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Archive for January, 2010

Collects for Children

In our service after the Collect for the Day and before children are dismissed to Children’s Church, we join our voices together as a congregation and pray the Collect for Children. Here are some new one’s I’ve found from various sources. I look forward to praying for our children with these powerful prayers.

Heavenly Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named, we ask you to bless the children of this church  and give to their parents and to all in whose charge they may be, your Spirit of wisdom and love; so that the home in which they grow up may be to them an image of your Kingdom, and the care of their parents a likeness of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A shorter version of the above:
O God our Father, we ask you to bless all children, and to give to those who have the care of them wisdom, patience, and love; so that the home in which they grow up may be to them an image of your kingdom, and the care of their parents a likeness of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ who embraces children with the arms of your mercy, and makes them living members of your Church; Give them grace, we pray, to stand fast in the faith, to obey your word, and to abide in your love; that, being made strong by your Holy Spirit, they may  resist temptation and overcome evil, and may rejoice in the life that now is, and dwell with you  in the life that is to come; through your  merits, O merciful Savior, who with the Father and the  Holy Spirit lives and reigns one God, world without end. Amen.

O Holy Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named: We commend to your gracious care the children of our church; asking you so to dwell in their hearts that they may know in daily life, and show forth to all people, the power and depth of your grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grant to our children, O God, this gift above all, that as they grow in knowledge they may grow also in grace, and enter into their heritage of faith in you, So may they walk in your world as children of their Father, giving you thanks for all things; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who took little children into your arms and blessed them: We ask that you bless all children dear to us. Take them into the arms of your everlasting mercy, keep them from all evil, and bring them into the company of those who forever behold the face of your Father in heaven; to the glory of your holy name. Amen.

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Here’s an interesting article on MSNBC.com of all places.

Prayers for him and his family.

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In thinking about darkness and light – and their role in our apprehension of the truth – I cannot but think about Beauty, which is a primary place in which the light of God made manifest among us (if rightly perceived). The heart that is full of darkness cannot truly perceive beauty: the heart which is full of light, cannot help but perceive it. Perhaps a measure of our heart can be found in how we perceive the world around us: is it primarily a place of beauty or darkness? It is difficult in the fallen world to maintain a witness to beauty. And yet those places where it is made manifest to us are so poignant, so piercing, that I think we cannot and should not remain silent about them. Perhaps they should be shouted from the rooftops!

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Spiritual pride is very dangerous, not only because it spoils so many graces by which we draw near the Kingdom of God, but also because it so frequently creeps in upon the spirit of holy persons. It is not a wonder for a beggar to call himself poor, or a drunkard to confess that he is not a sober person. But for a holy person to be humble, for one whom all men consider a saint to fear lest he himself become a devil, to observe his own danger, to discern his own weaknesses, and to uncover his bad tendencies, is as hard as for a prince to allow himself to  subject to discipline like the lowest of his servants.

— from Holy Living by Jeremy Taylor. Taylor (1613-1667), an Anglican priest, served as chaplain to King Charles I, and was imprisoned at least twice by Cromwellian authorities. Holy Living was written in the year after the execution of Charles I, and later became an early influence in the life of John Wesley.

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Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression? The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past. Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ. Never look back at your sins again. Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ’. That is your first step. Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you. What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying. No! You just begin to say:

I rest my faith on Him alone
Who died for my transgressions to atone.

~ Martin Lloyd Jones from Spiritual Depression

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The Gospels were written with a definite and deliberate objective in view. They were not just written as records or as mere collections of facts. No. … They all present the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lord, as this final Authority.

The message of John the Baptist was essentially the same. There he stands by himself after preaching and baptizing the people at the Jordan … they say, ‘Surely this must be the Christ. We have never heard preaching like this before … This must be the Messiah that we have been expecting’. But John turns upon them … and says, ‘I am not the Christ’ (Luke 3:16f.) ‘… I am the forerunner, the herald. He is the authority. He is yet to come’. How careful these Gospels are to put that claim repeatedly forward!

Then there is something else. … It is their report of what happened at the baptism of our Lord. There He submits to baptism by John. … But … the Holy Spirit descends upon Him as a dove. Still more important is that Voice … ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). … At the Mount of Transfiguration similar language is used, but there is a most significant and important addition ‘… hear ye him.’ (Matthew 17:5) This is the one to listen to. You are waiting for a word. You are waiting for an answer to your questions. You are seeking a solution to your problems. You have been consulting the philosophers; you have been listening; and you have been asking, “Where can we have final authority?” Here is the answer from Heaven, from God: “Hear Him”. Again, you see, marking Him out, holding Him before us as the last Word, the ultimate Authority, the One to whom we are to submit, to whom we are to listen.

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The Sad Truth

The sad truth is that life in and around the church these days often leads people into a way of life that is becoming more and more layered  with Christian busyness. If we are honest, we might admit that Christian leaders are just as driven to succeed as anyone else, only our success is measured in larger congregations, better church services, more innovations, and bigger buildings. There is nothing wrong with any of these things in and of themselves, but what can be wrong is the kind of life we have to live in order to make them happen. The operative word here is driven.

This passage is from Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. It’s one of the best books on the spirituality of leadership I’ve ever read. I was reminded of the passage in Hebrews 13:17:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

As a pastor/priest, our authority in people’s lives, what we will be accountable for before God, is the manner and attentiveness with which we watch over people’s souls. To do it well, we have to watch over own souls and not let busyness, driveness, greed and self-affirmation win the day in our lives.

No easy task.

Barton admonishes leaders to commit to healthy rhythms of engagement and retreat; work and rest; word and silence; action and stillness.

Good stuff. More to come….

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