Thursday, November 26, 2015

I'm thankful for

I'm thankful for many things:

For the sound of tiny 3-year-old feet running toward me for a hug, shouting "Daddy!" 
For a daughter who is potty trained at 15 months and just as excited about that as I am
For children who love to sing the Doxology, Gloria Patri, and Nunc Dimittis
For a wife who cares deeply for our family and works diligently to show it. She is beautiful in every way
For my wife's family who cared deeply for her all her life, raising her and shaping her into the godly woman she is today
For my own family that fears God, and takes his word very seriously
For my Puritan upbringing, the Anglican communion in which I now serve, and the entire baptized Body which shares in the same Life
For cassocks, albs, cinctures, stoles, and all those called to wear them
For morning prayer and forgiveness each day
For water, bread, and wine

For eggs and coffee in the morning
For briar, meerschaum, icons, and holy incense
For theologians with great imagination, humility, and charity
For neighbors with whom I disagree about many things, but listen carefully and are teachable
For friends who post blessercise videos for fun (you know who you are)
For Facebook, which keeps me mindful of how little I know, how many half-truths are propagated around the world, and how important face-to-face relationships really are
For elderly friends who care, and the multiple, daily phone calls I receive from them
For the Riverwest Food Pantry and Hunger Task Force
For pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, and the news of another life saved
For water, bread, and wine

For electricity and all the conveniences which accompany that
For text messaging, email, and e-bills
For Netflix and Amazon Prime's exhaustive lists of clean, educational kid shows
For books, children who LOVE them, and a wife who loves our love for books
For smartphones, YouTube, and the global awareness of social injustice
For Twitter, which forces me to condense my thoughts or just shut up
For the few Pilgrims who ate meals peacefully with Indians
For the Indians who showed mercy toward pilgrims despite the horrible treatment they received from Christians
For the few Presidents who acknowledged God's abundant mercies upon such unworthy people
For the water, the bread, and the wine

Friday, November 6, 2015

He still listens

Because of various trials and circumstances surrounding our city, our neighborhood, and the Church, my family (along with others in our church) is setting this day apart for prayer and fasting. Providentially, during morning prayer today, both BCP lectionary readings for this morning involve prayer and fasting. Consequently, I couldn't keep myself from jotting down some of my thoughts about those Scripture passages.

Ezra leads the people with prayer and fasting (Ezra 8:21-36) because he understands that they are truly in danger on their journey back to the land of Israel, back to where God's House is to be rebuilt. As they seek the Lord diligently, He listens to their cry, and provides for them.

Likewise, the Psalmist fasts (Psa 69:10-11) and prays diligently (Psa 69:3) because he is truly in danger. His circumstances are different though. He is in danger day after day because of two things: (1) he manifests an outspoken trust in God throughout the public square, and (2) he makes foolish decisions sometimes. God's enemies exploit both to their advantage, and his shame. Those foolish faults are his own and are not hidden from the Lord (Psa 69:5-6). Yet through his example, we see that when he fasts and prays, the Lord still listens to his cries, and provides accordingly.

These examples not only describe the life and struggles of faith in ancient Israelite experience, but they also foreshadow the life and struggles of all God's children. Even when our fasting is turned into a reproach by our enemies, and society murmurs against us, making songs about us, mocking our trust in Him (Psa69:8-14), we need to remember that He is still listening to all those who seek Him

He is listening to our cries because He understands our sorrow from first hand experience. He made us and He tabernacles among us. He suffered real afflictions of this world because of its foolishness and sin. He remembers what it's like to do good and yet still be mocked and murmured against for his decisions. Zeal for his Father's House consumed him (Psa 69:9; c.f. John 2:17). He understands the feeling of betrayal, and the reward one receives for wickedness (Psa 69:25; c.f. Acts 1:17-20; and Psa 69:22; c.f. Rom. 11:9-10). He lived with our weakness. He hungered and thirsted (Psa 69:21; c.f. Matt. 27:34-48). He lived daily in danger, want, and need.

Today, let's remember that He is still listening as one who deeply knows our frailty and needs. He is with us as we fast and pray. He tabernacles among us and makes room for us, listening to our cries and meeting our needs. He listens and cares because we need Him, and because He knows exactly how much we need Him.