Who is like you, Jesus – a wonderful prayer of praise

May 13, 2014

Thanks to Trevin Wax for posting this fantastic prayer this week. I needed this reminder of who Jesus is… (And hey, it even counts as an Easter devotional prayer since it reminds us that Jesus is the life of those who are spiritually dead. :-) )

Who is like You, Jesus, sweet Jesus?
You are the light of those who are spiritually lost.
You are the life of those who are spiritually dead.
You are the liberation of those who are imprisoned by guilt.
You are the glory of those who hate themselves.
You are the guardian of those who are paralyzed by fear.
You are the guide of those who are bewildered by falsehood.
You are the peace of those who are in turmoil.
You are the prince of those who yearn to be led.
You are the priest of those who seek the truth.

- Johann Freylinghausen, 1670-1739, from Prayers for Today


on a personal note…

May 11, 2014

As will be evident to those of our readers who were following the Easter devotional blogging posts I’d begun, I’ve had to lay aside blogging for the past 2 weeks.  Between an illness that required I get quite a bit of extra sleep in order to recover, and a very difficult situation that has arisen in my work and ministry during the past week, all thoughts of blogging have been pushed aside.   I’m not likely to be able to resume anytime soon I’m afraid.   But may the Lord help us all to continue to remember and walk in the reality and wonderful truth of Jesus’ resurrection each day.   – Karen B.


Easter Quotes: Martin Luther, and commentary by Andrew Peterson

May 2, 2014

Apologies for not posting any Easter devotionals this week.  I’ve been unwell the last few days.  

***

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime”

a quote attributed to Martin Luther (#41)

About this quote, Christian songwriter Andrew Peterson reflects:

I long to see him face-to-face. I long to put my hand in his side, and touch the scars. I want to thank him and to worship him without this confounded veil between us. Just fighting to believe can make you weary, and faith is hard to hold. But we are given moments of reprieve. Easter comes around and the pews are full of every-Sunday sinners and once-in-a-blue-moon saints. The ice melts. The daffodils glow like little suns. We remember the earth-shaking fact of the resurrection of Jesus, and hope comes galloping in from the east, trumpeting the tune of victory.

Today, when I walked the hill and saw the buds on the tulip poplar spreading out their little hands, I believed it. When I sat in the dark during the Good Friday service and sang “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” with a roomful of saints who, astonishingly, forsook whatever else they could have been doing to drive across town to mourn the murder of Christ–I believed it. And now, as I write this on Easter morning, when I think of the pain and death and sorrow that surrounds me and my community, I believe it, because I have seen a light the shadow cannot touch. I have seen healing, and unexplainable faith; I have seen quiet mercy stop evil in its tracks.

Demand proof if you want. Proof has its place, as it did for the early Christians. But blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe. The stories are true.

Let wonder infect you.


Bishop Eric Menees’ reflection on the Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter

April 27, 2014

From the Soundings blog

Alleluia. Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

What a joyous proclamation of our faith! So much is captured in this opening acclamation of the Easter Season. Jesus broke the bonds of sin and death, and opened the gates of heaven to all who believe in his name. But this is not only a future hope: his sacrifice has made possible true, lasting, and profound reconciliation between man and God, here and now.

This Sunday we are reminded that the Church is God’s instrument for that reconciliation:

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room on that first Easter Day. He breathes on the disciples and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:22b-23)

What an awesome responsibility, and what an awesome joy, Christ has given to his Church. As a priest of the Church, it has been my greatest honor to pronounce absolution upon men and women who come to the Lord with contrite hearts. That forgiveness is available to us because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.

There is a bit more at Soundings


Easter Quotes: Ann Voskamp – the Cornerstone of Christianity

April 27, 2014

And all the people in need, in desperate need, in broken need,

whisper it like a breaking dawn in the dark,

He is risen indeed, indeed, indeed.

 

and the cornerstone of Christianity

is this rotting cell sparking,

a heart valve quivering in the pitch,

a beetle scratching in the black while

convex chest cavity shudders,

sunken death inflating with His hot breath,

atoms of the second Adam recreating

resurrecting

all the impossible things and the universe.

– Ann Voskamp, from her Easter Sunday post at A Holy Experience

 


An Easter Homily from Saint Ephrem of Syria

April 26, 2014

An excerpt from an Easter homily by St. Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373).

Here’s the beginning:

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, his godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

The full text is at Creedal Christian


Easter Quotes: Ann Voskamp – Impossible Stones Rolled Away

April 24, 2014

Powerful and beautiful words from Ann Voskamp’s April 21st blog post at A Holy Experience:

Because we know that whatever stone that’s been trapping, whatever boulder that’s been blocking, whatever rock that’s been locking — we know our God heaves stones because He loves and we know our God tears off grave clothes because He resurrects and we know our God upends to right.

We are the Resurrection People who know that hope can rise from the dead places

and that impossible stones can be rolled back to light

and right now all the sad things are becoming undone.

No matter how the world turns, there’s no turning that stone back now.

We’re the Resurrection People and we won’t live like that stone’s been rolled back. We won’t live like it isn’t the truth: The sad things are all becoming undone now. There’s no turning that stone back now. There’s no turning back now.

What’s been wearing death clothes in a life can get up and walk, what we’ve felt as wounds, by His wounds, are being healed, what’s being burnt to ashes will birth beauty. Ashes are always the papery birth announcement of beauty rising.

Us bound in that sin that’s always been, us with that heartbreak that just won’t take a break, us who feel locked up in these patterns and someone’s thrown away the key — we’re the people who’ve seen that the stone’s been rolled away.

We’re the Resurrection People who  push back against the dark of impossible, because we’ve seen the impossible stone’s been pushed back against the dark. We’re the Resurrection People who walk in strong hope because we’ve seen the strong stones moved and Hope come right out to meet us and move us.

We’re the Resurrection people who believe that we can turn back, that people can turn back, that situations can turn around, because we’ve seen that stone’s been rolled back.

Nothing and no one is impossible now

because impossible stones have now been rolled away.


Easter Devotional from Fr. Charles Erlandson – don’t stuff Jesus back in the grave!

April 24, 2014

An Excerpt from Fr. Charles Erlandson’s Easter Tuesday devotional at Give Us This Day:

[...] We allow ourselves to be distracted by the things of this world, as if the tomb and the clothes and the empty space are what are important, and not the Lord Himself.  We allow ourselves to be weighed down by our daily lives, even when not grief causing, and we fail to see the Lord.  Or, like the disciples, we see the Lord absent from our lives, and then go back to our daily lives without further seeking Him.

But if we seek Him with passion and persistence, as did Mary, He will show Himself to us once again.  As with prayer, passion and persistence pay off in seeing the Lord.

If you’re like me, things might be a little anticlimactic, now that Easter has come and gone.  Or maybe you never even saw Him at Easter at all.  Now that Easter is over, we have a tendency to stuff Jesus back in the tomb until Pentecost – or maybe even Christmas.  Or, because it seems like the thing to do, we try and see Jesus at Easter and have some success.  But then, because it seems like the thing to do, we stop seeking Him with all the passion and joy and anticipation of Easter.  The moment we stop these things, however, is the moment we will stop seeing Him.

Sometimes, even, our lives are out of sync with the church year.  Good news may come to us during Lent, and we may be depressed or discouraged during Easter.  But Easter is a reminder to turn from the grave to the garden.  For some of us, that may take a little longer.  That’s O.K.: Easter is a season, and not just a day.

This Easter, we need to seek the Lord where He may be found.  We must, like Mary, be unyielding in our pursuit of our Lord.  We must camp out where we know He is likely to be found, and we need to keep our ears and eyes open.

The full entry is here, including questions for reflection and application.


MUST READING: Easter Devotional from Fr. Charles Erlandson – How will YOU respond to Jesus’ resurrection?

April 23, 2014

Fr. Charles Erlandson who posts daily devotional reflections at Give Us This Day had an excellent entry on Easter MondayI highly recommend reading it in full and spending some time thinking and praying through this challenging exhortation!

A few excerpts:

What a joyful occasion is Easter: the high point of the Church year – the high point of our lives!

And yet because we are mere humans, weak and sinful, there is a temptation to let Easter pass by one more year without it changing us in any way.  I therefore challenge you this morning – that today, this Easter, this celebration of the Resurrection of your Lord, Jesus Christ, that you do not leave His presence an unchanged person.  [...]

But it’s the response found in John 20:10 that most intrigues and teaches me today.  After the central event of Christianity has happened, after the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ, what do we find the disciples doing?  They go back to own homes.  I’m not sure what they were thinking or doing, but it seems as if they think life will go on as normal, as if the Resurrection makes no practical difference in their lives.

Even after he believed, even after Jesus had appeared to them, in John 21:3, Peter goes back to fishing, apparently not realizing what else he should do (and he doesn’t, fully, until the Day of Pentecost).

Now what if that were the end of the story?  What if the Resurrection happened, and the disciples didn’t notice or really understand?  What if the disciples saw the empty tomb, and heard the testimony of the women – and then acted as if Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead?  How sad for them.  What blessings they would have missed out on!  What tragic lives, to be disciples who could not truly believe.

But Jesus does appear to them, more than once, and now they believe in earnest.  Their lives are transformed, and after the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost they turn the whole world upside down as they proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ both with their lips and with their lives.  They preach fearlessly and give up their lives for their Master that most of them end up dying the death of a martyr.

And what about you?  [...]

KEEP READING!!

 


Art for Easter: John and Peter Running to the Tomb / and Music: Graham Kendrick “I Know He Lives”

April 22, 2014

The following wondeful artwork was included in the April 21st devotional at the fantastic Biola Lent project site.

It’s John & Peter Running to the Tomb, by Eugene Burnand, from the Musee d’Orsay, Paris.

I’d never seen it before.  Look at the hope in their faces… they long to believe that Christ is no longer dead, but they don’t yet know…  Wow.  So powerful, the longing, the hope, the grief.

 

John & Peter running to the tomb

In reflecting on that picture, all I could think of is how THANKFUL I am that we who are in  Christ, have, in the words of the burial liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer “a sure and certain hope of resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Hallelujah!

We no longer are in doubt, Christ IS risen!  He is seated at the Father’s right hand, His work finished.  He is interceding for us and one day will raise us to be with Him.

Here are just a few of the Scriptures that articulate our HOPE in Christ:

Heb 6:19-20
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

1 Cor 15:20-24
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. … in Christ shall all be made alive. … Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

1 Cor 15:54-57
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

***

Here’s a wonderful song by UK songwriter and worship leader Graham Kendrick which rejoices in this hope we have in Christ:  I Know He Lives!

(Should the embedded audio file above not display or play properly, use this link, but please respect copyright and purchase the song if you intend to keep it.)

The version of the song I’ve uploaded was available as a free download from Graham Kendrick’s website a few years ago.  The song is available for purchase on Graham Kendrick’s album Banquet.

Here are the words:

We have a strong and certain hope
Fixed and unchanging not in vain
We have a friend in heaven’s court
Since Jesus rose to life again

We have an anchor for the soul
Since Jesus’ blood has made a way
Into the deepest heart of God
Before the Father’s throne of grace

I know he lives
Jesus is alive
And he reigns in glory now
I know he lives
And with him we’ll rise
Hallelujah
I know he lives

We have a King high over all
The new creation’s firstborn Son
New heav’n and earth await his call
We shall be like him when he comes

We see him now in majesty
Enthroned above the galaxies
Until his glory burst the skies
And all creation joins the cry

I know he lives
Jesus is alive
And he reigns in glory now
I know he lives
And with him we’ll rise
Hallelujah
I know he lives
Jesus is alive
And he reigns in glory now
I know he lives
And with him we’ll rise
Hallelujah
I know he lives
I know he lives
I know he lives

Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 2008 Make Way Music
http://www.grahamkendrick.co.uk


An Easter Reflection from Emily at Barnstorming: Let Him Easter in Us

April 22, 2014

If I had to name my favorite of all the devotional posts by Emily Polis Gibson at Barnstorming that I’ve read in the 2 1/2 years since I discovered her blog, I think it would have to be her entry Dayspring to Dimness, which she posted in 2012, and which I then posted here at L&B.   The quotation from Gerard Manley Hopkins, exhorting us to let Christ “easter in us” has stuck with me over the past 2 years, and it is undergirding my resolve to enter fully into this 50 day Easter season and invite Christ to increase His light, His beauty, His truth, His joy in me.  I want to live more in the fullness of His resurrection life!

So… I was excited to see that Emily has again posted Hopkins’ quote, and her reflection on what it means. 

Here’s the key portion of her reflection:

“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins

Too often, the bright light of Easter morning dims over time
as I return to my daily routine.
In mere days,
the humdrum replaces the extraordinary,
tragedy overcomes festivity,
darkness overwhelms dawn.

The world encourages this,
I don’t muster enough resistance.
I climb right back into the tomb of my sin,
move the huge stone securely back in place,
and lie there waiting for rot to settle in.

I am not alone. I have plenty of company with me behind the stone.

The stone is pushed aside,
the burden shouldered,
the debt completely paid.

How can we allow the light to dim?

He is risen.

We are eastered beyond imagining.

 

Yes!  Amen!  Hallelujah!!

Oh Lord, continue to Easter in us, transform us.  Let us live in Your resplendent joy and radiance these coming 50 days!

***

Romans 8:11:  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.


Bishop Eric Menees’ Reflection on the Easter Collect

April 20, 2014

Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by thy life-giving Spirit; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

As I write this weeks Bishop’s Note, I am smack dab in the middle of the planning and preparations for all of the truly beautiful and intricate liturgies of Holy Week, along with the sermons that accompany them. Additionally, I am smack dab in the middle of several sensitive pastoral situations and the daily cares and concerns of my family. In other words – I’m smack dab in the middle of life! We live in a fallen world – a world that knows pain and suffering; sin and death – and this Holy Week we are reminded very clearly of that reality. However, in our Easter celebrations we are reminded once again that Sin and Death do not have the final word. Jesus had, and has, the final word with his glorious resurrection two thousand years ago.

Allow the words of these weeks collect to wash over you. Note that there is no hesitation, no wavering, no doubt or fear that so often accompany the voice of the world around us. “Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life,” This is a profound proclamation of our faith that is grounded in the reality of the resurrection! On that first Easter Sunday, Jesus completed what the Law and the Prophets could not do. With the Fall of Adam and Eve came death and sin, and with the resurrection of Jesus Christ came eternal life with God for all who would put their trust in him.

Jesus’ resurrection demands a response, and the “Easter Bunny” just won’t cut it. Note that the petition in the collect is not: “Allow us to have a beautiful day full of joy and happiness.” The appropriate response to the resurrection is a deep desire to live a godly and holy life that overcomes sin and death: “Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by thy life-giving Spirit….”

The “death of sin” is not only the end of our earthly life – the final beats of our heart.  It is the death that comes when we compromise and tell ourselves, “My sin is not really that bad – I’m better than Joe or Mary.” With that kind of compromise comes the rationalization that sin is a relative term: “What is sin anyway but just a little mistake.” And with that rationalization comes the spiritual death that this prayer speaks against.

Rather than hate the sin in our lives, we tell ourselves to love it – to accept it. Before too long we compromise on other things as well. We don’t need to pray daily, or read scripture daily, and when there are more entertaining things to do on Sunday, well, we certainly don’t need to go to church. All of this rationalization and compromise leads to a void in our lives, and an ache in our souls, that only the Risen Lord can fill by the power of his life-giving Spirit!

I pray that this Easter Sunday, and every day, you and your family will be filled with that same life-giving Spirit; that same power of the risen Lord; that same joy and awe that comes when we realize that Jesus didn’t die and rise again for some unnamed, unknown person out there somewhere, but that he died and rose again for YOU!

I pray you all a Happy and Blessed Easter!

***

Thanks as always to Fr. Dale at Soundings for posting these reflections on the Collects.  Bp. Eric Menees is the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.


Recommended Websites for Easter Devotional Reading

April 19, 2014

Other sites I visit & recommend:


How Shall I Sing That Majesty?

May 20, 2012

One of my favorite recent blog finds (discovered during Lent 2012) is the Rev. Patrick Comerford’s blog. (The Rev. Comerford is Canon at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland).  Today in his post for the Seventh Sunday of Easter – the Sunday between Ascension Day and Pentecost, he mentions one of his favorite hymns:  How Shall I Sing That Majesty.

It’s a hymn I did not know – but what a wonderful hymn of adoration!

How shall I sing that majesty
Which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
Sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around
Thy throne, O God most high;
Ten thousand times ten thousand sound
Thy praise; but who am I?

Thy brightness unto them appears,
Whilst I Thy footsteps trace;
A sound of God comes to my ears,
But they behold Thy face.
They sing because Thou art their sun;
Lord, send a beam on me;
For where heaven is but once begun
There alleluias be.

Enlighten with faith’s light my heart,
Inflame it with love’s fire;
Then shall I sing and bear a part
With that celestial choir.
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,
With all my fire and light;
Yet when Thou dost accept their gold,
Lord, treasure up my mite.

How great a being, Lord, is Thine,
Which doth all beings keep!
Thy knowledge is the only line
To sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore,
A sun without a sphere;
Thy time is now and evermore,
Thy place is everywhere.

You can hear the tune played on the Salisbury Cathedral Organ here.


Ascension Day Links 2012

May 17, 2012

We’re pretty busy here with our Global Day of Prayer / Prayer for the Nations blogging series…, so no time to do too much about Ascension Day, sorry!

But fortunately some fellow Anglican bloggers have some great blog entries:

Anglican Daily PrayerAscension Day: What is and is to be

Kendall HarmonA Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension (I)

and browse through Kendall’s entire Ascension blog category

Ohio Anglican: Feast of the Ascension

Patrick Comerford’s 2008 reflection on the Ascension

***

See some of our past Ascension Day favorites here.


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