Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Morning Prayer - St. Augustine of Hippo - Let me be holy.

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Morning Prayer - St. Francis of Assisi - Peace Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is error, the truth; Where there is doubt, the faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled, as to console; To be understood, as to understand; To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Morning Prayer -- St. Francis of Assisi -- Brother Sun and Sister Moon

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.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,
And first my lord Brother Sun,
Who brings the day; and light you give to us through him.
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;
In the heavens you have made them, bright
And precious and fair.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all the weather's moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
So useful, lowly, precious, and pure.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful he is, how gayl Full of power and strength.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits and colored flowers and herbs.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon
For love of you; through those who endure
Sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
From whose embrace no mortal can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin
Happy those She finds doing your will!
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
And serve him with great humility.

--St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, March 21, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Soren Kierkegaard -- the philosopher at prayer

It is a wonderful thing to see a first-rate philosopher at prayer. Tough-minded thinking and tenderhearted reverence are friends, not enemies. We have for too long separated the head from the heart, and we are the lesser for it. We love God with the mind and we love God with the heart. In reality, we are descending with the mind into the heart and there standing before God in ceaseless wonder and endless praise. As the mind and the heart work in concert, a kind of "loving rationality" pervades all we say and do. This brings unity to us and glory to God.

Tyger, Tyger -- Poem for a Prayer

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Tyger the poem reads,
You burn bright
And like that fatalistic moth of old,
I am consumed by that flame.

My plumage is fiercely colored,
Jewel tones of emerald, amethyst and carnelian
Long flowing feathers stream behind me
Unconstrained by any boundary and I am
Facile in movement and song,
A glorious splatter of color against the brilliant blue of the sky.

Attracted by that brightness,
I am captured into your consuming presence
And I burn to ash

Only to rise again into my natural splendor.
It is ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but I am caught in a never-ending cycle
Of color and ash, song and sorrow, completeness and brokenness.

Are we stuck in this lifeboat?
You and I? We have, between the two of us
Fascinated and used up all in this boat with us.
Your charisma and my obsessions have either burnt them up
Or driven away all but those whose armor is strong
Or senses are dulled.

Will your essential tygerness and my volatile nature co-exist?
Will my forest continue to be friendly? Or will I have to leave?
Yet this lifeboat is all I can hang on to until we reach land.

You are no pussycat
And I am no owl.
A Tyger and a Phoenix went out to sea…

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Soren Kierkegaard -- I die every day

Lord! Make our heart Your temple in which You live. Grant that every impure thought, every earthly desire might be like the idol Dagon - each morning broken at the feet of the Ark of the Covenant. Teach us to master flesh and blood and let this mastery of ourselves be our bloody sacrifice in order that we might be able to say with the Apostle: "I die every day." 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Soren Kierkegaard -- One Thing

Father in Heaven! What are we without You! What is all that we know, vast accumulation though it be, but a chipped fragment if we do not know You! What is all our striving, could it ever encompass a world, but a half-finished work if we do not know You: You the One, who is one thing and who is all!

So may You give to the intellect, wisdom to comprehend that one thing; to the heart, sincerity to receive this understanding; to the will, purity that wills only one thing. In prosperity may You grant perseverance to will one thing; amid distractions, collectedness to will one thing; in suffering, patience to will one thing.

You that gives both the beginning and the completion, may You early, at the dawn of the day, give to the young the resolution to will one thing. As the day wanes, may You give to the old a renewed remembrance of their first resolution, that the first may be like the last, the last like the first, in possession of a life that has willed only one thing. Alas, but this has indeed not come to pass. Something has come in between. The separation of sin lies in between. Each day, and day after day something is being placed in between: delay, blockage, interruption, delusion, corruption. So in this time of repentance may You give the courage once again to will one thing.

True, it is an interruption of our ordinary tasks; we do lay down our work as though it were a day of rest when the penitent is alone before You in self-accusation. This is indeed an interruption. But it is an interruption that searches back into its very beginnings that it might bind up anew that which sin has separated, that in its grief it might atone for lost time, that in its anxiety it might bring to completion that which lies before it.
You that gives both the beginning and the completion, give Your victory in the day of need so that what neither our burning wish nor our determined resolution may attain to, may be granted unto us in the sorrowing of repentance: to will only one thing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Soren Kierkegaard -- Petition for all who are sick and sorrowful

Father in Heaven! To You the congregation often makes its petition for all who are sick and sorrowful, and when someone among us lies ill, alas, of mortal sickness, the congregation sometimes desires a special petition; grant that we may each one of us become in good time aware what sickness it is which is the sickness unto death and aware that we are all of us suffering from this sickness.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who came to earth to heal them that suffer from this sickness, form which, alas, we all suffer, but from which You are able to heal only those who are conscious they are sick in this way; help us in this sickness to hold fast to You, to the end that we may be healed of it.

O God the Holy Spirit, who comes to help us in this sickness if we honestly desire to be healed; remain with us so that for no single instance we may to our own destruction shun the Physician, but may remain with Him - delivered from sickness. For to be with Him is to be delivered from our sickness, and when we are with Him we are saved from all sickness. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Morning Prayer -- Soren Kierkegaard -- Seeking is never without its promise

Father in Heaven! We know indeed that seeking is never without its promise, how then could we fail to seek You, the author of all promises and the giver of all good gifts! We know well that the seeker does not always have to wander far afield since the more scared the object of his search, the nearer it is to him; and if he seeks You, O God, You are of all things most near!

But we know also that the seeking is never without its pains and temptations, how then would there not be fear in seeking You, who are mighty! Even he who trusts in thought to his kinship with You does not venture forth without fear upon those crucial decisions of thought where, through doubt, he seeks to trace Your presence in the wise order of existence or, through despair, he seeks to trace You in the obedience under providence of rebellious events. 

Those, whom You call Your friends, who walk in the light of Your countenance, they, too, not without trembling, seek the meeting of friendship with You who alone are mighty. People of prayer who love with their whole heart - it is not without anxiety that they venture into the conflict of prayer with their God. The dying man, for whom You shift the scene, does not relinquish the temporal without a shudder when You call him. Not even the child of woe, for whom the world has nothing but suffering, flee to You without fear, You who do not merely alleviate, but are all in all! How then should the sinner dare to seek You, O God of righteousness! But therefore he seeks You, not as these others do, but seeks You in the confession of sins. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Optimism and the Board of Ordained Ministry

I am at heart an optimistic person.  Although I am enough of a realist to know to expect the worst possible outcome, I almost always anticipate the best.  I am reminded of Ronald Reagan's favorite joke.  To quote:
"The joke concerns twin boys of five or six. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities - one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist - their parents took them to a psychiatrist." 
"First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. 'What's the matter?' the psychiatrist asked, baffled. 'Don't you want to play with any of the toys?' 'Yes,' the little boy bawled, 'but if I did I'd only break them.'
"Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his out look, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. 'What do you think you're doing?' the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. 'With all this manure,' the little boy replied, beaming, 'there must be a pony in here somewhere!'"  - excerpted from How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life by Peter Robinson
I am that optimist - there's got to be a pony in here somewhere!  I think that we are promised that in Romans 8 - that all things, no matter how good or how bad - in fact how incredibly awful, stinking and horrible - all things will work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. We may not see it immediately - we may NEVER see it, but this is His promise.  And I rest in that promise.

Or as Thich Nhat Hanh would state it:
"'Neither defiled nor immaculate.' Defiled or immaculate. Dirty or pure. These are concepts we form in our mind. A beautiful rose we have just cut and placed in our vase is immaculate. It smells so good, so pure, so fresh. It supports the idea of immaculateness. The opposite is a garbage can. It smells horrible, and it is filled with rotten things.
"But that is only when you look on the surface. If you look more deeply you will see that in just five or six days, the rose will become
part of the garbage. You do not need to wait five days to see it. If you just look at the rose, and you look deeply, you can see it now. And
if you look into the garbage can, you see that in a few months its contents can be transformed into lovely vegetables, and even a rose." excerpted from The Heart of Understanding.
Things just ARE.  Most really are not that different in substance - the good that we perceive cannot really exist without that which we see as bad, just as the rose cannot exist without compost, the rose is on the way to being the compost and the compost the rose.  It's all a part of the cycle.

I was deferred by the Board of Ordained Ministry for a year.  Some see this as bad, awful, rotten and so forth.  I see the pony, I see the rose. I am on the way to becoming the person God intended.  How can this be bad?  All things work together for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose.  If God is for me, who can be against me?  Praise God!  I am becoming.