Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adam and Eve

The newness of their altered relationship is stark. Fear has come upon them and they hide. The profound change is lovingly articulated by the Father when He says, “Adam Where are you?” Or as recorded in Genesis (NKJV) "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the Garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

They are confronted by a changed relationship even before the LORD states the nature of the change. Death has entered the world, and spiritually Death is separation. In its simplest form separation is personified by the act of hiding undertaken by Adam and his wife. Sin is in a way hiding, even running away from God – it is separation from God – and to be separated from God is Death. The spiritual life is reconnecting to God. However, the journey to reconnect with the LORD is not begun by us. It is begun by God. “Where are you?” He says.

For us who somehow have allowed the voice of God to break into our consciousness, we realize that for so very long God has been looking for us. And now He desires that we allow Him to find us. In Galatians Paul says, “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God.” Or rather are KNOWN by God. Imagine, the depth of mystery to realize that the great joy of faith is not the common cry that we know God, but that God knows us. KNOWS us!! Here is total openness to the heavenly One. Here is complete surrender, and complete restoration of The Walk in the Garden: naked and exposed and yet not ashamed.

So to worship begins with the words of openness to allow God to find us.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Quest of life is to journey on the path that in one sense acknowledges that the LORD has found us, and yet we wish to be “More found,” shall we say. As seekers of Christ, our first priority is to allow ourselves to be found by God. We cannot show anybody the Way to be found by God if we have not “travelled” (Shall we say) the road to coming out from the trees.

So what is it that we are hiding from God? What trees are we hiding behind? Are we hearing the voice of the loving, compassionate, gentle God saying to us, “Come out here. Don’t be afraid. Tell me what has happened.” And when we are able to understand what has happened in our lives, the brokenness we have experienced, the tragedy of our hiding, and that this tragedy of hiding is part and parcel to everybody’s life, we’ll be better able help others be discovered by the LORD God.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Faint and Small

by Robert MacCall Adams

Eternal LORD, how faint and small
Our greatest, strongest thoughts must seem
To Thee, Who overseest all,
And leads us through Life's shallow stream.
How tangled our straightest ways;
How dimly flares our brightest star;
How earthbound is our highest praise
To Thee, who sees us as we are.
Our feet are slow where Thine are fast;
Thy kiss of grace meets lips of stone;
And we admit Thy love at last
To hearts that have none of their own.

A Prayer before heading out for Communion

Almighty and everlasting God, behold we approach the sacrament of the passion of Thy only begotten Son, our LORD Jesus Christ. As sick, we come to the physician of life; as unclean, to the fountain of mercy; as blind, to the light of eternal splendor; as needy, to the LORD of heaven and earth. We pray Thee of Thine infinite mercy to heal our sickness, to wash our foulness, to lighten our darkness, and to enrich our poverty; that receiving the Body and Blood of Thy dear Son, we may be incorporated into His mystical Body, and ever be reckoned among His members; who with Thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth One God, world without end.
Unknown author

LORD have mercy,


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What ever happened to Mercy

I was once speaking to an elderly gentleman who was telling me of some preparations for he and hs wife's 50th wedding anniversary celebration. In conversation with the Reverend they asked if it would be possible to have a special Holy Communion Service on their anniversary day, using the BCP. The Reverend responded with a question as to why they would want to celebrate their anniversary with the words, “we are unworthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under they table.” The gentleman said he responded to the Reverend by saying, “But sir, one reads on,’But thou art the same Lord, who’s property is always to have mercy.’”

Mercy is a predominant theme in the Book of Common Prayer, and indeed the Bible.

LORD have mercy,


Yielding to Christ

Some thoughts from John Stott’s book, Basic Christianity

If then you suffer from moral anaemia, take my advise and steer clear of Christianity. If you want to live a life of easy-going self-indulgence, whatever you do, do not become a Christian. BUT if you want a life of self-discovery, deeply satisfying to the nature God has given you; if you want a life of adventure in which you have the privilege of serving Him and your fellow men; if you want a life in which to express something of the overwhelming gratitude you are beginning to feel for Him who died for you, then I would urge you to yield your life, without reserve and without delay, to your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Your call is clear, cold centuries across;
You bid me follow you, and take my cross,
And daily lose myself, myself deny,
And stern against myself shout ‘Crucify.’

My stubborn nature rises to rebel
Against your call. Proud choruses of hell
Unite to magnify my restless hate
Of servitude, lest I capitulate.

The world, to see my cross, would pause and jeer
I have no choice, but still to persevere
To save myself - and follow you from far,
More slow than Magi - for I have no star.

And yet you call me still. Your Cross
Ellipses mine, transforms the bitter loss
I thought that I would suffer if I came
To you - into immeasurable gain.

I kneel before you, Jesus, crucified,
My cross is shouldered and my self denied;
I’ll follow daily, closely, not refuse
For love of you and man to lose.


Living at Home in the Creed

(From Living the Creed by Carroll E. Simcox)

The historic Christian Creed is like a house, in that it consists of an outside and an inside. You may know it from the outside only, as a passerby may “know” a house from the street. Or you may know it from the outside and the inside, which is the only way of knowing worth calling knowledge. You can never know a house until you have been inside it. Can you know it even then, until you have lived in it for a while, until the house has served as your home? …The people who find the Creed dead or dull know it only from the outside, and they who find it exciting know it from the inside. [However,] many a life-long churchgoer finds it dead and dull. For some reason he has never really lived in it. To anybody whose spiritual home is in the Creed it is a place of pleasance. But it must be lived in; it must be a real home, and not just a place where we hang our hats for a grim hour of duty on Sunday morning. The outer side of the Creed is theological; the inner side is religious. The outer side is dogmatic; the inner side devotional. The Creed must appear cold and drab to anybody who will not step inside and make himself a home.

The Creed does not begin, “I believe that…”, rather, “I believe in...” This is our chief concern in the Creed as a whole and in each of its parts: our personal trust is in a Person. The Creed is a personal confession of faith in a Person. We may believe the dogmas; we believe in God.

Shopping Bag Worship

I have to confess that I am not much of a shopper. I do not mind getting out there to pick up some groceries, and if I have something I really need/want I’ll head out to the store with eager anticipation for the hunt. But I consider my needs to be few so I like to think I am not a ‘shopper.’ But such a position would not hold up to much scrutiny. We live in a consumer culture, bombarded by advertising and the temptations of excessive things and gadgets. You know, those little things that make life more meaningful, and enjoyable. And let’s express our thanks for the greatest revealer of our shopping/consumerist attitudes, the channel changer. Why the moment we are bored, un-interested, or there is something better on that interests us we simply change the channel. The very young, and the very old have been conditioned to this consumerist attitude (ie “I’m not interested unless it suits me or moves me, or I’m getting something out of it.”)

And let us be sure that this attitude affects our approach to worship. I read the following recently….
It is a scarce wonder, no wonder at all, that in a society dedicated to consumerism people ask, "What can I get out of worship?" As if getting something out of everything expresses an appropriate response toward life! The question of worship, when so stated, does not take God seriously. It does not ponder the true worth of God, for to treat God as if He were a means to OUR ends is to imagine that we ourselves are gods. God is not humanity’s servant. (John Burkhart, Worship, p.15, Westminster Press, 1982).
All too often we fall into the trap of consumerism when we think that worship is supposed to move us or stir up our feelings. I am not saying that it won’t (indeed the promise of God is that it will), but if our motivation for heading out to worship is to ‘get something out of it,’ then we are not going there to worship. We can never be seen as heading to church with a shopping bag ready to get from God the things we need. Rather we head out to church to worship Him who is worthy of worship and adoration. Worship is the surrendering and the giving up of ourselves, our hurts, pains, losses, joys, and thanks, to simply be in the presence of the living Lord. What is that wonderful line in “What a Friend we have in Jesus?” ‘O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.’

Let me put it this way - if my goal in loving my wife is to get something out of it for myself, then I am falling short of really loving her. There is the constantly repeated principle in the Scriptures that in order to have you must give. Jesus said to save your life you must lose it; to be first you must be last, to lead you must serve; to be exalted you must be humble, and so on.

These days I think that worshippers and worship leaders alike have fallen into the trap that worship (ie our church services) have to change in order to excite and interest, and the fear is that if we do not the Church will die. It is profound that the early Church called the worship of the Church Liturgy. The word literally means work. And let us not doubt that the Early Fathers understood that worship is work. It is difficult to surrender our need to satisfy the self, even our brokenness. But true worship calls us to surrender the self for the pure purpose to behold God. Somehow the children of God must find their way back to offer God the worship due His Name, and we worship leaders must find some way to inspire that worship without playing to the shopping bag, consumer mentality of today’s society.

LORD have mercy,


Worship - proskuneo

Please forgive my forwardness but I like to kiss my wife. There’s something about pursing those lips and tenderly kissing her cheek, forehead, or lips. Can’t say I tire of it either. That is the blessing of loving, honouring, and cherishing, the woman I vowed to the Lord to love until “death do us part.” But, you know, my wife is not here this evening and I cannot give her a kiss. I’ll just have to wait another day.

The Greek word for worship is a compound word – proskuneo. It is formed by the words pros, meaning toward, and kuneo, meaning to kiss. You have to love the word – worship in the Greek means to come toward and to kiss. Christ is the Bride and we are the bridegroom. We are the beloved and He is the Lover. The Bride, the Church, gathers to worship the Lord, an intimate act of adoring and loving the Lord. We worship, we draw near and kiss the Lord. The thought that such an act as worship could be dull, is to say that kissing ones wife could be boring. The lovers of the Lord are delighted to gather and ‘kiss’ the Lord, which is worship. And in worship, the Lord kisses us with the mysteries of the sacrament. All worship is thus intimate and tender.

My wife may not be present, but the Lord is ever present. And He waits for His Bride to notice His tender and gentle ways, to purse their hearts to love and adoration, to draw near and kiss the beloved, the Christ.

I don’t know about you, but I am heading off to Church on Sunday. I can hardly wait to worship the Lord.