September 2009


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Tension, then, is an inescapable feature of our spirituality and no one was more insistent upon this that von Hügel. ‘Christianity’, he wrote, ‘can and does develop in man a temper, a state of soul, which so deeply and delicately, so sharply and steadily perceives and feels the difference between Time and Eternity, the Fleeting and the Abiding, Pleasure and Beatitude, the Contingent and the Final, the Greatness and God, as to make souls incapable of being paid off in these deepest matters with anything but the genuine coin.’ It can and does. Therein certainly lies our hope, but the words drive us back to consider how observant we are, how spiritually sensitive, to be able to know the genuine from the false coin in day-to-day living.  What does alienation mean if not that living apart from the realities of our condition as children of God, and living apart for so long that we lose the knowledge of truth? Those fed on substitutes and toxic things are not healthily hungry that they search for the food of eternal life before all else. Alienation from the light can produce an acceptance of fog and filthy air, an acquiescence in pollution. But von Hügel continues: ‘No doubt this world-fleeing movement will have to be alternated with, will have find its stimulus and material in, a world-seeking movement; and only the two together in their proper proportions and inter-penetrations will furnish the complete service of God by complete mankind… How much decency, leisure and pay is the sinner to have, till he is helped to love prayer and the thought of God?’

 from Firing the Clay by Alan Eccleston (Chapter 5 Spirituality and Alienation page 37)

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O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thy appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 

 

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On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, popularly called Michaelmas, we give thanks for the many ways in which God’s loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly, and we are reminded that the richness and variety of God’s creation far exceeds our knowledge of it.

The Holy Scriptures often speak of created intelligences other than humans who worship God in heaven and act as His messengers and agents on earth. We are not told much about them, and it is not clear how much of what we are told is figurative. Jesus speaks of them as rejoicing over penitent sinners (Lk 15:10). Elsewhere, in a statement that has been variously understood (Mt 18:10), He warns against misleading a child, because their angels behold the face of God.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, it is occasionally reported that someone saw a man who spoke to him with authority, and who he then realized was no mere man, but a messenger of God. Thus we have a belief in super-human rational created beings, either resembling men in appearance or taking human appearance when they are to communicate with us. They are referred to as “messengers of God,” or simply as “messengers.” The word for a messenger in Hebrew is MALACH, in Greek, ANGELOS, from which we get our word “angel”

By the time of Christ, Jewish popular belief included many specifics about angels, with names for many of them. There were thought to be four archangels, named Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. An alternative tradition has seven archangels (see Tobit 12:15 and 1 Enoch 20). Sometimes each archangel is associated with one of the seven planets of the Ptolemaic system (the moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn). Michael is associated with Saturn and Uriel with the Sun.

Michael (the name means “Who is like God?”) is said to be the captain of the heavenly armies. He is mentioned in the Scriptures in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he is said to have disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he is said to have led the heavenly armies against those of the great dragon). He is generally pictured in full armor, carrying a lance, and with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the Martyr George are often similar, but only Michael has wings.)

Gabriel (the name means “God is my champion”) is thought of as the special bearer of messages from God to men. He appears in Daniel 8:16; 9:21 as an explainer of some of Daniel’s visions. According to the first chapter of Luke, he announced the forthcoming births of John the Baptist and of our Lord to Zachariah and the Virgin Mary respectively.

Raphael (the name means “God heals”) is mentioned in the Apocrypha, in the book of Tobit, where, disguised as a man, he accompanies the young man Tobias on a quest, enables him to accomplish it, and gives him a remedy for the blindness of his aged father.

Uriel (the name means “God is my light” — compare with “Uriah”, which means “the LORD is my light”) is mentioned in 4 Esdras.

It is thought by many scholars that the seven lamps of Revelation 4:5 are an image suggested by (among many other things) the idea of seven archangels.

What is the value to us of remembering the Holy Angels? Well, since they appear to excel us in both knowledge and power, they remind us that, even among created things, we humans are not the top of the heap. Since it is the common belief that demons are angels who have chosen to disobey God and to be His enemies rather than His willing servants, they remind us that the higher we are the lower we can fall. The greater our natural gifts and talents, the greater the damage if we turn them to bad ends. The more we have been given, the more will be expected of us. And, in the picture of God sending His angels to help and defend us, we are reminded that apparently God, instead of doing good things directly, often prefers to do them through His willing servants, enabling those who have accepted His love to show their love for one another.

For those of you unfamiliar with this special place visit www.leveson.org.uk 

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Today a new chapter in the life a place that is very important to me begins – a new Vicar of the Parish and Master for the Foundation of Lady Katherine Leveson – the Reverend Kathy Lloyd Roberts. The place and its new priest, the work of the Foundation and the life of the parish will very much in my thoughts and prayers today. Moving On and forward – building upon what has been left and redirecting the energy and good will are part of the evolving growth of any place. I can picture the Church and its gathered people as a new ministry is inagurated and blessed by the Bishop of Birmingham.

All the very bestof my love to you all on this important day.

Here is a picture that expresses for me soemthing of the hope and promise of a new beginning

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and a prayer

God our Father, Lord of all the world,
we thank you that through your Son
you have called us into the fellowship
of your universal church.
Hear our prayer for your faithful people
that in their vocation and ministry
each may be an instrument of your love.
Give us the needful gifts of grace;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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Silence is living, dynamic, and liberating.

The practice of silence nourishes vigilance, self-knowledge, letting go, and the compassionate embrace of all whom we would otherwise be quick to condemn. Gradually we realize that whatever it is in us that sees the mind games we play is itself free of all such mind games and is utterly silent, pure, vast and free.

 When we realize we are the awareness and not the drama unfolding in our awareness our lives a freer, simpler, more compassionate. Fear remains frightening but we are not afraid of fear.

Pain still hurts, but we are not hurt by pain.

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Now I am disarmed.. I have waged this war against myself for many years. It was terrible. But now I am disarmed. I am no longer frightened of anything because love banishes fear. I am disarmed of the need to be right and to justify myself by disqualifying others. I am no longer on the defensive holding onto my riches. I just want to welcome and to share. I don’t hold onto my ideas and projects. If someone shows me something better – No, I shouldn’t say better but good – I accept them without any regrets. I no longer seek to compare. What is good, true and real is always for me the best. That is why I have no fear. When we are disarmed and dispossessed of self If we open our hearts to the God-Man who makes all things new then He takes away past hurts and reveals a new time where everything is possible.

 Patriarch Athenagoras of Costantinople

Today we commorate Andrewes

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Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) was born at Allhallows, Barking, in 1555. He was an excellent scholar at Merchant Tailor’s School, and gained a fellowship at Pembroke College, Cambridge. When Jesus College, Oxford, was founded, young Andrewes was invited to be one of its foundation fellows, and in 1580 he took holy orders. He was a great favourite with Queen Elizabeth, who appointed him one of her chaplains and Dean of Westminster. At the accession of James I, Andrewes rose higher still in Court favour, and was made Bishop of Chichester in 1605, and had promotions showered upon him. Andrewes became successively Bishop of Ely and of Winchester. He headed the list of authorised translators of the Bible in 1611. Fuller tells us that James I had so great an awe and veneration of Andrewes that, in the bishop’s presence, he refrained from that uncouth and unsavoury jesting in which he was accustomed to indulge at other times. This admirable prelate, “an infinite treasure, an amazing oracle,” died at Winchester House, Southwark, on September 25, 1626. His English Sermons, at the particular desire of Charles I, were collected by Laud and Buckeridge, and ninety-six of them were published in 1628. In his lifetime there had only appeared a little volume of sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, entitled Scala Cæli, in 1611.
 
 

The Sermons of the angelical Lancelot Andrewes, “the star of preachers,” display to us the qualities which were most enthusiastically welcomed from the pulpit in the days of James I. The oddity of phraseoly, the affectations, quips, and pranks of style, are so extraordinary in the surviving English writings of Andrewes that it is difficult to realise that they were once considered exemplary and found impressive. In his own age, the strange gymnastics of the bishop’s language were not unobserved, but were the objects of adoring emulation. His fellow-translator on the Authorised Version, Nicholas Felton, Bishop of Ely (1556-1626), admits that he tried hard to write like Andrewes, “and had almost marred my own natural trot by endeavouring to imitate his artificial amble.”   It was said, in a less eulogistic spirit, that Andrewes had “reduced preaching to punning.”   There must have been something radically wrong in the taste of an age which persuaded the most saintly of its prelates, a man of the purest and noblest character, to indulge in such linguistical buffooneries as deface the Sermons of Lancelot Andrewes.  But it must not be forgotten that he looked upon Latin as the vehicle of his serious and important declaration, and that his sermons, in which in lighter mood he sported indulgently with his courtly audiences, were not prepared by himself for publication. In that vast labour for the Church of England, in which Andrewes stood forth as incomparabile propugnaculum—an incomparable bulwark—his English writings took a negligible place.

A prayer of Lancelot Andrewes

Commendation
To my weariness, 0 Lord, vouchsafe Thou rest,
to my exhaustion
renew Thou strength.
Lighten mine eyes that I sleep not in death.
Deliver me from the terror by night,
the pestilence that walketh in darkness. Supply me with healthy sleep,
and to pass through this night without Fear.
0 keeper of Israel, who neither slumberest nor sleepest,
guard me this night from all evil,
guard my soul, 0 Lord.
Visit me with the visitation of Thine own,
reveal to me wisdom in the visions of the night.
If not, for I am not worthy, not worthy, at least, 0 loving Lord,
Let sleep be to me a breathing time as from toil, so from sin.
Yea, 0 Lord, nor let me in my dreams imagine what may anger Thee,
what may defile me.
Let not my loins be filled with illusions,
yea, let my reins chasten me in the night season,
yet without grievous terror.
Preserve me from the black sleep of sin;
all earthly and evil thoughts put to sleep within me.
Grant to me light sleep, rid of all imaginations
fleshly and satanical.
Lord, Thou knowest how sleepless are mine unseen foes,
and how feeble my wretched flesh,
Who madest me ;
shelter me with the wing of Thy pity;
awaken me at the fitting time, the time of prayer;
and give me to seek Thee early,
for Thy glory and for Thy service.

From my bedroom in a tower of the castle I can see  for miles –

the space and wonder of the sky is extraordinary…

it reminds me of this piece:

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Then new events said to me,
‘Don’t move. A sublime generosity is
coming towards you.’

You are the fountain of the sun’s light.
I am a willow shadow on the ground.
You make my raggedness silky.

The soul at dawn is like darkened water
that slowly begins to say Thank you, thank you.

Then at sunset, again, Venus gradually
Changes into the moon and then the whole nightsky.

This comes of smiling back
at your smile.

 

 http://www.public-domain-image.com (public domain image)

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