Dry Desert
He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna... in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:3

“Whoa, something's happening,” my husband said, looking at his phone. We turned on the news. A monument to democracy was being breached by a violent mob.

An Axios poll this week showed that 4 in 5 Americans believe the country is falling apart. For too long, we've ignored the gaping wounds that plague our nation and originate in white supremacy. These wounds prevent us from achieving the ideals set out by our founders: that we are all created equal, free and beloved by God.

Luckily, our faith can offer guidance through challenging times like this one—and even some hope.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, as usual, speaks the truth our world needs to hear. He reminds us to choose community. Chaos, violence, and hatred are not God’s way.

Disciples of Jesus are called to work for justice and healing in our world. We're compelled to seek love. But the love Jesus teaches is not a squishy, sentimental love; we can only understand this love in the context of the cross. Bishop Curry's explanation of what "love" looks like at a time such as this is poignant:

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addresses the nation on Jan. 8, 2021.

He reminds us: “In moments of danger, a decision must be made.” What decision will we make? Whom shall we be? Will we be healers, givers, builders of community? Or will we sow seeds of division and anger?

The latter is certainly easier. But Jesus calls on us to choose the former.

The prayer that keeps coming to my mind is one attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. You can find it in many places, including page 833 of our Book of Common Prayer. Say this prayer with me this week. Let’s be the beacons of God’s love—the only thing that can heal our world:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

You can read more about The Episcopal Church's response to last week's events here.

Read the Episcopal Church in Connecticut's 2020 resolution "Acknowledging & Confronting Systemic Racism, White Supremacy, & Anti-Black Bias" here.

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

We have entered into the Season After The Epiphany (SATE for short). During this time we celebrate God's identity continually being revealed to us in the person of Jesus. In the attached PDF I offer you a "PPP loan" of sorts. The PPP in this instance stands for Poem, Pic, and Prayer! When traced back to the Middle English, 'loan' can mean "a gift

or reward from a superior, a gift of God". May you find this PPP loan a helpful way to kick off this season of revelation and discovery!

Download PDF • 666KB

There’s nothing magic about January 1, but we can imbue this new start with meaning. How will you tend to your spiritual needs this year?

Once you decide, be specific with your intention. Be doubly specific about what you’ll do when you inevitably fall down.

Most important: remember why you’re making this resolution. The idea is not to look like a “better Christian” (whatever that would mean!), or check a box on a list, or be perfect. Get in touch with your desire to deepen your relationship with Christ, then ask God for guidance about how to do so.

Feed Jesus’ Lambs

Loving for our neighbors is a spiritual practice (John 21:15), as is caring for God’s creation (Genesis 2:15). Consider committing to a new way of feeding Jesus’ lambs:

  1. To care for God’s creation, pledge to minimize your plastic consumption, or take steps to reduce your carbon footprint.

  2. Jesus teaches us to care for people society forgets (Matthew 25:31-46). Is there somewhere you can volunteer, or someone who needs some of your income more than you do?

  3. In Christ, there is no race, no gender (Galatians 3:26-28), but we’re shackled by the prejudices our world holds up as truth. How will you commit to dismantling the racism (and homophobia, sexism, ableism, ageism, etc.) that our culture has inculcated in us?

Read the Bible

The Bible is a library of writing about the relationship between God and God’s people—it’s a book about you. How much of it have you read? Consider committing to reading the whole Bible this year; that may sound like a lot, but some people do it annually! If that’s too much, make a commitment that feels life-giving.

I recommend The Bible Challenge, a book by a priest in our diocese, the Rev. Marek Zabriskie. It helps you read the Bible in a year, with meditations by spiritual leaders and biblical scholars.

Start a New Type of Prayer

Is your prayer life still feeding you? Or maybe you’re starting from scratch. Prayer is the way we deepen our relationship with God. Here are a couple places to start.

  1. The Daily Office is one of the best parts of our Episcopal heritage. Start your day with Morning Prayer or take a quick prayer break at lunchtime with Noonday Prayer. Here’s a tutorial to get started. (If you need the Book of Common Prayer, get in touch with us to “adopt a prayer book” during COVID.)

  2. Contemplative prayer is the practice of sitting comfortably in God’s presence. I recommend Cynthia Bourgeault’s Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, or this short guide.

  3. The Ignatian examen keeps us mindful of God’s presence in our daily life. It’s a simple but powerful practice. Here's a getting started guide.

Create a Rule of Life

The rule of life comes from monastic communities, wherein people commit to live in a particular way. Don’t think of it as “rules” like “no running in the hallway.” Instead, think of the Latin word regula (a ruler). What is the ruler by which you can measure your life? I can’t think of a better ruler than a close relationship with God.

I recommend the Society of St. John the Evangelist’s Growing a Rule of Life. It’s a free six-week set of reflections and activities to help you discern and build your rule of life.