A prayer of self-dedication – commiting ourselves afresh to the Lord for 2015

January 1, 2015

From our 2005 archives, one of my favorite prayers.  I’m shocked I’ve never re-posted this here at this version of Lent & Beyond since we began this site in 2007!

I’m aware that I can’t change my behavior unless God first draws my heart towards Him and renews my mind…:

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you,

so guide our minds,

so fill our imaginations,

so control our wills,

that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you;

and then use us, we pray you, as you will,

and always to your glory and the welfare of your people;

through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


A good new year’s prayer: the Methodist Covenant Prayer

January 1, 2015

From our 2004 archives, the following prayer, often called The Methodist Covenant Prayer, makes a good prayer of fresh commitment to the Lord for the New Year.

I am no longer my own, but yours:
Put me to what you will,
Rank me with whom you will;
Put me to suffering;
Let me be employed by you or laid aside by you,
Exalted for you or brought low by you;
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me be nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
To your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen


Advent Poems: William Cowper – The Shining Light

December 18, 2014

Another post dug up from our 2006 archives…, an Advent favorite that I’m surprised has taken me 8 years to post over here at this version of Lent & Beyond!

William Cowper: The Shining Light

The Shining Light

My former hopes are fled,
My terror now begins;
I feel, alas! that I am dead
In trespasses and sins.
Ah, whither shall I fly?
I hear the thunder roar;
The Law proclaims Destruction nigh,
And Vengeance at the door.
When I review my ways,
I dread impending doom:
But sure a friendly whisper says,
“Flee from the wrath to come.”
I see, or think I see,
A glimmering from afar;
A beam of day, that shines for me,
To save me from despair.
Forerunner of the sun,
It marks the pilgrim’s way;
I’ll gaze upon it while I run,
And watch the rising day.

— William Cowper


Advent Favorites: St Symeon – Come O Eternal Joy

December 16, 2014

As the theme of Week 3 of Advent is Joy, yesterday, I prepared the following entry for today, a re-post from our 2006 Advent archives (from our old, now defunct blog).  Having read the news headlines this morning of the horrific massacre of schoolchildren in Pakistan, I nearly hesitate to re-post this today.  However the tragedies of the world serve to strengthen our longing for His coming… so may we hold on to the hope of His promises today, and the indescribable joy we will know in His presence.

From our 2006 archives

St. Symeon: Come, O Eternal Joy!

I am stealing this shamelessly from Pontifications, artwork and all. It’s just too good! I consider it essential Advent reading (even though Fr. Al posted it weeks ago, I’ve been saving it up) . It so wonderfully expresses the longing for Christ’s return that I want to have. I want to hunger for Christ in just this way — and not only for His second coming, but His daily coming into my life by His Holy Spirit. If I yearned this much for His coming, I would more readily throw off anything and everything that gets in the way of deep intimacy with Christ. Thank you Fr. Al for the wonderful citations you find and post that edify so many of us!

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St Symeon

Come, O true light!
Come, O eternal life!
Come, O hidden mystery!
Come, O indescribable treasure!
Come, O ineffable thing!
Come, O inconceivable person!
Come, O endless delight!
Come, O unsetting light!
Come, O true and fervent expectation
of all those who will be saved!
Come, O rising of those who lie down!
Come, O resurrection of the dead!
Come, O powerful one,
who always creates and re-creates and transforms
by your will alone!
Come, O invisible and totally intangible and untouchable!
Come, O you who always remain immobile
and at each moment move all,
and come to us, who lie in hades,
you who are above all heavens.
Come, O desirable and legendary name,
which is completely impossible for us
to express what you are or to know your nature.
Come, O eternal joy!
Come, O unwithering wreath!
Come, O purple of the great king our God!
Come, O crystalline cincture,
studded with precious stones!
Come, O inaccessible sandal!
Come, O royal robe
and truly imperial right hand!
Come, you whom my wretched soul
has desired and does desire!
Come, you who alone go to the lonely
for as you see I am lonely!
Come, you who have separated me from everything
and made me solitary in this world!
Come, you who have become yourself desire in me,
who have made me desire you,
the absolutely inaccessible one!
Come, O my breath and life!
Come, O consolation of my humble soul!
Come, O my joy, my glory, and my endless delight!
I thank you that you have become one spirit with me,
without confusion, without mutation,
without transformation, you the God of all;
and that you have become everything for me,
inexpressible and perfectly gratuitous nourishment,
which ever flows to the lips of my soul
and gushes out into the fountain of my heart,
dazzling garment which burns the demons,
purification which bathes me
with these imperishable and holy tears,
that your presence brings to those whom you visit.
I give you thanks that for me
you have become unsetting light
and non-declining sun;
for you who fill the universe with your glory
have nowhere to hide yourself.
No, you have never hidden yourself from anyone
but we are the ones who always hide from you,
by refusing to go to you;
but then, where would you hide,
you who nowhere find the place of your repose?
Why would you hide,
you who do not turn away from a single creature,
who do not reject a single one?
Today, then, O Master,
come pitch your tent with me;
until the end, make your home
and live continually, inseparably within me,
your slave, O most-kind one,
that I also may find myself again in you,
at my departure from this world
and after my departure may I reign with you,
O God who are above everything.
O Master, stay and do not leave me alone,
so that my enemies,
arriving unexpectedly,
they who are always seeking to devour my soul,
may find you living within me
and that they may take flight,
in defeat, powerless against me,
seeing you, O more powerful than everything,
installed interiorly in the home of my poor soul.
Yea, O Master, just as you remembered me,
when I was in the world
and, in the midst of my ignorance,
you chose me and separated me from this world
and set me before your glorious face,
so now keep me interiorly,
by your dwelling within me,
forever upright, resolute;
that by perpetually seeing you,
I, the corpse, may live;
that by possessing you,
I, the beggar, may always be rich,
richer than kings;
that by eating you and by drinking you,
by putting you on at each moment,
I go from delight to delight
in inexpressible blessings;
for it is You, who are all good and
all glory and all delight
and it is to you,
holy, consubstantial, and life-creating Trinity
that the glory belongs,
you whom all faithful venerate, confess, adore, and serve
in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

St Symeon the New Theologian

***

Some personal comments to add as I reflect on this wonderful ancient hymn / prayer:  Ever since Father Al first posted this, I’ve found myself particularly struck by this section at the end:

so now keep me interiorly,
by your dwelling within me,
forever upright, resolute;
that by perpetually seeing you,
I, the corpse, may live;
that by possessing you,
I, the beggar, may always be rich,
richer than kings;
that by eating you and by drinking you,
by putting you on at each moment,
I go from delight to delight

in inexpressible blessings;
for it is You, who are all good and
all glory and all delight

This to my mind echos for me the passage from Romans 13 in the Advent lectionary and the call to cast off the works of darkness and to put on Christ. How much more readily we might be faithful to the apostle’s call if we could sense that putting on Christ would fill us with such delight upon delight. How much more eager we are to cast off the works of darkness when we have an unshakeable conviction in God’s goodness and glory, such that we desire Him above all things, even the pleasures or convenience of our sins, even as Moses desired His reward more than the luxuries and privileges of Pharaoh’s court:

Heb 11:24-26
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. (NIV)

Author and theologian John Piper once wrote this about Jonathan Edwards’ teaching, and much of John Piper’s teaching (especially his book “Future Grace”) is based on this concept:

Edwards argued that it is essential that sin be defeated by the promise of superior pleasure in God. Will-power will not suffice. Even when it “succeeds,” will-power religion gets glory for the will, not God. It produces legalists, not lovers.

St. Symeon is clearly among those who was a lover of Christ. May we be also.


Advent Favorites: A Responsive Advent Wreath Prayer and an Advent Kyrie

November 23, 2014

Note – 23 Nov 2014:  Please note the embedded links may not yet work.  I need to update them all, but I’m traveling with little internet access for the coming week, and I wanted to at least get this online as a resource since Advent begins next Sunday.

From Our 2006 Archives

A Responsive Advent Wreath Prayer and an Advent Kyrie

This responsive intercessory prayer could be used any week of Advent during a family Advent Wreath lighting.

A Responsive Advent Wreath Prayer:

Leader: Christ came to bring us salvation and has promised to come again. Let us pray that we may be always ready to welcome him.

Reader: Our response is “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Reader: That the keeping of Advent may open our hearts to God’s love, we pray to the Lord.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Reader: That the light of Christ may penetrate the darkness of sin, we pray to the Lord.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Reader: That this wreath may constantly remind us to prepare for the coming of Christ, we pray to the Lord.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Reader: That the Christmas season may fill us with peace and joy as we strive to follow the example of Jesus, we pray to the Lord.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Leader: As we wait for the coming of Jesus, let us pray in the words He gave us:

All: Our Father …

Source: http://www.stlouisparish.org/html/adventtraditions.htm#advent6

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I also just came across a somewhat similar Advent Kyrie for weeks 1 and 2 of Advent from ELCA pastor Thomas L. Weitzel: It’s based on O Come O Come Emmanuel (and the Advent Antiphons)

Advent Kyrie (weeks 1 & 2)

A. O Lord, have mercy and come to us.
C. Come, Lord Jesus.

A. O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, pervading and permeating all creation:
C. Come and teach us the way of prudence.

A. O Adonai and Ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai:
C. Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us.

A. O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign before the peoples, before whom all kings are mute, to whom the nations will do homage:
C. Come quickly to deliver us.

A. O Emmanuel, our King and our Lawgiver, the anointed of the nations and their Savior:
C. Come and save us, O Lord our God.

——-

Advent Kyrie (weeks 3 & 4)

A. O Lord, have mercy and come to us.
C. Come, Lord Jesus.

A. O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no one can close, you close and no one can open:
C. Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the shadow of death.

A. O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting:
C. Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

A. O King of the nations, the ruler they long for, the cornerstone uniting all people:
C. Come and save us all, whom you formed out of clay.

A. O Emmanuel, our King and our Lawgiver, the anointed of the nations and their Savior:
C. Come and save us, O Lord our God.


Advent Favorites: A-D-V-E-N-T Acrostic – An Advent Classic from the late Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon

November 21, 2014

One of the best overviews of Advent I’ve ever seen, including insightful commentary  on various of the Anglican Advent Collects from the late Rev’d Dr. Peter Toon of the Prayer Book Society.  I came across this again a few days ago browsing our files with Advent 2005 archives from our old blog.  Can’t believe I’ve never reposted it here at this version of Lent & Beyond!

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Here’s the commentary I posted about this article on December 2, 2005.

Dr. Toon’s acrostic on the meaning and purpose of Advent is excellent and I found very helpful.

A = Arrival
D = Devotion
V = Volition (the act of willing or resolving)
E = Expectancy
N = Narrative
T = Thanksgiving

For each aspect of Advent, Dr. Toon shows how the theme is developed and reinforced in the Advent liturgy, which I found helpful in giving me eyes to see the very familiar Advent collects afresh.

Dr. Toon’s article was originally posted Sunday, November 27, 2005 at the website of the Prayer Book Society:

A D V E N T

The Christian season of Advent (Latin, adventus, “Coming”) runs from the fourth Sunday before Christmas until the eve of Christmas. It is also the beginning of the Christian Year.One way of thinking about its purpose and meaning is to take each letter of the word, a-d-v-e-n-t, and let it represent a theme or aspect of this season. So let us try this method.
A – ArrivalDuring the season of Advent the Church of Christ joins the remnant of Israel (such as Simeon & Anna) through liturgy in preparing for the Arrival of the Messiah, the Son of David & the Son of God, even Jesus, Son of Mary. Further, the Church joins Israel in listening to John the Baptist, who prepared the way of the Messiah.

Also, during the season of Advent the Church of Christ as the Bride of Christ looks for his Return to earth, his Arrival as the Lord of lords and King of kings to raise the dead, judge the nations and inaugurate the kingdom of God.

So the Church prays on Advent III

O Lord Jesu Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee: Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise turn so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world, we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

D — Devotion

The four weeks of Advent provide the possibility of a period of intense and deep Devotion both in the public liturgy of the Church and in personal times of prayer and meditation. This consecration to walking with God in humility and obedience is summed up in the Collect for the last of the four Sundays:

O LORD, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

The Collect is addressed to God, the Father, and it is an earnest request that he will gather up his power and descend to his people (by the Holy Ghost) in order to help, succour and sustain them in the race they are running in their earthly pilgrimage towards the goal & fullness of the kingdom of heaven (see Hebrews 12:1).

In making this petition, God’s people recognize that due to their sins of omission and commission they have failed to run in God’s grace as gracefully and swiftly as they are called to do and ought to have done. Thus they look to the Father to provide them through his Son and by his Spirit, and in grace and mercy, the help they need. In particular they look to the “satisfaction of thy Son”, to his perfect obedience of the Father in his life and in his death, as the basis for asking for divine mercy and assistance (i.e., to his active and passive obedience).

If God’s people are to live as those who expect the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, then they need not only to watch and pray but also to live as the obedient and faithful servants of God, engaged daily in his service and running the race that is set before them. This requires true Devotion!

V. Volition (the act of willing or resolving)

God is merciful and gives us grace but we have to be willing to receive that grace and to commit ourselves to his will and purpose. The Devotion of Advent requires definition Volition! But this we prayed for in the week before Advent: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…”

The season of Advent may be viewed as a short Lent as a time when strict discipline over the body through Fasting is one means of deepening awareness of God and devotion to him. The colour for this season, like Lent, is purple pointing to asceticism and the words of the Advent Collect, “Give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness” also suggest the need for discipline & Fasting. Further, it is possible for four weeks to omit “Gloria in Excelsis” from the Eucharist as a sign of liturgical asceticism – but to do this without developing the interior Devotion of asceticism is to miss out!

Yet Volition, the commitment of the will resolved to do what God requires and to please him, is the real thing here! That is, the will as it is graciously turned towards the Lord to obey him and to do his bidding.

E – Expectancy

As the righteous remnant in Israel waited for the Messiah in hopeful expectancy, so Christian worshippers in the Liturgy throughout Advent grow in expectancy for the arrival of the Son of God Incarnate. And their expectancy is joyfully fulfilled at the first service of Christmas as either they hear the words of the angel first spoken to the shepherds: “To you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord,” or the majestic words of John 1, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…”

Further, liturgically Expectancy is communicated by the great “O’s” used during the last week of Advent.

O WISDOM, that camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to another, firmly and gently ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of understanding.

O ADONAI, Captain of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and gavest him the law on Sinai: Come and deliver us with thine outsretched arm.

O ROOT OF JESSE, who standest for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the nations shall seek: Come and deliver us and tarry not.

O KEY OF DAVID, Sceptre of the house of Israel, who openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and not man openeth; Come and bring forth out of the prison-house him that is bound.

O DAY-SPRING FROM ON HIGH, Brightness of Eternal Light, and Sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

O KING OF NATIONS, thou for whom they long, the Cornerstone that makest them both one: Come and save thy creatures whom thou didst fashion from the dust of the earth.

O EMMANUEL, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

N – Narrative

The Scripture passages, the Bible narrative, read, heard and pondered during Advent are most important. In the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, the Book of Isaiah the Prophet is prominent and is read extensively throughout the four weeks as the Old Testament Lesson. In this book, not only are there many passages addressed to ancient Israel but there are also prophecies that look into the future to proclaim the arrival of the Messiah, the nature of his kingdom, his exaltation through suffering, and the triumph of his cause.

The Anglican Collect for Advent II refers to this relation to Holy Scripture:

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark ,learn and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

T – Thanksgiving

Though there is a strong element of penitence accompanying the fasting and asceticism in Advent, there is a stronger element of Thanksgiving! For God is praised and thanked for his saving deeds and his inspired words recorded in the Old Testament, all of which point to their climax in the arrival of the Messiah, the Saviour, who came to “fulfil the Law and the Prophets.” There is celebration of God’s mighty salvation experienced by the Israelites and there is anticipation of the even mightier salvation wrought in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And of course the meaning of the word, “Eucharist”, is “Thanksgiving” and thus in the Sacrament each week there is profound thanksgiving offered to the Father through the Son and with the Holy Spirit.

The Advent Collect to be used throughout the four weeks

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.


Best of Advent at Lent & Beyond – An Index of our Advent Favorites from the past 10 years

November 17, 2014

Advent-5-CandlesArt Credit: Daughters of God blog

Back in 2008 we initiated something called our Advent favorites series.  It started with re-posting some of our best and most popular Advent posts from the years 2004 – 2006 which we had rescued from our old blog site.  It now also includes a few newer entries posted in the last few years.

We’ve grouped these favorites into two categories:  Devotional (prayers, quotes, meditations); and Resources.

Anyway, without further ado, here are about 40 of the best Advent entries we posted in the first 10 years of Lent & Beyond.  (Out of 300+ total Advent entries!)

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Apologies for a number of incorrect links when I first posted this.  They should all be correct now

Advent Favorites – Devotionals

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Favorite L&B Original Devotionals:

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Advent Favorites – Resources

Finally, there is our comprehensive listing of Advent resources posted in 2008:  Advent Links: the Lent & Beyond Advent Resources Compilation.  (It needs SERIOUS updating to weed out dead links and add new links, [something we very much hope we can do this year!] but there are still a lot of great resources there, and it’s worth browsing…)

 


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