Tuesday, February 23, 2016

BabyBlue has moved down the Street

BabyBlue Online was one of the first sites to list The Catbird Seat.  BabyBlue has a new address and you can find her here...

Tuesday Reverie

From This Morning's Lectionary

Reading portions of Psalm 50 this morning:
"14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving * and make good your vows to the Most High. 15 Call upon me in the day of trouble; * I will deliver you, and you shall honor me." 22 “I have made my accusation; * I have put my case in order before your eyes. 23 Consider this well, you who forget God, * lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you. 24 Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me; * but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God.”
The same God who see's our actions is the same God who knows our hearts.  This should serve to either comfort us or terrify us.  And in my own walk, there have been more times than I care to confess, that it has been the latter.  But all who are in Christ and are endeavoring to walk in his ways will own this statement if they're honest with themselves.  It was for this reason that the "publican" in the parable stood off a distance whispering "LORD, have mercy on me, a sinner".

We can take comfort in both the words of this psalm, and the words of our Christ.  They remind us that those who know their sins, confess their sins, and seek Divine mercy will stand justified before the throne.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

An Anniversary at All Saint's Woodbridge

"Morning by morning new mercies I see..."
Today marks a happy anniversary here in Catbird Land.  It commemorates our third year with the family at All Saint's Church (ASC) in Woodbridge Virginia.  A happy one indeed and perhaps one of the greatest blessings we've received in our journey in the faith.

Our initial arrival in 2013 was abrupt, sort of like a tuck and roll from a moving vehicle.  Robin & I arrived without clericals and looked like anyone who was visiting the church for the first time.  But that said, we were immediately welcomed by loving saints like Mary Wong who faithfully leads ASC's newcomer ministry.  Others made it their point to welcome us, sharing about the many ministries that included a vibrant set of adult programs.  In my spirit, I immediately sensed that Bishop John had correctly discerned Divine direction in  placing us on the hill in Woodbridge.  

Unbeknownst to those gathered at the 8:45 AM Eucharist, Robin & I had just passed through the eye-wall of a spiritual maelstrom, an intense and prolonged period of spiritual warfare and spiritual assault.  We needed to be where we now found ourselves.    That morning, Father Daniel Morgan was used by the Almighty to speak words that my bruised soul needed to hear.  As part of his benediction, Father Dan proclaimed "Now be blessed by the Lord who you've received.  Forget not the poor. Make no peace with that which would oppress you."  A Benediction is defined as "the utterance or bestowing of a blessing, especially at the end of a religious service".  His words lived up to this definition as they were salve to our spirits.  It would now be a season of sitting still and listening to God through His word and discerning His will and direction.  It felt good to find myself among those who welcomed us for who we were in Christ and not having their expectations colored by meeting a man in a clerical collar and his wife.  Six months later and to the surprise of all (including Mary Wong), the man most knew as "Andy" was in fact "Deacon Andy".

Three years out, I can now reflect on the many lessons I've learned here at ASC.  I've been blessed to see Biblical servant-leadership lived out in the lives of men like Father Dan, Father Alex, and Father Mark.  Included in this list would be sister-saints like Deacon Julie, Lindsey, Lorna, and countless others.  Each of these epitomizes ASC's motto of "Love, Grow, Serve".

I've learned important lessons about my self, a very powerful one being that its not my mission on earth to be one who is obliged to "Fix" every situation.  In retrospect, being one who self-senses the need to be a fixer can find themselves being mangled in the gearbox. 

I've learned the power of "Matthew 18".  Succinctly, exhorting those who feel that they've been offended need to (by Divine command) take the concern to the one who they believe they were offended by.  Too, there's nothing in this passage that commands one to be an intermediary between offendor and offendee.  When an individual had a low level issue on what was being shared in our Prayer's of the People, I lovingly exhorted them to speak to one of the Priests concerning their issue.    As a Deacon, I'm called to many responsibilities; nowhere in this list will one find either human shield or mediator.

God bless, preserve, and prosper you All Saint's Church.  May you be salt and light that's spread across Prince William County, Virginia, and the world until our Lord's return.

The Second Sunday in Lent

This morning's collect, from the Book of Common Prayer:
"O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
Those unfamiliar with the Anglican vernacular often ask why do you refer to certain prayers as "Collects" (pronounced as "kəˈlekts")?  The answer lies in the fact that the prayer serves as a means of gathering hearts, souls and people together at the beginning of the Anglican worship service.  This happens on both a local and global level as Anglicans throughout the world have or will have prayed some version of this prayer in their own language.  Though this might sound a little wonky, its import is a little mind blowing.

Consider for a moment; Anglicanism is the third largest expression on Christianity on Earth, approaching 100 million communicants.  Today, these 100 million men, women, and children have prayed that Divine grace be poured out on those outside the family of God.  You see, followers of Christ aren't sitting in their holy clubs asking their God to smite the world with His club (Westboro "Baptist" notwithstanding).  No, the truth is far from this.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday: Reflection, Renewal, and Revival

From the Book of Common Prayer:
Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
Many within in our culture hear the word "Lent" and equate it with an exercise of giving some trivial thing up for a season.  We'll hear of those "giving up (fill in the blank...) for Lent.  Many who profess Christianity consider Lent to be something that "Catholics do".  These views serve only to rob individuals of a season of great blessing.  Allow me to offer up an alternative to these two common misconceptions.  Lent, faithfully pursued, can be a conduit for reflection, renewal and revival.

Historically, Lent commemorated the event in the Savior's mission where he withdrew from the community surrounding him to be alone in the desert, communing with His Father. Scripture tells us that in this season, he fasted, prayed, and was tempted by the accuser.  It was a time where the second person of the Godhead focused on what was his "big picture", the redemption of his creation. We can draw much from this.

Reflection in Lent can be transformational. It allows us to see ourselves as we really are, fallen, broken, and continually desiring to walk our own way rather than the way of the cross.  Reflection causes us to see how we were transformed and continually transformed by Christ's redemption on the cross.  It allows us to see how we've become justified before the Almighty, clothed in Christ's own righteousness.

Renewal challenges us to walk in, and live into this great salvation which was freely offered to us. We didn't earn it, we didn't deserve it, and we could never pay the price for such an act of mercy.  Yet we can and must live as one who apprehends the gravity of such a gift.  Lent calls us to walk in this newness of life, living in a humility that recognizes our Lord's unfathomable love, and to commit in communicating this love to the world around us.

When we walk in reflection and renewal, revival will be a natural consequence.  Please don't confuse this Revival with Revivalism.  Revivalism flows from an external stimulus playing on ones emotions and feeling.  Revival wells from deep within, where one will find a transformed heart.  A holy Lent will grant this opportunity to all who would walk in it.