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Archive for September, 2009

Romans 1:20

Kathyrn Farrar the soloist was dying of cancer. She went to a Swiss hospice to live out her last days comforted by the beauty of the Swiss Alps. As she looked out over those mountains, she said, “My greatest grief in life is I don’t know who to give thanks to for what I see around me.” She did not know nature’s God.

A couple of nights ago, my family watched Disney’s nature movie Earth. What a great film. Just beautiful. At some point, Martha asked rhetorically, “How can anybody not believe in God?”

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

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“Those who say that infancy has nothing in it for Jesus to save, are denying that Christ is Jesus for all believing infants. Those, I repeat, who say that infancy has nothing in it for Jesus to save, are saying nothing else than that for believing infants, infants that is who have been baptized in Christ, Christ the Lord is not Jesus. After all, what is Jesus? Jesus means Savior. Jesus is the Savior. Those whom he doesn’t save, having nothing to save in them, well for them he isn’t Jesus. Well now, if you can tolerate the idea that Christ is not Jesus for some persons who have been baptized, then I’m not sure your faith can be recognized as according with the sound rule. Yes, they’re infants, but they are his members. They’re infants, but they receive his sacraments. They are infants, but they share in his table, in order to have life in themselves.”

Augustine, Sermon 174, 7

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And also, when he exhorts us, that we live not after the flesh, lest we die, but that by the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the flesh, that we may live; surely the trumpet which sounds, shows the war in which we are engaged, and enkindles us to contend keenly, and to do our enemies to death, that we be not done to death by them. But who those enemies are, it has set forth plainly enough. For those are they, whom it willed should be done to death by us, that is to say, the works of the flesh. — St. Augustine, *On Continence* par. 9

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Neither let mistakes and wrong directions—of which every man, in his studies and elsewhere, falls into many—discourage you. There is precious instruction to be got by finding that we are wrong. Let a man try faithfully, manfully, to be right, he will grow daily more and more right. It is, at bottom, the condition on which all men have to cultivate themselves. Our very walking is an incessant falling—a falling and a catching of ourselves before we come actually to the pavement!—it is emblematic of all things a man does.

– Thomas Carlyle

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These were the comments I jotted down yesterday to introduce the Prayers of the People. The sermon went long, so I held off. But I’ll put them here, so they aren’t lost.

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Many, if not all of us come on Sunday morning feeling cluttered and messy. That’s OK. We live in a world that pulls us in a lot of different directions. The Prayers of the People are here to help us. They give us form and order as we intercede for real needs in our world and in our community. In so doing, they also help us to unclutter the mess in our hearts and minds, to lay down our fears, concerns, and anxieties. The subsequent prayer of Confession is where we lay down our sins, so that we can experience the father heart of God, so we can encounter Christ at his table. The POP’s are not a cold, mechanical, lifeless part of the service. This is another step towards communion with Him. So…. The Lord be with you. And also with you. Let us pray.

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grief_300I’ve been struck recently by the power of music to reach deep down inside of you and touch the places where there is grief. This morning, I found the words to the old gospel song Precious Lord taped in the back of the BCP I used to carry with me on visits in the hospital. There were a number of times in the course of my time with those who were actively dying that it was appropriate to read these words. Powerful words, life giving words at the time of death, hope filled words as the darkness closed in.

The song was written in 1932 by the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey on hearing the news of the death of his wife and infant son in childbirth. Here are the lyrics:

——————–
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my light is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home
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What a great song. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Sister Rosetta Tharpe sing it. It’s worth an ITunes purchase just to hear her sing the lines,  “Hear my cry, hear my call.”

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