Selah

Four Prayers for Advent

A road through evergreen trees in winter, seen from above

Four Collects for Advent from The Book of Common Prayer: The Collect for Advent 1: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead,Read more

Lo! He comes with clouds descending

Mist and clouds at daybreak - listen

During the season of Advent, we think not only about the first coming of Christ, but about his second coming. This moving hymn calls us to anticipate that glorious day. (Text by John Cennick, Charles Wesley). Lo! He comes with clouds descending Lo! He comes with clouds descending, Once for favoured sinners slain; Thousand thousand saints attending Swell the triumph of his train: Alleluia! God appears, on earth to reign. Every eye shall now behold him Robed in dreadful majesty;Read more

The Song of Simeon

A depiction of baby Jesus presented at the temple by William Brassey Hole (detail)

The first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel include four hymns of praise that connect the New Testament with the Old Testament. They are: the song of Mary, the song of Zechariah, the song of the angel choir, and the song of Simeon. Each of these songs is an expression of praise to God that he has fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament by sending Jesus. The Song of Simeon, also called “Nunc Dimittis” (from the Latin for “Now youRead more

God knows what is best for me

A curving path through mature trees. Source: Pixabay

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was a theologian, priest and poet. He was a devout Anglican and a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, before he converted to Roman Catholicism in his forties. Though you may not agree with him in certain things, perhaps you can appreciate what it’s like to search for a believing community where your faith can thrive and you feel free to worship God “in spirit and in truth.” Here’s an excerpt from John Henry Newman’s “MeditationsRead more

On Petty Irritations

Monk Choir Singing (19th century art)

Thomas Merton (1915–1968) was a Trappist monk, well known for his contemplative writings. But his journals share not only his moments of spiritual insight, but his very relatable moments of petty irritability. This humourous excerpt is found in the second volume of his journals (“Entering the Silence“): In my interior life there is a small area of raw and inflamed and infected thought and emotion, and it concerns the choir and the head cantor. The pitch-pipe blows and the cantorRead more

Be still, my soul

A tranquil lake - listen

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (KJV) “Be still, my soul” by Katharina von Schlegel (1752), trans. Jane Laurie Borthwick (1855): Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He, faithful, will remain. Be still, my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end. Be still, my soul:Read more

The Weight of Glory

Man with backpack walking along a path in a beautiful landscape

An Excerpt from “The Weight of Glory” by C.S. Lewis: If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestionRead more

Trusting in God’s Sovereignty

Sad girl - listen

“Sovereign Over Us” by Aaron Keyes, Bryan Brown, and Jack Mooring: There is strength within the sorrow, There is beauty in our tears. And You meet us in our mourning, With a love that casts out fear. You are working in our waiting. You’re sanctifying us, When beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust. Your plans are still to prosper, You have not forgotten us. You’re with us in the fire and the flood. You’re faithful forever, Perfect inRead more

Prayer for a New (School) Year

Books, flowers, and an apple on a bench

A Prayer for Starting a New Year Fresh from The Book of Common Prayer: This prayer is intended to be used on New Year’s Day. But I think it’s appropriate for Labour Day as well. The new school year, like New Year’s Day, gives us the opportunity to consider and confess what’s behind. Then we can “reach forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13 NASB). If you find yourself in need of a fresh start, then go ahead and makeRead more

A Place of Safety

Medieval tower in Spain

“My Strong Tower” by Liz Fitzgibbon: You are my strong tower, and I run into You. You close the door behind me now, and I am safe within. I run up those narrow stairs, and I look out from the window. I can see the enemy around, but he can’t get near to me. You are my strong tower, and I run into You. You close the door behind me now, and I am safe with You. In the dayRead more

Prayer before an Election

A ceremonial guard in Ottawa

A Prayer to be used before an election from The Book of Common Prayer: Praying about political matters can be tricky, especially when we pray together with other believers who may see the candidates, parties and policy issues in a variety of ways. I love this prayer because it is one that we can say together, no matter where we fall on these things. We all want wisdom. We all want God’s best for the country in which we live.Read more

Beside the Well with Jesus

Woman at the well with Jesus

An excerpt from “Jesus the Bridegroom” by Brant Pitre: “I’d like to go back for a moment to the story of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). As we have already seen, the Samaritan woman was not what some would call ‘marriage material’ – at least, not for any ordinary bridegroom. She was a woman with a past, with all the baggage and wounds and shame that go with sin. She wasn’t from a great race ofRead more

My Worth Is Not In What I Own

Suitcases - listen

“My Worth Is Not In What I Own” by Keith & Kristyn Getty, and Graham Kendrick, featuring Fernando Oretga: My worth is not in what I own Not in the strength of flesh and bone But in the costly wounds of love At the cross My worth is not in skill or name In win or lose, in pride or shame But in the blood of Christ that flowed At the cross I rejoice in my Redeemer Greatest Treasure, WellspringRead more

Night Prayers

Night Lighthouse

A Sampling of Night Prayers from The Book of Common Prayer: For Freedom from Worry: O Lord, who hast pity for all our weakness: Put away from us worry and every anxious fear, that, having ended the labours of the day as in thy sight, and committing our tasks, ourselves, and all we love into thy keeping, we may, now that night cometh, receive as from thee thy priceless gift of sleep; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from FormsRead more

I’m Still Yours

Sculpture of child sleeping in a hand - listen

“I’m Still Yours” by Kutless: When my life is not what I expected, The plans I made have failed; When there’s nothing left to steal me away, Will You be enough for me? Will my broken heart still sing? If I lost it all would my hands stay lifted To the God who gives and takes away? If You take it all, this life You’ve given Still my heart will sing to You. Even if You take it all away,Read more

The Room of Righteous Indignation

A medieval monastic corridor

An Excerpt from “Tales of a Magic Monastery” by Theophane the Monk The guestmaster looked at me carefully and lead me to a room marked “Righteous Indignation.” “Good,” I thought, “back home some people don’t understand me. They think I’m judgemental. But this man understands.” There wasn’t much in the room besides the four walls, and that was all right with me. I sat down and meditated a while. Then I read my Bible. I found myself looking at thoseRead more