Monthly Archives: August 2020

Humility

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Discovering the Sacred

The Christian must show every care and concern for the sick, children, guests and the poor, knowing for certain that he will be held accountable for all of them on the day of judgment. The Christian will regard all utensils and goods of the their home as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected.  The Christian should not be prone to greed, nor be wasteful and extravagant with the goods that we are given but should do everything with moderation and according to the leading of the Spirit.

~~~ The Rule of St. Benedict (paraphrased to apply to all)



Most of us, who are followers of Christ, desire to discover the sacred aspect of life. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to pay a visit to the National Cathedral in Washington DC. It is a magnificent and majestic building. The beauty and care of the building is most impressive. Massive stain glass windows, all with some meaning or purpose, adorn the Cathedral. While there I had the privilege of attending an intimate worship time in the basement Chapel. In such a place you can get a feeling of being surrounded by the sacred. Sadly, not all the things we do or the places we visit have such a outpouring of sacredness. Does that mean they are not sacred?

Perhaps we have let the world define what is sacred. We look at sacred as being something we cannot come near or touch. I beg to differ on that point. St. Benedict says, “He will regard all utensils and goods of the home as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected.” Wow, the shovel, the hoe, the pots and pans are all to be considered as sacred as the chalice of consecration. I believe that is so. The simplest objects in our lives are sacred. The pen is a sacred object when we write the things that God has planted in us.  The pot and spoon are sacred as we provide food for ourselves and those we love. The tools we tend our garden with are the objects that bring forth the fruit of God’s good earth.

Quite honestly, everything is sacred. We do not have to retreat to a majestic cathedral to find sacred objects because we are surrounded by them.

Allow yourself to be present with God as you go through your day. Look down at the pen, mop, lawn mower and know it is your sacred object as you carry out the work of your day. All things are objects of sacred creativity. We miss so much of God because we have confined him to a secularly designed box. Our God is everywhere and in everything. Take the time to encounter him and cherish every moment of your life.

All of our lives would be so different if we could discover the sacred in the ordinary. Work would no longer be a drudgery but a tool of blessing. Cleaning up after our toil would be a way of experiencing God as we wash dishes and clean our cars or bicycles. Everywhere we are and everything we do would become an altar of worship.

I know that this type of thinking requires us to rethink our lives, but it can bring great blessings. Let us pray that we can give it a try this week and perhaps we can of discover the sacred in our everyday life.



Prayer

Lord, Let me discover the sacred in the life and place that you have chosen for me. Slow me down enough to take note of my surroundings. Allow me to see you in the simplest of things that fill my day. Fill me with the joy of holding the sacred objects of life in my hands. May I see you in everything that comes my way and learn that you are everywhere. You are not confined to churches, monasteries, and blessed objects, but you are just with me in all I touch and do. Make today the day I discover the sacred.

Amen

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Effort

Effort Definition



When I was a small boy I was told I had to put more effort into things or I would fail. Effort seemed like a word that always meant that I had to do more than I wanted to do, but I realized as I got older that effort brought satisfaction and reward. Sometimes that satisfaction of putting forth your best was the reward.

As followers of Christ we are asked to make every effort to be the salt and light of the world. We carry the burden of being the people who are to make the world a better place. That is done as we do our best to usher in the Kingdom of God. We are compelled to put forth our best and let the world see who we follow and what followship of Jesus truly means. Our calling requires that we do make the effort and walk the second mile. Additionally, we must work without expectation of worldly reward. Our reward comes from above and dwells within our inner souls.

Helen Keller said, “Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” Many people will not venture at a task unless they are assured success. The many and varied efforts we must put forth as Christ followers do not seem successful or necessary by worldly standards. Christians are surely called to live by other worldly standards. These standards are not achieved without great effort.

As we walk in this difficult time, we must ask ourselves:

  • What special effort have I put forth to make the world a better place?
  • Have I tried to present the Kingdom of God to those I encounter?
  • Have I made every effort to help the needy that are sent my way?
  • Have I tried to be a peacemaker?
  • Have I refrained from trying to get my way?

We must ask ourselves these and other questions as we determine if we are really putting forth an effort that is worthy of our calling as Christians.

Quotes BannerAll the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.

― Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means

effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

― Theodore Roosevelt

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.

Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.

― Helen Keller

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

― Samuel Johnson, Johnsonian Miscellanies – Vol II

When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourself) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.

― M. Scott Peck

Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.

― Sandra Day O’Connor

Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping stones to genius.

― Elbert Hubbard

To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.

― Bertrand Russell


Scripture BannerI have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

~~2 Timothy 4:7

And whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be bold, and bring some of the fruit of the land.’ Now it was the season of the first ripe grapes.

~~Numbers 13:20

With great pains I have provided for the house of the Lord one hundred thousand talents of gold, one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for there is so much of it; timber and stone too I have provided. To these you must add more.

~~1 Chronicles 22:14

But when I thought how to understand this,

  it seemed to me a wearisome task,

~~Psalm 73:16

The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing,

   while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.

~~ Proverbs 13:4

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,

   and whatever else you get, get insight.

~~ Proverbs 4:7

For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

~~ Romans 14:9

Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

~~Ecclesiastes 9:10

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

~~Galatians 6:9Prayer BannerPrayer

Lord, In all things teach me that I will be rewarded in relation to the effort I put forth. Inspire me to know that I must put all of my efforts into achieving the goals that you have set forth before me. It is only when I do my very best and put all that I have into something that you bless me. Bless me, as well, when I’m utterly exhausted and barely able to continue. I know that you will be with me in the times when it simply takes an effort to keep on going.

Amen

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Thoughts on Effort

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St. Luke’s Worship

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The Secret

“A man who receives something from another because of his poverty or his need has therein his reward, and because he is ashamed, when he repays it he does so in secret. But it is the opposite for the Lord God; he receives in secret, but he repays in the presence of the angels, the archangels and the righteous.”

——Sayings of the Desert

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Perhaps the monk is thinking of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private and will reward you.” The wonderful thing about God is that he does not expect us to be showy in our worship of him, he just wants us to be real. Most of us, whether we admit it or not, like to be recognized for our successes and want our failures to be hidden and forgotten. Taking alms because of our personal poverty is not something most people would brag about. The way God asks for our devotion is completely counter cultural. Our culture expects praise and in response continued favors are given, but God operates differently. He gives quietly and diligently to those who call upon Him.

Perhaps all of us can pledge from this day forward to be aware of our tendency to be showy and strive to follow the teachings of Jesus. Our Redeemer teaches us to be humble and thankful for all that we have been given. He further asks us to share, with an open heart, all that he has bestowed upon us. Further we are to do without expectation of praise or reward. That is a tough challenge for those of us who carry the sin of Adam.

If we pledge to be people of prayer, we can strive to attain the mindset necessary to be such a person. We are given help to get there through the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, that dwells in us.


And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

~~~John 14:16&17


Prayer

Lord, Grant me the courage and wisdom to seek the guidance of your Spirit that you have planted in me. As I come to rely upon the Spirit, I will have the ability to do in secret the works and prayer that are a part of my journey. Then, I will have the faith to know that the rewards you have given in secret are by far the greatest of all. Come, Holy Spirit.

Amen

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Reverence

Reverence– Deep respect or veneration, especially on account of the object’s sacred or exalted character. The condition or state of being deeply respected or venerated.

(Oxford Dictionary)

 

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Our reverence for God is much more than just respect or honor. Reverence for God involves a recognition of who he is that brings into our souls joy and awe for the creator. God, himself, who created us in his image has enabled our Spirits to know and acknowledge deep within our souls who he is. That understanding leads us to a level of adoration and worship that is reserved for God alone. No other person or any creation is worthy of such reverence.

Respect is earned by merit. Reverence is an intrinsic acknowledgement and recognition of the holiness and awesomeness of God . Reverence is not mere admiration, it is a unique level of existence that is reserved for our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Comforter as we glorify and exalt his very existence and power and presence in our lives.

The people of Israel could not even speak the name of Yahweh. We should humbly approach God with a level of fear and awe that belongs to him alone.

Reverence invites Revelation ~~~Boyd K. Packer

Quotes Banner

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.
~~~Henry David Thoreau
Whoever gives reverence receives reverence.
~~~Rumi
Just as white light consists of colored rays, so reverence for life contains all the components of ethics: love, kindliness, sympathy, empathy, peacefulness and power to forgive.
~~~Albert Schweitzer
No soul is desolate as long as there is a human being for whom it can feel trust and reverence.
~~~George Eliot
Only reverence can restrain violence – reverence for human life and the environment.
~~~William Sloane Coffin
What we call love is in its essence reverence for life.
~~~Albert Schweitzer
Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence.
~~~Plato
Only when we are captured by an overwhelming sense of awe and reverence in the presence of God, will we begin to worship God in spirit and in truth.
~~~Alistair Begg
By having a reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world By practicing reverence for life we become good, deep, and alive.
~~~Albert Schweitzer
Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.
~~~Pope Francis
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies.
~~~John Milton
The more reverence we have for the Word of God, the more joy we shall find in it.
~~~Matthew Henry

Scripture Banner

Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’
—Exodus 3:5
a God feared in the council of the holy ones,
  great and awesome above all that are around him?
—Psalm 89:7
Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
  who walks in his ways.
—Psalm 128:1
The God of Israel has spoken,
  the Rock of Israel has said to me:
One who rules over people justly,
  ruling in the fear of God,
—2 Samuel 23:3
Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
—Acts 9:31
Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you.
—1 Samuel 12:24
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
—Hebrews 5:7
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.
—James 2:19
You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling-block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
—Leviticus 19:14
The angel of the Lord encamps
  around those who fear him, and delivers them.
—Psalm 34:7Prayer Banner

Prayer

Lord, In all ways I respect and reverence you. You are my creator and redeemer-the reason I am here. In you I find strength and comfort in all the paths of my life. Make my life an example to others by the way that I fear and serve you. May I never forget the praise I owe to you.

Amen

 

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Worship August 16

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Learning from Below

There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcasts, the suspects, the maltreated — in short, from the perspective of those who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and to action.

~~~~Dietrich Bonheoffer (Letters from Prison, p.16)

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

~~~Luke 15:1


There have perhaps been few times in the history of our country when Bonheoffer’s assertion that we learn from below is more true than now. We are facing a perfect storm of unrest and uncertainty . This has rattled even the most serene among us. We must remember that the scripture and Jesus himself have always told us to be aware and responsive to the down and out of our society.

Too often we ignore the cry of the needy or treat it in a patriarchal way. The time has come for us to listen and learn so that we will gain the credibility to advise and teach. As Bonheoffer says, “waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior.” Sometimes it is difficult to rethink our perspectives, but the time has come. Perhaps we have waited and looked long enough. All action should be done in the context of the Christian tradition of selflessness. Nowhere in all of the words of scripture is lawlessness or violence tolerated.

The time has come for us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and do it out of care and love. Too often we have done this out of obligation, guilt or ,heaven forbid, to gain recognition. Such motives can lead to resentment and even a feeling of superiority. Never forget that Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Those words were a sea change moment for his disciples. Children were without power and wealth and of little value. Perhaps we are living in a time like that. Let’s look for the little children of our day and do so with peace and love.


Prayer

Lord, It’s hard to learn from people we see as beneath us. We acknowledge that all are created in your image and have value in your sight. Help us to look to all with respect and kindness’ so that we might together create a better world. Give us this day an opportunity to learn and grow with such a goal in sight.

Amen

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Musings #18-Work

Musings 18 4


The greatest example of work is found in Monasteries, because their manual labor is considered part of their sacred calling. Monks fill a good portion of their day in work that serves the monastery and the world at large. Every member of the monastery is assigned some daily work.

The Rule of Benedict insists on work as an important part of the monk’s labor of obedience. The Rule does not put work above everything else or single out one type of work as more monastic than all others. Monks show their love by serving one another in whatever work they do, invoking God’s blessing on tasks large and small. They share in God’s continuing creation while supporting themselves by earnings and by producing for their needs.

There is no reason that we, as non-monastics, could not have the same approach to our work. Think how much it would change your world if you saw your work as part of a holy calling. Monks for many years have linked work and prayer. Work does not have to be a separate and very distasteful part of your life. Your work no matter how mundane, can be offered up to God.

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Just imagine what a wonderful blessing it would be if we rethought our concept of work and allowed it to be a part of our prayer lives. No matter what task you perform, it comes from the talent and strength that God has instilled in you when he created you. That alone makes work a sacred act. We have spent too much of our time and effort trying to eliminate work instead of embracing it as part of our devotion to God.

In this piece I offer some scriptures and quotes that I hope can serve as a starting point to look at the work you do and why you do it.

The old man said to one of the brothers that he never stopped

his manual labor, but his prayer ascended continually before God.

He was very humble and very stable.

~~~Sayings of The Desert Fathers 


Quotes BannerIf there are artisans in the monastery, let them work at their arts with all humility.

~~~Saint Benedict of Nursia

I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

~~~Thomas Jefferson

When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

~~~Paulo Coelho

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

~~~Thomas Edison

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

~~~Robert Louis Stevenson

The old man said of one of the brothers never stopped is manual labor but it’s prayer ascended continually before God. He was very humble and very stable.

~~~Sayings of the desert fathers

Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.

~~~Franklin D. Roosevelt

The future depends on what you do today.

~~~Mahatma Gandhi

Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.

~~~Gary Ryan Blair

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

~~~Confucius

Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.

~~~Albert Camus

Works of art make rules but rules do not make works of art.

~~~Claude Debussy


Musings 18 2


Scripture BannerWhatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.

—Colossians 3:23-24

Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy

—Ephesians 4:28

Let the favour of the Lord our God be upon us,

and prosper for us the work of our hands—

O prosper the work of our hands!

—Psalm 90:17

Those who till their land will have plenty of food,

but those who follow worthless pursuits have no sense.

—Proverbs 12:11

The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing,

while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.

—Proverbs 13:4

It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops.

—2 Timothy 2:6

The hand of the diligent will rule,

while the lazy will be put to forced labour.

—Proverbs 12:24

I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.

—Ecclesiastes 3:12-15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.

— 2 Timothy 2:15

This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot.

—Ecclesiastes 5:18

Prayer BannerLord, Allow me to offer my daily toil as a sacred act of devotion. Let me not feel as though my work takes me away from you, but that it brings me closer. I recognize that the works of my hands are a product of your Divine creation. I can do nothing without you. Bless me as I toil.

Amen

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