Tag Archives: BCP

Thoughts for Thursday

When we pray for another, it is not an attempt to alter God’s mind toward him. In prayer we add our wills to God’s good will… that in fellowship with Him, He and we may minister to those whom both He and we love. (Henry Sloane Coffin, Joy in Believing, 1956)

Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy
never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come,
knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we
can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP pg 831)

 

A dear friend once commented that during our worship service, the prayers of the people is the closest we come to being Christ like. 

When we gather together to pray for each other and for the world we bring the Kingdom of God ever closer. 

I find myself sometimes struggling in prayer for others. I get specific, praying that this or that will be solved or this job will happen or that thing will be resolved. Sometimes I think I know what the outcome should be, and it ends up not turning out that way but being perfectly alright. Maybe something happens that I hadn’t even thought of.

I like just saying people’s names or being otherwise non-specific. Sure there are outcomes I would prefer for certain situations, and I definitely make that known, but who am I to know what is best? I trust that God is “doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for”. 

So the next time you tell someone, yes I will pray for you, don’t feel like you have to dream up a solution to their problem, or pray for a certain outcome. You can simply lift their name up to God, join your own will to His, and trust that God knows what the best outcome is for that person.

And God hears your prayer anyway, no matter what you end up saying. 

Thoughts for Thursday

Hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him:

Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and
I will refresh you. Matthew 11:28

God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,
to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life. John 3:16

This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
1 Timothy 1:15

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous; and he is the perfect offering for our
sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole
world. 1 John 2:1-2

(BCP pg 332)

****

Growing up in a Rite I church my priest would usually say all of those things after we had confessed our sins on Sunday morning, one after another. I think most people just pick one or two, but Father Marquis went through them all.

I’m not sure when I realized they were verses from the Bible. Maybe I was browsing the BCP one day, maybe one of the verses I had memorized for Sunday school finally clicked as a verse during a service. But I love how they fit together, and I know they are kind of paraphrased, but they flow so beautifully. This part of the service just felt so holy and special. The way he said them all, the way he wanted us to hear those words, and to be people who truly turn to him.

It’s amazing to me how language can shape an experience; how someone’s tone of voice and pronunciation and word choice can influence a situation. If you can feel someone’s sincerity, someone’s earnestness that you hear what they are saying in their voice, you pay attention. I felt that on Sunday mornings when I heard these words. (Is there such a thing as a holy timbre?)

It’s true in daily life, too. I can tell a difference on the other end of the phone depending on how I answer it. When I make my voice calm and soothing, when I’m cheerful and pleasant, when I try to convey that I’m here to help you, the other person on the end of the line is much more likely to respond kindly. If I’m flustered or upset or annoyed, if I let the stresses of the day get into my voice, people can tell. And maybe they’re not so patient with me, and the conversation isn’t as, ah… pleasant as it could have been.

Try it sometime, if you can. See how changing your voice changes the interactions you have with the people around you. It’s one of the ways we can show people they are loved–to let that love come through our words. You never know–it might make someone’s day or change the course of yours!

There just aren’t enough hours in the day!!!

nervous

This week our cake makers are feeling a little overwhelmed.  Many of us have major events going on at work or in our personal lives that are using up all our energy and brain power.  Finding time to do all the things you want to do can be hard.  So what gets neglected?

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A Penny For Your Thoughts – People of All Ages

A few weeks ago we decided to post our favorite contributions from the last year.  I reposted something I wrote in August about why it is hard to be a young adult in The Episcopal Church.  It was a short piece that linked to two articles others had written on the topic that I liked and wanted to share.  I am happy to say that I was asked by a reader (after being graciously acknowledged for my frustrations) “Have you been able to ponder any positive solutions?”  I started to comment back to that excellent question and the answer kept getting longer and longer so I decided to make it a post (which eventually turned into two posts).  Obviously if I had that much to say then maybe it needed to be said to everyone.  Because the original post did not name my specific frustrations with the church, I think I need to name them before I can talk about what we could do about it.  This post will concentrate on my thoughts about the Episcopal Church as it applies to members of all ages and the next post will concentrate on how we can use these thoughts to target young adults specifically. This is a topic that I (as you will see by the novel that follows) feel very strongly about.  Anyone who knows me is probably rolling their eyes right now because this is one of my famous soapbox topics.  I am proud to say that I think it deserves a soapbox, so here is my soapbox rant about being a young adult in The Episcopal Church Part I.  I hope you enjoy and if you don’t please put me in place, I welcome that opportunity for growth.

I think my biggest pet peeve about our church is our lack of identity.  We have such a beautiful message to share with the world, a very unique message, and yet all I hear when I ask people about Episcopalians is “oh you are the guys who don’t believe in anything.”  I take great offense to this comment but how can I blame them when we can’t even seem to decide who we are.  While one of the beauties of our church is our ability to be on all spectrums of the Christian belief system and not necessarily agree on the specifics of some theology, we do agree on the important things.  We want to know Jesus.  We strive to be worthy of the example he gave us.  We love God.  We love having a father who watches over us and is rooting for us to succeed.  We embrace the Holy Spirit.  We want something in our daily lives that is guiding our actions and holding us accountable for our choices.  We encourage people to learn and grow in faith or out of it.  We want people with questions and concerns.  We want people that are scared, people that are tired, confused, hopeful, whatever in our midst.  We are not afraid of being in the “mud” of life and getting dirty.  We aren’t scared of what might be presented to us and we aren’t afraid of how we will answer.  We like to learn from people of other faith traditions, we like to embrace those who are different from us, we want diversity, and we want to be challenged by life.  We have a beautiful history of tradition.  We embrace where we have been, good or bad, and strive to integrate it into who we are today and how we worship.

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“I’m not ‘holy’ enough to be a leader in the Church.”

“I’m not ‘holy’ enough to be a leader in the Church.”

I don’t know about you but I’ve heard this phrase NUMEROUS times from church members.  Heck, I’ve even said it myself!  But where does this perception that we aren’t good enough, or pious enough, or even nice enough to be leaders come from?

You know what I say when folks say those things?  Poppycock!  (I say it in my horrible British accent that still sounds heavily Southern).

I’m a born and bred Southerner, and there are things that are just done differently here in the south versus, oh I don’t know, ANYWHERE ELSE.  One of the things that is implied and expected is that everyone goes to church.  Growing up (and still today in a lot of places) you were expected to be at church every Wednesday night (all extracurricular activities ended by 5:00pm so you could make it to church) and at least twice on Sunday’s, once in the morning and then again that evening.  Whether you called the man up front a pastor, preacher, or man of the cloth, they were all held in high esteem.  He was put up on a pedestal for all to see his good example and try to emulate it.  This is all done with an understanding that us common-folk could try all we wanted but we would never be on the same level as our pastor.

Growing up in that atmosphere, I bought into the whole thing.  I thought my priest was this holy man that had the inside scoop on God and if I tried really hard I could *maybe* “touch the hem of his garment” hoping some of that holiness would rub off on me.  I had him high up on that holy pedestal and he could never do any wrong.

Psh.  Yeah right.

It took me until my last year in college to fully understand that priests are humans too.

Whhaaaattt?!

Yep.  They’re human, just like us.  They make mistakes, they have a beer after a long day, THEY KNOW CURSE WORDS (and even say them sometimes!).  So…, if they’re just like me then why can’t I be a leader in the church?

Here’s the thing:  we are ALL called to be ministers.  Jesus didn’t travel the world to spread the Gospel – his disciples did.  They were ridiculed and called all kinds of nasty names because they were seen as common people and not clergy, but they got the Word out.  They were able to connect to people across the board because they we just like them, common.  Jesus didn’t say, “Okay guys, I’ll only let you talk about me to folks if I ordain you first.  Then you’ll be good to go.”

Um…yeah…no.

Luckily, in the Episcopal Church, we have this handy dandy Catechism in the back of the prayer book to go to for answers.  It’s super helpful.  In it there is a section about ministry that defines who the ministers in the Church are.

Q:  Who are the ministers of the Church?

A:  The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.

Q:  What is the ministry of the laity?

A:  The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and be his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.

The Book of Common Prayer, page 855

Do you see what they did there?  Lay persons are listed first.  And get a look at that definition!  Isn’t that what we’re called to do in our daily lives as Christians?

So when you think that you’re not holy enough, or don’t pray enough, or blah blah blah, remember that we are all called to be ministers.  We should all pray more, be more considerate of others, and be better every day.  Why?  Because we are all called to represent Christ to the world.

Disclaimer:  Please note that I am not downplaying or making light of our ordained leaders.  They are very important of our lives inside the Episcopal Church and I hold them in high esteem.  I even consider some of them my friends.

 

This is the first in a series written by guest blogger Liz Williams.   Please check out the second and third posts and let us know what you think.

A Great Way To Start Your Monday 9/2/13

…prayers for this holiday and a Labor Day message from the Secretary of the Dept. of Labor.

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another
that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide
us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but
for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for
our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of
other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out
of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen. – Collect for Labor Day

Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer
want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this
land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find
suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment
for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. – Prayer for the unemployed

Prayers for the end of the week…

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake
we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

Lord, you now have set your servant free *
to go in peace as you have promised;

For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, *
whom you have prepared for all the world to see:

A Light to enlighten the nations, *
and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.