Professor and preacher Fred Craddock tells about visiting a church one time where he was supposed to hold services on Friday evening, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning. When he pulled into the parking lot of the church, a funeral was concluding. People were moving to their automobiles; the hearse was still there. The minister saw him, recognized him, and motioned for him to come over. Craddock didn’t want to intrude; he was just waiting until the funeral was over. He was standing next to the widow. The pastor introduced her to Craddock, and Craddock felt awkward. He said to her, “This is no time for you to be meeting strangers. I’m sorry, and I’m really sorry about your loss.” Her husband had been killed in a car wreck and left her with four children. He said, “I know this is a very difficult time for you.”
She said, “It is. So I won’t be at the services tonight, but I’ll be there tomorrow night, and I’ll be there Sunday morning.”
Like any sensible and caring person, Craddock said, “Oh, you don’t need to.”
“Yes, I do,” she said.
He said, “Well, what I meant was, I know it’s a very hard time.”
And she said, “I know it’s hard. It’s already hard, but you see, this is my church, and they’re going to see that my children and I are okay.”
My church is going to see that we are okay. Isn’t that what a church is supposed to be all about?
Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.
Filed under Church, Comfort
Shepherds, you who go
up through the sheepfolds to the hill,
if by chance you see
him I love most,
tell him I am sick, I suffer, and I die.
—-Canticle of John of the Cross Stanza 2
In this second stanza of the Canticle, the soul cries out for intercessors who have not lost their way-people, angelic beings who can touch the garment of God. Is it so strange to feel this type of distance from God? Have you ever felt this way? When we are in our darkest times, we need others to speak to God for us; others who care for us, and seek the best for us. We need intercessors who are living in union with God and feel his presence John expresses his separation from God, and his utter inability to rediscover Him. Perhaps, with just a little help from others we can find God. We can learn from John to lean on others as we travel through our darkness. Perhaps it is with their light that we can find the God we have lost.
- What do you turn to in your times of darkness?
- Who are some guides for your life?
- Do you seek intercessors when in darkness?
- Food for Thought… (3in1gpnprayer.wordpress.com)
A pastor once told a story about a visitor to a heavy-duty grease factory. When they arrived they were ushered into a large room, and a tour host introduced them to the company history and the number of employees at work producing the best machine lubricants in the world. They toured the noisy factory with lots of machinery and wheels whirling, mixing, and packaging. This place was full of activity.
As the tour ended, one of the visitors said, “I didn’t see a shipping department.” The guide responded, “Well, we don’t have a shipping department because it takes all the grease we make to lubricate our equipment and keep the wheels turning.”
If you were asked, you would likely say that was a waste of effort. We all know that goods are manufactured to be distributed. The purpose of a factory is to produce goods to be used by people outside of the plant. The church, however, is a grease factory of its own. Year after year we turn inward and forget that the purpose of the church is the transformation of the world. We spend the bulk of our resources keeping the wheels turning. Jesus sent us into the world to make a difference, and we must turn away from ourselves to be effective.
A brother went to find Abba Serapion. According to his custom, the old man invited him to say a prayer. But the other, calling himself a sinner and unworthy of the monastic habit, did not obey. Next Abba Serapion wanted to wash his feet, but using the same words again, the visitor prevented him. Then Abba Serapion made him eat, and he began to eat with him. Then he admonished him saying, ‘My son, if you want to make progress stay in your cell and pay attention to yourself and your manual work; going out is not so profitable for you as remaining at home.’ When he heard these words the visitor was offended and his expression changed so much that the old man could not but notice it. So he said to him, ‘up to now you have called yourself a sinner and accused yourself of being unworthy to live, but when I admonished you lovingly, you were extremely put out. If you want to be humble, learn to bear generously what others unfairly inflict upon you and do not harbor empty words in your heart.’ Hearing this, the brother asked the old man s forgiveness and went away greatly edified.
——Saying of the Desert Fathers
These empty words and feelings are bitterness, anger, jealousy, strife, and others too numerous to mention. Abba Serapion calls on us to bear unfairness with generosity and grace. Society tells it very differently. If we are wronged we must get even, or at least make it right. People spend far too much time trying to sort out the unfairness of life, and precious little effort is given to generous forgiveness. With that generosity in our hearts, we can put away empty words, and replace them with words of grace and forgiveness. We, like the monk who visited Serapion, can rise up edified, and an edified man can accomplish much. All of us have times that we feel unworthy of that place we have been given in life, but God has a way of turning that feeling into elation. Look hard at the empty words that clutter your heart, and give some of them away to the generous grace of God.
Psalm 23 is one of the best known portions of scripture in the world. I have seen it expressed in many version, and the one below is a very thoughtful for today’s times. Perhaps y0u may want to recite it s few times today.
The Lord is my pace setter . . . I shall not rush
He makes me stop for quiet intervals
He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity
He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here
His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility
My cup of joyous energy overflows
Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord and dwell in his house for ever.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
—― Mary Oliver