Holy Trinity Sunday

We are on a short vacation in Pensacola, FL with some great friends and our oldest son and daughter-in-law. When away from my church I love other church traditions. What a joy to be at a very old Episcopal Church on Holy Trinity Sunday. The liturgy was beautiful and the surroundings were gorgeous.

The focus on the doctrine of the Trinity was front and center. The readings, songs, prayers, all centered us on the core doctrine of Trinity. It was a profound worship service, and a great reminder in those surroundings that worship isn’t about ME. It is about our great God!

The preaching of the Word

The priority needs to be given to the public reading of Scripture. We need to systematically read the Scripture in public. The story needs to be impressed into our collective memories.

“If the sermon follows some form of lectio divina (in which the whole of Scripture is read over a period of time), we are more likely to avoid the habit of reading from a few favorite books (usually the Epistles) and preaching from our favorite texts… What we call the ‘exposition of the Scriptures’ should be the clarification of the Story so we can listen to it more attentively and relate to the events more fully.” — Simon Chan, Spiritual Theology


The Devil Has All the Good Liturgies

I really enjoyed James Smith’s book, Desiring the Kingdom, so I look forward to this new book, Imagining the Kingdom. 
He has an interview in Christianity Today and he brings up the whole idea of allegiances again. Everything in life is liturgy, according to Smith. It’s about our loyalties.
His claim is we are defined by what we worship rather than what we think, know, or believe. It comes from the Augustinian thought, “We are what we love.”
The interviewer asks a question starting with, “Secular rituals shape us just as much as sacred ones. You say that ‘the Devil has all the best liturgies.'”
Smith’s reply is that rituals and practices that form our lives spill out well beyond the sanctuary. Many secular liturgies try to get us to love some other kingdom and some other goals.
Smith has been instrumental in shaping my thinking all along about the KING and his KINGDOM. I look forward to his new book.

Prayers for the Day

Collect of the Day: Sixth Sunday of Easter

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What he has for us is far beyond the small dreams we may have for ourselves.

The great cloud of witnesses

Having finished Robert Benson’s book In Constant Prayer for a book review, there are some powerful thoughts from his work I wanted to share.

His admonition is to take up the duty of prayer. Specifically, take up the ancient practice of the “offices.” Pray the daily office.

The office is just a collection of words. But words are powerful things. Who know what a single one of them might do to us over time?

We can get bogged down with our “been there, done that” mentality. We want something “cutting edge.” Something that “does it” for us.

Benson calls us to the ancient path because in that practice are words that have been repeated millions of times and you never know when one of those words will ignite your soul. But without that repetition, you may not have that chance. The beauty of repetition is that it gets down into our soul and then has a chance to be used by the Spirit to bring about something beautiful and new.

Yes, the daily office has repetition. But in that repetition we have the opportunity for those words to finally do something! What are we so afraid of in this exercise? Ritual? But in being fearful of “ritual” has it not led us away from the exercise of regular prayer? Is that such a good thing?

Benson ends his book with a charge. He recounts the faithfulness of the Israel and the prayers they developed as the people of Yahweh. The Gentiles learned to take up the practices as Christians from Jewish Christians. They would follow that pattern early in the history of the church.

Then the desert fathers and mothers, the people of the Church of the Middle Ages, and the people of the Reformation all took their place in the line of the faithful followers. Together they formed a great river of prayer that has rolled across the centuries, offered by the unknown and unseen saints, a great river of prayer that sustained the Church.

For six thousand years, the faithful began their days with the cry of, ‘Lord, open our lips.’ They offered the canticles of praise and said or chanted the psalms. They gathered up their prayers for each other and the community and the whole world into the collects that have been passed down to us for generations. They offered their petitions and intercessions in the language of the devout, they said their confessions, and they sang their hymns.

And now it is our turn.

Indeed. Could we overcome our boredom and find the rich vein of gold in these practices? Could we dare to drink from this ancient well and find living water?

We have to connect. We need to walk in the path of prayer. Find our way. But above all, quit talking ABOUT prayer… and pray.