Monday, June 11, 2007

Patience, Prayer, Pain

Dear Friends in Christ,

Those of us baptized according to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer's order were embraced and lifted up with this prayer,
We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this Child with thy Holy Spirit...

Because the Holy Spirit is at work within us, we are capable of bearing "fruit of the Spirit." Patience is a fruit specifically listed in the Bible.

How we need patience right now! God is doing something new, and it might involve a terrible shaking of familiar things in our lives. Certainly, outcomes are uncertain and worries can flourish like weeds. But if we ask our faithful God, the fruit of the Spirit can grow up and give us peace, self control and patience in the face of our struggles.

Today's Morning and Evening Prayer lessons (1928 BCP) give some wonderful encouragements to wait patiently on the Lord's action:
  • Psalm 31:27 says, Be strong, and he shall establish your heart, all ye that put your trust in the LORD.
  • Luke 2:21-40 has two saints remarkable for their patience:
  • Simeon "was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ." Simeon was willing to wait his whole life, trusting the promise that he would see the Savior promised by God.
  • Anna "was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Widowed and probably impoverished at a young age, she spent the decades praying and fasting. And in His time, God showed her the Redeemer, Jesus, and she became a witness in her city.

Anna's example in particular connects patience with prayer. We find that prayer is essential to keep us looking for Jesus and not wallowing in the muck of The Episcopal Church and the sinful world to which it is in bondage. Just keeping up the Daily Offices (Morning and Evening Prayer) gave us the wonderful readings we are sharing here. Let us keep up our prayers. Let us open our Bibles as God's Word for us and listen for His wisdom.

Finally, do not assume that pain means we are defeated by men or rejected by God. When Jesus' parents presented him in the Temple, "the old man Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." There are five important truths in Simeon's words:

  • God's blessing in upon us, if we are with Christ.
  • Jesus' purposes are "set" and will come to pass.
  • Many will speak against Jesus and his sign, the cross.
  • Our hearts will be wounded.
  • The truth will come out.

Patience, friends in Christ. Stay at your prayers. And let us comfort and encourage one another through inevitable seasons of pain. We must be strong in every connection and commitment to Christ and to one another.

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