Tag Archive for 'prayer'

Ash Wednesday March 9, 2011

2 Corinthians 5:20b-21, 6:1-10                                       

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21                                                          

I’ve stuck in your bulletins this evening a copy of a little cartoon that Bishop Walmsley gave me on Sunday. It’s entitled, “The Rector responds to concern that Lent is a downer.” A priest is marking the cross of ashes on a kneeling parishioner’s forehead – as we will do in just a few minutes. She recites the words that I will recite, “Remember that you are dust,” but then she adds, “but a very high quality sort of dust.”

 This is funny, of course, because it points exactly to what Ash Wednesday reminds us of: we are dust and to dust we shall return, but not a higher or better or different kind of dust from any other dust. Just dust. That’s the point. Dust like all dust; dust like all matter. Continue reading ‘Ash Wednesday March 9, 2011’

Advent Spiritual Life Suggestions: Week Four

The following thoughts on Prayer come from the monks of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist.


Time: Set time aside, every day, to spend with God. If time is tight, pray while doiing things that don’t demand your full attention (exercising, cooking, gardening, riding the subway, etc.).

Space: While prayer is portable, returning to a place set aside for prayer can help prepare us for prayer. Choose a corner of a room where God can be remembered and met, every day.

Focus: Use an icon or a candle to focus your time with God. Allow scripture or poetry to direct your thoughts. If you get distracted, simply set the thought aside and turn back to God.

Body: We’re embodied creatures, so it helps to let the body share in prayer. Give a stretch, kneel down, hold a ring of prayer beads, or simply focus on our breath, giving thanks for the gift of life it represents.

Repetition: Prayer is a relationship, our response to God’s continuous invitation. Like relationships, prayer deepens over time. Be real, and listen for the voice of God, who brought you there.



Advent Spiritual Life Suggestions: Week Two

Waiting is one of the most difficult spiritual tasks most of us face. We want what we want when we want it. The earliest Christians faced a similar situation. They had expected Jesus to return in glory during their own lifetimes. When he didn’t, the Church had to consider what it meant to “wait on the Lord.”

IMG_2400Out of that experience came several learnings. First, while we wait it is important to tend to daily business in an orderly fashion: clean the house, earn our living, bring up our children, exercise civic responsibility. No lying around, waiting for Jesus as an excuse. Common sense! So Advent might be a time to consider our daily routines, tighten things up a bit, readjust and reorder. Second, the early Church stressed the value of mutual support and encouragement: people were urged to reach out to their sisters and brothers who might be discouraged or feel defeated. Again, this is something we can put into practice in our own daily lives. The secular “pre-Christmas” season tends to get focused on self, or on a generalized busyness. Maybe instead of a party for 50 of your best friends, you might have supper or just a cup of coffee with one person whom you sense could use your support and encouragement. (Support and encouragement don’t necessarily mean “advice”; just your loving presence is what’s needed, unless someone asks for more.)

But beyond these practical spiritual disciplines, this is a season to cultivate the deeper discipline of simply waiting — letting go of all our wantings and impatience. God has God’s own time; our contentment comes from slowing down and adjusting our pace to God’s. If you’ve ever spent retreat time in a monastic community, you will have experienced how time slows down and life simplifies. The result is not boredom (once you get used to it), but peace. Advent is a time to reach for that sense of peace that comes from simply learning to wait.

Pentecost 21 October 17, 2010

Genesis 32:22-31                                                                               

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5                                                             

Luke 18:1-8

 Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. – Luke 18:1

So we’re talking about persistence this morning – persistence, commitment, a life grounded in hope and in ultimate trust in God. And while Jesus is talking specifically about prayer, in a real sense all life is prayer (or should be); so we’re talking about life, the character of life lived in discipleship with Jesus.

There are two brothers, sons of a Marine officer: The elder has followed in his father’s footsteps, a high school athlete, a family man, a major in the Marines leading combat missions in Afghanistan, about to return for another tour of duty. The younger is just getting out of prison, where he’s served time for a botched bank hold-up. He’s a drunk, a ne’er do well . . . all the rest. The father has no time for the younger son. “You know what your problem is?” he berates him. “You’re a quitter. The moment things get tough, you check out.” Continue reading ‘Pentecost 21 October 17, 2010’

Pentecost 9 July 25, 2010

Genesis 18:16-33                                                                               

Luke 11:1-13                                                                       

 “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Two of our time’s greatest spiritual leaders, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have announced that they will be withdrawing from the public scene. They want, each of them says, more time and space to pray. As Archbishop Tutu says, he’s been spending too much time in airports and hotels – like us, busy with the busyness of our busy world. The Dalai Lama explained that he needs to prepare for his death. I feel that need myself, as I look towards retirement. And of all the regrets I have about our ministry together, the greatest is that we’ve spent so little time on prayer.

So how good that this morning we listen to Jesus, teaching us about prayer. What is prayer? At its broadest sense, it is simply living in conscious communion with God. This can be talking with God, as in the readings this morning, or simply being silent and still and open before God. The readings are short, but really they tell us all we need to know about this essential element of the spiritual life. So let us listen! Continue reading ‘Pentecost 9 July 25, 2010’

Pentecost 9 August 2, 2009

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15                                                          

John 6:26-35                                                                       

On my first Sunday as rector of St. Charles’ Church, the congregation produced a lavish coffee hour – tables laden with sandwiches and pastries, cheeses and crackers. Some of my little nephews and nieces were visiting for the special celebration. “This is cool!” one of them pronounced. “Let’s go to this church.”

We do come to church to be fed, but of course not with the doughnut holes of coffee hour, nice as they are. We come to be fed with the bread of life, conveyed to us in the word of God and in the sacraments. Last Sunday in our summer series on worship, Bishop Walmsley talked about how we’re fed by the word. Today I want to reflect a little with you about our response to that feeding, the Prayers of the People, and about our prayer here in church generally – what is called our “common prayer,” because we do it together, in common. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 9 August 2, 2009’