...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Praying Aidan's Compline this Advent

The Celtic Cross at St. Aidan's Lindesfarne
Compline reminds us to face our fears, give thanks for protection from harm, and pray for a restful sleep and good dreams, releasing our trust to the Almighty.

Kenneth V. Peterson, Prayer as Night Falls.

There is much darkness in the world. How do we sleep well at night? How about replacing an anxious hearing of the late news and a rehashing of problems- with- praying the Compline?
In Compline, we get to choose trust over fear and anxiety. No, the idea is not to get a measurable of "better sleep" over taking pills, etc.  But think of this: when Compline is used in monastic communities, it is the last word spoken or heard until daybreak. Each night, we too, can let the last words on our mind be the words of Compline.  
A better order for corporate Compline is here. The prayer below is The Compline of Aidan adapted for private use, from the Northumbria Community.

 O Christ, Son of the living God,
may Your holy angels guard our sleep,
may they watch over us as we rest
and hover around our beds.
Let them reveal to us in our dreams
visions of Your glorious truth,
O High Prince of the universe,
O High Priest of the mysteries.
May no dreams disturb our rest
and no nightmares darken our dreams.
May no fears or worries delay
our willing, prompt repose.
May the virtue of our daily work
hallow our nightly prayers.
May our sleep be deep and soft
so our work be fresh and hard.
I will lie down and sleep in peace
for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
My dear ones, O God, bless Thou and keep,
in every place where they are.
 Into Your hands I commit my spirit;
I give it to You with all the love of my heart.
 How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
I make the cross of Christ upon my breast,
over the tablet of my hard heart,
and I beseech the Living God of the universe –
may the Light of Lights come
to my dark heart from Thy place;
may the Spirit’s wisdom come to my heart’s tablet
from my Saviour.
Christ without sin, Christ of wounds,
I am placing my soul and my body
under Thy guarding this night,
Christ of the poor, Christ of tears.
Thy cross be my shielding this night,
O Thou Son of tears, of the wounds, of the piercing.
I am going now into the sleep:
O be it in Thy dear arm’s keep,
O God of grace, that I shall awake.
My Christ! my Christ!
my shield, my encircler,
each day, each night,
each light, each dark.
My Christ! my Christ!
my shield, my encircler,
each day, each night,
each light, each dark.

 Be near me, uphold me,
my treasure, my triumph.
Circle me, Lord,
keep protection near
and danger afar.
Circle me, Lord,
keep light near
and darkness afar.
Circle me, Lord,
keep peace within;
keep evil out.
The peace of all peace
be mine this night
 in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

We want answers, Jesus tells stories

Reminds me of the time...

A disciple once complained, "You tell us stories, but you never reveal their meaning to us." Said the master, "How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and masticated it before giving it to you.  Anthony De Mello,

Who has not found
the Heaven below
Will fail of it above.
God's residence is next to mine,
His furniture is love.
Emily Dickinson

The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”  Matthew 13: 10 The Message

In the insightful movie Lincoln, the President's frequent break amidst an anxious deliberation- to tell a story- becomes a source of irritation for some of his cabinet insiders, especially those who want clarity instead of a story.

As a master teacher knows the students best of all, you have to wonder if Jesus was sugar lacing the bitter pill of the disciples' own lack of understanding. It's not the crowds, lacking in seeing, hearing, and understanding, who need the rather simple metaphors of the parables explained. The disciples are the ones who have trouble with understanding, and ask for a commentary on the parable. (Matthew 13:36)

Read it: faithful disciples are not the ones who understand and get it right. Instead, faithful disciples are the ones who ask for help in understanding- the very beginning of wisdom and insight.

It is about growing in love, enacting what the Messiah taught, not insider knowledge. Church membership, attendance, Bible studies, Sunday school, prayer retreats, conferences, high energy preaching, Spirit-filled worship, Christian rallies of all kinds may reinforce the flimsy notion that showing up once in a while means something.

But being in church every so often doesn't make a Christian any more than having been in a barn makes one a diary cow. This notwithstanding that the prophet Amos actually compared some of his hearers to cows, but not in a good way. (Amos 4:1 ff.) But Jesus (Matthew 23:23-28), like Amos (Amos 5:21-24), sharply criticizes the substitution of love and justice with a dazzling sound and light show.

Matthew implies that if the crowds really did understand, they would be following Jesus. Their dullness (the Message suggests un-readiness) is one reason why the crowds don't recognize Jesus as the Messiah. But since Matthew's and Jesus' words are for believers (supposedly the enlightened ones),  they are especially for those of us who cannot admit our lack of understanding, and our need to surrender to the One who resides next to us, whose "furniture is love."



Friday, August 21, 2015

It's not about being perfect

The beautiful and fruitful vineyards near Westfield, N.Y.

Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete. Matthew 5:48 CEB

There is a softening of heart that comes with age, not out of our virtue so much as out of experience. By seventy, we not only know that no one is perfect, we know that no one can be. Not we, not they, not anybody. In fact, we learn as the years go by that life is nothing but a series of exceptions to be reckoned with, to be mediated, to be understood. Our standards are only that- standards. They are not absolutes, and those who seek to make them so soon fall in the face of their own rigidities. Joan Chittister, The Gift of Years  (bold added for emphasis)

The Common English Bible nails it. In using "complete" to describe the character and example of the Heavenly Father's love, the translation is congruent with the New Testament understanding of teleios. Other versions have "perfect," such as the RSV. The truth is that perfection comes with baggage in English that distorts the original meaning of the Greek.  

Moral perfection is unfortunately what  often comes to mind. Garrison Keillor once quipped that when a pastor mentions to the congregation that "I'm only human," 95% of the congregation immediately thinks adultery.  While character does matter, the point of the exercise is becoming aware of and integrating our character flaws, instead of denying them or projecting them onto others.

Teleios means reaching the end for which we are created. It is not about exercising flawless judgment or always making the best decisions. It is about finding our completion in God's love and fulfilling God's purpose. Being restored  in God's love centers on our intention, because action flows from what we intend and what we want. The question teleios asks of us is simply, how are my actions being shaped more and more from loving intention?

When Clarence Jordon used the word "be mature" in the Cotton Patch Gospel, he described the goal of Christian spirituality. A mature plant is ready to fulfill the purpose for which it was created- to bear fruit: "You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last." John 15: 16
Possible evening examen:
  1. In what ways did I fulfill God's purpose today?
  2. How was today unfulfilled or incomplete?
  3. In what ways were my intentions formed, transformed by God's love?





Blog Archive

Follow by Email

Why Clergyspirit?

My Photo
Houston, Texas, United States
Clergy are frequently present for others, but no one can offer what we don't have.. That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

Collie Cove


Try Gratitude

If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

Making Good Decisions