Thursday, February 28, 2013

One Step at a Time

Today's reflection is recognizable by many who set goals on a regular basis.  For those who forego the whole concept of New Year's Resolutions, there are a ton of sites that give advice on how to actually set goals properly.

The huge list of essentially "the perfect me" or "the perfect we" described in the reflection is one of those perfect world settings that is far too huge and overwhelming to contemplate - so let's have a cookie.  Seriously - ideals are a wonderful thing, but they will remain pipe dreams if you look at the totality and have no clue where to start - so you don't. 

So let's do another exercise.  Set your timer for five minutes (that's more than enough time), and daydream the absolutely perfect you.  My list would likely include such things as being neat and tidy, having a green thumb, being the perfect weight, handling my time better, etc.  When the timer goes off, set your list aside and don't look at it again until tomorrow.

Tomorrow, take your list out, and either number it in order of importance, or close your eyes and point to pick one.  Just one.

Write that one down on a new sheet of paper.  This is the ultimate goal.  So now, you need the steps to actually reach that goal.  We'll use the goal I set for myself this Lent - I'm going to convince myself I have a green thumb.  The past doesn't matter; how I go forward from here is what's important. 

For me, this is going to require a large number of positive affirmations throughout each and every day.  I have them taped to the mirror in my bathroom, the wall beside my computer and next to my bed.  Everywhere I look, I'm reading that I have a nurturing ability, that I can grow plants and that plants will respond to me in a positive fashion by producing good fruit.  So that will get me part way to my goal.  I also have gardening books - a ton that I have collected over the years.  Since osmosis has not seemed to advance my knowledge in the past, I'm actually setting aside time to read the books, learning about how some vegetables seem to help others grow.  As it's still February, I go out to the greenhouse and play in the dirt every day, to develop the habit now before the plants are planted. 

Remember that the ultimate goal is a grand thing, but you can only get there one step at a time.  And those steps should be celebrated as you achieve them.  You are taking steps to get to that "perfect" you.  We are a work in progress, and the Church gives us this time of Lent to help us develop good habits, to help ourselves and others.  Remember to balance the feasting and fasting, taking one step at a time.  You'll get there.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Opinion(s) That Matter

Today's reflection covers a wide variety of topics in the realm of feasting and fasting.  We'll focus here on one aspect - "Whose am I?". 

On the one hand, we'd all like to be the perfect Christian and say that we belong to God, and God's opinion is the only one that counts.  It's a nice thought, but we wouldn't have such prolific jokes about "Do I look fat in this?" if it were true.  So, we turn to the Bible to see if there are others, either historically speaking or directly, whose opinions should matter to us. 

Exodus 20:12 - Honor thy father and thy mother...  Okay, that makes sense - we may all be children of God, but God needs help with toddlers and teenagers. 

Genesis 2:4 - Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  It's probably a wise idea to take your spouse's opinion into account.  Not doing so tends to cause rather large problems.

Matthew 23:1-4 - Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them".  Okay, so the caveat here is that we're to follow what God has said and what the scribes and Pharisees repeat, but not follow the hypocrisy. 

From Mark 12:17 - Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.  We are children of God, but we still have to live in the world, and abide by local law. 

From Colossians 3:22-25 - Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.  But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.  So, employers are the ones who determine our wages, so it's probably wise to take their opinions into consideration.  Employers are reminded in the next chapter that they're still answerable to God, so treat their employees properly as well.

So there are others whose opinions should be taken into consideration, but almost always are the caveats that everyone needs to act in accordance with God's will; that anyone else's opinion should only matter in earthly things, not heavenly things.  Ultimately the answer to "Whose am I?" is still God, but we still live in the world until we are called to that accounting with Him.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Today's reflection speaks to how we relate with one another, creating local, regional, national and in these days of instant communication, international culture through shared experiences.  In focusing on the commonalities - joys of birth, sorrows of death, sharing food at major events in life - we create bonds that explain that we are all children of God.  And as with all siblings, we argue at times, but in focusing on the concept of family, perhaps we can increase our understanding, or simply accept that we have differences and learn to celebrate them too.  Our ability to have a feast of family is up to us - one person at a time.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Who are you?

While today's reflection is interesting, I'm going to give an example of feasting and fasting from Genesis that could have gone very wrong - into the extremes, and how the balance was found.  This example comes from Pastor Craig Pierce (who did not realize he would be providing this example as he had another point in his sermon) of the Door of Hope, and actually ties into the subject of today's reflection of "Who Are You".

Let's look at Genesis 42-46; the story of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt is fairly well known.  But let's look at it through the lens of fasting and feasting.  It's been 20 years since the brothers have seen each other.  And during this time of famine (actual fasting concerning food) and draught, Joseph's careful preparations have taken what could have been a literal time of feasting and turned it into a balance for the whole land, that none would need to starve.  His storage of the grain is heard far and wide, and his father Jacob sends the majority of his brothers to Egypt to buy some.  He keeps Benjamin with him, however, as that is the only son left from his beloved wife Rachel, or so he thinks.  Here we begin to see the first twinges of guilt from the brothers who sold Joseph into slavery so many years before, along with lying to their father for decades. 

Joseph recognizes his brothers, and here before him is an absolute opportunity for feasting on revenge and retribution, but he realizes that they still do not feel particularly badly about what they had done to him, and uses words to prick at their consciences.  While he puts all of them in jail for three days, he keeps one brother to ensure their return, and sends the rest on their way, telling them that unless they bring their youngest brother the next time (Joseph's full brother), they will receive no more grain.  They begin to recognize on the way home that this may be retribution for what they did to Joseph two decades ago.

In their return trip, they bring double the money (for their money had been returned to them), along with gifts of fruit and honey, nuts and spices - a veritable feast.  When Joseph sees them, he actually provides for them a feast, overwhelmed at seeing his younger brother, and reunites all the brothers, sitting them in order of birth at the table.  For Joseph, this is a feast of not only food, but of the emotions of being surrounded by his family. 

The brothers prepare to leave, and Joseph has the silver cup put into Benjamin's sack, leading to the arrest and agreement to become a slave for such thievery.  Finally, the brothers begin to realize that their actions caused their father such grief, and that their present circumstances would certainly kill him, were Benjamin never to return to him.  They realize their crime of 20 years ago has led them to this place here, and Judah repents his actions so that Benjamin might return to their father.  We have reached the opposite end of the spectrum - the brothers have a veritable feast of repentence and guilt.  Joseph here has an opportunity to have an absolute glut of revenge on his brothers. 

But here we find the common theme with today's reflection - who are you?  Joseph is a wise and kind man, and has long since realized that God has guided his life all along.  His presence in Egypt was necessary to prevent widespread famine with the drought.  His feast of good fortune in Egypt allowed him to save not only the country, but his family from the fasting that would have occurred.  His brothers could have wallowed in their guilt, with an absolute paucity of good feeling, but through their repentence, and Joseph's forgivness, they reach the balance of reconciliation.  In the end, they accept Joseph's words, and admire him for who he is, and who he has become.  The option of vengeance never even entered his mind as he focused on the opportunity to once again see his father - not telling him of his brothers' perfidy, but merely being grateful for the blessings God gives him.  This is a truly honorable and wise man.

Would you have been able to do the same?  So, who are you?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

At the Core

Today's reflection discusses the question "Who am I?" in the context of feeding and fasting - the two extremes of the ego.  Am I really as horrible as my ex-spouse thinks I am?  Am I really as wonderful as my dog thinks I am?  The question is, at the core, who am I?

We've likely all played that game in the past - I am my mother's daughter, my son's mother, etc., listing off every relationship we have, but that assumes that your identity is based on who you are to other people, and not who you are at the very center of yourself.  So let's go to the question of, who would God say you are?

When did you last read Ephesians 1:3-12?  Here's your chance to read it in the context of who we are to God:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

A fairly balanced viewpoint - both sibling to Christ, and that way because of Christ.  There is the feast and the fast, and where we might think about focusing our answer to the question of "Who am I?" 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fasting to Feasting

Today's reflection (with a change in writer) speaks of feasting and fasting, and how this does not just refer to food.  So today's reflection on the reflection will be an exercise.

Imagine, if you would, a straight line.  At one end is fasting and at the other end is feasting.  For the feasting end, remember the time in your life when you were at a real high, a time when you would consider it a celebration (possibly a wedding, a birth, winning the lottery, buying a house, etc.)  Not simply being happy, but being ecstatic about whatever event it is.  For the fasting end, remember a time when you were at your lowest, not just sad, but devastated at the loss of ... a person, a job, a pet, a child.

Somewhere between these two extremes, we live our lives, knowing that too many days like the Feasting high will likely leave us bankrupt, exhausted from nerves and anticipation; and too many days like the Fasting low will leave us depressed beyond measure, unable to see the possibility of even a normal day when we can smile and appreciate the simple fact of being alive.

Our sister church, St. Luke's in Libby today hosted the first "Kid's Kitchen", to provide a hot meal and backpacks for additional meals over a weekend for needy and homeless children.  These are kids who know what it is to hunger - not just for food, although that is a very important need to fill, but for fellowship, belonging, a place where they can be themselves.  They're too far along the fasting side of the line, and many in our community and in Libby stepped up to help move them back along the line.  About 30 people came today - far more volunteers than kids in need, as yet.  Which shows us that many people have a need to nurture, to care for our community members and particularly the minors.  For a first time in a small town, it's a great start.  And the plan is to continue doing it, every week.

In here is the concept that brings us Lent.  We want to deprive ourselves of something so that we are able to appreciate what we have.  We want to develop good habits to make what we have that much better.  And we want to help others to find their own balance.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Slow Down

Today's reflection discusses feasting and the traditions created behind the feast, recipes passed down, and how Lent gives us time to reflect on what we do and why we do it.

I'd like to challenge anyone reading this blog to choose one day during Lent, and slow down.  Live the day consciously.  If you're eating, smell the scents the food gives off; take a bite, and hold it in your mouth; taste the food before you chew it, and chew slowly, allowing the tastes to become full.  As you swallow, allow your minds eye to follow the marvelous creation God has wrought that allows us to be self-sustaining, that fills our bellies with food that becomes the fuel and energy that allows us to move.

When you speak with someone, give their words your whole attention.  Don't rush ahead to what you're going to say in response, but listen to them.  Listen to what they don't say as well, for that can sometimes be just as important.  Anyone who has or works with children knows that children are often satisfied with part of your attention - but given the whole of your attention, they flourish and blossom before your very eyes.

As you walk, stop looking at the ground and look up and around you.  When was the last time you noticed and thanked God for His creation?  When was the last time you realized the beauty and thought that went into creating an ecosystem that certainly cannot be an accident? 

And when you follow the liturgy of morning prayer or the Eucharist service, think about the tradition behind it, the care that was taken to choose those exact words - give the same care to your speaking of the words.

As you slow down, and appreciate with all of your senses, acknowledging not just with your mind, but with your heart, you'll become aware of the Feast that is offered every day at the table of God.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Taking a Step

Today's reflection talks about persistence; setting a goal and being stubborn enough to see it through.  But more importantly, it talks about taking that first step toward the goal. 

Our community tends toward the older end of the scale, although we have a new family that has drastically skewed our average age downward.  As two of them are now members of the Polar Bear Bear Club, they are certainly familiar with that first step (and how cold it can be!).  There are, however, tamer methods of taking steps, one of which is something we have available to us at St. Luke's in Libby - a labyrinth.  A brief description of how one can take that first step can be found here

The interesting thing about those two methods is how public you are.  As a Christian, you have the opportunity to do as the "Iron Nun" does, and ensure that people know you're there, part of that being that you are a representative of your faith, simply by being who you are.  That's a huge responsibility, of course, as to do so will have your every action, word and deed watched to see what exactly a Christian is and does.  (Think Tim Tebow, and the scrutiny the media puts him through.)  A labyrinth is certainly a more private place to find your way to walk closer with God.  Then your thoughts are included among your actions, words and deeds to see what God thinks of you.  No pressure!

But what if you're not exactly the walking, bike-riding, polar-plunging type?  What other ways can you take that step out to explore where you might serve?  For me, it's public speaking - stepping out in front of people to read, to lead a prayer service, to organize a class.  As someone who was painfully shy as a child, who stuttered whenever put in front of people - this is a challenge.  To this day, I practice reading before I get up, meditate and pray that God will allow His words to be heard through my efforts and will reach at least one person's heart. 

So what's your challenge?  And how can we help you to take that first step?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Feeding to Capacity

Today's reflection actually continued where discussion took us yesterday.  Imagine a teacup.  Now, in your mind's eye, you have a picture probably something like the one pictured left.  It's pretty normal sized, will hold a decent amount of tea and allows you to have a nice conversation while drinking it. 
If you look at the cup as a person's capacity however, it allows you to see when that cup has been filled to capacity and you couldn't add another drop without it spilling over into the saucer.  Of course, as with all tea sets, there isn't only one cup - one person's cup of math might be huge, but fiction, not so much; their idea of a great Darjeeling over a discussion of music might leave you cold, but start talking about movement and dance, and their Earl Grey is huge.  In this instance, of course, we're talking about a person's capacity for faith. 
  God has provided each of us with our own capacity, but He didn't say that we had to keep the cup He gave us.  We can develop our passions to such a degree that we need a bigger cup.  And like the roses in today's reflection, we can be nurtured by others, fed, loved, given gentle input that allows us to grow, and communally, allows our communities to flourish. 

We teach children according to their capacity - which generally is divided by age - but think about the story of Christ when he was 12, and already questioning the rabbis in the temple.  Of course, as the Son of God, his capacity was far more than theirs, but advance forward to when he was gathering his disciples.  Each of them had to have a capacity large enough to understand his place in the world, and that his normal occupation would be changing to help advance the community of Christians. 

Christ taught lessons in parables, and when the disciples asked him why, he replied, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."  (Matthew 13:10-13).
In this way, Isaiah 6:9-10 is fulfilled:
"‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
“Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
Christ gave the disciples the keys to increasing the capacity of the believers, that they could learn to understand the mysteries behind the parables, that their capacities could grow to the extent that they would understand with their heart, and be healed. 
We all know people who don't believe, or need more evidence to believe, or have turned away from the church for some reason.  Their capacity for belief is in need of nurturing and love, examples and investment in them as people.  But to overflow their cup is only going to make their eyes glaze, and have them turn away, or, in the case of the roses who were moved abruptly, require care to ensure that they do not die.  We must be happy for the capacity they have, and give them the opportunity to trade their cup for the next size up when they're ready.  And if they're happy with their cup being just right for them, then love them as the children of God they are.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Commentary on "One Hour"

In emailing with a young pastor I know, Dustin Parker-Fahey, he consented to allowing me to post his words and research on this subject.  As you'll see, I was a bit worried about this particular posting:

Ok, I have read it a couple times now.

I like it. It speaks to me personally. I'm always struggling with my attention span and trying to 'stay up with the Lord.' Just this morning I was trying to pray and the ADD was kicking in and my mind was going every where. The discipline of controlling our minds...its a daunting and difficult task at times.

On a critical side, I'm always about context of a passage. You know that because I'm always going on about it. :) I would say that you are 'spot on' in saying that it applies to the church of today as it did to the disciples back then. Frequently when the Bible refers to the disciples, it is referring to us as well, not just the specific ones with him.

Here's a little excerpt from one of my favorite commentaries:
Only devotion to prayer can carry us through the hardest times. Our best intentions (26:33, 35) cannot protect us in the time of severest testing unless we have learned how to seek God in prayer (v. 41). The three disciples worthy of special censure here (vv. 37, 40) are the three who had witnessed Jesus' glory on the mountain (17:1), including the disciple most adamant about his faithfulness (26:35). Spirit (v. 41) refers to the purpose of the human spirit versus the weakness of mortal humanity (in contrast to Paul's usual contrast between God's Spirit and human flesh). Jesus had already warned his disciples to pray lest they succumb to the test, a warning applicable to all disciples (6:13); his admonitions to watch likewise apply to all disciples in all eras. The lesson of Gethsemane is thus for all generations.

The disciples' failure reminds us that they were people of flesh and blood just like us, not superspiritual people whom God would use because they had earned his favor. Even the big meal should not have put them to sleep so quickly; it was customary to discuss God's redemptive acts for a few hours after the meal before singing the Hallel. Some Jewish tradition suggested that those who fell asleep to the point they could not even answer thereby dissolved their Passover group--which the disciples inexplicably did by the time Jesus had finished praying. Jesus did not regularly hold "all-night prayer" as a mark of being spiritual, but he did expect the disciples to take seriously his need in this emergency situation. If staying awake on this one night was a test, the disciples failed it. Peter undoubtedly comes in for special rebuke (v. 40) because he had most vehemently pledged his faithfulness till death (v. 33).

God's call may lead through unbearable pain. If this was the case with Jesus (vv. 37-39, 42, 44), his servants should expect no less (10:24-25). By describing his sorrow as to the point of death (26:38), Jesus underlines the intensity of his grief: of itself the grief could kill him.

When we are in such pain, we need the strength of others' presence. Jesus' disciples provide a stark contrast in this narrative, a foil that reveals our Lord's own sacrifice all the more powerfully. Some popular authors and speakers emphasize "being positive" in all circumstances without exception, but despite the importance of a cheerful disposition (Prov 15:13, 15; 17:27; 18:14) and the normalcy of Christian joy (Gal 5:22; Phil 4:4; 1 Thess 5:16), in the psalms God's servants also repeatedly pour out broken hearts to him (for example, Ps 39:10-13; 40:13-17; 89:46-51). Jesus does not complain, but he does ask for support in prayer, and finds strength for his mission in God alone. The world and the church around us are full of suffering; they will hear God's heart for them best if we share their suffering in prayer (Mt 26:38-41) rather than if we dismiss genuine pain with platitudes about "being positive."


How often do we ask the Lord for things? Frequently. Daily. Hourly. Maybe more often. Jesus was going through one of the hardest times in his life/ministry and all he wanted from his disciples, his friends, his closest companions was that they would take part in this vigil with him. To think about it on a somewhat on a more modern sense, it would be like if my pastor came to me, or someone very spiritually important to me (none equal Jesus I know, but just go along with this for a second) and told me that they were going through the hardest thing they had ever faced before and they needed prayer. Wouldn't someone be honored to be asked that? Wouldn't you make sure you prayed your heart out?

At least, at first you would. You'd be fervent and full of fire as you prayed on you pastor's/friend's behalf. But how long would it last? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? Maybe 30?

The Lord has given us all so much. Grace and mercy, unconditional love, freedom, eternal life, blessings; each of us have received spiritual gifts and blessings. The magnitude of what the Lord gives us is almost unfathomable for the human mind. Were we to start thanking the Lord for what He gave us at the beginning of the day, in our first breath as our eyes opened, already the count leaps into action. You woke up, His mercy is refreshed daily, you can see, you can hear, you have a roof over your head-the count goes on and on.

Yet when it comes to spending time with the Lord, especially in silence, we 'don't have time' or 'cant focus' so we don't try any longer. But the Lord "delights in every details of our lives" (Psalm 23b). He wants to spend time with us. He is Jealous for us, and doesn't want to be pushed to the back of our priority list. And when we take the time to just sit down, 'be still, and know that He is God," we will be amazed by what can occur. Talking to God, praying, its like a conversation. It shouldn't just be us talking at God. It should be a two-way street. But we have to listen hard for God's voice and at times that's when our minds go off on adventures of their own, or they get tired and drowsy.

ANYWAY. LOL I think what you wrote was good. Short and sweet and to the point. When the Lord asks to spend time with you? Do you give Him all of your attention? Do you let Him respond to you or do you do all the talking?

One Hour

Today's reflection talks about one of the few times Christ actually asks for something for Himself; at the Garden of Gethsemane, he tells Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38).  We know the story, and that when Jesus returns, all three have fallen asleep. 

Have you ever spent a full hour in prayer and meditation?  Not an actual church service, where our ancestors have kindly provided us movement to go with our prayers, kneeling, standing, sitting, repeat - but an actual hour, sitting, eyes closed so you may focus on one thing, so you may be still and possibly hear the voice of God?

When you first begin trying, it's very difficult to even make it 10 minutes without feeling drowsy; 15 if you have an overactive brain.  But it is something that you can train your mind to do.  Decide what you're going to focus on - the subject of your prayer or meditation.  Set a timer for 10 minutes (it's longer than you think).  Sit down and be comfortable (being uncomfortable will lead to other problems).  See your mind as a wayward 2-year-old.  It will bring you every interesting, non-interesting, ADD moment you have ever had to show you as a 2-year-old would.  Acknowledge the thought and set it aside for later.  Don't get irritated.  Re-focus on your subject.  Something in your body will itch, begin to hurt or feel uncomfortable.  Breathe deeply and exhale, letting that feeling go - it's not really there.  Re-focus on your subject. 

The first few times, you may feel rather frustrated, like you haven't actually accomplished anything but pacifying a 2-year-old as it throws something down from the highchair and expects you to pick it up and continue the game.  Each time, extend your time by 1 minute.  You'll find that you will re-focus faster, and that eventually, that will become something in the background, as you are able to focus on your subject of prayer and meditation for an entire 10 minutes.  Keep extending. 

Are you able to do as Christ requested of three of His disciples?  Are you willing to do so? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Leaving Room for the Holy Spirit

Today's reflection is rather interesting for someone who constantly searches for information, input, better ways of doing things.  Taking time to remember that not only can you not fill all the spaces up, but that you actually need those spaces so that the Holy Spirit has room to work.  Acts 17:28 reminds us that "in Him we live and move and have our being." 

So in your reflections, meditations, readings, services, songs, prayers, etc., etc. - are you remembering to leave room, and welcome, for the Holy Spirit to be?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Spiritual Home Building

Today's reflection talks about the pieces we use to build our spiritual home, whether that be a church, your home, or even how you go about your day.  One way of looking at it is to live your life, aware or mindful of the presence of God in everything you do. 

As you sweep your floor, you're not only making your home cleaner, but you can be spiritually cleaning out discord, and things you don't need, while making room for those things you do need and want in your life.

As you wash your dishes, you're not just doing a chore, but using water to wash away those things that eventually become bad for you and your family (germs), and providing a service to your family.

As you drive in your car, be aware of the concept of a prayer wheel, and give each of your tires prayers to say as they spin along the road.

In a more active sense, when you say "Good morning" to someone, rather than making it a greeting, make it a conscious wish for them, that they truly have a good morning, and accompany it with a smile.

And when you participate in the Sunday service, or the Daily Office, be aware of every word you speak, what it truly means and how it fits your beliefs.  Don't say it by rote - use inflection in your voice to make it mean exactly what you mean to say.  (For example, try saying the Lord's Prayer, but emphasize "Thy" and "Thine" everywhere it occurs.)

Be conscious of what you do, and how you can include God in each aspect of your life, no matter how mundane.  Make the mundane holy, and your spiritual home will grow and become a place of comfort, peace and spiritual contentment.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Decisions and Free Will

Today's reflection talks about our process of making decisions, and how God has given us the free will to make those decisions. 

Possibly, you're a logical person, and will make a pros and cons list, going with whichever one has the longer list. 

Maybe you're more analytical than that, giving each reason on the lists a weighted value, so that even if the pros side is longer, the cons side has more weight to it. 

Maybe you're the sort to flip a coin and take the adventure - or the type who says, well, I've done this, but I haven't done that, so I'll go with that this time, just to have a new experience.

Perhaps you tend to let your heart weigh in more heavily, and do things because you feel that it would be best for you, or best for someone else.

What's always interesting about "free will" is that one of our options is to listen to God.  The quote from Isaiah at the beginning of the reflection says it all:  "And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."Isaiah 30:21.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Basics... and The Enhancements

Today's reflection talks about how, like water is absolutely necessary for our bodies, prayer is absolutely necessary for our souls.  Sometimes, we like to add something other than water to quench our thirst, and like above, sometimes the music can enhance our prayer.  The words to this song beautifully engage the thoughts, imagination and lift the spirit as we can see and hear each phrase come to life. 

Sing for the morning's joy, Cecilia, sing,
in words of youth and phrases of the spring.
Walk the bright colonnades by fountains spray
and sing as sunlight fills the waking day.
Till angels, voyaging in upper air, pause on a wing,
and gather the clear sound into celestial joy, wound and unwound,
a silver chain or golden as your hair.

Sing for your loves of heaven and of earth,
in words of music, and each word a truth,
marriage of heart and longings that aspire,
a bond of roses and a ring of fire.
Your summertime grows short and fades away,
terror must gather to a martyr's death, but never tremble,
the last indrawn breath remembers music as an echo may.

Through the long aftermath of centuries
Cecilia's music dances in the skies,
lend us a fragment of the immortal air
where with your choiring angels we may share.
A light to light us through time-fettered night,
water of life, a rose of paradise;
so from the earth another song shall rise
to meet your own in heavens long delight.

For more information on St. Cecilia, just click the link.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our Reality

Today's reflection talks about how lenten practices can help us answer the question, "who am I?"  Whether we choose to fast or feed, we gain both aspects of that inner search.  In "fasting" (giving something up), we give ourselves more time, self-awareness, ability to focus without the distraction or presence of something which had been distracting for us.  In "feeding" (adding something to our daily practice), we give up time generally spent doing something, or nothing, that does nothing to feed our spirits.

Evelyn Underhill, in her book Practical Mysticism writes:

The practical man may justly observe at this point that the world of single vision is the only world he knows: that it appears to him to be real, solid, and self-consistent: and that until the existence--at least, the probability--of other planes of reality is made clear to him, all talk of uniting with them is mere moonshine, which confirms his opinion of mysticism as a game fit only for idle women and inferior poets. Plainly, then, it is the first business of the missionary to create, if he can, some feeling of dissatisfaction with the world within which the practical man has always lived and acted; to suggest something of its fragmentary and subjective character.  Underhill, Evelyn (2009-05-05). Practical Mysticism (Kindle Locations 185-190). Bunny Books, Ink.. Kindle Edition.

Again, taking the time to reflect on what we find within us, will help us to determine who we are, allow us to use that CREDO circle tool of questioning our identity, discerning, practicing, and becoming transformed.  Have you chosen to feed or fast this lenten season?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Universal Constant

Today's reflection points out that the universal constant we have is change.  That each day brings to our life new changes, as we grow from child to adult, from birth to death.  But in the bigger picture of things, we are but a small speck in a universe constantly changing from its own birth, as the eons pass, and yesterday's "ruling class" have become fossils, while today's "head honchos" should take note of the past, even as they seek to change the future. 

While the writer reflects on the nature of man's mortality, one cannot help but remember the old saying - we are not a physical being having a spiritual experience, but rather a spiritual being having a physical experience.  And while certainly, death is an inevitable part of life, it is our faith in Christ that helps us to understand that "life" continues after the death of our mortal shells.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lenten Study

Holy Trinity will be participating in the Lenten study offered by Episcopal CREDO this year.  It's a fairly short, daily meditation or reflection that you can read or listen to a recording of and then use to discuss, which we'll be discussing at both coffee hour after services and at the Prayer Shawl Ministry at 2:00 on Sundays.  If you're interested in participating, simply provide your name/email at the link above, and it'll come right to your mailbox every day.