O church, arise

O church, arise and put your armor on;
Hear the call of Christ our captain;
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies;
An army bold whose battle cry is “Love!”
Reaching out to those in darkness.

Our call to war, to love the captive soul,
But to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valor.
When faced with trials on ev’ry side,
We know the outcome is secure,
And Christ will have the prize for which He died—
An inheritance of nations.

Come, see the cross where love and mercy meet,
As the Son of God is stricken;
Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,
For the Conqueror has risen!
And as the stone is rolled away,
And Christ emerges from the grave,
This vict’ry march continues till the day
Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.

So Spirit, come, put strength in ev’ry stride,
Give grace for ev’ry hurdle,
That we may run with faith to win the prize
Of a servant good and faithful.
As saints of old still line the way,
Retelling triumphs of His grace,
We hear their calls and hunger for the day
When, with Christ, we stand in glory.

“O Church, Arise”
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

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to be loved and known…

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.

-Tim Keller

I choose this…

“My life is small, but God’s ambitions are bigger and wider and deeper than anything I planned or meant my life to be.  I choose this. I choose to cultivate a life of the Spirit, to cultivate grace in the potty training, in the tantrums, in the relentless sameness of my plain, ordinary, beautiful life.”

-Micha Boyett, “Found”

affliction

“In affliction, then, we do not know what it is right to pray for.  Because affliction is difficult, troublesome and against the grain for us, weak as we are, we do what every human would do.  We pray that it may be taken away from us.  However, if he does not take it away, we must not imagine that he has forgotten us.  In this way, power shines forth more perfectly in weakness. ”

-Augustine of Hippo

‘in fact everything’

“In the thirty-first chapter of the rule, Saint Benedict states something so remarkable that I keep coming back to it each night as I stack bowls and dry plates.  he says, “All the utensils of the monastery and in fact everything that belongs to the monastery should be cared for as though they were the sacred vessels of the altar.”

All the utensils.

I take the sponge and rinse it in the silver sink.  Nothing in this skinny kitchen is all that special.  And I’ve been living as if my tasks as a mom, those daily, mundane tasks-the brushing of my son’s teeth, the wiping of his bottom, the dressing of his body, the kissing of his scraped knees, the soothing of his wild terrors-as if they were nothing significant, as if they were simply normal, what every mother does.

I’m mesmerized by Saint Benedict’s words, that the monks should care for every tool in the monastery, from the garden hoe to the kitchen cleaver, as if it were the very chalice of the Eucharist, the tool that brings the blood of Christ to the lips of believers.

I am undone.

I’m not sure why I’ve been waiting for this.  I’m not sure why I needed someone to say it to me this way. But with Benedict’s words, I feel my world has been reborn holy.  Suddenly my life, all these small daily instruments I am packing in my home, and the very sippy cup I fill with milk and raise to my boy’s lips, is an instrument of worship.”

-Micha Boyett, “Found”

there’s only…

“There’s never a moment when you learn how to be whole, just like there’s never a moment when you learn how to be a mom, or how to see the holy around you.  There’s only practice.  There’s only noticing.  There’s only the constant prayer that your heart would become what God is making it to be, that you might lift your eyes from the ground where the city is all cement and metal and danger, and toward the warm sun, which burns till the fog flees back across the expanse of the wide skye, beyond the tips of the great buildings.”

-Micha Boyett “Found”

as nothing…

“Let none of all the affections of thy soul have so much life and being in them,
as those that are exercised upon God.

Worms and moats are not regarded in comparison of mountains; a drop is not regarded in comparison of the ocean. Let the being of God take up thy soul, and draw off thy observation from deluding vanities, as if there were no such things before thee.

When thou rememberest that there is a God, kings and nobles, riches and honors, and all the world, should be forgotten in comparison of Him; and thou shouldst live as if there were no such things, if God appear not to thee in them. See them as if thou didst not see them, as thou seest a candle before the sun; or a pile of grass, or a particle of dust, in comparison with the earth. Hear them as if thou didst not hear them; as thou hearest the leaves of the shaken tree, at the same time with a clap of thunder.

As greatest things obscure the least, so let the being of the infinite God so take up all the powers of thy soul, as if there were nothing else but he, when anything would draw thee from him. O if the being of this God were seen by thee, thy seducing friend would scarcely be seen, thy riches and honors would be forgotten;

all things would be as nothing to thee in comparison of Him.”

– Richard Baxter, Sermon: “The Saint’s Everlasting Rest”

prayer for clocks and calendars

(watches and calendars may be placed on the table)

Lord, You who live outside of time,
and reside in the imperishable moment,
we ask Your blessing this New Years’s Day
upon Your gifts to us of time.

Bless our clocks and watches,
You who kindly direct us
to observe the passing of minutes and hours.
May they make us aware of the miracle
of each second of life we experience.
May these our ticking servants
help us not to miss that which is important,
while Your keep us from being clock watchers
and instead become time lovers.

Bless our calendars,
these ordered lists of days, weeks and months,
of holidays, holy days, fasts and feasts-
all our special days of remembering.
May these servants, our calendars,
once reserved for the royal few,
for magi and pyramid priests,
now grace our homes and our lives.
May they remind us of birthdays and other gift-days,
as they teach us the secret
that all life
is meant for celebration
and contemplation.

Bless, Lord this new year,
each of its 365 days and nights.
Bless us with new moons and full moons.
Bless us with happy seasons and a long life.
Grant to us, Lord,
the new year’s gift
of a year of love.

In Jesus,
Amen.

-Edward Hays, Prayers for the Domestic Church