Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reverie on a Misty March Saturday

Mickey's big hand has crossed the top of the clock as a dreary morning becomes a dreary afternoon here in Suburbia Majora. The temperature is hovering around 40 degrees and a considerable mass of rain is lurking in the southwest, in a swath that stretches from Charlottesville to Richmond. If I were seven, I'd likely be moping about and whining about being stuck inside on a Saturday. As I approach two-score and seven, I find these days to be a treat. As, the rains soak the front yard, I'm considering tomorrow's (Lent III) collect:

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I'm sad to confess that at one point in my journey, I would have dismissed this prayer out of hand as "rehearsed" and "uninspired". This pride-soaked mindset is rife within pentecostal & charismatic circles and is just downright ugly. I've long since repented of that outlook. There is plenty of room within the economy of God for extemporaneous prayer. I would suspect that this collect may well have been extemporaneously uttered by an Anglican divine in ages past. Tomorrow, tens of millions of Anglican saints around the globe will be praying this very prayer.

The collect speaks to our total inability to affect our situation, save for the intervention of the Almighty. We had, as aliens to God's Kingdom, no power to rescue ourselves from neither our sinful state nor our bleak future. Likewise, even now as God's children, we have no ability to persevere without the Divine hand of mercy.

It would be good during this Lenten season to both our physical and spiritual frailties, and the mighty hand of God that sustains us. His sustenance is more than sufficient for not only this life, but the life to come.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bishop Peter J. Lee

On January 10th 2006, the feast of William Laud, I was confirmed an Anglican by Bishop Peter Lee in the Mayo House Chapel. (William Laud, with his views on church conformity, may have found a home in the contemporary Episcopal Church, but then again he may have been completely repulsed. This is a topic for another day as I digress). I was immediately impressed by Bishop Lee. My first impression of the man was of one learned in scripture and church history. He seemed the consummate Bishop.

Time would pass and I would learn that Bishop Lee seemed to either hold center-left tendencies, or was busy upholding the politics of the institutional Episcopal Church. When the Great Virginia Remonstrance of 2006 occurred, he seemed to be a man between the anvil of the institutional Episcopal Church, and the hammer of the orthodox parishes of Virginia. The Bishop sought a Via Media solution, but was soon jerked about like a Warsaw Pact puppet leader by his Presiding Bishop and her Chief litigator.

Late last week, Bishop Lee announced his retirement and his pending assignment as interim Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. This assignment is expected to last one year and retirement will follow.

I've have read scores of comments across a small sea of blogs that have done nothing but tarbrush Bishop Lee, plastering him with near libelous accusations. I take a far different view than those of the broadsides leveled on the Bishop.

I see Peter Lee as a man who has sinned against his own conscience. I sense that in his heart of hearts, he KNOWS and BELIEVES this new and dystopic vision of the Episcopal Church is contrary to both Scripture and the historic faith, once delivered by the Apostles. I continue to pray for Bishop Peter Lee that he would repent of this error, be emboldened by the Holy Spirit, and stand firm in the historic faith in his autumn years.

If Bishop Lee were to take this stand, I'm confident that our LORD will restore what the locusts of revisionism have eaten, and his later days will be greater than the former.

I urge you to join me in prayer for Bishop Lee, and other Bishops who may be perched on the fence.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Lenten Vespers

A thought to contemplate in the Vesper light of week's end.

Nisi quia Dominus

The reading of Psalm 124 is part of the Lectionary for Saturday, March 7th. Tomorrow, the Church recalls Perpetua and her companions, also refered to as the Martyrs of Carthage.

1 If the LORD had not been on our side—
let Israel say-
2 if the LORD had not been on our side
when men attacked us,
3 when their anger flared against us,
they would have swallowed us alive;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
would have swept us away.
6 Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
out of the fowler's snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

I've been asked to deliver a devotional message by Father Toby as tomorrow's Vestry meeting. I was humbled by the invitation and will strive to present cogent, actionable thoughts to the committee. Psalm 124 jumped off the page as an apropos message and a reminder to this body of elders of the source of their help.

The Latin subtitle of this Psalm, "Nisi quia Dominus", speaks volumes: Except for the Lord.