Friday, August 31, 2012
O loving God, you called your servant Aidan from the peace of a cloister to re-establish the Christian mission in northern England, and endowed him with gentleness, simplicity, and strength: Grant that we, following his example, may use what you have given us for the relief of human need, and may persevere in commending the saving Gospel of our Redeemer Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Ospreys are plentiful around the coastal waters. Some people call them fish hawks. One of the distinctive things about them is this hovering posture they display while they are fishing. The bird will hover very high up in the air, looking for fish below, and then dive and scoop the prey in its strong talons and fly off with it.
You can see the fish it caught.
There it goes!
Off to its nest over on the creek side of the dunes.
|The College of William & Mary|
O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities,
that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery,
and the pursuit of wisdom;
and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find
you to be the source of all truth;
through Jesus Christ our
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion us into one united people. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live
in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day,
who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never
forget that our common life depends upon each other's toil;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord God, the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the hearts that serve you: Help us, following the example of your servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Monday, August 27, 2012
O Loving God, whose will it is that everyone should come to you and be saved: We bless your holy Name for your servants Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle whose labors with and for those who are deaf we commemorate today, and we pray that you will continually move your Church to respond in love to the needs of all people; through Jesus Christ, who opened the ears of the deaf, and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t believe everything you think.” Intrigued, I googled it. Turns out it refers to a song by country singer Lee Brice. The basic premise of the song is: you think you’ve got me all figured out, what kind of person I am and how I’m going to act, but the mind is a funny thing, so don’t believe everything you think.
Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
This is the second of the Virtual Choir videos by American composer Eric Whitacre, who wrote the music and then assembled a virtual choir of singers from 58 countries to sing it. The song is called "Sleep." First you will hear the choir sing, and then see the credits while you listen to the song played again on the piano. This must be a lot of fun for everyone involved.
More more information, see Mr. Whitacre's website.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our
being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by
your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our
life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are
ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
This is a photograph of a bee enjoying some bee balm. That's the "folk" name of this flowering plant, which is more formally called "monarda," a considerably less lovely name than "bee balm." It's easy to understand why it's called "bee balm," because if you grow it, you will find bees all over it every time you look.
I suppose many of us also have some kind of "people balm" we flock to - or at least we would like to flock to - for sustenance and, well, balm. A balm is something that soothes and restores. Jeremiah laments, "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?" And the beautiful spiritual replies, "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul."
The hymn goes on: "Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work's in vain. But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again."
What I like about the word "balm" is that it is a physical thing, medically speaking. I like the idea of something physical happening that revives the soul. Listening to music, reading, being in conversation with someone can be a balm. So can eating and drinking with a friend or lover, or walking, or looking at a particular view, or smelling particular fragrances. For me, walking beside the ocean is pretty high on my list of restorative activities. Sometimes a good soak in the tub with a good book is just the thing. Or the scent of old fashioned roses. Or a hug. Sometimes it's receiving bread and wine at the altar.
But, like the song says, there's more to that balm than whatever the "thing" is that soothes. The infusion of the Spirit provides the real healing to my soul. To be touched by someone in love, knowing that God is the author and center of love. Being in nature while at the same time knowing (and marveling all over again) that it is God who has provided this beauty, God that powers the wind and created the colors and gives life to the plants and animals and to me - that is how the healing works. To use Biblical terms, healing comes through the interaction of flesh and spirit. Not one or the other but both together.
What serves as a balm for your soul?
Canticle 13 Song of the Three Young Men
Benedictus es, Domine
Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers; *
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; *
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple; *
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim; *
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you, beholding the depths; *
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Almighty God, we give you thanks for surrounding us,
with the brightness of the vesper light;
and weimplore you of your great mercy that,
as you enfold us withthe radiance of this light,
so you would shine into our hearts
the brightness of your Holy Spirit;
through Jesus Christ our
O God, by whose grace your servant Bernard of Clairvaux, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
During Year B in the lectionary cycle, we have five weeks of bread - five weeks of the Jesus talking about himself as the bread of life and the bread of heaven. Preachers sometimes take this opportunity to preach some of the other readings. Five weeks of bread seems like a long time.
I am fortunate to serve in a parish with enough clergy available to preach that we can cycle through this series of readings without anyone needing to double up. My turn will come next week when we reach the last of these six weeks. I'll have had the pleasure of hearing what my colleagues have to say on the subject before taking it up myself. And so I have no complaints, although I appreciate that, especially in a one-preacher parish, staying this long on basically the same spot can be a challenge.
What I've been thinking, though, is this: why not consider bread for six weeks? Why not consider how we are fed, physically and spiritually and the challenges we face when considering how to feed others, both physically and spiritually? "By his hand we all are fed," goes the children's grace before meals, and yet people are still hungry, both physically and spiritually. Why not wonder why that is, and what we ought to do in response?
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Friday, August 17, 2012
Almighty God, we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so
that it might produce what is needed for life: Bless those who
work in the fields; give us seasonable weather; and grant that
we may all share the fruits for the earth, rejoicing in your
goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ
hast promised to all those who seek your kingdom and its
righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send
us, we entreat you, in this time of need, such moderate rain
and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to
our comfort and to your honor; through Jesus Christ our
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Today we celebrate the Feast of St Mary the Virgin. The collect for the day alludes to Mary’s having been taken up to God in some way: “O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son.” We don’t really know what that means, however. Roman Catholic doctrine describes this feast as the assumption of Mary into heaven, leaving open the question of whether this event occurred before or after an earthly death. In the Orthodox church, this feast is called the Dormition of the Theotokos - the falling asleep of the Mother of God. Falling asleep here is a euphemism for death. Orthodox tradition holds that Mary died, was resurrected on the third day, and taken into heaven, just like Jesus. We Anglicans, we of the middle way, simply celebrate the day as the Feast of St Mary the Virgin and make room for a variety of interpretations.
O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
I like peace and quiet as much as the next person, but occasionally I just want to bust out of the straight jacket I find I've put myself in because I'm trying not to be too loud or too talkative or too silly or too trivial or too fun. I've taken into myself the message of "no, no, no!" I start worrying about being taken seriously or not thought of as some kind of "lightweight" or meeting what I think are others' expectations of me, and the next thing I know, I'm boring myself to death. Which means I'm boring others, too. I'm not being myself.
Sometimes this is a result of family history. As children we may have been told that we were expected to be seen but not heard. (My "problem" was that I wanted to be seen AND heard. Imagine.)
Other times, we are simply going along with the prevailing contemporary culture in which we are directed to clump into groups dictated by some demographic. Age, stage in life, gender, religion, political leanings. We act as if it is normal to required to be in our own little bubbles and not straying outside of our designated space/spheres. We may even begin to feel as if we are entitled to go through life without bumping up against anyone else who might disturb our sensibilities.
But that isn't good for us. It ends up breeding fear. It's actually not a bad thing to bump up against others, even/especially others who are not like us. It's ok to be different, and it's ok to be around people who are different from us. Otherwise, we lose perspective. We aren't able to see other ways of being or thinking or feeling. We become insulated and stay in a place where everything is sedate, rather than living in a world that constantly challenges us to grow.
Sometimes I need a breather, and I need a little peace and quiet. But when that becomes my focus, I'm usually about to lose something important. I'm risking cutting off my vitality. I risk failing to live into being the person God created me to be. I honor neither my own complexity or the complexity of the wonderful world I live in.
Do you ever find that you have cut off your own vitality and put yourself in a straight jacket in response to the some perception that the world thinks you need to tone it all down?
O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: we give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Read about Jonathan Daniels' powerful story here.)
Monday, August 13, 2012
Grant us, Lord, the lamp of charity which never fails,
that it may burn in us and shed its light on those around us,
and that by its brightness we may have a vision of that holy City,
where dwells the true and never-failing Light,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, like your servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let your Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Read about Jeremy Taylor, Bishop and Theologian, here.)
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I went to the front door and looked out the glass side lights and didn't see anything. But the noise was definitely coming from the other side of the door.
I turned the lock, thinking that whatever was out there would be frightened by the sound. But it wasn't. I opened the door and this young mourning dove nearly fell into the living room.
It had been pecking at its reflection in the brass kick plate.
It righted itself after the near-spill into the living room and faced down the enemy once more.
It got breast to breast with the rival bird and continued to peck away.
After a few more minutes of fruitless scaring-the-other-bird-away maneuvers, it decided to move on.
See you around the neighborhood, little bird!
Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Since it's St Clare's Day, and St Clare is the patron saint of television, and since we are all watching the Olympics as well, it seems most appropriate to screen the newest Simon's Cat video today, fresh off the pen of Simon's Cat's creator, appropriately named Simon (Tofield). You'll want to watch it more than once to see the cheering, actions, and reactions of all of the characters.
Enjoy! And Happy St Clare's Day!
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Almighty God, you called your deacon Laurence to serve you with deeds of love, and gave him the crown of martyrdom; Grant that we, following his example, may fulfill your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
O God of the prophets, you opened the eyes of your servant Dominic to perceive a famine of hearing the word of the Lord, and moved him, and those he drew about him, to satisfy that hunger with sound preaching and fervent devotion: Make your church, dear Lord, in this and every age, attentive to the hungers of the world, and quick to respond in love to those who are perishing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Here are some photos of terns, gulls, willets, and sanderlings that I took at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the coast of Virginia last weekend.
If I could put this slideshow to music, I'd use Van Halen's "Jump!"
Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Mason Neale, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Monday, August 6, 2012
The Feast of the Transfiguration marks the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, which took place in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta four years ago.
I couldn't decide whether to post a picture of a dancing bird (see above) or a bird just taking off in flight (there'll be plenty of those to come, as I had a very productive photo session at the beach over the weekend). In the end, I went with dancing. I think that probably is always the right decision.
Plus, I don't feel that I've just taken off, even though I certainly did feel that way four years ago, including the slightly dizzying feeling of flying without a net. Now, I feel joyful, through and through. Every day of the past four years has been a gift, even if I did not particularly want to open some of those gifts. I used to joke that since I'd come to this vocation later rather than sooner, there was an intensity to it that made the time seem more accurately measured in dog years rather than people years. Only four years? More like twenty-eight!
But not really. In some ways it all feels very comfortable. In others, I still feel like a newbie.
I recently watched the first season of the BBC series Rev, which has become available (finally!) here in the United States via Hulu. The show revolves around The Rev. Adam Smallbone (played by Tom Hollander), the (Church of England) vicar of a tiny flock in an inner-city London church, and his dealings with his wife, his assistant, his boss, the headmistress of the church school, and his few and eccentric parishioners. And of course with life.
While the show is funny, part of what I love about it is that it is real. The vicar is beset by the sorts of things that beset all of us in this vocation. Pride, fear, doubt, jealousy, anxiety, frustration, invitations to get hooked by all sorts of people and situations. It may look ridiculous (it is television after all, meant to entertain), but underneath, it is real.
The final episode is the most real of all. The vicar was criticized on the internet by a television version of The Ship of Fools Mystery Worshipper (he got a -1 on a scale of 1 to 10 for his sermon, which he admitted had not been any good at all), which starts him on a downward spiral. In one short scene, he lies on a pew, arm dangling uselessly to the floor, praying. "Why, God, do you allow there to be kids who don't know what World War II is, and why did you send that reviewer on my one bad day (is that what I deserve?) and why is there litter all over the graveyard, and why do Nazis always live til they're 96, and why are African women on their way to get water for their starving villages raped by boy soldiers, and why are there no more bumble bees?" he asks.
From there it all goes south. He has lost his way, if not his faith. His most eccentric parishioner reminds him that people look to him because he's the vicar, but he blows the parishioner off. He does some stupid stuff. And some even stupider stuff.
Near the end of this sad show of stupidity, a policeman comes to find him and takes him to a hospital where someone lies dying. She wants last rites. The vicar protests - he's been having a crisis. He's not up to it. The policeman turns to him and says, "She's in pain and she wants release." And then, more sternly: "Are you her vicar or not?"
Adam Smallbone hesitates, but then, suddenly sober, he says, "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom should I send, and who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I; send me.'" The policeman doesn't know what he's saying. Smallbone explains: "Isaiah, chapter 6. It was read at my ordination." And he follows the policeman into the dying woman's room.
Isaiah 6:1-8 was read at my ordination, too. Here am I; send me. Send me.
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.