Sunday, February 24, 2013

On the Second Sunday in Lent

From the Book of Common Prayer, 1928:
ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of 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. Amen.
So beautiful; perhaps the most sublime beauty of the "Collect" is that across the Anglican world hundreds of millions of souls are praying this same prayer today.  I read these words, pray them then meditate on them for some moments and consider Christ's promise concerning when two or more seek the same thing from God, that he is there with an answer.

This collect reminds us that our assaults are not only external, but internal as well and that we can be our own worst enemies.  Its established fact that the Adversary has it out for us as children of the father and his attacks have been described by Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesian Church as "Flaming Arrows" or "Fiery Darts".  These come in any number of form.  Yet despite the Adversary's worst, the activities between our own ears can make us our own worst enemy.  Walt Kelly put it well when he penned "We have met the enemy and they is us..."

We are living in an era of monumental, almost seismic change.  Our times are so tumultuous that many people of faith are sincerely questioning if we are now at the "end of the end."  If ever there was a time to be defended from the assaults from within, it would be in times like these.

May our God Keep, Defend and Save us today.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A New Season of "Holy Saturday"

I don't typically consider Holy Saturday this early in Lent; that 36 hours or so that transpired between the moment where lifeless body of our Christ was laid to rest in that rock-hewn tomb, and moment of his resurrection.  Yet I find myself riveted on this time slice on this cold, damp morning in Suburbia Majora.

For the Holy Apostles, the day had to be frightening, stressful and uncertain on at least eleven different levels.  Their earlier number of 13 had been reduced by two; their Rabbi, Master and Lord's lifeless body now lay lifeless in a tomb, and one member of their band's body was swinging from a tree.  They had witnessed a population turn from a welcoming flashmob to a crazed mob clamoring for Christ's crucifixion. And now as each were hunkered down, they were doubtlessly considering their own deaths.  To couch it in musical terms, this seemed to be the coda; the great melody had ended on a minor note.

The rearview mirror of Scripture tells us that rather than the end of the music, this was merely the pause between movements of God the Father's Symphony of the ages!  The muted, shroud-draped creation would soon, in a moment shout in call-and-response, "Alleluia, Christ is Risen!  The Lord is risen indeed!"

This morning, I find myself in a "Holy Saturday" moment.

*  *  *  *  *

For the first time since November 7th 2009, I woke up this morning as a Deacon without a church. I've known this moment was coming for nearly a year, and the longer we tried to dismiss it, the more it loomed larger in our lives.  In September 2012, I informed my Bishop of the fact that Robin and I were discerning our future with Celebration.  We knew that this would be a time of deliberation and only the Lord would determine the outcome.  As we approached Lent 2013, the answer quickly became self-evident and we had to leave our church of seven years.

A dear sister and Anglican Benedictine Abbess, Katherine Mary Martin, or "Mother Kate", shared some keen insight as to where the Deacon and his "Best Gal" were at present spiritually.  She referred to this as the the season of "Holy Saturday", that space where one season has ended and another is about to begin. And like those in that original Holy Saturday, I'm feeling a bit of anxiety as to what lay beyond my immediate horizon.  Yet, I'm comforted in the knowledge that a change in route doesn't signify a journey's end.

OK Lord, let's now see where you're leading. 

Lent 2013

From the Book of Common Prayer:
"I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer."
As the Nativity Cycle ends, the Paschal Cycle begins; welcome to Lent 2013, 40 days of active denial and proactive searching.