POWER of God...from an infant's view

Our rector, S, gave a great sermon the other day reminding us that the Holy Spirit is POWER, and often as Christians, we do not lean on the power of God to sustain us.

While I was in church, there was a small infant about two rows in front of me, wide-eyed and way above the legal limit for cute. As I watched the baby leaning on his mother's shoulder, I wondered what the world of the parish looked like to the child. He was not making an effort to pray or participate [obviously] but he was merely looking around and observing, soaking in all that the Lord was offering.

It reminded me that this was a Sunday I needed to be quiet. I needed to "soak up" all of that which was around me, and all of that power that God offers us.

Afraid of Being Afraid?

I am tired of being afraid.
Afraid of everything. 
Afraid of love, life, risk, hope, hate, not being accepted, joy, tears, sorrow.
Seems that we live most of our lives afraid—sometimes afraid of nothing in particular, just a random gnawing at our lives.
Jesus says perfect loves drives out all fear. In Him there is no fear.
In 2 Timothy, a reminder.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Discomfort? Sure. I don’t  think Jesus ever promised that life was smooth sailing. Unfair? Definitely.  Frustrating and all those other words? Sure.
But not fear.
We know how the story ends.
 Hallelujah, Lord Jesus.

Whitsunday Clip Art

Whitsunday, part two

I just felt inspired to do some freehand clip art....I'm not a professional artist [my training has been with writing] but I just enjoyed doing this for Whitsunday.

Whitsunday: Part One

Dude, I didn’t even know what Whitsunday was.
Then I was like, oh, yeah. It’s that.  The tongues of fire. The disciples. The Holy Spirit. I had known it as Pentecost. I didn’t realize they were one and the same.
I had heard the story many times before --- I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home. Though I confess, as a child, the term “tongues of fire” brought a bit of confusion, and some unusual imagery. It was celebrated in all the faith traditions I had visited, but I never connected it with Whitsunday or a part of the liturgical calendar.
I had never been to an Episcopalian Whitsunday service before last year, and just by chance [or perhaps by divine intervention] I just happened to wear red. Which I found was not a requirement, but a part of the celebration.
I’m a very visual person. I think many artists are. I remember the choir in a procession singing, and one of them had –not really a puppet, I’m not sure how to describe it— a large, decorative, paper dove at the end of a pole that he caused to dance over the heads of the congregation.  It was a beautiful scene…though I confess, I’m a bit of a klutz, so I did start thinking, thank GOD I’m not the one assigned to do that,because I could see me smacking some member of the congregation upside the head with it. Or tripping. (Needless to say, I will not be seeking to become a lay chalice bearer.)
But when I saw this gorgeous image and the singing of Holy Spirit come to us, something clicked.
Yes. Spirit. Fire. Peace.
God is with us even now.
PS—here’s a painting of Pentecost by Jean Restout (1732) that I came across. I thought it looked cool, so I wanted to post it.

Oh, and special thanks to my priest—S---for patiently pointing out to me that it is tradition to abbreviate Book of Common Prayer as BCP. And everyone, feel free to call me on anything like that. I’m learning. I guess, in some ways, we all are.

Does Episcopal Worship Have "vain and empty" ritual?

 I had been cautioned about it by other well-meaning members of other denominations: why do you never see Episcopalians carrying their Bibles to church? (well, in many Episcopal churches the Bible is in the pew, along with Book of Common Prayer) . The Book of Common Prayer (BOCP) defies sola scriptura (BOCP is more like the order of the service. And if you’ve never been to an Episcopal church, a LOT of scriptures are read, and a large bulk of those are found in the BOCP.)

* Sidebar-- I hope that as a newly confirmed Episcopalian, I'm not offending anyone by abbreviating BOCP. It's carpel tunnel. The spirit is willing, but... **

Some told me they thought the service, saying the Lord's Prayer every week, was the vain and empty repetition Jesus warned about.

While I can only speak for my personal experience, I think the key word here is not repetition, but “vain” and “empty.”

I think we can clearly say that services of all denominations can be "vain" and "empty" if they do not focus and concentrate on the worship of our one True God. We can also see how for some, this routine may become tiresome, while for others, spontaneity of other services may be distracting.

Like most artists, I can tend to be a bit on the ADHD side. I can vouch that, at least for writers, it seems that ideas and thoughts are like moths gathering around a summer porch light, each one popping up at unexpected times and fighting for attention. For me, the formality of the Episcopal service and the BOCP  and  seems to keep my mind from wandering.

Sometimes I don’t say the prayers out of the book at all, but silently pray while letting the words wash over me.

 I like the fact that the book reminds us to pray at regular intervals for our president,our city mayor, our governor and even folks like policemen and firemen,the imprisoned, convenience store clerks and health care workers. Not that I don’t pray for those men and women---I do---but in a society where we try to cram as many morsels of information as possible into our minds, I find even the most well-intended can be unintentionally forgetful.
It just seems that my overactive mind needs a bit of guidance, like holding a child’s hand in a grocery store. I don't feel limited, but I feel grounded.  As strange as it may sound, the repetition and structure gives me freedom.

The Christian Artist

A Christian artist should be blazingly bold, a branded communion with
 creativity that is conceived in flaming embers, searing
the bleeding-hope from  arms, elbows, throat and allowing molten tongue to
goldenly lavish poetry upon lilies, upon fields, upon altars, upon stained glass
and breathe deeply a pristine snowlace rapture.
Instead, I bury my head in mediocrity  cleaned
With Epsom salts and tepid bathwater, cradling my empty slingshot
Against a million imagined Goliaths
And pushing myself away from the communion table for no reason
Other than I’m afraid my shoes don’t match my skirt.