The Journey of Obedience

In my Journey Towards Epiphany, I am seeking to have Christ revealed to me in everyday life.  Christ reveals Himself to many in Scripture, beginning with shepherds and wisemen.  It is interesting in this Christ-revelation how both the simple minded and the wise are included.

He then reveals Himself to a man and woman at the temple, a prophet and prophetess, fishermen and tax collectors, rich and poor, educated and uneducated.  What’s the reoccuring ingredient in all these people?  I supposed one could be that they were looking for something MORE, even if before His revelation they were not aware of the fact.

This is good news for me, because I am definitely looking for more.  It has always been my hearts cry to have more of God.  In reading through the Book of Common Prayer last night, my Gospel reading was from John 14 in the Amplified Version of the Bible.

21The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]

Could it be, that when I feel far from Him, it is time for me to climb to a new level of obedience?  What are these commands?  Seeing that Jesus boiled them down to two, they would be: to Love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind, and to Love my neighbor as myself.

The longer I walk this walk with Him, the more I realize that this truly is a real journey, very much like the one Christian makes in Pilgrim’s Progress.  Until my journey closes, I will have new challenges and new levels of commitment and obedience . How can I say that I really believe in God, if I won’t obey Him?  Obedience is a statement of faith, overcoming the doubts of the world, and sometimes even greater, the doubts of the human mind.

So I guess my question to the Lord today is, “Lord what act of obedience will unlock the gate towards a greater revelation of You today?”

I’m going to be meditating about these things today.  Because after all, my determined purpose is that I may know Him, and it seems as though obedience is one way to accomplish that.

What Does The Book of Common Prayer Have In Common With a Hallmark Card?

Surprisingly, I am still finding quite a bit of life while reading the same prayers everyday. This is a new experience for me, and although I know that as I communicate with God that it is more about relationship than it is about ritual, I also believe that there are times in our lives in which we embrace relationship through ritual.

For instance, a wedding is a symbolic ritual which brings forth a new relationship. Two individuals become one. I can see how reading through any book, whether it be the Book of Common Prayer or the Prayers That Avail Much, can either bless or hinder a person. If this is the only form of communication I have with God, it resembles a Hallmark card to which I only sign my name. I let someone else say what I need to or feel like saying. However, if I write a love letter to someone expressing my feelings in my own words, they may not be worthy of a greeting card, but they are treasured as sincere.

So I guess one of the things I’ve found on my journey of liturgy is that liturgy is fine, but I need to add my own personal message before signing off. Otherwise, I’ve handed God a cheap greeting card.

A Prayer For Today

O God, the King eternal, who dividest the day from the night and turnest the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep thy law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done thy will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when the night cometh, rejoice to give thee thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. – the Book of Common Prayer

Ash Wednesday: What is it?

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent season (more to come on Lent soon).  It is a day to remind us of our need of a Savior for the remission of our sins.  The ashes signify two things.  One, a feeling of sorrow, as when various Biblical characters adorned themselves with sackcloth and ashes.  The sorrow on this day would be our fallen state and how it has separated us from God.  The other is to remind us of our mortality.  That we came from ashes and to ashes (or dust) we will return.

The entire idea of Ash Wednesday is to set apart a day in which the opportunity for true repentance can come to the believer.  I John 1:9 is one of the common finishing scriptures for an Ash Wednesday service.  “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”

Contrary to popular belief, Ash Wednesday isn’t only celebrated by Catholics and Anglicans.  Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians also observe Ash Wednesday.  Many Christians may feel that there is unnecessary emphasis on the sinful nature of the believer during this observance.  That may be so, but also consider the fact that the American church very rarely meditates on true repentance and our need for a Savior based on our sinful nature.

Here is a prayer commonly spoken at an Anglican service from the Book of Common Prayer for an Ash Wednesday service.  Notice the contrite and broken language, and the acknowledgment of how empty and religious things can become once they become religion with no understanding.  This is from the 1689 version of the Book of Common Prayer.

BRETHREN, this time of Lent upon which we are now entered was, by the Ancient Church, observed very religiously, and set apart; all men examining themselves for true fasting, and for the due preparation of all persons for the worthy receiving the Communion at Easter, and was of good use till superstition corrupted it, when all the fasting of this season came to be placed in a distinction of meats, upon which an undue value was set; and instead of men’s humbling themselves before God, and mourning for their sins and turning to God with all their hearts, and bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance, Auricular Confession, together with Outward Penances, were the things mainly insisted on. But in order to the rectifying these abuses, and returning to the ancient practice, you must know that fasting is of no value, but as it is joined with prayer, and the afflicting of our souls before God. Nor does it consist in the distinction of meats, but in such a restraint of bodily appetites as disposes the mind more for prayer. Nor are fasting, prayer, or our sorrowing for sin, of any value in the sight of God, but as they tend to work in us true repentance; which is a real change both of our heart and life by which we become assured of God’s love and favour to us; since by this only we can certainly know that God has forgiven our sins, if we ourselves do truly forsake them. But in order to your understanding aright the necessity of fasting and prayer, I shall set before you good and evil, life and death, blessing and cursing, in the words of God himself, who cannot lie, and in whom there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning. I shall read to you both some of the blessings of the Gospel, as also some of the heavy denunciations of God’s wrath, that are set down in the New Testament: that in these you may see both the blessedness to which our Saviour calls us, as also the dreadful judgments of God against impenitent sinners; and that by these you may be warned to flee from the wrath which is to come, and to lay hold on eternal life.

 

Hope this helps…