Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Monday, August 31, 2015

You Don't Know Alice

You don’t know Alice, but I did. Long ago she went to meet her Maker Who I am sure had some incisive questions to ask her. In the early nineteen seventies I was in a small parish in Massachusetts.  Alice was a member of our parish and for a number of years she had been a bishop’s secretary in a diocese in Pennsylvania. Her church experience was extensive, which is not quite the same thing as having a living faith. She had now reached her seniority and that point in life where she felt that neither tact nor courtesy should govern her words.

The encounter happened in the center aisle of the nave immediately after the Sunday morning service. She was fuming.  She started, “Young man . . .” and I knew immediately for a reason soon to be apparent that I was in trouble. “Young man. You not only talk too much about Jesus, you even make the mistake of praying to him.” She didn’t realize that what she considered to be a stern rebuke I received as a compliment.

What else is Christian faith about if it is not about Jesus the Christ. Take “Christ” out of “Christianity” and all you are left with is “ianity,” which is close to inanity. From the viewpoint of the Theologian Hans Kung, the question at issue is basic” “The wholly personal decision for God and for Jesus is the properly basic Christian decision: It is a question of Christian existence or non-existence, of being a Christian or not being a Christian” (Hans Kung, The Christian Challenge (New York: Doubleday, 1979), p. 260.)

If you truly believe the promise of Jesus, "Lo, I am with you always," why would you give him the silent treatment. As for the place of prayers to Jesus in our tradition consider the following from the Te Deum laudamus in The Book of Common Prayer. 

You, Christ, are the king of glory, 
the eternal Son of the Father. 
When you became man to set us free 
you did not shun the Virgin's womb. 
You overcame the sting of death 
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. 
You are seated at God's right hand in glory. 
We believe that you will come and be our judge. 
Come then, Lord, and help your people, 
bought with the price of your own blood, 
and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What Pastor's Are Seldom Taught

I have sometimes thought that if I knew at the beginning of my ministry what I know now, I would have been much more effective. There were many things that seminaries don’t teach you; some of the things omitted were practical things like how to operate or fix office equipment, or the simple fact that the pastor is not going to fix people either. Sometimes the best you can do is to love them; but note, you have to love your God, yourself, your wife, and your kids, and your congregation, in that order; because if you invert the order you end up with a train wreck. One of the many things omitted is the following from the Rule of St. Benedict:

The Abbot, or any pastoral leader, or even any parent should give heed to St. Benedict’s advice, “He must show forethought and consideration in his orders, and whether the task he assigns concerns God or the world, he should be discerning and moderate, bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said, “If I drive my flocks too hard, they will all die in a single day (Genesis 33:13). Therefore drawing on this and other examples of discretion, the mother of virtues, he must so arrange everything that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from” (RB Chapter 64:17-19).

Friday, August 14, 2015



"Cast away, then, all cowardice out of thine heart,
and with knightly valour ride with me in the lists:
for it becomes not the squire to hesitate,
where his lord goes forward with gallantry and courage.
. . .
No vicarious atonement, then,
will satisfy the instinct of the true lover of reality.
He desires life with all its accidents and misfortunes:
the high heroic life of the chivalry of God."[1]
. . .
My Lord,
so often have I gone out with thee into the lists
not knowing wither I go,
sometimes armed and sometimes not,
sometimes consciously to do battle,
sometimes oblivious of the battle at hand.

Lord, I recognize the lists

as one of the themes of my life.
I praise Thee,
that has called me,
and kept me company.
. . .

Now my liege Lord

I place upon me the panoply of God:
I gird my loins with truth and integrity
and place upon my chest the breastplate
of Your righteousness.
My feet are shod with the Gospel of peace
and I stand ready to bear witness to You
in the midst of the fray.
I hold secure the shield of faith,
its colors the red of your shed blood
its white the purity you purchased for me,
its insignia the rampant Lion and the Lamb.
I fear not the fiery darts of the wicked one.
On my head I place the helm of salvation
its golden plume the sign of
Your victory over death and the grave.
In my hand I grasp the blade of the Spirit
which is the Word of God
sharper than any two-edged sword
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit,
joints and marrow.

My liege Lord
I stand by your side.
I hear the rumble of drums.
My ears ring with the trumpet call.
Lead me, My Lord.
I follow you to battle

[1]John Cordelier, The Path of Eternal Wisdom, (London: John M. Watkins. 1922), p. 17.       Copyright © 2011  Robin P. Smith