the Spirit of God works
in the unconscious domain
of their being that we know nothing about,
and the one we are praying for knows nothing about,
but after the passing of time,
the conscious life of the one prayed for
begins to show signs of unrest and disquiet.
We may have spoken until we are worn out,
but have never come anywhere near,
and we have given up in despair.
But if we have been praying,
we find on meeting them one day
that there is the beginning of a softening in an inquiry
and a desire to know something.
It is that kind of intercession
that does most damage to Satan's kingdom.
It is so slight, so feeble in its initial stages
that if reason is not wedded to the light of the Holy Spirit,
we will never obey it,
and yet it is that kind of intercession
that the New Testament places most emphasis on."
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday.
In the church year, this is considered a time of contemplation.
We evaluate who we are and find we have a rebellious nature.
This leads us to humility before God and His creation.
We pray and fast.
We thank Him for his mercy.
If it were not for His hand reaching down into our lives,
we could not respond to his love.
He desires our fellowship.
Let us not push Him away.
Soli Deo Gloria.
His beauty surrounds us.
In the northern hemisphere, Winter Solstice occurs at 12:47 p.m. EST today. It has been a tradition in most cultures to have celebrations at this time of the year to help pass the dark days, which for many, seem gloomy and depressing.
The Christians chose to celebrate Christmas at this time. Since everyone else was celebrating Solstice, they could gather without being detected by those who would persecute them for their faith.
I have, at times, had people question why I, a Christian, might celebrate Solstice since it is considered a pagan holiday. My response is that I believe that my God created Solstice, and I wish to thankfully and cheerfully rejoice that the sun is going to begin to rise and set a little bit further north on the horizon each day, and with it, bring longer and warmer days.
Don't get me wrong: I love winter. I love the cold and the snow. They make me live more quietly--no gardening or yard work and more time for reading, hand crafts, and family. I would not enjoy living in a land that was always winter (and never Christmas), but without winter, we would not enjoy spring weather nearly as much. It is the heat of summer that causes us to savor the cool days of autumn.The contrasts in the seasons, cycling through the year, augments our delight in them.
So join me today by lighting a candle (or your tree) to bring a bit of extra light into your home. Cook a special meal to bring cheer into this very short day. Use this time of year as an analogy of how hard times and painful experiences do ease and lighten as the year passes. Embrace the quiet time of winter; enjoy its gifts.
The skies were clear this early November morning. I stood inside the door, placing the camera on the window to steady it, and took this photo.
I had not noticed the earthshine until I plugged the camera into my computer and downloaded the photos. Earthshine is the light that passes through the earth's atmosphere from the sun and is reflected onto the moon, allowing us to see a faint glow from that part of the moon that is not lit by the sun.
When I enlarged the photo, the moon was in triplicate, so I ran for my tripod and, ignoring the cold, I stepped out onto the deck. Too late. The sun had risen far enough that I could no longer catch the earthshine. But the photo is clearer.
Throughout time people have seen the moon and all of nature as a wonder worthy of worship--a spirit, a god. As a Christian, I see nature as God's art, as His voice visible (God said, "Let there be light..."), as proof of One who is greater than I. His power and understanding and knowledge is a mystery far beyond my fathoming. It gives me reason to worship Him.
The earth and all that is in it, the universe and all its wonders not only show the handiwork of God but also sing praises to Him who made them. Shall we not join them?
Earth and all stars!
Large rushing planets!
Sing to the Lord a new song!
~~from Earth and All Stars! by Herbert F. Brokering
Several weeks ago, I decided that all of my children were old enough to read the adult Christian books that I had on my library shelf and that we ought to be discussing them. With one child in college, two busy in outside activities, and my husband trying to juggle full-time work and the farm, the only time I could be sure all of us would be home was Sunday morning. I told my family that I'd get up bright and early to make a nice breakfast if they would get up in time to discuss the week's reading.
We started with A Slow and Certain Light: Thoughts on the Guidance of God by Elisabeth Elliot. (I think this title has been changed to God's Guidance: A Slow and Certain Light.) I divided the book up into readings of something around 20 pages. Although they all wait until Saturday night to read it and the discussions are a little sleepy, I think I've found something that is working well. I'm enjoying my family reading and discussing the thoughts and ideas of deep people.
We just finished The Mystery of Pain by Paul Lindell. I knew Paul when I was a child; he had cancer and did not survive it, but he was the most inspiring of men. I was 13 years old when he was head of the World Mission Prayer League (WMPL) and led a study on 1st Corinthians 13; that was when I felt the scriptures burn within me for the first time, finding faith something that was vibrant and alive. This small book talks about all kinds of suffering--not just physical pain. It caused us to ponder the In Between stage--that time after the Garden and before the New Earth--in which we are now living, a time when pain and suffering is "the norm" and not something unusual or unexpected, a time when our weaknesses show God most visible. This little gem use to be available through WMPL, but I do not find it available on their website now. Several sites sell it used: Amazon and abebooks.com.
This Sunday we will discuss the first two chapters of O. Hallesby's Infant Baptism and Adult Conversion. I borrowed this old book from my pastor a few years ago and loved its discussion on the faith of a child who is raised in a Christian home and the importance of his knowing his imperfections. It gave great insight into the difference between the person raised in faith and one who converts to it when older. When we finish it, I plan to move into Becky Pippert's book, Out of the Saltshaker and Into The World, and we may do a book by Tozer. There are so many wonderful options!
I've been reading ahead of my family during my daily meditations, choosing books that might be interesting, tossing others that don't seem to be a good fit for us. This has been an excellent reason to get myself back into several books that I read years ago.
And breakfast on Sunday morning is a lot better, too: pancakes, waffles, apple panakukan, omletes. Care to join us?
I grew up singing this song (below), and yet I have not found it in my hymnal or any other book I have. I have not been able to find the author. Since the website where I found it does not have it marked as copyrighted, I printed it here for you. I love the melody and the joy it brings to sing quietly alone or in a church full of worshipers!
~~Stooping with towel in hand, He washed the feet of those who were not faithful:
"A new commandment
I give to you:
love one another."
Bread and wine, my body and blood--and in solitude, he prayed.
~~And now, we who are called The Faithful, although no more faithful than they, gather to wash each other's feet.
this is my body,
which is broken for you:
this do in remembrance of me."
is the new covenant
in My blood;
as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of Me."
We go to our beds. We sleep, as did His friends.
"Lord Jesus Christ
Son of the Living God
Have mercy on me, a sinner."
The simplicity of the monastic way of life is bound to stand out in such a complicated world as ours. We are a society geared to sensory overkill. Monks have something to share when it comes to the rediscovery of simple enjoyment--the smell of hot coffee, or freshly mown hay, the sight of soft, early morning sunlight falling on the chapel floor. Monastic life is a sapiential life, a life of growing in wisdom. Its wisdom is nothing high blown or esoteric--it is rooted in the human.
~~Sister Donald Corcoran, OSB
Doing the will of God is not done by clenching one's teeth and, with all one's strength, fighting inner man, determined to do God's will.
It is, instead, a surrender of self, a laying down of all rights.
We open ourselves up to pain and sorrow, joy and hope.
We enter before his throne in tattered rags, holding on to what we see important, not seeing what dirt it is that we have grown to love.
If we will offer to him our rags--opening our hands and releasing that which is precious, we will find that he intends to replace it with more than we knew existed.
~~Jean in Wisconsin 2007
~~I spent some time in the blog world yesterday and found a blog I bookmarked so that I would be sure to return when I had more time. You can visit it here. Below is a prayer called the Anima Christi that I found there; I will be certain to copy this one into my prayer book.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malignant enemy defend me
At the hour of my death call me
And bid me come to Thee
That with thy saints I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.