The page for seasonal reflections from clergy and lay members of our mission partnership.
Look here for more seasonal posts!
In these troubled times–wildfires, hurricanes, wars, rumors of war, dysfunctional governments, and social unrest–it is helpful to look to the book of Psalms for words to help us grieve, rail, cry, or rejoice as the need arises.
Psalm 61:1-5, & 8 BCP
1 Hear my cry, O God,*
and listen to my prayer.
2 I call upon you from the ends of the earth
with heaviness in my heart;*
set me upon the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,*
a strong tower against my enemy.
4 I will dwell in your house for ever;*
I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
5 For you, O God, have heard my vows;*
you have granted me the heritage of those who fear your Name.
8 So will I always sing the praise of your Name,*
and day by day I will fulfill my vows.
“>A Lenten Reflection by the Rt. Rev., Sam Hulsey, Bishop of an Episcopal diocese in Texas:
Fast from judging others;
Feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from fear of illness;
Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute;
Feast on speech that purifies.
Fast from discontent;
Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger;
Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism
Feast on optimism.
Shared by Jan Jacobs, Lay Pastoral Leader–St. Augustine’s, Creede
Lenten Reflection #3
March 17 and March 19 mark the days to remember St. Patrick and St. Joseph. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, there was much animosity among Irish immigrants to the US and their Italian counterparts. Due to much earlier immigration, the Irish were much more established in the US than the Italians who were newer and more willing to work for lower wages and longer hours. The Irish resented this, and their mistrust of the Italians spilled over to their religious observances and church life. As a result, St. Patrick was much more revered than St. Joseph, who was much revered in the country of Italy. St. Joseph took quite a back seat to St. Patrick.
In Italy, the feast day of St. Joseph was observed as a day to make many delicious foods that would be shared by those less fortunate. According to Florence Berger, author of Cooking for Christ, those invited to the great feasts were “the ones whom St. Joseph would invite: the poor, the unfortunate, the halt, and the blind.”
Even today, St. Joseph is barely remembered. Perhaps one of our Lenten disciplines might be to reflect upon reasons for his veneration and the influence his values had on those who revered and celebrated him.
Susan Robinson, Bishop’s Warden
March 15, 2015
A quote from the PBS television program, Grantchester:
“Repentance, the scriptures tell us, is a form of sorrow; sorrow for our sins and the resolution to turn from them—to learn from them. Recognizing our sins and being honest with ourselves; accepting who we are and embrasing who we hope to be, because, that is who God intended ust tobe. We should never pretend to be otherwise.
The summation of today’s sermon (Numbers 21:4-9 & John 3:14-21.) ~the Rev. Robert Pope
A Lenten Reflection #2 – MARCH 11, 2015
Taken from Cooking For Christ by Florence Berger, published by the National Rural Life Conference, 1996 reprint
“Now the purple days of Lent are upon us and we are called to live not only Christian lives, but perfect Christian lives. How many times during the year our ideals have withered from lack of a good airing. We are all apt to cry “Yea Lord, I believe,” but we fail to practice what we proclaim.
The early Christians not only realized this duality of the human make-up, but also acknowledged that God was all-wise in commanding us to feast and to fast. For as:”
The body is nourished with food,
the soul is refreshed with fasting.
Without their proper nourishment,
the limbs can be of no service,
Without abstinence the ruling power
of the spirit cannot survive
A Lenten Reflection, March 6, 2015
by Susan Robinson, St. Stephen’s Bishop’s Warden
Lessons from Mitford
As many of you know, I am a big fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series. I am sure that the little town actually exists in the mountains of North Carolina, and the characters are real folks. (Well, not really, but it’s fun to think so.) Granted, the books will never be dubbed as the “Great American Novels,” but they are just so enjoyable and uplifting to read. I am slowly reading her latest in the series, Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good. I say slowly because I don’t want to get to the end. I never want to say good-bye to the varied characters and their ways of dealing with life’s challenges and pleasures. In this installment, Fr. Tim has been retired for 5 years. He’s a bit restless because he still feels a need to be useful. He responds to those feelings by volunteering to keep the bookstore, Happy Endings, operating while its owner, Hope, is confined by complete bed rest due to pregnancy complications. He has also taken on some community beautification projects. His biggest concern is Sammy’s rebellious and dysfunctional behavior. Sammy is the younger brother of Dooley, Fr. Tim’s adopted son. He and Dooley suffered very unstable living conditions during their growing up years. Dooley found stability and love in the care of Fr. Tim. Sammy, having been separated from his siblings at an early age, was not so fortunate and has a very difficult time trusting anyone. As related in previous books, Fr. Tim was able to reunite Sammy with his brothers. Sammy is now living in Mitford but is having a very difficult time. At one point Fr. Tim becomes completely frustrated with Sammy’s behavior and has no idea of how to bring about a change. As Fr. Tim so frequently does, he asks all involved to join him in prayer and to keep praying and trusting that God will see them through. I am not yet finished with the book, so I can’t reveal the ending. Don’t worry. I won’t reveal the ending even when I do finish.
Are we likely to see the Mitford series in a recommended reading list for the season of Lent? Probably not. However, do these books give us much to contemplate and reflect upon? Yes. What better to contemplate during Lent than the lessons of trusting in God’s wisdom and praying for that wisdom to resolve difficult situations.
Ash Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
From our Vicar, the Rev. Robert G. Pope:
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”
“must I forgive seven times? No, seventy times seven.”
Forgiveness is the heart of the Christian faith; we forgive as a reflection of God’s willingness to forgive us. Yet it is a huge stumbling block for most of us; it calls us to put behind something that has hurt and deeply affected our lives. We know perfectly the cost to ourselves, our bodies and our psyches, to hang onto anger and our desire, somehow, to get even. But often our offenders go merrily along without the slightest sense of remorse, and sometimes, not even realizing what they did to us. For those who are gifted with the ability to forgive; God bless them!
We can learn to forgive, but it isn’t a simple “I forgive you.” It really is something we have to work through over time. The hurt may have come in a moment–true forgiveness won’t. I know prayer helps though it surely is hard to ask God to do what we are struggling with and expect Him to accomplish it without our work along with Him. There is also the danger that we actually savor our resentment and anger over hurt because it provides a “club” to hold over the other person, a “club’ to be used whenever we need to strike back. Forgiveness takes away our “club” of superiority and makes us equals.
People much smarter than I tell me there are things we need to understand, if we are to make forgiveness genuine.
1. Forgiveness does not require reconciliation; it is the act of one person.
2. It is not forgetting what happened; it is the ability to remember without resentment.
3. It is not excusing the act.
4. It is not the elimination of justice or cost for the one who offended.
Perhaps it is good to remember that Jesus cast out demons, not the human beings that they lived in. Anger and resentment and grudges are demons that, if not exorcised by us with God’s help, will destroy the person God calls us to be.
Holy Saturday, April 19th, 2014
I remember spending 24-hour vigil in a “garden” we created in an alcove at St. Peter’s Episcopal church where I spent my middle and high school years. Everyone signed up for a couple of hours each to watch and pray with Christ. The Altar Guild gathered/bought flowers-lilies-plants and placed them around a single consecrated host that was placed in a cross-shaped holder. A single candle burned from which we could light other votives in prayer for someone.
At Easter Dawn, the single candle was taken out to a brazier where the new fire was lit. From that fire, the thurifer lit incense in the thurible and preceded the procession followed by one of the lucifers who carried the new Christ candle. It is an awesome service!
May the new Light shine in each heart this Easter!
Good Friday, April 18,2014
The Tradition of Hot Cross Buns from Cooking For Christ, Your Kitchen Prayer Book by Florence Berger
Published by National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 1949 and 1996
As the Hallel psalms die into silence, our joy turns to the sorrow of Good Friday. All the festivities are over, the altars are stripped. the tabernacles are empty. Stark, bare and silent stands the cross for our adoration. This was the day of greatest sacrifice, so we spend Good Friday in fast and abstinence. Meat and wine were forbidden on this day in the earliest Lenten regulations. As early as 540-604, Pope Gregory directed that only bread, salt, and vegetables be eaten on Good Friday. This is not too hard to do – to show our love. The bread you ate on Green Thursday (Maundy Thursday) may have been scored and twisted like a rope, the rope on which Judas hanged himself; but the bread you eat on Good Friday may follow a very old English custom and be signed with the cross. Even though cross bread was used by the Saxon pagans before Christianity came to England, the symbol of the goddess Oester was re-interpreted as the cross of Christ after the country’s conversion. Heathen bread was baptized as it were and the hot cross bun was marked with the sign of salvation. Nobody thought of the old meaning and everybody wanted holy bread for Good Friday breakfast. As early as 1225 bakers in England had a thriving trade in hot cross buns on Good Friday.
Maundy Thursday, April 17, 2014
Last year one of the two eleven-year-old ewes went down 24 hours before she gave birth to twin lambs. I found her in labor and delivered them and raised them on bottles without her help. After almost 2 weeks of the best alfalfa sprinkled generously with corn, fresh water, a little enclosed area of her own with bales of straw as a windbreak and some “physical therapy” to encourage her standing and walking, I finally told her, “You have 3 more days to get up and start walking…….or else.” It had been very time-consuming to clean her area, keep her on dry ground, work with her needs. I had plenty to do with all the other new moms and lambs. On the third morning she wobbled to her feet, stood for a couple of minutes, and started walking. I nearly fainted.
After that it was hard to even find her in the group of sheep. She kept up as well as the best of them. Most sheep that are “down” for more than a couple of days don’t get up.
Now it is a year later. This morning between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. she gave birth to a sturdy set of twins. I’d had the shearer leave most of her wool on her to reduce energy loss (body heat) since she’s such an old girl. I’d penned her in the lambing area and left her to clean the lambs and nibble hay for an hour. When I went out to check on them, she met me at the corner where I enter with a mothering sort of bleat-grunt. She only had one lamb. I checked every place in the lambing area, every nook and cranny. We had a dusting of snow so I started looking for tiny hoof-prints; and there they were leading to the water tank, around the corral divider. There in the corner nestled the lamb who made his little lamb sound “meep” when I approached. Mom ewe was very pleased to be reunited with her first-born son who’d gone walkabout, having escaped through a small space between the fencing panels.
Lord, when we are helpless to retrieve what has slipped away, may we look to You for assurance that we belong to You and are precious to You. P. Godfrey
April 15, 2015-Tuesday of Holy Week
“It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and good people who have learned the great secret of life. They have found a joy and a wisdom which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their own souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians……..and I am one of them.” -St. Cyprian, 200-258 A.D.
April 14, 2014 – Monday of Holy Week
Last night’s big beautiful newborn lamb was dead this morning. Her bloated belly was probably some internal birth defect or other problem. The lamb had nursed and was curled up as if sleeping. When I took the dead lamb out of her pen, the ewe bleated and bleated. I took the lamb to the house and skinned it leaving leg holes and the tail on the skin. A twelve year old eve had twinned early morning the day before and did not have enough milk to keep her lambs satisfied, as they nursed frequently and never looked full. Gathering up one of the hungry twins, a real screamer, I dressed the live lamb in the dead lamb’s skin, tying it across the chest and belly to hold it in place. Then I delivered the grieving ewe’s desire to her.
Though her lamb had not been noisy, this live lamb smelled like her lamb. It’s body and tail were her lamb. I left them together undisturbed for a few hours. The lamb quit crying; the ewe started talking to it. When I finally went to look into the jail, the full little lamb was curled up sleeping as mom stood over her.
My experience with cattle and sheep has been confirmed over and over, a new mother wants to raise a baby, but rarely accepts the strange smell of an orphan. If someone familiar takes the dead animal and returns to her a live one that smells like her own, whom she had licked and sniffed to her ravenous motherhood joy, leaving them alone together is often all it takes to make a match.
Heavenly father, may my relationship with you continue to grow deeper and stronger so that I will trust you to bring me what I need in life’s inevitable losses. P. Godfrey
April 13, 2014 – Passion Sunday
Traditional Collect for Passion Sunday – BCP
Almighty and everlasting God, Who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of great humility; Mercifully grant that we may both follow the example of patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever. Amen.
April 7, 2014
Lambing has begun. Over the past 23 years, not a lambing season has gone by without its share of shepherding experiences which take me more deeply into awareness of God’s loving presence and care as my Shepherd.
As I drove down the driveway I could see the ewe and her new lamb away from the group of sheep out in the 4-acre trap (a word used to describe an area smaller than a pasture, where animals are confined). My two guardian dogs lay to the north of her, one around 30 feet east of her, the other an equal distance to the west. Over the years the only coyotes to come near or into the trap have approached from the north, even when they are hunting rodents. It was a beautiful scene to observe my helpers attending her and this fragile new life.
Later after I’d brought the ewe and lamb to the shed, she gave birth to a second lamb. She’s had mastitis on one side of her udder for four years. I use a yarrow flower oil to reduce the inflammation by rubbing it gently into the affected area. That first year I’d tied her to begin the twice-a-day for four days treatment. It only required restraint on the first two times, indicating her recognition of the relief it brought. Since then she positions herself so that I’m at the right end of her body while she stands quietly as I massage the oil, even spreading her leg out so that I can reach all parts of her udder.
Lord, may I allow Your healing touch to all the inflamed and painful private and tender places in my life. May I submit my whole self to You, remembering with trust that You care for me at least as much as I care for my sheep. P. Godfrey
April 1, 2014
As each ewe was shorn of her wool
I looked for the usual signs
Of late pregnancy: a swelling udder
A belly-full of lambs–
My heart sank as the tried and true
Older girls looked as barren as a mid-winter fruit tree.
Young ewes looked virginal
In spite of the longer breeding season
And a fertility-tested ram.
How can this be?
Never before in the twenty-four year
Of raising sheep have I experienced this.
I look to my Shepherd
my strength, my shield, my rock.
Lay my expectations and my tears down at His feet
Rise to make a sacrifice of praise
Thanksgiving for a hope I cannot see yet.
That’s what faith is for me.
And I find familiar words, loved for years
Having hoped I could actually say them
In a similar time in my own life: Habakkuk 3: 17-19
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no
cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.”
-P. Godfrey, Feb. 13, 2014
Today I missed church and our Bishop’s visit due to having caught the virus that’s been going around.
There is a kind of “desert time” in being ill. It makes one lie “fallow” for a time to rest, drink plenty of fluids, run the humidifier. It was hard to concentrate on anything else but resting. So much so that by afternoon, I was sore from having lain about all day. I’m still too sick to do anything really physical but my head is clearer. I’m not so achy now.
It is interesting just how “busy” I make my life when I’m well. I try to multitask without excelling in any of the tasks I do together. Some things get left unfinished. Then I wonder just who left something undone and in my way until I remember that it was me. I am my own obstacle in the way of my growth. A retreat–even if it is an illness–sets things straight for me. At least until the next time I try to be all-sufficient!
December 29th, 2013
The light has come! Rejoice and be glad! Let us all be beacons shining in the darkness. Shine the light of Christ to all whom we meet.
Radiance. Presence. Peace.
November 17th, 2013
Today’s lessons foreshadow Advent in no uncertain terms. As we look forward to a new year, may we welcome the Advent Conspiracy of welcoming Christ even as we wait for Christ. We stand together in the hope that “all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
March 31, 2013
Welcome happy morning! Age to age shall say.
March 28, 2013 Maundy Thursday
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Julian of Norwich
March 20, 2013
Now let us all with one accord,
in company with ages past,
keep vigil with our heavenly Lord
in his temptation and his fast.
The covenant, so long revealed
to those of faith in former time,
Christ by his own example sealed,
the Lord of love, in love sublime.
Your love, O Lord, our sinful race
has not returned, but falsified;
author of mercy, turn your face
and grant repentance for our pride.
Remember, Lord, though frail we be,
in your own image were we made;
help us, lest in anxiety
we cause your Name to be betrayed.
Therefore, we pray you, Lord, forgive;
so when our wanderings here shall cease,
we may with you for ever live,
in love and unity and peace.
~attributed to Gregory the Great
March 10, 2013
Just prior to the beginning of Lent, the author of the daily meditations that appear in “Forward Day By Day” published by Forward Movement challenged those reading the day’s meditations to join her in a reading journey that would take her through the 176 verses of Psalm 119 at least twice through the period of Lent. The composer of Psalm 119 expresses his complete delight in following the law and commandments of God. He says,”because of them you (meaning God) give me life.” How many of us can truely say we delight completely in following God’s law and commandments? How hard that is to do. What are our greatest desires and delights? ………………….. some thoughts to ponder during these 40 days as we read and reflect on the words of Psalm 119.
March 9, 2013
Snowflakes melt upon falling
Wet ground, muddy
Beagle unhappily wanders the house and
Retires to his cubbyhole under the desk
“Bring back my sunshine”
His brown eyes implore
Bring back my sunshine
Would if I could . . .
This stormy time that follows
Draws out tears I thought were spent
Missing those who have gone
Suffering financial fall-out from
The shuttle of my life has left
“Why, O God, have you forsaken me?”
Or have I forsaken you?
Hold me, Jesus
March 2, 2013
Two years ago down the road from a couple of pelvic dislocations, I can say honestly that I have been learning more about relationships than I would have dreamed possible. In my case it is relationships between the central nervous system and muscles. Survival function overrides the healthy dynamic relationship of nerves and muscles when pain is present – and unfortunately keeps on running the show out of habit (imagining pain, fearing pain). The survival effect does not stay local but permeates neighboring tissues. To be honest, it’s a mess! A tangled knot that requires professionals and therapies to unravel with me, not for me.
For a number of years I’ve been a student of enneagrams, a study of the ego’s various survival strategies informing nine personality styles with characteristic coping mechanisms. I am seeing a new way efforts our bodies and minds make to protect, conpensate, or “splint” to avoid or reduce pain and how thse defensive mechanisms imprison us in habits that limit a full expression of who we are. Admitting to myself that it’s not going to be easy to let go of the two-year-old survival reactions is a start. Admitting that my nervous system needs re-training and consciously tuning in to how I move and where I’m holding tension is the next step. Then submitting my stubborn “I can do it….by myself (a 3-year old child’s stomp for emphasis)” comes next on the steep learning curve I’m navigating.
We are not made for survival mode, but for a thriving, dynamic, integrated, purposeful, and creative expression of Life.
From the gates of Sheol, O Lord, deliver my soul.
(Isaiah 38:10-20, the song of Hezekiah NRSV)
I said: In the noontide of my days
I must depart;
I am consigned to the gates of Sheol
for the rest of my years.
I said, I shall not see the Lord
in the land of the living;
I shall look upon mortals no more
among the inhabitants of the world.
My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me
to an end;
I cry for help until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from day to night you bring me
to an end.
Like a swallow or a crane I clamor,
I moan like a dove.
My eyes are weary with looking
O Lord, I am oppressed; by my
But what can I say? For he has spoken to me,
and he himself has done it.
All my sleep has fled because of the bitterness
of my soul.
O Lord, by these things people live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh, restore me to health and make me
Surely it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness;
but you have held back my life from the pit
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.
For Sheol cannot thank you, death cannot praise you;
those who go down to the Pit cannot hope
for your faithfulness.
The living, the living, they thank you,
as I do this day;
fathers make known to children
The Lord will save me,
and we will sing to stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
at the house of the Lord.
From the gates of Sheol, O Lord, deliver my soul.
Noel, noel, born is the King of Israel! We three kings of Orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star. On this day angels sing: Ideo Gloria in excelsis Deo.
As we move on to the fourth Sunday of Advent and further to Christmas Eve, hear the words of St. Brigid:
I should like a great lake of finest ale
for the King of kings.
I should like a table of the choicest food
for the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,
and the food be forgiving love.
I should welcome the poor to my feast
for they are God’s children.
I should welcome the sick to my feast,
for they are God’s joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place,
and the sick dance with the angels.
All homes, O God, embrace.
Where’er You Walk
Where’er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade;
Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade,
Where’er you tread, the blushing flow’rs shall rise,
And all things flourish, where’er you turn your eyes.
In celebration of All Saints:
I sing a song of the saints of God patient and brave and true, who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew. And one was a doctor and one was a queen, and one was a shepherdess on the green: they were all of them saints of God and I mean, God helping to be one too.
They loved their Lord so dear, so dear, and his love made them strong; and they followed the right for Jesus’ sake the whole of their good lives long. And one was a soldier, and one was a priest, and one was slain by a fierce wild beast: and there’s not any reason no, not the least, why I shouldn’t be one too.
They lived not only in ages past, there are hundreds of thousands still, the world is bright with the joyous saints who love to do Jesus’ will. You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea, in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea, for the saints of God are just folk like me, and I mean to be one too. ~Lesbia Scott
This new page will host reflections of lay and clergy of St. Stephen’s, St. Francis, St. Augustine’s and/or any community members. There will be a theme each month or season. People of all ages are being asked to write something and the administator will up-load their short paragraphs. Woo-hoo! Fresh voices; fresh perspectives. Looking forward to it!
Ash Wednesday, 2012
As we begin the season of Lent, let us consider the words from the Book of Common Prayer (p.264-265).
“Dear people of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.”
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
These are powerful words which cause us to stop and reflect on all that should really matter in our lives. SR
February 23, 2012
Psalm 25:5 ” Lead me in thy Truth and teach me. For Thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day.”
I long to know, to stand firm on Truth, to be certain. Being led in Truth is very different from being led “to Truth,” Consider Abraham: God asked him to take Isaac to a place He would show Abraham, then sacrifice his beloved and long-awaited son. God’s unfolding Truth is that Abraham would be shown a greater Truth at the appropriate time and in response to faithfulness. Abraham’s investment was in trusting the God of his salvation, waiting for God’s presence in every moment to guide him. Truth is not a brittle knowledge. What is Truth to you? PG
February 25, 2012
Lent is a time of self discipline, and many of us try to achieve that by sacrificing something we like for the forty days. It might be candy or soft drinks or cigarettes, etc. And that is all to the good unless our sacrifice becomes a way for us to show off. “I gave up chocolate for Lent.” (See how religious I am.) Self discipline means doing it and being conscious of why. It means as Matthew 6 tell us, letting God see, not our friends and neighbors. RGP
A whiney, gripey, discontented crowd received further insult to their perception of injury. Firey snakes appeared and the snake-bit people died. Moses was begged to intercede; God directed Moses to make a bronze serpent, raise it up on a pole, and the snake-bit persons would live if they looked upon the bronze serpent.
In a recent devotional the writer had seen a painting by a Russian artist called “The Bronze Serpent.” In the painting a group of visibly ill and dying persons were huddled near but were not raising their eyes to their deliverance. There was also a mother who was holding up her baby so that he might see the bronze serpent and live.
I use the expression “lifting up in prayer,” perhaps you do too. May the tender mothering aspects of God in us cause us to hold others up in prayer that their eyes may behold their redemption. PG
February 29, 2012
“Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” How often have all of us said these familiar words since we were little children. We really don’t have to worry about God leading us into temptation – we have all the resources we need right here. And I bet everyone of us can name our own temptations. Instead of counting on God to deliver us, maybe we could use this Lenten season to bring those temptations out into our own broad daylight. Sometimes when we see things for how foolish and destructive they are, we can begin to control them. RGP
March 4, 2012
From Kate Moorehead Get Over Yourself, God’s Here:“Instead of spending Lent analyzing what doesn’t work about ourselves, let’s look at what did work for Jesus……Let’s talk about what Jesus did right. Let’s look at how he prayed, how he made decisions, how he communicated and see if it will change our lives.” RGP
How many people does it take to change the world? Just you. Just me. Or better, you and me. Jesus taught it, we read it, it must be time to do it. RGP
March 6, 2012
What shall I give up for Lent?
If the assault of presumption and misinformation had occurred any time other than Ash Wednesday, I doubt my response would have been, “God, is there something you want me to give up for Lent?”
In the silence I waited, and finally heard,”Give up your need to be understood.” “YIKES, and let them accuse me of things I haven’t done or said??” “Yes, let them think what they will.”
Once the shock began to wear off, I remembered that Jesus was also maligned; yet He did not get bogged down in defending himself.
Ninety-three year old Lloyd Kinser quotes an old saying,”A man convinced against his will, will be of the same opinion still.” My desire to be understood seems reasonable until I see it as a hindrance to hearing God and moving on.
What bogs you down? PG
March 12, 2012
In this cold and often windy San Luis Valley, an energy audit can show where your home or church building is losing heat. The idea is to remediate the expensive losses with better insulation, management, and maintenance. Not a bad idea for congregations either! An energy audit conducted between ourselves and the One in Whose image we are created might reveal squandered energy, dissapated enthusiasm, loss of commitment, and wasted time. Remediation would restore our potential for holy, healthy, and vibrant habitation in this world. PG
March 13, 2012
The first Robin of Spring accompanied a hymn I was listening to on an Unapologetically Episcopalian post on Facebook. The hymn: “Let all the world in every corner sing!”
March 16, 2012
This Lenten season I have found that although I haven’t “given up” anything specific for Lent, I have let certain things go. For instance, the prisons I have shut myself up in. I have been imprisoned in my own self-doubt, my deep insecurity, and my own self-loathing.
How can I free myself? Not of my own will alone but by the Holy Spirit. Tertullian writes: “Though the body be shut up, though the flesh be confined, all is open to the spirit. Roam freely, spirit; walk to and fro, spirit; not setting before you leisurely shady walks, or long cloisters, but the way that leads to God. As often as you walk in this way in the Spirit, so often will you never be in prison, no matter the outward circumstances.”
Whether in a real physical prison or in a metaphorical prison, I pray this Lent that all may find in the Spirit to “roam freely.” ~MS
March 18, 2012
Several weeks ago in one of Fr. Bob’s sermons, he talked about how people don’t fear failure so much as they fear success. In today’s sermon from Sermons That Work, the Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz echoes this thought with a quote from author Maryanne Williamson: “We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”
We squander God’s faith in us when we practice false humility. It is a sin against that which is divine in us more specifically who lives in us—Jesus who is our light and life. Shine! Don’t cover the Light in the bushel of false humility. Step out of the grey and shine! ~MS
March 18, 2012
“There is never enough time for me to observe Lent the way I’d like to.” I suppose that is true if I refuse to stop doing some of the things I’d rather do or usually do. Perhaps it means I’ll have to turn off the cell phone or miss my favorite program or whatever. I’m afraid I don’t want a good Lent that badly. RGP
March 19, 2012
Psalm 51 was given to me to memorize and pray daily as penance by my confessor many years ago. I prayed religiously and fervently. Then one day, it became an albatross around my neck. I let false humility in and found judgment rather than forgiveness in those now familiar lines.
Recently, though, I’ve been using the Daily Devotions for Families and Individuals in the Book of Common Prayer P. 137 as my morning prayer. The opening prayer is comprised of verses 16 & 11-13 respectively. After re-reading the entire psalm, a verse pops out at me:
Verse 7, For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.
This wisdom is, when God forgives, accept it and move on. Don’t cling to the sin or worse the self-imposed punishment/judgment of that sin. We must let God “create in [us] a new heart and renew a right spirit with in [us.]” Otherwise, we just muddle through the darkness in selfish ignorance. Here’s a new prayer:
Verse 13, Give me the joy of your saving help again
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit. Amen. ~MS
March 21, 2012
I used to write poetry; what ever came to mind. I kept a notebook with me at all times and wrote when the mood would strike me. The words sort of dried up over the years particularly after I got married (30 years ago this September!) The main reason, I tell myself, was because most of my inspirations came right at bedtime or upon waking and that didn’t set well with my husband. It interfered with his plans, or sleep-patterns or just was really foreign to his Chi. (Actually he’s rather poetic and literary himself if he would just keep his own journal.) In reality, though, I let the words die. My self-doubt crept in and paralyzed me. Anyway, this Lenten Blog has opened up the floodgates. I find myself writing again. Soon, I expect, poetry will find itself on the page but for now I’m content to simply write. It is much like a refreshing dip of hot feet in a cool stream. Ah, I remember what this feels like . . . the woman at the well asking for the Living Water. “Give me this water always.” Amen. ~MS
March 23, 2012
Daughter of Eve
I am dust–earth
a clay form with
God’s breath keeping me in motion
Heart fashioned of stone
made flesh by Grace
I walk in beauty
(Written in 1997 after the ECW Annual Gathering.) ~MS
March 24, 2012
Words come easily
Like sparrows to dog water
March 24, 2012
“Granny” to a shepherd is both noun and verb. Pregnant ewes, usually an older one very close to lambing herself, will be attracted to a newborn twin with all the enthusiasm of its mother-licking and talking to the little fella while mom is busy with the other lamb.
Enter the shepherd; this is why checking the sheep frequently is necessary. A ewe who loses contact with her lamb for an hour or longer will reject it, then the “granny” will dump the lamb as soon as her own are born. A new mother, young or old, needs time alone with her offspring to bond. Lambs need to know and bond with their mothers. A single lamb can be grannied away from a timid young mother, who may refuse the lamb when reunited.
Have you ever had a good idea or project grannied? And then orphaned? In our deeping faith, discernment is the means for finding and following our call or purpose God has placed in our hearts.
Lent is a good time to check our motives: Are we acting like grannies and in need of a reality check? Are we giving in to grannies and needing more courage? PG
Your shepherd wants to know and assist you.
March 28, 2012
So much for advanced technology. I mean really. I have an Ipad. I also have Itunes on my computer. I uploaded a new CD in Itunes and wanted to get it on my Ipad but until I’ve updated all of my Apps both on the computer and the Ipad, I could lose something I’ve paid for. This is supposed to make life easier? This whole thing, when it works, is quite wondrous. But when it doesn’t or if the process is too obtuse (or too time consuming,) well let’s just say that my patience is wearing thin. Perhaps the lure of instant gratification loses its luster when faced with reality or perhaps I’m not a techno-geek after all. Instead of constant music, maybe I should just sit in silence in order to hear that still small voice. Be still and know I am God, be still and know, be still . . . Be.
March 31, 2012
Lent always includes some part of my lambing season, an exciting and exhausting few weeks. Lambing requires frequent checks for ewes in labor, those having difficulty, and care for new lambs-around the clock.
Older ewes know me well, do not fear my presence, allow me to approach them if birthing problems develop. Yesterday a young ewe was in labor with the normal presentation of two front hooves and a nose. After 30-40 minutes with no further progress, I wanted to know what was going on. She would not allow me to kneel beside her as she had her labor contractions so I caught a hind leg and laid her down. The two front legs belonged to two different lambs! No doubt the ewe had her own fears and concerns about my intrusions, and my concern was to hold her down and rearrange the lambs for live births.
There is a sweetness about the surrender of my experienced ewes to being assisted through difficulties. It takes a lot more energy to subdue the fearful ones – but this is what builds a relationship and trust between sheep and shepherd. It is a lifelong memory , too. When I present the fruits of her labor, her lambs, our intimate dance is done for now.
Our Shepherd recognizes our tangles even when we don’t or can’t. Lent is s season of surrender to the processes of turning, being rearranged for more fruitful lives PG
April 2, 2012
This week I’d like to direct your attention to www.anglicansonline.org and read their Palm Sunday/Holy Week message. ~MS
April 5, 2012
Now Talking God,
With your feet I walk,
I walk with your limbs,
I carry forth your body,
For me your mind thinks,
Your voice speaks for me.
Beauty is before me
And beauty behind me,
Above and below me hovers the beautiful,
I am surrounded by it,
I am immersed in it.
In my youth I am aware of it,
And in old age
I shall walk quietly
The beautiful trail.
From: Walk Quietly the Beautiful Trail.
Good Friday, 2012
Again from Kate Moorhead’s “Get Over Yourself, God’s Here”
“I think God often gives us to each other …..He gives us to each other to ease the pain. His compassion is expressed in community. If you are in pain, if you are grieving, don’t let yourself be alone too much. Let others care for you.”
All of us know pain and suffering in the course of life; it is part of our human experience. What we do with it is critical. We can either grow throught it or diminish through it. I like to think this Holy Week that Jesus gave us some insight into suffering. When we think that the pains of life are all about us then we will never grow beyond them. ~ RGP
Easter Sunday, 2012
We are an Easter people.
Alleluia. Christ has risen. Christ has risen indeed!
A Collect for Easter Day according to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer
O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only-begotten Son to the death of the Cross, and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of our enemy; Grant us so to die daily from sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through the same thy Son Christ our Lord. Amen