Seventh Sunday of Eastertide: Are We Not One

The celebration continues with the Great Fifty Days called Eastertide. I hope you’re enjoying the Practice Resurrection series each week. Hallelujah! Christ is risen!


Look: Feast of the Redeemer, Maurice Prendergast


Listen: “Are We Not One”, Young Oceans

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Listen to my entire playlist on Spotify: Resurrection 2019. Add it to your account by clicking ‘Follow.’


About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”

*

”Zion hears and is glad,
and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.

O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
He preserves the lives of his saints;
he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!”

*

”“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

*

”“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
— Acts 16:25-34 * Psalm 97:8-12 * Revelation 22:16-17 * John 17:20-26 (ESV)

Pray:

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen
— Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Seventh Sunday of Eastertide

Do: One last week!

50 Ways for 50 Days of Easter.png

In previous years, we've celebrated the Great 50 Days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday (aka, Eastertide) with a series I've dubbed Practice Resurrection (after the Wendell Berry poem). It's one of my favorite series all year, and I've enjoyed each week so far. I’ll be sharing your #practiceresurrection2019 photos this week, and I need your photos and captions to make it work!

One last time, check out the list of ideas I brainstormed for simple ways to practice resurrection.

Choose 1 idea for the week or for each day, and whatever you do, do it with gusto!

Here's how you can share your photo stories with me for the blog:

1. Add something to your day that helps you practice resurrection (one day or fifty days -doesn't matter).

2. Take a picture and write a description in 1-50 words. 

3. Share it with me via email, share on my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram (you can tag me with @a_sacramental_life or use the #PracticeResurrection2019 hashtag.) 

I look forward to hearing from you!


(See all Eastertide posts from 2018 here.)

Ascension Day!

Today is Ascension Day, ten days before Pentecost!

As I grow deeper in my understanding of the life of Christ and am shaped year after year by the liturgical calendar, I've become especially fond of Ascension Day. It's not so much that I look forward to particular traditions as we have for so many other holy days but in the actual fact that Christ is ascended to the Father that's deepened me. Once again, as we've seen from the moment of conception to birth to baptism to crucifixion and resurrection, Christ's human life seamlessly integrates both divine and human realties. Through Christ, we are invited into the same earthy transcendence. This truth is as miraculous and ordinary as the bottom of Jesus' feet being lifted into a cloudy glory. Like the disciples, we're given glimpses while we wait to see this truth in its eternal entirety, and Ascension Day is a beautiful day to repeat our hallelujahs!

We celebrate the reality of Christ's ascension by spoken creed, yet I've only been vaguely aware of its theological significance for most of my life. I'm still just learning, and, typically, am aided most deeply through the body of artistic reflection accumulated throughout the history of Christianity. I hope the collection I’ve curated for us today will be meaningful for you, as well. You can see previous years' Ascension Day meditations here.

For more reflection, here are four brief, but meaningful, posts on the meaning of ascension:

Ascension Day, Note from the Rector by Fr. Brian Murphy at Church of the Apostles

Ascension Day and the Real Absence of Christ by Fr. Greg Goebel at Anglican Pastor

Ascension Day: Christ Our King and Brother by at The Homely Hours

Reflections on the Feast of the Ascension by Damian Howard SJ at Thinking Faith

Click on each image for artist’s name and image source.


Listen: “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus” from Urban Doxology

Spotify | YouTube | Lyrics

Listen to my entire playlist on Spotify: Ascension! Add it to your account by clicking ‘Follow.’


And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

*

The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.”

*

”For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

*

”Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
— Acts 1:4-11 * Psalm 93:1-2 * Ephesians 1:15-23 * Luke 24:45-53 (ESV)

Pray:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Ascension Day

Do:

Look up today.

Meditate on the exalted, living Christ in glory who will surely return for us.

On Ascension Day, find a spot outdoors - a park, a hillside, a body of water - some place where you can see the open sky and clouds, to sit for an hour of meditation on the exaltation of Christ to glory.


(See all Ascension Day posts from previous years here.)

Third Sunday of Eastertide: Worthy

Hallelujah! Christ is risen! The celebration continues with the Great Fifty Days called Eastertide. Stay tuned for a variety of celebratory posts here on the blog!


Look: Easter Lamb, Niko Pirosmani


Listen: “Is He Worthy?”, Resurrection Letters, Vol. 1 by Andrew Peterson

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Listen to my entire playlist on Spotify: Resurrection 2019. Add it to your account by clicking ‘Follow.’


Read:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
— Revelation 5:11-14 (ESV)

Pray:

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Third Sunday in Easter

Do:

50 Ways for 50 Days of Easter.png

In previous years, we've celebrated the Great 50 Days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday (aka, Eastertide) with a series I've dubbed Practice Resurrection (after the Wendell Berry poem). It's one of my favorite series all year, and I'm excited to start again. I need your photos and captions to make it work. To help prime the pump, I thought you might enjoy the list of ideas I brainstormed for simple ways to practice resurrection.

Choose 1 idea or 50, but whatever you do, do it with gusto!

Here's how you can share your photo stories with me for the blog:

1. Add something to your day that helps you practice resurrection (one day or fifty days -doesn't matter).

2. Take a picture and write a description in 1-50 words. 

3. Share it with me via email, share on my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram (you can tag me with @a_sacramental_life or use the #PracticeResurrection2019 hashtag.) 

I look forward to hearing from you!


(See all Eastertide posts from 2018 here.)


Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother. Drake Dowsett [Retrieve Lament 2019]

Jesus gave us a litany of last words as a Sufferer; we refer to them as the Seven Last Words of Christ. The deathbed words of the Suffering Servant provide a framework for the stories of lament we share here this Holy Week.

I count it a high privilege to know -- at least in a small part -- the writers of the mourning stories I'll be sharing here during Holy Week. Their lives walk the path of celebration, yes, but also suffering -- illness, relational disillusionment, anxiety, joblessness, the death of loved ones, and the death of dearly-held dreams. Their stories have helped form me in my understanding of suffering and I believe they could also encourage you too. 

Our friendship with today’s guest took a serendipitous turn when Drake’s move from Austin to Portland to Manhattan coincided roughly with our move from Austin to Connecticut. We live a short train ride away from each other and take advantage of that every chance we get. For almost eight years we’ve walked together on a healing journey, first in Austin and now, along with his wife Kirstin, here in the Northeast. As long as we’ve known him, we’ve witnessed Drake’s desire to know God’s heart more deeply and to reflect it to the world more wholly. It’s been a beautiful journey to watch, and I’m grateful to introduce a small part of his story here on the blog this Holy Week.

Would you read Drake's story with me, and listen with an open heart for any words Christ might be speaking to you?

Christ on the Cross with Mary and St. John  (diptych), Rogier van der Weyden   Source

Christ on the Cross with Mary and St. John (diptych), Rogier van der Weyden

Source

 
So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
— John 19:24b-27 (ESV)
 

Behold your mother; behold your son

by Drake Dowsett

One evening, about four months into our marriage, Kirstin turned to me and said something completely unexpected and tragically astute. We had finished a call with my parents and were “debriefing” as per usual: sharing, reflecting, analyzing, and praying after any noteworthy interaction (and being newlyweds, every interaction with either in-law has been some kind of noteworthy to us). Over the years of our relationship, Kirstin and I had already debriefed a lot after each interaction with my family.

To me, it had always seemed that there was some great cultural divide between her family of origin and mine, that we were just reconciling our worlds, that we were working toward a place where it would eventually all just click. But this evening, reflecting on my mother’s behavior on the call, Kirstin quietly summed up the hidden reality of my childhood, my narrative, my life: “I wonder if she has borderline personality disorder.”

In the hours that followed, we had exhausted the content we could find online. Within a few days, I had several library books on the subject either in hand or on hold. (The most impactful one was Understanding the Borderline Mother by Dr. Christine Ann Lawson, which I could not put down.) I learned how Borderline Personality Disorder (or BPD) is a mental illness that results in emotionally treacherous relationships and how growing up in such an environment forcefully molds the defenseless child into the form of the ill parent’s caretaker. I read example after example that reflected the very dynamics of my family of origin.

It all made a new horrible kind of sense out of the things that had seemed difficult or impossible in my mother-son relationship as an adult. It helped explain the strain that Kirstin and I had felt as a new couple. It bolstered my confidence in the boundaries I had established as “family of one” in my late 20s. It illuminated so many odd memories growing up. But it also exposed a gaping ragged hole where I thought things had just been a little off: it exposed me as the emotional orphan I have been for decades.

I have so many questions. How is that I in my 30s have had my entire sense of normal shaped by such devastating mental illness and not known until now? This is a woman who deeply loves the Lord and seeks him with faithful discipline, going back years before I was born. How could the Lord not draw this out in community and bring health to her in time to spare her family the consequences? How could the church have been so ill-equipped that, through decades of her participating in Bible studies, mentorship, and prayer groups, this was neglected?

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:26-27, ESV) In the past, this passage has always had a charming quality to me. Look at the good man caring for the mother who’s lost her son! Look at how her needs are being met! This year, it troubles me. As a child of BPD, I have been wrongly conditioned to meet the emotional needs of the one who should have been meeting mine. This year, I worry for the disciple.

In the shalom that God designed for his creation, my mother was to be more like Mary, my father was to be more like Joseph, my life was to be more like Jesus’. I look at this passage and this time see how dimly our dingy triptych stands in comparison to the ideal. I can taste the absence of his kingdom and I am hungry for it with a deep ache that cuts back through the years to my earliest memories.

But we speak of the already-but-not-yet. In his kingdom that is already, the Lord has given me a future and a hope. He has captured my heart for himself. He has restored me far beyond what my childhood should have allowed. And it sure seems he is forming Kirstin and me into a healthier family unit than is our natural inheritance.

In his kingdom that is not-yet, when it has finally come, I have a quiet hopeful anticipation that Jesus will rush to greet me. And by his side, there will be a woman who I won’t quite recognize. And he will eagerly introduce us. And the beginning of our true friendship will be marked by his words: “Behold, your mother; behold, your son.”

Pray:

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Tuesday of Holy Week

Holy Week. Drake & Kirsten bio.jpg

Drake Dowsett lives in the East Village with his wife Kirstin and [any day now] their cat. When he’s not writing blog content for a friend, he’s writing software for a tech startup, or composing music at home, or off drinking an oat milk cortado. He’s technically a millennial but does not really “get” twitter. Time to time he posts an amateur work of art on instagram: @dragoist.


Once, ritual lament would have been chanted; women would have been paid to beat their breasts and howl for you all night, when all is silent. / Where can we find such customs now? So many have long since disappeared or been disowned./

That’s what you had to come for: to retrieve the lament that we omitted.
— Ranier Maria Rilke, "Requiem For A Friend"

(See all of the Retrieve Lament stories from this year here.)

Lent Daybook, 33: Poured Out

Lent Daybook, 33: Poured Out

Welcome to a Lent daybook for these 40 days of prayer. Click through the link to see the full post.

Look: Christ and the Sinner, Andrey Mironov - Source

Listen: “Love Is Always There” from Waterdeep, Waterdeep - Spotify | YouTube | Lyrics

Read: Psalm 22; Jeremiah 29:1,4-13; Romans 11:13-24; John 12:1-10

Pray: from Jeremiah 29:11

Do: Spend 15 minutes in silence. Reflect prayerfully on the previous week.

Read More