During these days of disruption and isolation we have invited the Parishioners and Friends of St. Peter’s to share any devotional thoughts or reflections.
March 31st, 2020
From Mike Adams, my brother-in-law
Death assumes a thousand faces
This virus is but one
Life persists in countless places
Begotten through God’s Son
As most assume we’ve reached the end
Of all that they hold dear
Will we resist, can we transcend
This tendency toward fear?
Peace resides in sacred places
This virus has not won
Death attempts to mar the traces
Of God’s persistent Son
March 29th 2020
I’m wrestling with two sides of a coin, these days: the blessing-curse of technology. People are right to be wary of online substitutes for community, and the addictive qualities of screentime. Yet, I cannot wring my hands about it too much, having experienced deep connection and joy using the various tools of long distance communication during military deployments, for most of my life. There was a time when I found myself resisting the “powers that be” in public school, who pushed us to accept technology as a unilateral savior of our students, when we teachers (and parents) knew better. Now that I stay home part-time, I am teaching students around the world online, and my own kids in person. Both experiences continue side by side, for me, and are relatively seamless in spite of the coronavirus: Analog homeschool, online school, homeschool using digital tools… Most days we can play outside on the farm, so the only difference is finding our new normal with nowhere else to go.
Click here to continue…
March 28th 2020
More Than Milk and Honey
The rhythmic squirting of milk into the pail. The smell of new grass and manure. There won’t be much cream in this milking. She’s holding back. We might have a full let-down next time.
I think about holding back. It’s the opposite of surrender. How do we ever hold back anything from God? A few weeks back on a Wednesday night, Fr Mark posed an essential question. ‘What does God want?’ Is it obedience? Trust? Love? What if what God wants is to give us everything… to give us Himself?
The people of Israel were on the cusp of entering the land of milk and honey. They had experienced the might of God delivering them out of bondage in Egypt. This Shepherd-King fed and watered His flock through the wilderness. He drove away their enemies. He lavished them with the miraculous. He gave them His own Presence.
I realize any holding back on my part is because I crave the wrong things. I want the milk, the honey, the provisions, the comforts more than the presence of God Himself. What if the loss of all things is the gaining of the One thing, and the gain of Christ is really the gain of all?
I wonder at the power of this vision to transform. The early church shared all things in common, proclaimed Christ boldly, rejoiced in suffering. They held nothing back because they had received from an eternal God who held nothing back.
Lord, have mercy on me.
March 27th 2020
March 26th 2020
Yesterday was the Feast of the Annunciation. Due to computer problems I was a day late getting this posted. This reflection and poem comes from my sister Sharon Adams.
Since this is the Feast Day of the Annunciation I am reminded of the choice given to Mary by the angel.
Sadly for many in our country at this time, “Choice” has become a demand, often one which leads to death. Death of the innocent.
As recently as this week, the news cycle tells us our legislators want to pass a bill giving financial aid to those whose earning power has been reduced because of this virus.
Some of our elected officials only want to release funds for this aid if Planned Parenthood also receives an increase in financial backing.
In glaring contrast Mary’s choice gave birth to Christ, the Giver of Life, who gives us all the chance/choice to follow Him.
The Planned Unplanned (my reflections the movie “Unplanned,” and Abby Johnson’s story)
Convinced with finely crafted motives, I
Sign on. “Women in crisis need a boost.
If I can help bring hope to them, then why
Not do my part?” The options introduced
Are worth considering. For I have been
Where they are, too. Not long ago I chose
Not to disrupt my student status when,
I could abort instead . . . For me the pros
Outweighed the cons on every scale except
For one. That restless gauge inside my heart
Asked, “What if Mary, saying ‘Yes,’ had slept
On it . . . and waking, wished that from the start,
More choices had been offered her?” Marriage
To Joseph gave no guarantees against
Those wanting nothing more than to disparage
Him, for sparing her. Their shame dispensed
In knowing looks and calculating weeks:
Between the baby’s birth and wedding vows,
Exchanged too late. “A virgin’s claim? It reeks
Of the preposterous. What God allows
His reputation to be slandered so?”
The babe she carried was unplanned, for sure.
So, who could blame her if she chose to go
With an alternative, that might assure
The future she had planned? And what if she
Had chosen Choice . . . then where would MY Hope be?
March 25th 2020
Serve: Gain relief from how much richer it is to love than to be loved and how much more gratifying to serve than to be served. Take a holiday from the grueling search of self-fulfillment in the name of an infinitely superior goal: the reassuring and relief of others.
Alain de Botton
March 24th 2020
In today’s reading in “This Day with the Master” (Dennis Kinlaw), he asks the question, “When he (God) asks you to change your behavior, do you listen?” This reminded me of something that happened in my life a number of years ago, as I was going through a difficult journey. I can remember the exact place, in the Fayette Mall parking lot, that God said to me: “Dr. Laura is not your God, your dad is not your God, but I am your God.”
You have to know the impact of this statement in my life. I was an avid Dr. Laura (Schlessinger) listener. Through our marriage whenever we moved, I would search for Dr. Laura on the radio, and when I knew where I could find her program, it oddly provided a comfort to me. She was a constant voice and continuity to me. If you were my family, it was common to hear me say, “Dr. Laura would say…” I guess I loved hearing other people’s “stuff” and the interactive nature of the show. Mostly I agreed with her advice. I probably listened to Dr. Laura’s show for perhaps 10-15 years. My dad was a strong, Christian man with an authoritative voice, so I would often
seek his wisdom on things. But he wasn’t God. When this voice from God came to me, I immediately stopped listening to Dr. Laura and have not turned her on one time since. I learned to put Dad’s advice into perspective. I am glad I took heed to the voice of God in my life, and I am healthier for it.
“I am the LORD your God…” Exodus 20:2
Who would have guessed the unusual shape of this Lent? To be fasting from not only our fellowship, but fasting from our communal participation in the bread and wine. It has now been two weeks without it. Each day, I feel something growing within me. Is it hunger? Thirst? Is this what God’s love feels like?
Jesus said that He wouldn’t drink of the fruit of the vine until He drinks it together with us in the coming kingdom. I can’t help but think even now He is longing for this day to come. All creation is groaning for that day of restoration and fullness. The Spirit groans in each of us, and we groan together as a church. Our present longing for communion and union might be a glimpse into the Bridegroom’s heart.
“I believe in the resurrection of the body.” Week after week, we speak these words. Now in this absence, they become more of a heartbeat. To be ever united to God and His embodied people. To feast together at the marriage supper of the Lamb. No separation. No sickness. No death. No sorrow.
This morning the birds seemed to sing their loveliest songs from an in-between place. Night was ending, and the day was at hand. It could be here in this longing for the dawn that we find our song is sung best through our lives.
The Love of Calvary
Oh, Jesus, high upon the cross
What agonies you had to bear.
For all our sakes, you suffered there
That we might live, despite your loss.
Your love eternal shines on all,
Although ’twas gained by hate and gall.
Dear Lord, my tears, shed for your pain
Reflect my gratitude, my gain.
How will I ever let you know
How much I care, how much I owe?
My shallow prayers, reveal my heart,
And deep within, true love impart.
I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind. Is the coronavirus a punishment from God to a disobedient, sinful humanity? Are we living in “the last days?” In the Old Testament, whenever the Israelites abandoned the covenant with Yahweh and turned to idols, he would send out a warning with a call for repentance. Prophet after prophet cried out to the people. Unfortunately, Israel turned her back on God time and time again, with few exceptions. The time for repentance finally ran out. The northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The southern kingdom of Judah fell to Babylon in 586 B.C. This is historical fact.
Is God calling out to us today as he did through his prophets so long ago? How long will humanity defy God before judgment falls? Of course, only God knows. That is why Jesus admonishes his Church to keep awake and watch. We do not know the day or the hour.
We can be eternally grateful that our God is patient and merciful, not willing that any should perish. God’s grace is generously extended, but for how long? Will there come a time when repentance ends and judgment begins?
The Lord is speaking to the world right now. I can’t help but believe this coronavirus crisis is a warning, a wake up call. God seems to be putting us in “time out.” Is it because he wants to punish us? No. With the warning comes the great opportunity to stop, think, and reflect. He wants us to critically and honestly examine our hearts and our lives. The time has come for brutal honesty about ourselves. Is there anything you are carrying around that needs to be confessed, forsaken, and rooted out? The Holy Spirit knows what it is. It is the Holy Spirit who calls us to answer the call to grace, and to take that call to the unconverted. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to equip us and show us what he has for us to do. He wants people the world over to repent and believe the Gospel and so be saved. What will it take for us (humanity in general and the Church at large) to get the message?
Personally, I think the world is on the cusp of something big; something unprecedented. Perhaps this crisis will be used in the hands of God to bring people to their knees, to usher in a global revival the likes of which has never been seen before in history. I pray it may be so. Historically, great awakenings happen in times of great upheaval. I invite you to join me in praying for a great new “Jesus Movement ” to bring transformation to billions. God has a miraculous way of taking something evil and making something good out of it. As he lay dying, John Wesley said, “The best of all is, God is with us.” May our circumstances never blind us to this everlasting reality. God is with us, and he is up to something good…really, really good!
Here is a short meditation from Linda’s cousin. He is a pastor and VA chaplain who is awaiting test results for COVID 19.
I don’t agree with all that Ekhart Tolle teaches, but there are many valuable things in this video.
Zach just sent this in. You won’t find a more Anglican perspective than this.
C. S. Lewis on how to respond to threats like COVID-19:
“On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
Most of you remember my friend Rollin Grams. He did our 2017 Christ and Culture Conference. He wrote this story a couple of years ago:
‘We are going to Ross-on-Wye today,’ announced the master to his disciples. It was market day in the popular, English town near Wales, and this plan did not seem all that surprising to the disciples. When they arrived, however, the master led them to St. Mary’s churchyard. There, in front of the Plague Cross, the master began to teach. A small crowd began to gather, thinking that they might overhear a tour guide explain some things about the old church and the town’s history.
‘A plague of death has descended upon this land,’ began the master. ‘It has taken the lives of thousands. Within a few days of contracting this awful disease, people die. They are sealed up in their houses, abandoned by fearful relatives; their deaths are painful and lonely. Bodies are hastily dumped into a pit each night. Lime is thrown on top, then some dirt, and the process is repeated the following day. The plague is spread from person to person, but people do not know how. They say that they are clean, but they are not. The towns and villages are laid waste.’
Click here for the rest on his blog site.
Please pray for the Peterson family in Egypt. They cannot leave the country right now and are in distress about their son Isaac’s asthma condition. He is fine at the moment, but you can understand their concerns. It is very difficult to be ill in a foreign country. they are also finding it impossible to maintain social distancing in the crowds there.
I woke the other morning remembering last Maundy Thursday. Each candlestick and parament was removed. Each of us joined together in this process of stripping of the altar. The cross, shrouded in black, was all that remained.
I wonder if we might be living this. Could the Lord be using this time to be creating in us a singular focus on Him? How many things so often come in between my soul and Him. How many idols I have found this week. How many fears. We can see more clearly what our hopes are fixed upon. We find out how fragile and vulnerable we are. How dependent we are on God for every breath.
I was thinking about how beautifully we worked together that dark Thursday evening to clear the altar. Our souls are being exposed in unexpected ways. Even in the grief of being physically absent from one another, I think it’s possible we might find new unity. The body of a crucified and risen Jesus holds us together in this time of scattering. Together we are joined to Him. Together we are His body. Together we are discovering things that have cluttered and distracted our hearts. We have too easily left our first love. We love the things of this world too much. We love our neighbors too little.
But together we look up and see the cross. We see the unfathomable love of God in the face of a betrayed, beaten, broken Savior. We see Jesus. Could we be willing to suffer the loss of all things for the gain of God Himself? What if we together can really know Him and the power of His resurrection? Like a bud ready to bloom, perhaps the kingdom of God is just waiting to burst forth among and through us.
Click here to go to Joel Sams’ blog for his most recent work.