dual personalities

Category: prayer

“I haven’t lost my temper in 40 years”*

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Tomorrow is the 4th of July–let’s whoop it up some!

In the morning TCM is playing some great John Wayne movies…

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…and that night they’re showing some appropriate musicals…

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We will probably be taking it pretty easy here in our flyover neighborhood. We won’t be attending Fair St. Louis or anything big like that. (We’ll watch the parade on TV.) But the OM will fire up the barbecue and the wee babes will come over for awhile. (They have new outfits.)

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We’ll dig out the sparklers and bang some pots and pans. Maybe we’ll play some patriotic music…

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And let’s all say a prayer:

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Independence Day, BCP)

There are a lot of movies with 4th of July scenes, but lists almost always forget the classic finale of McClintock! (1963) wherein John Wayne spanks Maureen O’Hara and everyone cheers. Here’s another great scene featuring our quintessential American hero.

Have a good one. Make good choices.

*John Wayne in McClintock! (1963)

Troubles and trials

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John Charles Ryle (May 10, 1816 – June 10, 1900) was an English evangelical Anglican bishop. Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism.  Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century(1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 volumes, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition.

(And a little inspiration from Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs and Dolly Parton, “Green Pastures”)

Jesus take the wheel*

Well, I got some hard news last month. I have cancer and will have surgery tomorrow. We have been through this in my family quite recently with the boy and now it is my turn. I hope I can handle it all with as much grace and confidence as he did.

This article from the desiringGod.org website

was very helpful to me and Piper/Powlison even refer to a favorite prayer of mine–what we call in the Episcopal Church, Saint Patrick’s breastplate:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

In the meantime my DP will continue with the blog while I recover, ably supported by daughters #1 and #2 who have pledged to fill in along with DN. So keep checking in!

And keep me in your prayers please.

I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

*Brett James / Gordon Sampson / Hillary Lindsey for Carrie Underwood

“Yeah, well… sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand”*

There is a lot going on this weekend, including the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 1.19.57 PM.pngIt is also the 50th anniversary of the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, MO and there is a whole weekend of activities planned.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 1.23.54 PM.pngThe St. Louis Fine Print, Rare Book & Paper Arts Fair is this weekend–always a favorite of mine.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 1.18.50 PM.pngIt is Cinco de Mayo. Time for a margarita!

And it is my 45th high school reunion.

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I am getting together with my two best friends from back in the day for a gabfest, but other than that, I am playing it pretty cool.

Meanwhile the rivers are rising as rainfall continues to be higher than forecast.

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 6.07.23 PM.pngIt has been raining all week and the forecast for the weekend is not great. So let’s all say a weather prayer…

Compassionate God, source of all comfort,
We pray for the people whose lives have been devastated by rain and flood.
Bring them comfort, we pray.
Protect the vulnerable.

Have mercy on all those working to rescue the stranded and to feed the hungry.
And may our response to their suffering be generous and bring you praise.
For we ask it in Jesus name,

Amen.

I hope we get to see these goofballs.

IMG_0990.JPGAnd this made me laugh…

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Have a good weekend–whatever you decide to do!

*Cool Hand Luke (Paul Newman) in Cool Hand Luke (1967)

“And you, good yeoman, Whose limbs were made in England”*

Today is the feast day of Saint George, a Roman officer of Greek descent from Cappadocia, who was martyred in one of the pre-Constantinian persecutions. George is a very popular saint, honored all over the world, but especially in England where he is the patron saint. (“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, or close the wall up with our English dead. … cry God for Harry, England, and St George!”)

Here is Donatello’s famous statue in Florence…

Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.37.07 PM.png…but something’s missing! Where’s the dragon?Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.24.04 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 12.00.35 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.16.19 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-04-22 at 1.27.30 PM.pngThe slaying of the dragon is definitely an integral and important part of this saint’s universal appeal.

Here is Dragon Hill, a small hillock immediately below the Uffington White Horse in the county of Oxfordshire in England. It is a natural chalk hill with an artificially flattened top. According to legend, Saint George slew the dragon here.

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A bare patch of chalk upon which no grass will grow is purported to be where the dragon’s blood spilled.

A traditional custom on St George’s day is to fly or adorn one’s home or business with the St George’s Cross flag. Pubs in particular can be seen festooned with garlands of St George’s crosses on April 23. It is also customary for the hymn “Jerusalem” to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George’s Day. All of the above sound like good ideas to me.

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Lord Jesus Christ, whose cross didst seal thy servant George: Grant that we, strengthened by his example and prayers, may triumph to the end over all evils, to the glory of thy Name; for with the Father and Holy Spirit thou livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

*Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 3, scene one

(The artwork is, from top to bottom: Donatello, Albrecht Durer, an English WWI recruitment poster, a Russian icon, N.C. Wyeth)

A mighty heart was broken

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“GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD,” John writes, “that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That is to say that God so loved the world that he gave his only son even to this obscene horror; so loved the world that in some ultimately indescribable way and at some ultimately immeasurable cost he gave the world himself. Out of this terrible death, John says, came eternal life not just in the sense of resurrection to life after death but in the sense of life so precious even this side of death that to live it is to stand with one foot already in eternity. To participate in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ is to live already in his kingdom. This is the essence of the Christian message, the heart of the Good News, and it is why the cross has become the chief Christian symbol. A cross of all things—a guillotine, a gallows—but the cross at the same time as the crossroads of eternity and time, as the place where such a mighty heart was broken that the healing power of God himself could flow through it into a sick and broken world. It was for this reason that of all the possible words they could have used to describe the day of his death, the word they settled on was “good.” Good Friday.

– Frederick Buechner, The Faces of Jesus

Have a blessed Easter weekend. Go to church!

We will celebrate with our little family at church, brunch and with peeps.

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–Thomas Aquinas, translated from Latin to English by Edward Caswall and the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1861

(The Crucifixion stained glass window by J. Gordon Guthrie, Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, New York City)

Hallowed be thy name

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We are almost to Holy Week! I have been terribly remiss and unfocused in my Lenten endeavors (or lack thereof.)

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Palm Sunday is this Sunday! I am not the narrator this year in our reading of the Passion Narrative. 😭 No, I am back in the bit player ranks–a “priest”. 😭 C’est la vie.

But on the bright side, Sunday night we have tickets to see Ben Hur (1959) on the Big Screen, which should be awesome.

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Let’s toast that and a return to focusing on what’s important.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

(Robert Robinson 1757)

Quietness of heart

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“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.”
― Andrew Murray

Sixty years of ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa, more than 200 books and tracts on Christian spirituality and ministry, extensive social work, and the founding of educational institutions—all these were outward signs of the inward grace that Andrew Murray experienced by continually casting himself on Christ.

“May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence,” was his prayer. “And not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for him to fill full of his Spirit and his love.”

The woodblock print is by Frances Hammell Gearhart.

“When glorie swells the heart”*

Can you believe that a week from today is Ash Wednesday? Where did February go? I  mean really.

Well, today George Herbert (1593 – 1633) is commemorated on the calendar of saints throughout the Anglican Communion.

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“The Herbert Niche” at Salisbury Cathedral

Herbert wrote poetry in English, Latin and Greek.  Shortly before his death, he sent the manuscript of The Temple to Nicholas Ferrar, the founder of a semi-monastic Anglican religious community at Little Gidding, reportedly telling him to publish the poems if he thought they might “turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul”, otherwise to burn them. Thanks to Ferrar, all of Herbert’s English poems were published in The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations, with a preface by Ferrar, shortly after his death in 1633. The book went through eight editions by 1690.

Here’s one of his most famous poems, “The Flower”.

How fresh, oh Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring;
         To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
                      Grief melts away
                      Like snow in May,
         As if there were no such cold thing.
         Who would have thought my shriveled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
         Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
                      Where they together
                      All the hard weather,
         Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
         These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell
         And up to heaven in an hour;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
                      We say amiss
                      This or that is:
         Thy word is all, if we could spell.
         Oh that I once past changing were,
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
         Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Offering at heaven, growing and groaning thither;
                      Nor doth my flower
                      Want a spring shower,
         My sins and I joining together.
         But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if heaven were mine own,
         Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone
                      Where all things burn,
                      When thou dost turn,
         And the least frown of thine is shown?
         And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
         I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing. Oh, my only light,
                      It cannot be
                      That I am he
         On whom thy tempests fell all night.
         These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide;
         Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide;
                      Who would be more,
                      Swelling through store,
         Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.

He’s pretty great, don’t you think?

*Herbert, from “The Pearl”

Just a reminder

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One of the great causes of sadness in human life is the collision between expectation and what actually happens. The New Testament, therefore, for our joy, is relentlessly helping us to lower our expectations for this life and raise our expectations for the next.⠀

For example, in 1 Peter 4:12, it says, “Don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeal when it comes upon you as though something strange were happening to you.” In other words, get it fixed in your head that it is not strange to have life go bad for you as a Christian. Paul, in Romans 8, said, “Even we who have the Holy Spirit groan inwardly as we wait for our adoption as children, the redemption of our body.” Even those in this life who have the Holy Spirit will experience all the rheumatism and cancer and accidents and horror that the world does. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).⠀

The constant lowering of expectations now is accompanied with a raising of expectations later: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is undefiled, unfading, imperishable, kept in heaven for you who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice” (1 Peter 1:3–6).⠀

Now, we know it’s going to be hard. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but oh, how the New Testament raises higher and higher and higher our expectations of the life to come. Live in hope and embrace what God gives you in this life in love.⠀

–John Piper (Read more at desiringGod.org.)

Yes, God has a plan for you, but that plan is not for you to be happy, fulfilled, rich and famous. His plan is for you to be holy and content. It is easy to lose sight of that.

“Christ never promises peace in the sense of no more struggle and suffering. Instead, he helps us to struggle and suffer as he did, in love, for one another. Christ does not give us security in the sense of something in this world, some cause, some principle, some value, which is forever. Instead, he tells us that there is nothing in this world that is forever, all flesh is grass. He does not promise us unlonely lives. His own life speaks loud of how, in a world where there is little love, love is always lonely. Instead of all these, the answer that he gives, I think, is himself. If we go to him for anything else, he may send us away empty or he may not. But if we go to him for himself, I believe that we go away always with this deepest of all our hungers filled.”
― Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner 

(The painting is by Van Gogh)