Dec 2 2016

Some Needful Reminders

_dsc1954In Celtic Prayers from Iona J. Philip Newell offers a series of morning and evening prayers for each day of the week.  In true Celtic fashion, many of the prayers focus on Creation.  I recently came across two of Newell’s prayers in this book that were especially meaningful to me and I want to share them with you.  The first prayer reads: “There is no plant in the ground but tells of your beauty, O Christ. There is no life in the sea but proclaims your goodness.  There is no bird on the wing, there is no star in the sky, there is nothing beneath the sun but is full of your blessing.  Lighten my understanding of your presence all around, O Christ.  Kindle my will to be caring for Creation.”

The second prayer reads: “You are above me O God; You are beneath; You are in air; You are in earth; You are beside me; You are within.  O God of heaven, you have made your home on earth in the broken body of Creation.  Kindle within me a love for you in all things.”

_dsc1477Both of these prayers remind us that God may be found in the world around us. This is an important reminder.  Often I pray the Lord’s Prayer when I am walking or hiking.  I always make an effort to remember that God is with me when I pray.  One way I do this is by pausing after the words “who art in heaven” and adding “and also in [wherever I happen to be].”  I believe God is both transcendent and immanent.  God is both far beyond me and also all around and within me.  Recognizing God’s nearness is important.  The exciting Advent/Christmas message that Christ came as Immanuel—God with us—is important to hold on to at all times.

The other truth Newell’s prayers convey is that God’s Creation is to be loved and cared for. If Creation truly is “God’s Other Book” and reveals to us the glory of God, how can we not love the Creation?  If Creation tells of God’s beauty, proclaims God’s goodness, and is a source of God’s blessing, how can we not long to care for it?  I would encourage you to pray with Newell, “Kindle within me a love for you in all things.”  Likewise, pray “Kindle my will to be caring for Creation.”

_dsc1516I truly believe that working to preserve and protect the Creation is both a religious obligation and an act of worship. I am also convinced that people of faith must now, more than ever, be willing to take a stand for Creation Care.  If we fail to care for the earth we not only fail God, we fail ourselves.  God forbid that should happen.

–Chuck

(I took the pictures used above on a recent trip to southern Georgia.)


Jun 10 2012

The Grace of Seeing

In recent days I have continued reading books related to Celtic Spirituality.  One book that I have enjoyed and profited from is called Celtic Benediction.  It is a small book put together by J. Philip Newell containing morning and night prayers, along with various selections of Scripture.  The book’s content is enhanced by illustrations of Celtic art taken from the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Early in the book there is a prayer that has become special to me.  It reads: “I watch this morning for the light that the darkness has not overcome.  I watch for the fire that was in the beginning and that burns still in the brilliance of the rising sun.  I watch for the glow of life that gleams in the growing earth and glistens in the sea and sky.  I watch for your light, O God, in the eyes of every living creature and in the ever-living flame of my own soul.  If the grace of seeing were mine this day I would glimpse you in all that lives.  Grant me the grace of seeing this day.  Grant me the grace of seeing.”

The connection of Christ and Creation is obvious throughout this prayer.  This is one of the hallmarks of Celtic Spirituality.  In my opinion it should be a hallmark of all forms of Christian Spirituality.  I have trouble comprehending how so many people miss this vital connection.  There is certainly no shortage of biblical passages to affirm its validity.

The prayer that I have shared is one I keep turning back to.  I want to make this my prayer as well.  I want to glimpse God “in all that lives.”  But as Newell intimates in the prayer, “the grace of seeing” does not come naturally.  It is a gift of God.  As such, we must ask for it.  And once given, this gift must be nurtured and developed.  This may sound like a lot of work but if the outcome is experiencing and seeing God in all of Creation, wouldn’t it be worth it?  Needless to say, it would be well worth it!  I encourage you to copy the prayer I’ve shared with you today on a card and make this your morning prayer in the days to come.  Don’t be surprised if you start seeing far more than you’re used to…

–Chuck

(I took the pictures illustrating today’s blog entry a couple of days ago at Roan Mountain State Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.)