|God Calling |
August 12 Rule the World
I thank thee, and praise thee,
O thou God of my fathers, who hast
given me wisdom and might, and hast
made known unto me now what we desired of thee.
Remember no prayer goes unanswered.
Remember that the moment a thing seems
wrong to you, or a person’s actions to be not what
you think they should be, at that moment begins; our
obligation and responsibility to pray for those wrongs to
be righted, or that person to be different. Face our responsibility.
What is wrong in your country, its statesmen, its laws, its people?
Think out quietly, and make these matters your prayer matters. You will
see lives you never touch altered, laws made at your request, evils banished.
Yes,Live in a large sense. Live to serve and to save. You may never go beyond one
room, and yet you may become one of a most powerful forces for good in our country,
in the world.You may never see the mighty work you do, but I see it, evil sees it. Oh! it is
a glorious life, the life of one who saves. Fellow-workers together with me. See this more and more.
Love with Me, sharers of My Life.
|God Calling |
|August 22 – Gleams of Sunlight|
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye
partakers of Christ’s sufferings;
that, when His Glory shall be revealed,
ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 4:13
|Because you have both longed |
to save My World I let you have that
training that shall fit you to save. Take your
pains and sufferings, difficulties and hardships
each day, both of you, to offer them up for a troubled
soul, or for some prayer specially needed to be answered.
So the beauty of each day will live on after trouble and distress,
difficulty and pain of the day have passed.Learn from My Life of the
suffering that saves others. So, you will sing in your pain. Across grayest
days there are the gleams of Sunlight.
our key to our faith is when we let go, let God.
The Rev. Gary Jones
St. Stephen’s, Richmond
Jan. 24, 2014-219th Council
I love our bishops’ exhortations that we can look
for the new thing the Holy Spirit is doing. And after this
morning’s presentations, I can see we don’t have to look far.
This church’s (St. Paul’s Church’s) Downtown Mission; St. Andrew’s
intentional community; the touching and deeply moving ministry at Buck
Mountain, Earlysville; the vitality at the Falls Church and the Church of the Resurrection;
the amazing GIRLs at St. George’s, Fredericksburg. The list is goes on and on.
But I’m convinced the Holy Spirit is active beyond church in ways that
should get our attention.
The cover of Time magazine this week was entitled
“The Mindful Revolution,” and it pictures a young woman
dressed in Lu Lu Lemon in a meditation pose. I’ve heard that
most popular time for yoga classes in many major cities is Sunday
morning. What is the Holy Spirit doing?
We live in a noisy, information saturated, multi
tasking world, people know something is wrong. I just
sometimes wonder why so many people seem to be looking
everywhere but the church for answers. When Oprah hosted that
web-based discussion on meditation with Eckhart Tolle a few years ago,
so many tried to log on that it ended up crashing Oprah’s website. The amazing
thing is that Eckhart Tolle is simply popularizing ideas and practices that have been
part of Christian tradition since the days of Desert Monasticism, Gregory of Nyssa
and Augustine of Hippo. Apparently, we’ve been distracted with other things.
It’s enough to make you believe that the Holy Spirit is going to reach out
and care for people with or without the church. And this is one reason
we started offering Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction classes at
St. Stephen’s Church. We are constantly over-subscribed, and in
other contemplative groups, yoga classes, Tai Chi, Centering
Prayer groups are popping up all the time. Some of those
people quickly make an association between Centering
Prayer offerings and the 14th Century Anglican work,
The Cloud of Unknowing, which in all fact is the very
basis for Centering Prayer, maybe who cares if our
Holy Spirit is flying under the radar and getting to
people without the churchy labels? “A rose by any
other name would smell as sweet,” so we don’t about
that. It doesn’t surprise me that often the largest of our six
Sunday services is the quieter and more meditative Celtic service.
And with a single cantor instead of several paid choir members, it also
happens to be one of the least expensive of all our worship services.
The Holy Spirit seems to be moving, and in other interesting ways
at St. Stephen’s. One of our largest congregations is that weekly
Farmers Market, attended; people who may not want to have
anything to do with organized religion, but who are serious
about caring for creation and their own bodies. Lots of the
young people with strollers, lots of dogs, lively, foot-tapping
musicians, joggers meeting for morning coffee, … all manner of
folk coming together at a church. We like to think of it as a modern
village green; and it frequently occurs to people bless each other there
in our church parking lot. “God bless you,” I hear people say to each other as
I pass by incognito in my sunglasses and jeans, “I’ll be praying for you.” And some,
who apparently have no interest in institutional religion, who feel at home on the church
refuge with us, and ultimately join our worship or our community meals.
We don’t report such people as official members of St. Stephen’s to
the diocese or the larger Episcopal Church bureaucracy, but they
know they truly belong.A friend of mine who is rector of one of
the largest churches in the country recently told me that his
church’s thinking about opening a “Center for Spirituality”
in his city – a place off campus where people could go to
classes on healthy eating, and so on.But wait a minute,
I think my friend was simply acknowledging that many spiritual
seekers today are so put off by the agenda of Christian churches that
you have to start a whole new entity to attract them. I get it. But experience
at St. Stephen’s suggests that it’s not too late for us parish churches to become
greater compassion and engagement with God, the world, and themselves.
very Lest I give you the wrong impression, I should be emphasize that at
St. Stephen’s, we experience tremendous vitality in our ancient liturgies.
our of our Sunday services, strictly according to The Book of Common
Prayer, and Daily Morning Prayer every day of the week is sometimes
painfully rubrical. But our experience that if it is reverent, prayerful,
if we are truly spiritually present, God is nowhere more powerfully
alive than in our liturgical tradition.
This past summer, few posts by bloggers in their 20’s and 30’s
caught my attention. A young woman wrote of trouble she
she had had finding a church community. Saying she and
her husband wanted to find an anti-institutional church,
something that looked less like a church and more like
a hip coffee house. It led them to a worshiping community
full of people their age, a church called Praxis. “It was the kind
of church where the young, hip pastor hoisted an infant into his arms
and said with sincerity, ‘Dude, I baptize you in the name of the Father and
]community. I missed hymns, historicity, sacraments and aesthetics.
“[Ultimately,] we found an Episcopal church; where every Sunday
morning, watch clergy process up that aisle wearing vestments
and carrying a 6-foot cross. “We take communion from those
ordained priest who held the chalice of blood-red wine and
lays a hand blessing on our children. We sing the Lord’s
Prayer and recite from the Book of Common Prayer in
which not once … does the word ‘dude’ ever appear.”
In another post that went viral entitled, “Why the
Millenials are Leaving the Church,” 32-year-old
Rachel Held Evans wrote: “Many of us, myself
included, finding ourselves increasingly drawn
to high church traditions [like] the Episcopal
Church, etc., precisely because the ancient
forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so
unconcerned with being ‘cool,’ and so find
that refreshingly authentic. “What millennials
really want from the church is not a change in style
but a change in substance. You can’t hand us a latte and
then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around.
We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor
there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.”
I think we are finding something similar at St. Stephen’s Church here in
Richmond. We are trying to offer worship, education and ministry opportunities
that are deeply rooted in ancient tradition. Our evening Celtic service might sound like
an attempt to be hip, but the classical instrumentation and liturgy say otherwise. What it is
different is the quiet, the laying on of hands, the space to breathe deeply in an environment of
or chalice bearer or in any other leadership role in that service, you have to arrive one hour
before the service to prepare and pray silently with us, that you are centered in holiness
yourself and thus able to be with others, especially strangers, in the way God is present
to you. I do think the Holy Spirit is going to reach and care for people with or without a
church, but I think She’d rather do it with us. And we might need open new doors for
them to find us.
August 23 – The Summit
The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds’
feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine
See not the small trials and vexations of each hour of the day.
See the one purpose and plan to which all are leading. In climbing
a mountain you keep your eyes on each stony or difficult place, as you ascend, seeing only that, how weary and profitless your climb!
But if you think of each step as leading to the summit of achievement, from
which glories and beauties will open out before you, then your climb will
be so different.
|God Calling |
August 24 – Sublime Heights
If it be so, our God whom we
serve is able to deliver us from
the burning fiery furnace, and he
will deliver us out of thine hand, O King.
Our Lord, we know that
Thou art great and able to
deliver us. I Am your Deliverer.
Trust in Me absolutely. Know that
I will do the very best for you. Be ready
and willing for My Will to be done. Know that
with Me all things are possible. Cling joyfully in
that truth. Say many times, “All things are possible
with My Master, My Lord, My Friend.” This truth, accept;
and firmly believed in, is the ladder up which a soul can climb
from the lowest of pits to the sublimest of heights.