Saturday, February 25, 2006

Transfiguration of The Lord

Today we commemorate the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.” -(Mark 9:2-13 NRSV)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Preparation for the Lord's Day

The Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Common Worship contains some real gems. While casually perusing the volume in preparation for offering the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving this Sunday, I ran across a wonderful prayer by St. Patrick of Ireland, a prayer commonly referred to as "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate." I commend this prayer to you and wish you well this coming Lord's Day.

Click to show/hide the prayer

I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
his death on the cross for my salvation.
His bursting up from the spiced tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the star-lit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightening free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea
around the old eternity rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
God's eye to watch, God's might to stay,
God's ear to hearken to my need,
the wisdom of my God to teach,
God's hand to guide, God's shield to ward,
the word of God to give me speech,
God's heavenly host to be my guard.

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.

I bind unto myself the name,
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, the One in Three,
of whom all nature has creation,
eternal Father, Sprit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.



A man kneels in prayer at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Israel.
Originally uploaded by whatnext.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Natural Beauty Confused

Photographed on May 26, 2006, this hawk (red-tailed?) is still resident on campus with its mate. Yesterday, in a fascinating display of beautiful confusion, I watched with several classmates as one of the hawks went from windshield to windshield, hoping to snatch a wiper blade "branch" for a new nest ('tis the season, apparently, in hawk-dom). The raptor was frustrated in its attempt to dislodge any of the wiper blades, and was harried constantly by the cries from the mate circling overhead.

The local hawk population is relatively new here (they moved into the seminary's territory only a few weeks prior to this picture), but they are growing in numbers, well-fed by the huge number of red squirrels in the area.
Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars,
and spreads its wings toward the south?”
(Job 39:26 NRSV)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Book Review: The Prayer God Longs For

The Prayer God Longs For by James Emery White (InterVarsity, 2005, 128 pages; $12.00 [discounted at], cloth hardback; 1-800-843-7225)

“Prayer is an encounter with God, raw and unfiltered. It is not for the shallow of spirit but for the those who wish to plunge head-first into the deep waters of encounter,” writes James Emery White. Many readers will agree with this statement, and discover that the encounter can be a difficult and even discouraging activity. Parishioners and pastors alike struggle with the “right” words to use with God, a frustrating experience intensified by our inability to find quiet corners where God can be heard. In the midst of such struggles, it helps to find voices of encouragement. White is such a voice.

White’s engaging treatise is a refreshing reminder of the importance of the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples. In eight chapters, White breaks down the prayer and illustrates what each portion of the prayers tells us about our relationship with God. God desires intimacy with us, encourages us to ask for the basic things we need in our daily lives, and, unlike the words of a famous country-western ballad, God answers every prayer (the answer, says White, is frequently “no” or “wait”).

An adjunct-professor of Christian theology, culture, and apologetics, White writes with a firm understanding of reformed faith and tradition. He sometimes includes what many readers would consider “technical” theological terminology (e.g. the “imminent” versus “transcendent” nature of God), but these terms are always explained using clear, straightforward prose. The result is a book that encourages, satisfies, and edifies the reader.

Copyright © 2005 by Christopher D. Drew.
Originally published in the December 2005 edition of Presbyterians Today.

Monday, February 20, 2006