A Study in Faith

Dear all,

         I hope this post finds you well. If you are not well, if troubles have seized you and you feel as if the world has turned for the worst, fear not. The phrase fear not seems so simple, but if you read my last post about the Sabbath, you will know that the first step to approaching the day, good or bad, is to take a moment to rest and reflect. In a world that pushes us to move, that always urges us to expeditiously accomplish all tasks without reflection, it is easy to become overwhelmed. This is why I urge you to pause. Albert Einstein once stated, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” So too God asks that  we pause for the very same reason. From the very moment He created the world, He Himself paused before creating man, sanctifying the Sabbath as a day of rest and reflection. As written in Matthew 11:28-29, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ states, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

This is the secret of Biblical truth. From the very beginning, God saw that we could not approach the world or protect all He had given us alone. He recognized that in all things we could not act without someone to share our burdens. So to Adam he gave Eve, and so to the world he gave His son to free us from the iron shackles of sin. In the same way that He sought to direct Adam and Eve in their labors, He too sent His son to bear our burdens again, saying not that we should avoid labor, but that we should share it, passing our burdens in and of the world to that Father who formed that world.

Do we do we not ourselves, even those who are not Christians, seek to pass challenges beyond our expertise to others in the world? For our hearts, there are cardiologists, for our hunger, there is, for some, fast food, for others a dear mother or friend who can cook. For our spiritual and emotional burdens, there may be a psychiatrist or a loved one. Yet the Creator of all of these is our Holy Father, who first anticipated the need to remove the yokes of the world with the Sabbath and who most addressed our need for freedom from the sin of the world by sending His son Our Savior Jesus Christ to wash us clean of our iniquities. This is a history and a narrative I will study in different morning and evening prayer lessons to come, but it is one I wish to introduce here more generally.

This brief note is also meant to precede my next point, that which more closely ties to the title of this post. No matter what your challenges or obstacles, they are surmountable. Yet, they are not surmountable alone, nor are they those overcome without individual effort. Note that in the verse from Matthew, Christ states that He will bring us rest. BUT this rest may only come when we have taken his yoke, which asks that we open our hearts to His Word and to Him.

Christ’s yoke is one in which our burdens are shared, one in which we admit to our weaknesses, accept Christ into our hearts, and allow Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to place Their hands into our hearts and mold them. The challenge is to rest, reflect, and make the choice to open our hearts to the triune God and His Word. We are to study God’s creation through his Word and Christ’s Cross. In doing so, the burdens of the world, whether they be those of one alone or of many, will then pass into His hands, through which He works  in us and through us to spread His love, His mercy, and His rest.

Praying Keys:

Holy Father, Almighty, and Everlasting God,

       Thank you for this day, for the chance to take a moment and reflect on the beauty of Your creation, the beauty of resting in it, and the ways in which Your Word sanctifies the need to rest in all that You have made. I pray that in resting, we may open our hearts to you, accepting Christ’s yoke, knowing that in passing our lives to Him, we may accept the burden of studying the world as You would have us study it. I pray especially for those who still struggle to open their eyes to Your presence, that you may give them rest from the burden of their sins, that as the light of morning awakens them, they may see in the sun the certainty of Your presence and your ability to lighten the darkness of their hearts with Your eternal light.

Amen.

In Christ,

        Kathleen

 

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A Study in the Faith

Dear all,

       I hope today has found all of you well, whether I know you or not. I also hope today has brought you closer to Christ in some way great or small. I pray and will pray it has and that days coming can help us all come closer to Him.

 

I will write my first reflective posts on Morning Prayer form today shortly, but first I would like to honor a friend of mine in this post who reminded me of something very important. My friend Mary Ann, I hope, will not mind my using her name. She has been my friend since I first started middle school. She is that friend many of us have and treasure most because she is one who met me in circumstances of great physical, mental, and social duress.

I will simply say we met in P.E. Something about my inabiltiy to run the mile or play any sport with proficiency lent her a sympathy for me that turned into early mentor-ship and friendship. And today, seven years later, I feel we are closer than we have ever been.

In her, I have found a confidante and spiritual adviser. Many of my friends to whom I hope to dedicate posts soon are this way, but what Mary Ann told me this evening seemed to me the perfect subject for one of my early posts.

Visiting her today, I admitted to her my great struggle with time and the feeling that too little of it was dedicated to spiritual enrichment, in spite of the fact that I find greatest joy and solace in writing and thinking about what God has provided in my life to change it. I told her that I felt as if time passed so quickly, as if I couldn’t take a breath without wondering if I had a moment to think about taking the next one. I also told her I had trouble finding time to be alone to study, research, and organize. I have been traveling for the past month and a half, and I admitted my nerves and thoughts had worn thin with commitments and the thoughts that I couldn’t fulfill them all.

She responded to my muddled panic by asking,” Kathleen, do you have a Sabbath?”

The very simplicity of the question silenced me.

A Sabbath? Certainly, I had.

When?

Sunday?

What do you do on Sunday?

Go to church.

And after that?

I work.

do you rest?

Sometimes?

When?

The pattern of questioning  continued, my confusion growing while hers lessened. She told me that the Sabbath is not another word for Sunday alone. Instead, she commented, it is a day dedicated to studying God’s word and resting with the knowledge of God in our lives, allowing it to sink into our minds and hearts, slowed to enjoy His gifts, be they the sunrise, the glory He has given us in Nature, the extra time to read a book for pleasure, or even to sleep or watch Netflix. In other words, the Sabbath was a time to allow God’s word to guide us and calm us in preparation for the rest of the week. In the same way God created the world and punctuated his creation of that world with rest, so too must the creation formed in His image take rest, allowing us to appreciate the beauty of salvation and His creation.

This Sabbath, she said, was that which opened our eyes further to pursuing Him. Rest allows time for reflection, reflection time for organization, and organization time to place our priorities in place for the week.

Truly, the very first chapters of Genesis illuminate this idea. God created the world in six days, giving it order, time, space; symmetrically dividing it into day and night, creating land and sea, placing animals in it, all with different places and functions, and placing all that we see of natural beauty with a certain order and place together. Reading chapters one and two, we see in God’s work an ordering of beautiful proportions. Everything has a place, and most beautiful of all, man was created as God reflected on His creation in that day of REST. We were created after that Sabbath. In that wonderful little space of time in which He rested and saw before Him all that beauty, He conceived of His most precious creation of all–man–His children, the protectors on Earth of all He had made and held so dear.

Imagining this, how can we not take our own Sabbath? If we do not take the time to rest in His creation and appreciate the very place He created and bequeathed to our care, are we not dishonoring all which we were given from Him?

It is incredible to think at the very beginning of the Bible, God formed creation, and, in His period of rest, conceived of His most treasured creation and gave to them a stunning kingdom to protect, appreciate, and in which to rest.

I believe one of the reasons so many of us do not see the beauty of our triune God is because we busy ourselves with the tasks of the world, ceasing to reflect upon the beauty of the creation before us. As we sit and watch a sunset, smell a rose, watch the waves of the seas ebb and flow, or even listen to the rain fall, we will become more aware of the fact that it could only have been divinely created by a wonderful artist.

This said, I urge all to take a Sabbath, to rest in God’s creation. I also hope you might read Genesis with renewed fervor. I also ask this of those who do not believe, that you may rest and take a moment to realize that the first commemorative day God created was one of rest, made in anticipation of man’s need for rest in order to find himself and God.

 

Praying Keys:

Holy Father, I pray that in You we may find rest, peace, and a lighter burden by honoring the Sabbath, taking the time to begin and end that day in you and giving ourselves the time to honor and appreciate the time of rest your ordained for us. I pray for those who have not taken such a time, for those who move so quickly in the world without seeing its beauty through rest in You. May we turn our hearts to that rest given by You and found in You.

Amen.

In Christ,

        Kathleen

 

 

An Introduction

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be alway acceptable in Thy sight, o’ Lord my strength and my redeemer.”

 

To all who do see this blog, I am an Anglican bibliophile dedicated to studies of English language and literature, with a particular focus on early modern sermons and, within the context of a borad number of sources including homiletic language, plague literature.

 

I am also an Anglican whose faith has recently grown in the face of a world seeking to become more secular and turn its face away from its Merciful Creator.

 

I chose to begin this blog not only as a daily reflection on the beautiful liturgy of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1611, 1928), but also offer the blogging space as one in which a community of believers may gather, recognizing that God is not dead, but very much alive, seeking those who trust in Him and thirst for His Gospel.

I hope that this blog can provide a space for theological, intellectual reflection and discussion. I am an English major, seeking to grow my faith by analyzing morning and evening prayer, but I am also a person wishing to offer, through the keyboard, prayers and God’s word to you.

If you have a prayer request, a question, or a comment, please post. I will place a link up for prayer lists, stories, and other requests soon.

In Christ,

       Kathleen