The Welcome Prayer

This is the prayer by Thomas Keating that I read at the close of the sermon yesterday.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within. Amen.

The Church and the Kingdom: Reflections from E. Stanley Jones

During Adult Ed I read some sentences from E. Stanley Jones’ book Along the Indian Road.  I thought it might be helpful to share those, and a few others, here in print.

Consider this statement which offers a definition of both the “new birth” and the “Church”.

“New birth is bringing a person into the Church, which is the fellowship of those devoted to the Kingdom of God.”

If the Church is anything other than “a fellowship of those devoted to the Kingdom of God” then there is hardly any reason to bring someone into it.  If it is such a fellowship, then they are coming into a whole new world in which they will become completely new persons.

Jones believed that the Kingdom is the Absolute which relativizes all human institutions, even the Church itself.  The Church is always secondary to the Kingdom.  Not all Christians agree:

In the Roman conception, the Kingdom of God and the Church are one.  This we cannot accept.  Suppose we go out saying, “Repent, for the Church is at hand.” People would laugh, as an audience actually did when I said it.  But people do not laugh when you say, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” for they feel instinctively that they are confronted with an Absolute. The Church is a means, the Kingdom of God is the end.

And this is what has struck me the most powerfully:

The Church, being relative, must come under the judgment and correction of something higher than itself–the Kingdom of God. Only as it loses its life in obedience to this higher Order does it find its life coming back to itself.  It has authority only as it subits to and embodies this higher authority…

The authority of the Church is judged by one thing–and one thing alone–how much does it serve?  For it is the same for the individual and the corporate group–the greatest among them becomes the servant of all–greatness in authority comes from as a result of dedication to ends beyond itself.

Here is an essential reminder to us, especially as we plant a new branch of Christ’s Church here in Frankfort:

I can be, and am, loyal to my fingertips to a Church which is loyal to the Kingdom of God, which comes under the judgment of the Kingdom, is the instrument and servant of the Kingdom, and which embodies the spirit and life of the Kingdom. But I am disloyal to a Church which is disloyal to the Kingdom by becoming and end in itself.

And finally (for now) this lovely anecdote which give a glimpse of Jones’ heart and character:

When I said to a Hindu audience that I was convertible [open to conversion], one Hindu arose and said, “Yes, but you would be a very hard nut to crack.”  I replied: “Well, I suppose I would be, but not for the reason you think.  It is not superior intelligence, I know that.  The reason probably is that I no longer hold my faith–it holds me.” And I propose to share that faith while there is breath within me.




Loving Your Enemies

So grateful to Heather for passing this on to me today.  Great timing!  Great content!

I highly recommend this podcast from the folks at Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

This is probably the most important topic of the Christian life.  How we deal with enemies and challenges from minor annoyance to devastating intentional betrayal will determine our spiritual and emotional future.


Retrouvaille means Rediscovery

A Lifeline For Marriages…

  • Do you feel lost, alone or bored in your marriage?
  • Are you frustrated, hurt or angry with your spouse?
  • Are you constantly fighting? Or, do you simply shut down?
  • Have you thought about separation or divorce?
  • Does talking about it only make it worse?

                                                  … Retrouvaille provides marriage help!



Other links:


“God doesn’t owe you anything: the reward for faithfulness is normal Christian life.”

This is a fascinating story of a small parish’s journey out of the Episcopal Church, beautiful cooperation with the Roman Catholic community in their time of need, and how the church property ended up as a Muslim study center.

The interview (14 minutes) was conducted at the recent GAFCON gathering.

On a personal note, we are very good friends with Anne’s parents; we taught with them at Africa International University in Nairobi.

“That I would be good…”

Some of you may be familiar already with the work of Canadian song-writer Alanis Morissette.  I was not until recently.  This song expresses the universal human longing to be loved unconditionally, to feel the consolation that beneath all our imperfections and failures there is something good about us. A stickler would demand definition of terms at this point, “What is good.”  “There is no one good but God,” etc.  Bracket all that for a moment and listen to this cry of the heart–maybe your own heart.  In an interview Alanis said she wrote this song as a prayer.  I’m thankful we have a Father who made us and sees us as we are, and loves us always.  We have a Savior who can help us to be the person we are longing to be, and to shape our longings too.  And we have the Blessed Holy Spirit building communities in which to grow, struggle, show our battle scars, and even reap the bitter fruit of seeds we sowed long ago, in safety.


A live version

Lessons for Pentecost 9

Welcome to the first experimental use of this blog as the platform for sharing the Lessons for next week, comments and study guides.  I think it will work better than the email method, especially for sharing video resources.

Next Sunday, July 22nd, is the Ninth Sunday of Pentecost, the season of growth.  How is your soul garden growing?  Is it getting enough water, nutrients, sunshine, cultivation?  Any fruit, any weeds?

We are continuing through Mark’s Gospel and Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.  As Fr. Patrick mentioned Sunday the lectionary gave us a brief dip into the Minor Prophet Amos.  Now we are jumping to the Major Prophet Isaiah.  (Remember why these are called Major and Minor? ) The verses highlighted may sound familiar since we often use them for the Opening Sentences, especially during Lent.

Our Psalm portion is the last third of Psalm 22.  Most of us are familiar with the first verses of Psalm 22, the so-called “cry of dereliction” of Jesus from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me….”  Well, you can see, that this latter half sounds a note of triumph and victory:

29 My soul shall live for him; my descendants shall serve him; *
they shall be known as the LORD’S for ever.
30 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn *
the saving deeds that he has done.

The lessons below are in the English Standard Version as they will be read. I have also hyperlinked the references to a website for the New Living Bible translation which is a sound contemporary version.

The First Lesson is found in Isaiah 57:14-21

And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
For I will not contend forever,
nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
and the breath of life that I made.
Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord,
“and I will heal him.
But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
for it cannot be quiet,
and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

The Second Lesson is found in Ephesians 2:11-22

Therefore, remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The Psalm appointed for today is a portion of Psalm 22. 

Here is the Psalm sung in Anglican Plain Chant (the music of Heaven!). Our portion begins at 4:40.

22Praise the LORD, you that fear him; *
stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel; all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.

23For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
neither does he hide his face from them; *
but when they cry to him he hears them.

24My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.

25The poor shall eat and be satisfied, and those who seek the LORD shall praise him: *
“May your heart live for ever!”

26All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, *
and all the families of the nations bow before him.

27For kingship belongs to the LORD; *
he rules over the nations.

28To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; *
all who go down to the dust fall before him.

29My soul shall live for him; my descendants shall serve him; *
they shall be known as the LORD’S for ever.

30They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn *
the saving deeds that he has done.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mark 6:30-44

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Here are some general suggestions for reading and studying.

Set a specific time each day to read through the lessons. Committing to ten completely undistracted minutes is a good starting goal. Make an appointment with God, and keep it the way you would keep an appointment with anyone you respected.

Before you begin reading the lessons say a brief prayer. Thank God for giving us His word. Thank Him that we can read it without fear of persecution. Ask Him to open your eyes and your heart to receive what He wants to say to you. Set your mind in a grateful and obedient attitude

Keep a little notebook or journal handy for recording your thoughts.
Consider reading the lessons in a different translations to keep it fresh and interesting.

As you read through the week:

Make note of anything that stands out to you for any reason, e.g. particular words or phrases.

Write down any questions that come to mind as you read.

Look for themes that seem to connect some or all of the lessons. For example, do you see any connection between the epistle and the gospel lessons?

Ask yourself:

What does this passage tell me about God?

What does this passage tell me about myself?

How does this passage speak to our current time and culture?

Does this passage contain any instructions for me?

After reading a passage, sit in silence for a few minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Take note of any thoughts, images or feelings that come to you during this time.

Try to write a brief prayer (a message to God) in response to something you saw or felt in reading the lessons. This can be a question, or even a complaint.

Try to anticipate what next Sunday’s sermon might be about, or what you hope it will be about.

Think of something from the readings that you might want to talk about with someone at church on Sunday.

What would it be like to live in a world without integrity?

A friend recently recounted something that happened at his previous job.  His team was going into a high-stakes meeting with a potential client.  The team leader called them together, reviewed important details, and then closed with this bit of wisdom:

“Remember, we did not get to where we are as a company by telling the truth.”

The message was clear: say whatever it takes to make the sale.  If the product — in this case a massive software package — can’t actually do what we lead the client to expect, we’ll adjust it later–or try to.  Just make the sale.  My friend immediately began looking for another job.

This article addresses the epidemic of cheating that is running rampant in our society, and some of the underlying causes that are built into our system.

Center for Disease Control: Youth Risk Surveillance

This is a lengthy and sobering report.  It is divided into headings.  I encourage you to scan through it.  This is why the Gospel and thriving Kingdom communities are essential for today’s children and youth.

Here is a brief quote from the introduction:

These leading causes of mortality, morbidity, and social problems (e.g., academic failure, poverty, and crime) among youth and adults in the United States are associated with six categories of priority health-related behaviors: 1) behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence; 2) tobacco use; 3) alcohol and other drug use; 4) sexual behaviors that related to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV infection; 5) unhealthy dietary behaviors; and 6) physical inactivity. These behaviors, as well as obesity, overweight, and asthma, frequently are related, are established during childhood and adolescence, and extend into adulthood.