers on them, so I'm shredding.  I will have a huge pile of shred to nest in after I finish.

Other things that I have found: my Dad's collection of house plans, his collection of leatherworking patterns (an entire paper box of them), my Dad's full set of papers from his stint in the Army, birthday cards, get well cards, old software, supplies for a Smith Corona typewriter, a collection of really old Bibles, old magazines, unopened mail from 1999, pictures of my kids, picture frames (empty), all of my NASA curriculum, files from Fernbank (OK, those were in my boxes) and so forth.  I have several more boxes to go in the living room that Bill has kindly brought over from the Loganville house. I am reducing their volume enormously if not pitching them away or shredding them.

Yes, this is what I do at lunch now instead of eat.  Wish me luck.  There is only a finite number of boxes.  It only seems like it's taking forever!

Morning Prayer -- Edward Pusey -- Good Jesus, Fountain of Love

A Prayer of Edward Pusey (1800-1882)

Good Jesus, Fountain of Love,
Fill us with thy love.
Absorb us into thy love;
Compass us with thy love,
That we may see all things in the light of thy love,
Receive all things as the token of thy love,
Speak of all things in words breathing of thy love,
Win through thy love others for thy love,
Be kindled day by day with a new glow of thy love,
Until we be fitted to enter into thine everlasting love,
To adore thy love and love to adore thee, our God and all.
Even so come, O Lord Jesus.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Morning Prayer -- John Donne -- One Equal Eternity

A Prayer of John Donne (1572-1631)

Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, world without end. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Morning Prayer - St. Ignatius

Dearest Jesus,
Teach me to be generous,
To love and serve you as you deserve,
 To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
 To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labour and to look for no reward,
Except that of knowing that I do your Holy Will. Amen

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Reinhold Neibuhr -- Serenity Prayer

O God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...
courage to change the things I can...
and wisdom to know the difference.
Help me to live one day at a time,
to enjoy one moment at a time,
to accept hardships as the pathway to peace.
May I learn from Jesus
to take this broken world as it is ...
and not as I would have it.
Give me the grace to trust that you will make all things right
if I embrace your desires for myself and my sisters and brothers.
May I be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.
--  Reinhold Neibuhr

Monday, August 11, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Henry Viscardi -- Most Richly Blessed

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of others.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am most richly blessed.

-- by Henry Viscardi

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Herve Marcoux -- I Behold Jesus In You

I behold the Christ in you.
I place you lovingly in the care of the All Caring One.
I release you from my anxiety and concern.
I let go of my possessive hold on you.
I am willing to free you to follow the dictates of
          the indwelling Spirit.
I am willing to free you to live your life according to your best light and
Husband, wife, child, friend,
I no longer try to force my ideas on you, my ways on you.
I lift my thoughts above you, above the personal level.
I see you as God sees you,
          a spiritual being,
          created in God's image,
          endowed with qualities and abilities that make you needed and 
          important not only to me but to God and God's larger perspective.
I do not bind you.
I no longer believe that you do not have
          the understanding you need in order to meet life.
I bless you
I have faith in you,
I behold Jesus in you.
--  Herve Marcoux, OMI

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Morning Prayer - St. Apollonius - A measure of your Spirit

A Prayer of St Apollonius (170-245) 

O Lord Jesus Christ,
give us a measure of your Spirit
that we may be enabled to obey your teaching:
to pacify anger,
to take part in pity,
to moderate desire,
to increase love,
to put away sorrow,
to cast away vain glory,
not to be vindictive,
not to fear death;
ever entrusting our spirit to the immortal God
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns
world without end.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Morning Prayer -- John Donne -- Prayer Two from Devotions

O MOST gracious God, who pursuest and perfectest thine own purposes, and dost not only remember me, by the first accesses of this sickness, that I must die, but inform me, by this further proceeding therein, that I may die now; who hast not only waked me with the first, but called me up, by casting me further down, and clothed me with thyself, by stripping me of myself, and by dulling my bodily senses to the meats and eases of this world, hast whet and sharpened my spiritual senses to the apprehension of thee; by what steps and degrees soever it shall please thee to go, in the dissolution of this body, hasten, O Lord, that pace, and multiply, O my God, those degrees, in the exaltation of my soul toward thee now, and to thee then. My taste is not gone away, but gone up to sit at David’s table,to taste, and see, that the Lord is good.8 My stomach is not gone, but gone up, so far upwards toward thesupper of the Lamb, with thy saints in heaven, as to the table, to the communion of thy saints here in earth. My knees are weak, but weak therefore that I should easily fall to and fix myself long upon my devotions to thee. A sound heart is the life of the flesh;9 and a heart visited by thee, and directed to thee, by that visitation is a sound heart. There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger.10 Interpret thine own work, and call this sickness correction, and not anger, and there is soundness in my flesh.There is no rest in my bones, because of my sin;11 transfer my sins, with which thou art so displeased, upon him with whom thou art so well pleased, Christ Jesus, and there will be rest in my bones. And, O my God, who madest thyself a light in a bush, in the midst of these brambles and thorns of a sharp sickness, appear unto me so that I may see thee, and know thee to be my God, applying thyself to me, even in these sharp and thorny passages. Do this, O Lord, for his sake, who was not the less the King of heaven for thy suffering him to be crowned with thorns in this world.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Morning Prayer -- St. Benedict -- Grant me a perfect end

A Prayer of St Benedict (480-547)

Gracious and holy Father,
please give me:
intellect to understand you;
reason to discern you;
diligence to seek you;
wisdom to find you;
a spirit to know you;
a heart to meditate upon you;
ears to hear you;
eyes to see you;
a tongue to proclaim you;
a way of life pleasing to you;
patience to wait for you;
and perseverance to look for you. 
Grant me:
a perfect end,
your holy presence.
A blessed resurrection,
And life everlasting.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Morning Prayer -- John Donne -- Prayer One from Devotions

O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who, considered in thyself, art a circle, first and last, and altogether; but, considered in thy working upon us, art a direct line, and leadest us from our beginning, through all our ways, to our end, enable me by thy grace to look forward to mine end, and to look backward too, to the considerations of thy mercies afforded me from the beginning; that so by that practice of considering thy mercy, in my beginning in this world, when thou plantedst me in the Christian church, and thy mercy in the beginning in the other world, when thou writest me in the book of life, in my election, I may come to a holy consideration of thy mercy in the beginning of all my actions here: that in all the beginnings, in all the accesses and approaches, of spiritual sicknesses of sin, I may hear and hearken to that voice, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot,2 and so refrain from that which I was so hungerly, so greedily flying to. A faithful ambassador is health,3 says thy wise servant Solomon. Thy voice received in the beginning of a sickness, of a sin, is true health. If I can see that light betimes, and hear that voice early, Then shall my light break forth as the morning, and my health shall spring forth speedily.4 Deliver me therefore, O my God, from these vain imaginations; that it is an over-curious thing, a dangerous thing, to come to that tenderness, that rawness, that scrupulousness, to fear every concupiscence, every offer of sin, that this suspicious and jealous diligence will turn to an inordinate dejection of spirit, and a diffidence in thy care and providence; but keep me still established, both in a constant assurance, that thou wilt speak to me at the beginning of every such sickness, at the approach of every such sin; and that, if I take knowledge of that voice then, and fly to thee, thou wilt preserve me from falling, or raise me again, when by natural infirmity I am fallen. Do this, O Lord, for his sake, who knows our natural infirmities, for he had them, and knows the weight of our sins, for he paid a dear price for them, thy Son, our Saviour, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Morning Prayer -- John Donne -- Devotion One

VARIABLE, and therefore miserable condition of man! this minute I was well, and am ill, this minute. I am surprised with a sudden change, and alteration to worse, and can impute it to no cause, nor call it by any name. We study health, and we deliberate upon our meats, and drink, and air, and exercises, and we hew and we polish every stone that goes to that building; and so our health is a long and a regular work: but in a minute a cannon batters all, overthrows all, demolishes all; a sickness unprevented for all our diligence, unsuspected for all our curiosity; nay, undeserved, if we consider only disorder, summons us, seizes us, possesses us, destroys us in an instant. O miserable condition of man! which was not imprinted by God, who, as he is immortal himself, had put a coal, a beam of immortality into us, which we might have blown into a flame, but blew it out by our first sin; we beggared ourselves by hearkening after false riches, and infatuated ourselves by hearkening after false knowledge. So that now, we do not only die, but die upon the rack, die by the torment of sickness; nor that only, but are pre-afflicted, super-afflicted with these jealousies and suspicions and apprehensions of sickness, before we can call it a sickness: we are not sure we are ill; one hand asks the other by the pulse, and our eye asks our own urine how we do. O multiplied misery! we die, and cannot enjoy death, because we die in this torment of sickness; we are tormented with sickness, and cannot stay till the torment come, but pre-apprehensions and presages prophesy those torments which induce that death before either come; and our dissolution is conceived in these first changes, quickened in the sickness itself, and born in death, which bears date from these first changes. Is this the honour which man hath by being a little world, that he hath these earthquakes in himself, sudden shakings; these lightnings, sudden flashes; these thunders, sudden noises; these eclipses, sudden offuscations and darkening of his senses; these blazing stars, sudden fiery exhalations; these rivers of blood, sudden red waters? Is he a world to himself only therefore, that he hath enough in himself, not only to destroy and execute himself, but to presage that execution upon himself; to assist the sickness, to antedate the sickness, to make the sickness the more irremediable by sad apprehensions, and, as if he would make a fire the more vehement by sprinkling water upon the coals, so to wrap a hot fever in cold melancholy, lest the fever alone should not destroy fast enough without this contribution, nor perfect the work (which is destruction) except we joined an artificial sickness of our own melancholy, to our natural, our unnatural fever. O perplexed discomposition, O riddling distemper, O miserable condition of man!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Mary's Song

My soul glorifies you my God,
My spirit rejoices in you my Saviour!
For you have blessed me lavishly
and make me ready to respond.
You shatter my little world
and let me be poor before you.
You take from me all my plans
and give me more than I can hope for or ask.
You give me opportunities and the ability
to become free and to burst through my boundaries.
You give me strength to be daring,
to build on you alone,
for you show yourself
as the ever greater One in my life.
You have made known to me this ----
It is in my being servant that it becomes possible
for your realm to break through here and now.
-- adapted by Olga Worenski, IBVM

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Thomas Merton -- On Suffering

 When suffering comes to put the question, "Who are you?" we must be able to answer distinctly and give our own name. By that I mean we must express the very depth of what we have desired to be and what we are becoming. And if we are becoming what we are supposed to become the interrogation of suffering will call forth from us both our name and the name of Jesus.
-- adapted from Thomas Merton

Monday, July 21, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Celtic Prayer -- You Are

You are the peace of all things calm
You are the place to hide from harm
You are the light that shines in dark
You are the heart's eternal spark
You are the door that's open wide
You are the guest who waits inside
You are the stranger at the door
You are the calling of the poor
You are my Lord and with me still
You are my love, keep me from ill
You are the light, the truth, the way
You are my Saviour this very day.

you are god

- celtic oral tradition - 1st millennium

Friday, July 11, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Vacation

Morning Prayer is on vacation as I prepare to have a 7:00 am prayer service every morning at Morrison's Campmeeting in Rome, GA.  Catch you on the flip side!

Cosmology of Christianity

This week I’ve been caught up in an idea.  The article above has perhaps unintentionally given me a new tool in my theological toolbox.  The author uses the word “cosmology” in a new way – at least for me.  He talks about the cosmology of Christianity.

Now cosmology is the study of the origin of the universe.  We have gone through many different cosmologies in the history of science and the field (much like the universe!) is continually expanding.  However today most agree it starts with the Big Bang and proceeds from there.

In Christianity (not Christendom and there is a difference) the Big Bang would be Jesus Christ – his birth, life, death and resurrection.  This event lasted longer than the Big Bang obviously, but this is the place where it was formed. Some might argue that Christianity started with the formation of the universe and I can see that viewpoint.  After all, did God not create all of space and time?  But I postulate that Jesus was Christianity's Big Bang.

After the Big Bang, within nanoseconds, much of the universe was set into existence.  Within nanoseconds, the constant Pi was set to be 3.14 and so forth.  With different initial conditions, Pi just as well could have been set to 3.16….  And our universe would be different.  All of our constants would be different – Pi, Phi, e, square root of 2, i, the speed of light and so forth.  Mathematically all of them are related.  If you change one, you change the others.  And another idea – all mathematical constants are somehow inside all the others.  They are intricately linked.  The mystery of Pi is that it somehow contains the universe, but I digress.

If there is such a thing as a cosmology of Christianity and Jesus is our Big Bang, then our constants would be our essential doctrines and all of them are intricately linked together.  There are lists of such things and if you hold to all of them, then you are called “Orthodox.”  All flavors of Christianity have them in common – and they all start with Jesus.  (And I am NOT going to go down rabbit trails at this point debating what is and is not essential on this list, but needless to say there are commonalities.)

And just as mathematicians might have one favorite mathematical constant (mine is Phi or the golden ratio -- yes mathematicians are weird) then people might have their favorite doctrine.  Each of us comes to the journey from a different place and will each walk a different path.  I asked various people what they thought was the most essential doctrine of Christianity outside of the person of Christ and I received different answers. 

One of my daughters said, “Forgiveness.”  There’s a lot packed in that one word – enough to write entire books about.  One of my friends said, “The Law of Love.”  She meant the statement, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, minds, soul and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  Another said, “Imago Dei” or the Image of God from which we were created.  For me it’s actually the concept of the Trinity – the fact that God exists as a network of relationships and we have been invited into that relationship.

For the author of this article, it’s the church being the Bride of Christ.  Now from each of our own favorite doctrines we get a certain spin or twist on our faith.  For me, since God is actually a network of relationships, I feel that relationships are very important, almost primary in the way that I deal with this world.  For someone who answered Forgiveness, then forgiving and being forgiven is primary.  And so forth.

If your starting point is the church being the Bride of Christ – well there are many very interesting places you can go with this and I’ll talk about that tomorrow…..

Thursday, July 10, 2014


People are interesting.  I love to people-watch.  And in my years of people watching I have noticed something.  People like to verbally claim one thing, act differently and then really think something entirely different from number one and number two.  Yes, you probably have noticed this as well.  Technically I guess we could call it the Formal, Informal and Tacit and these adjectives can be applied to many things: Formal, informal and tacit structures.  Formal, informal and tacit power.  Formal, informal and tacit doctrines, actions, value systems, learning, organizations and so forth.

If the three are wildly different it can leads to quite a bit of disharmony – both within society and within ourselves.  When we say one thing, act another and believe a third, we end up seriously conflicted.  Again there is a technical term for this – dissonance.  This is actually a musical term that means that the notes being played are “sour.”  I found a lovely quote on Wikipedia from Roger Kamien’s 2008 book “Music: An Appreciation, 6th Brief Edition” that says:

"An unstable tone combination is a dissonance; its tension demands an onward motion to a stable chord. Thus dissonant chords are 'active'; traditionally they have been considered harsh and have expressed pain, grief, and conflict."
—Roger Kamien (2008), p.41

Dissonance is ACTIVE and UNSTABLE.  It wants to move to stability. The more mature one gets, the more the formal, informal and tacit become harmonious and this mature one is said to be Wise. 

We have loads of problems in this world that cause quite a bit of dissonance.  For instance, those of us who are Christian know we need to assist the poor, the dispossessed, the outcast, the least, the last and the lost.  We say it aloud to one another.  This is our formal belief.  Informally (the way things really are), we set up our structures and organizations to be, well, not poor-friendly.  I have noticed a trend to charge for VBS, for instance.  The costs can range according to region, but most of the time, it prices VBS out of a poor person’s pocketbook.  Yes, I know there are scholarships – but how available is that knowledge to the congregation?  Is there a social stigma that will go along with it?  Tacitly, in our heart of hearts, there are those among us that are happy that the poor can’t brush elbow with our kids.

Which brings me to the subject of honesty.  How can we set up a safe place for honesty?  Most of us that live in a dissonant state know that if people really knew what we believed and thought, we would be judged and found lacking.

So let’s be honest – we ALL have those thoughts.  We all have some thoughts and beliefs that are not quite up to the high and lofty ideals that we profess with out mouths.  We all are human.  None of us really and truly live up to all of our ideals.  Let’s be honest.  We are flawed.  I think it’s worse for us to not admit that brokenness than it is for us to not live up – to not be perfect.  Yep, that’s the up and down of it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

How to Have an Argument*

Now I know that not everyone is a Monty Python fan.  I think Monty Python is probably an acquired taste, rather like olives.  I really didn’t like the first bits of Monty Python I saw as a kid.  The rudeness and crudeness of the comedy just turned me off.  As an older teen and adult,   have developed a taste for  some of it (along with Greek olives but not green ones.  Yuck.) I now understand why some of their sketches are hilarious  -- they stretch the ridiculous so very far that your reality just breaks.

The “I Want to Have an Argument” skit is one of those.  If you have never seen it, YouTube has it here:   This skit shows a series of lovely (ha!) examples of how NOT to have an argument.  The first “argument” that the protagonist has with an opponent consists of a stream of vile abuse.  This is NOT an argument.  The second argument consists of just contradictions.   This is NOT an argument (Oh yes it is!  Oh no it’s not!  Yes it is!  No it’s not!)  The protagonist then goes to the complaint department – complaints are not an argument.  The final argument is the “being hit on the head” lessons.  Not an argument again but which IMHO is about as painful as some so called arguments.

If you have been out and about recently, cruising on the internet or IRL (in real life as the kids say), I am certain you have probably run across someone who likes to hit you over the head with their opinions and call it an argument.  Or doesn’t offer you a real argument or discussion and just contradicts everything you say.  Or just wants to complain about this or that, these people or those people without ever developing a real argument.

So how do you have an argument?  I would like to offer up some suggestions (take ‘em or leave ‘em.)

First – no yelling. Please. Really, I mean it.  No yelling.  This includes TYPING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ON THE INTERNET. Yelling never ever gets your point across. If you want an illustration of this, just watch Parliament sometimes.  To be honest, have you ever really listened to a person who yelled at you?  It can be painful, it can be scary; it most definitely can be frightening.  I think it shows a basic disrespect and it’s just rude.  The only time it’s appropriate to yell is when you are talking to me in a noisy, crowded place and I yell back “What??” because I can’t hear you over the din or when you are cheering your kids at Little League.  Seriously, no yelling.

Second – be polite.  Use your nice words like “please” and “thank you.”  As my mama used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” (actually I did a scientific experiment last year in the kitchen and discovered you can catch them with both, but that’s not the point.)  Why no yelling?  Why use your nice words?  Because each and every one of us is made in the Imago Dei – the image of God.  By dissing one another, we are showing disrespect for that Imago Dei within the other person.  Treat that other person with the same respect you would show Jesus and you won’t go wrong.

I think about conversations and fights.  A good argument should be a conversation – a dialogue with one another and not a fight.  I watch my husband and my kids spar in Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do.  At the beginning of a match, you shake hands.  If you greet each other with respect , you actually can build a relationship.  If you approach another person with your arms open and your hand extended, usually the other person will do the same to you.  If you approach the other person with your guard up, ready to throw a punch or block a punch, you are going to be blocked.  Enough said.  A real argument, an honest argument and a Christ-filled argument – no one is going to go away bleeding.  We are called to love one another and not pummel each other to a bloody pulp.

Third – logic is your friend.  People think that logic is hard.  It really isn’t, you just have to be intentional in learning a few things.  First lesson in logic:  If A, then B. A is true, therefore B must be true.  This is a valid argument – it’s good and if you get this you will pass the class.  If the sun is shining and it’s a clear day, then the sky is blue.  The sky is blue, therefore the sun is shining. Another?  The classic example:  All humans are mortal.  Socrates is human, therefore Socrates is mortal.  Not too hard.

Second lesson in logic – the opposite works differently. The argument,  “If A then B.  Not B, then Not A.” does not work.  An example: All humans are mortal.  Socrates is not a human, he’s a cat.  Therefore Socrates is not mortal.  This obviously does NOT work because as we all know, even though it is said that cats have 9 lives, they are indeed mortal. I’ve lost enough cats to know this is not true.

This is the basis of formal logic.  You can judge an argument valid (or good) or invalid (not good) by these two lessons.  There is also a brand of logic called “informal logic” and there are many, many more ways to judge an argument valid or invalid.  A few example are: Ad hominem, Straw-Man, Appeal to Authority, Slippery Slope, the Hitler Card, False Burden of Proof, False Causation, the Fallacy Fallacy, Appeal to Emotion.  There are more – just use the internet to look them up.  These fallacies (or errors in argumentation) are so prevalent in today’s society. They are insidious.

In an Ad Hominem fallacy, you attack the person rather than the warrant (argument) directly.  For instance, Jane argues eloquently for apples in school lunches.  John who does not want to pay for apples because he thinks they are expensive and he doesn’t like red and green foods (OK stupid reasons I know, but roll with it please) doesn’t address apples at all at the PTA meeting, instead he attacks Jane saying she’s a big idiot, smells funny and dresses her kids weird and so her idea about serving apples is also idiotic, might make you smell funny and make you dress your kids weird.

I see this kind of fallacy all the time.  I saw it at annual conference a couple of years ago when a “no-brainer” resolution came before the conference – an anti-bullying resolution.  Of course we are anti-bullying, aren’t we?  Who likes a bully?  Anyway, the person who presented the resolution was of a minority that some people don’t like very much.  Therefore, we don’t like this resolution.  Sigh.

I would like to say this: even people we consider complete idiots can occasionally have a good idea.  Occasionally they can be right. Really. That includes anyone you don’t like: Adriana Huffington, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Marcus Borg, Rick Warren.  It doesn’t matter why you don’t like them – occasionally they actually might be right.  Adolf Hitler, one of the most despised people of the 20th century, could say, “The sky is blue” and this statement be true. (This is an example of the Hitler Card, btw.)  You need to judge the argument by its own merits, not by how much you love or despise the person making the it.

Likewise, the opposite is true.  Someone you admire and see as a role model in your life can be wrong.  Your greatest hero could say, “The sky is green.”  Just because this is your hero and you love them doesn’t make the sky green.  This is an example of an “Appeal to Authority.”  Sometimes people know what they are talking about and sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes actors know a lot about salad dressing (I love Newman’s Own) but sometimes they don’t (what does Harrison Ford think about salad dressing – beats me!)  Ask this: does this person actually make salad dressing?  Do they have a PhD in condiments?  Have they published papers on how to shake up oil and vinegar into tasty concoctions?  If the answer is “no,” you might want to give their opinion or stamp of approval a pass and find a real expert or even (gasp!) research it yourself.

Fourth – Listen.  As my mama used to say, “God gave you two ears and only one mouth.”  You should listen twice as much as you speak.  Listen not only with your ears, but with your heart. 

Please y’all.  I am asking for a favor.  Please be civil to one another as we work through our society’s problems.  Let’s engage in civil discourse, civil discussion and use just a little logic here and there.  After all, we are all in it together.  We all share the same planet.  Peace out, ya’ll.

*NOTE: (and I’m not yelling)  This was written to be light in tone about a serious topic.  The tone was meant to be humorous and not mocking; it was not meant to be disrespectful or patronizing.  Please take it in the manner offered.

Morning Prayer -- parish prayer - st. cosmus & st. damian in the blean

Lord God, Giver of Life,
Source of all healing,
who alone can help us grow in wholeness:
We thank you for the gift of life and health,
and remembering your faithful servants Cosmus and Damian
we ask you to guide and uphold all doctors, surgeons, hospital staffs
and all engaged in the ministry of healing
together with those they serve,
that disease and disunity may everywhere be overcome;
through Christ the Divine Healer,
who suffered and died and lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit our God of Salvation, now and always.
          parish prayer - st. cosmus & st. damian in the blean

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Frances McKinnon Morton -- A Word of Prayer

1 A word of pray’r when the day begins
Brings a day of blessing sure;
A word of pray’r when the twilight dims
Brings a night of rest secure.
A word of pray’r in the morning,
A word of pray’r at night!
When sorely distressed,
A pray’r brings you rest,
Making all things right!
2 A word of pray’r when the heart is sad
Brings you comfort, peace and rest;
A word of pray’r when the days are glad
Adds a joy to hours most blest. [Refrain]
3 A word of pray’r when the heart is lone
Brings a Friend to understand;
A word of pray’r when your strength is gone
Brings the clasp of a mighty hand. [Refrain]
4 Always a pray’r to the God above
Brings a blessing sweet and true;
Enfolds your heart in His tender love,
Lends His boundless strength to you. [Refrain]
Frances McKinnon Morton

Monday, July 07, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Psalter 1912 -- The Lord has Heard and Answered Prayer

1. The Lord has heard and answered prayer
And saved His people in distress;
This to the coming age declare,
That they His holy name may bless.
2. The Lord, exalted on His throne,
Looked down from Heav’n with pitying eye
To still the lowly captive’s moan
And save His people doomed to die.
3. All men in Zion shall declare
His gracious name with one accord,
When kings and nations gather there
To serve and worship God the Lord.
4. Before my journey is complete
My vigor fails, my years decline;
My God, O spare me, I entreat;
The days of life are wholly Thine.
5. The earth and heav’ns shall pass away,
Like vesture worn and laid aside,
But changeless Thou shalt live for aye,
Thy years forever shall abide.
6. Thou, O Jehovah, shalt endure;
Thy throne forever is the same;
And to all generations sure
Shall be Thy great memorial name.
7. Thy servants’ children shall remain
Forevermore before Thy face;
Enduring honor they shall gain,
Established ever in Thy grace.
The Psalter, 1912

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Morning Prayer -- A. H. Ackley -- At the Place of Pray'r

1 At the place of pray’r I sought Him,
When I heard His loving call,
Kneeling there my sins confessing,
Jesus saved me from them all;
And my guilty heart so burdened,
Was set free from earthly care,
For I found His grace sufficient,
Kneeling at the place of pray’r.
At the place of pray’r I’m kneeling,
Life is sweetest with Him there,
Deeper truths God is revealing
At the place of prayer.
2 At the place of pray’r I found Him,
With a pardon for my soul,
And I cried in y amazement,
“Canst Thou even make me whole!”
Pointing to His cross He answered,
“I for thee have suffered there,”
So by faith I found redemption,
Kneeling at the place of pray’r. [Refrain]
3 At the place of pray’r how precious,
Is the Savior’s keeping pow’r,
For the comfort of His Spirit,
Is my joy of life each hour;
All the past His blood has covered,
Every burden He will share,
And no evil shall befall me,
Kneeling at the place of pray’r. [Refrain]