praying …

One of the things I love about being Anglican is the tradition of prayer. Yes, all Christians pray – or should, at least. And praying the Canonical Hours is not an Anglican only thing. Catholics have the Liturgy of the Hours and the Orthodox have their version. I think what sets Anglicans apart is the tradition of praying together. I like the tradition of daily morning and evening prayer as a community activity. Anglicanism is priest and people gathered around Jesus to pray every morning and evening.

While the ideal of a congregation at prayer is somewhat removed from the modern context, I like praying using a book other people are using. I like the community that uses the same Prayer Book as me. I like that I am united to my priest and clergy at my parish through the Prayer Book. And I like that while I am alone – and, let’s face it, I like being alone when I pray – I am with people around Jesus.

So as I pray today, I pray for you. The people who read this blog and the people in my life who support me. And the people who do not support me but that I pray for anyway. That Jesus’ love may strengthen you in faith, and that your heart may be open to Him.

a small update

I write personal things in very general terms. I am a private person by nature and do not feel comfortable sharing too much about myself. The sessions I have had with the counsellor have been eye-opening – to express some of my inner ideas and thoughts and not be rejected or ridiculed. And to express feelings without being censured or censuring myself. All of that has been extremely liberating!

One of the major thoughts that I struggle with is that I have let everyone down. That I am a disappointment for everyone. I have feelings of never being enough for people, always being just a stop-gap until they find someone better. And my recent history has only made that even more real for me.

So I just wanted to say that the next two days are going to be extremely stressful. Maybe the absolute worst of my life?! I am hoping that my anxiety will not rule my mind and I can get through it all. I have done one thing today that needed to be done. I am counting that as a victory. But tomorrow will be a nightmare. Then another one the day after.

I am listening to some music I like and I am going to pray. I know God is in control and this is working for my good – it is God’s love that is at work in me. I know I am not alone, surrounded not just by a cloud of witnesses but by faithful friends who always point me to Jesus. But from the inside it looks like a nightmare that is sent to punish me.

So, if you are so inclined, could you pray for me?!

new and old

And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Matthew 13:52

This morning, on the way to church, I was thinking about the above part of Matthew’s gospel. In particular, I was thinking of how the church, as a community of individual believers, is always called to proclaim Jesus in new and fresh ways. But the core is always the same.

The text is also a warning: the old or the new can become idols. It is a call to return to the core of proclamation.

Anyway, I just wanted to share.

what does it mean to be me?

I am speaking to the youth tonight on what it means to be a human being. That is a rather big topic so I am bringing it down to a simple question, “what does it mean to be me?”. Maybe a simple question but one that is hard to answer. I think I have escaped into other people’s description of me to not face the question of what defines me. And I have often not heard the voice of Jesus that says, “you are so much more!”.

You know I love the Instagram page “The Depression Chronicles”. It often has ideas that I very much identify with and that help me with my balance. I have extremely vivid dreams – not so much recently – and I overthink. But is overthinking bad? Yes, when it runs around in circles. But it also allows me to analyse, organise, see the problem from any different angles, and engage an idea on a much deeper level.

Overthinking is not bad! Overthinking something that I cannot fix or that is outside of my control is not helpful to me or to others. The gifts that come with it are to be celebrated. My job is to see when my overthinking is negative for me versus when I am using it in a positive way.

I have found that people use words to describe me and I simply accept their view of me. Between their description and my defining myself is a choice – do I accept their view of me? Do I accept that what they say is negative is, in fact, negative? Being me is not a “cooking cutter”.

Anyone that is what I am thinking of saying to the youth tonight.

absolute paradox

You may have guessed, I published a few posts that I have been working on behind the scenes this morning. They are thoughts that have been bouncing around my head. I am glad that in the midst of some very stressful events on the horizons, I have not entered the darkness but rather have been reading and thinking. In the past creative periods have often been followed by extreme darkness. With more insight and thanks to my counsellor, I can handle the darkness better and live with it rather than exhaust myself in fight against it.

So I saw this on Instagram:

I cannot agree more! Ok, that sounds a little egotistical and self-validating but I do not mean it that way. And I would say that the comment stands within the Kierkegaardian tradition!

I like the phrasing, “prioritize shared beliefs over shared relationship”. Jesus first then the community. Or community in our shared relationship with Jesus. I know that I will not find another person who agrees with me in theory on Jesus because my experience of Jesus is individual and personal. And that is the mystery of the incarnation.

Anyway, I pray you have a Jesus filled day!

love builds up

… Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

1 Corinthians 8:1b

The above was part of the reading from Evening Prayer tonight. I was so struck by it. I like Paul’s theme of “building up” and that, I think, should be the major image that the church uses for ministry and mission. My call in Jesus is always to “build up” – to call myself and others to transcendence. And that is what love does!! So what motivates me is love and what I do is build up.

holiness is Christ in me

I am looking forward to watching The Chosen as a church community. It will be good for us to get together and watch this incredible series.

I think one of the things modern Christians struggle with is that we have made sin an action so holiness has become an action also. We have wholeheartedly adopted a juridicial image of justification and elevated the “Jesus for me” to be the only image that we proclaim.

Therefore, sin is things I do wrong and holiness is things I do right. While I agree that faith needs to lead to a life of following Jesus, it is Jesus in me (the relationship and intimacy between Jesus and the individual) which brings holiness. Holiness is abiding in Jesus, remaining in His love, and the intimacy between Jesus and the Father. It is less about looking backwards (to what I have done wrong) to looking forwards (to Jesus as the final end of my life).

Jesus does not want perfection, He wants my heart!

Being a man?

I just wanted to share the above from Instagram. I really identify with it and I have struggled with being a male who feels things deeply and often, in last three months, has cried. In fact, I cannot recall a day when I have not cried in the last three months.

Now the real insight for me is that I can see the above as a negative. But it is only negative if I force myself into an image of maleness that is given to me by others. All of the above is a positive. Yes, I feel things deeply and I cry. That just makes me human. And some of the gifts that brings to others is a huge positive in my life and in other people’s lives.

I like the above quote because I have moved from seeing it all as a disease that needs to be removed to a gift that needs to be celebrated. Yes, I struggle and I am not like most males or people. But the gifts that being a sensitive male brings much outweighs the negatives and struggles.

I pray you have Jesus filled day!