William Cowper: Jehovah Our Righteousness

March 6, 2009

From our archives, originally posted in Feb. 2007

William Cowper: Jehovah Our Righteousness
Filed under: Lent 2007, Poems, Hymns & Songs — Karen B.

One of William Cowper’s Olney Hymns.

XI. Jehovah Our Righteousness
(Jeremiah, xxiii.6)
My God, how perfect are Thy ways!
But mine polluted are;
Sin twines itself about my praise,
And slides into my prayer.
When I would speak what Thou hast done
To save me from my sin,
I cannot make Thy mercies known,
But self-applause creeps in.
Divine desire, that holy flame
Thy grace creates in me;
Alas! impatience is its name,
When it returns to Thee.
This heart, a fountain of vile thoughts.
How does it overflow,
While self upon the surface floats,
Still bubbling from below.
Let others in the gaudy dress
Of fancied merit shine;
The Lord shall be my righteousness,
The Lord forever mine.
— William Cowper

from here

Fr. Stephen Freeman: Why we Fast

March 6, 2009

Last week, Fr. Stephen Freeman posted an excellent Lenten reflection: Why We Fast. Here is an excerpt:

And it is the same path of inner knowledge of God (with all its components) that is the proper context of fasting. If we fast but do not forgive our enemies – our fasting is of no use. If we fast and do not find it drawing us into humility – our fasting is of no use. If our fasting does not make us yet more keenly aware of the fact that we are sinful before all and responsible to all then it is of no benefit. If our fasting does not unite us with the life of God – which is meek and lowly – then it is again of no benefit.

Fasting is not dieting. Fasting is not about keeping a Christian kosher. Fasting is about hunger and humility (which is increased as we allow ourselves to become weak). Fasting is about allowing our heart to break.

I have seen greater good accomplished in souls through their failure in the fasting season than in the souls of those who “fasted well.” Publicans enter the kingdom of God before Pharisees pretty much every time.

Why do we fast? Perhaps the more germane question is “why do we eat?” Christ quoted Scripture to the evil one and said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We eat as though our life depended on it and it does not. We fast because our life depends on the word of God.

Lent quotes: abstaining from distraction

March 6, 2009

From an excellent Ash Wednesday sermon by Ruth Haley Barton, which I linked to previously on March 3.  The phrase about abstaining from whatever ways we normally distract ourselves from spiritual reality has really stuck with me.

The disciplines of Lent have to do with abstaining from the ways we normally distract ourselves from spiritual reality—the reality of our sin and the deeply patterned behaviors that keep us from our calling to follow Christ. It has to do with allowing some of the external trappings and internal compulsions of our lives to be stripped away so that we can return to a truer sense of ourselves in God’s presence. It has to do with acknowledging the subtle temptations to which we are prone, rather than pretending we are beyond temptation.

The disciplines of fasting and other kinds of abstinence help us to abstain from that which distracts us and numbs our awareness so that we can become more finely attuned to what is really going on in our lives spiritually and the invitations that are there for us. Allowing ourselves to experience the necessary grief or remorse (not shame or morbidity) about what we are seeing and knowing in ourselves helps us to get in touch with some sort of willingness to be led in a new and everlasting way.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and Micah 6:8

March 6, 2009

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and his statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 )

      Father, please bring us in this diocese to this place before you, that we walk in your ways with humility, loving you and serving you with all our heart and mind and soul. Help us to love what you love: just and mercy and righteousness. Thank you for sending your son Jesus and your Holy Spirit to equip us to do this.

      A word received: Pray for my people to lay aside their burdens and turn to me. Pray for my people to remove from among themselves all that hinders their walk with me. Pray for my people to hear my voice saying, “Turn neither to the right nor the left.” Pray for my people to have a heart for my ways.

Friday: 40, 54; Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Hebrews 4:11-16; John 3:22-36
Saturday: 55; Deuteronomy 11:18-28; Hebrews 5:1-10; John 4:1-26

      Notes from the Front Line

Date: Thu, 05 Mar 2009
From: Sister Mary Elizabeth, CSM
Subject: Welcome Home Initiative Intercessors Update — March 5, 2009
To All our Welcome Home Intercessors–
      Keep Sandra Lester and Noel Dawes in your prayers next week as they represent the Welcome Home Initiative at the Army Chief of Chaplains’ Annual Strategic Leaders Development Conference for senior regular Army, Reserve and National Guard officers being held in Hilton Head, South Carolina, March 9-13. They will be manning booths for WHI and Alpha for the Military, and networking with men and women in key positions to support these ministries from inside chaplaincy leadership circles. It was an honor to be asked to set up a booth at this conference, one outcome of Fr. Nigel’s visit to the Pentagon in December.
      The next Welcome Home Initiative, March 23-25, is rapidly filling with warriors and families. As of today fourteen men and women have signed up for the retreat, representing U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army and Army National Guard, as well as two officers traveling from the UK, representing that country’s Army and Royal Marines. These men and women served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Vietnam, the Cold War (Berlin Crisis) and Northern Ireland
      Pray for a continued “opening of doors” for men and women to come to this retreat and for the Holy Spirit to, even now, begin to open the hearts of the warriors who will come to receive the healing which only Jesus can mediate.
      If you know of any combat veteran of any war who might benefit from this retreat, take a moment to pray and then invite him to join us. The retreat is free to our veterans — they only pay travel expenses.
      Pray for Fr. Nigel, Bp. Dave and Noel as they prepare to lead this retreat; for the Prayer Team which is being drawn together now; for Sandra and Lynn as they work out the logistical details; and for the hands and hearts which provide the loving pre-retreat details in preparing baskets and quilts for each soldier.
      And remember: you are invited to join us for the WHI Closing Ceremony on March 25, gathering in Christ the King Chapel at 11:15 a.m. to show our appreciation for these men and women who have sacrifices so much for our freedom. Pass this word on to all those in your faith communities who pray for our men and women in the military.
Sister Mary Elizabeth, CSM, For the Oratory of Christ the Healer, Christ the King Spiritual Life Center, Greenwich, NY http://www.christ-the-king-center.org/WelcomeHome

Albany Intercessor

Women’s World Day of Prayer

March 6, 2009

Prepared by the Christian Women in Papua New Guinea– 

Loving and merciful God, God of oneness and unity, though we have different cultures, languages, colours and traditions, we are one in your Spirit. Thank you for opening our inner hearts to see the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who has united us. Though we are many members, in Christ we are one body.

Let us go forth, empowered to make a difference so that people around the world will see and feel the oneness of Christ in this broken world, and be compelled to draw closer to God. May the source of oneness and unity bind us together with his endless love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Diocesan conventions

March 6, 2009

On Friday the dioceses of Virgin Islands and West Tennessee will convene. Currently the Virgin Islands clergy are on retreat. Presiding Bishop Katherine Schori will be the featured guest in Memphis, TN.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

Father, we pray for the delegates and visitors to the diocesan conventions of West Tennessee and the Virgin Islands.  May they fear You, walk in Your ways, love You, serve You wholly, and observe Your commands.  Amen.

The Lord’s Resistance Army

March 6, 2009

The Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Most Rev’d Dr. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, has this week sent a petition, on behalf of his Church, the Church of Uganda and the Anglican Church in north eastern DR Congo, to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.  In the letter, the Anglican Church leaders of the region affected since Christmas by repeated attacks by the self-styled Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – Southern Sudan, northern Uganda and north eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – appealed to the British Government for assistance.  The letter was signed by Archbishop Deng, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, leader of the Church of Uganda and Bishop George Ande of Aru in north east DRC. ( More)

Psalm 18:16-17 

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.

Reach down, O Lord, and lift up Your childrren in Uganda, Southern Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Rescue them from the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Amen.

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