Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday Worship

Father Acker washing the feet of those who attend the Maundy Thursday service at Victoria House

Maundy Thursday has always been one of my favorite Holy Days. On this day, we recall Jesus' last full day on earth. In St. John's Gospel, the events of Maundy Thursday is spread over six chapters, Chapters 13 through 18, over a quarter of the entire Gospel.

Jesus starts the Last Supper by washing the feet of His disciples, probably something that they had not experienced since childhood as most of the disciples were not wealthy enough to employ servants to do this lowest job in the household. Jesus strips to the waist, wraps a towel around himself, and washes the feet of every disciple in the Upper Room. It's an act of service, an act of love, an intimate act of great meaning to the disciples as Jesus spoke:

"Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them" (John 13:12-17).
Not only did Jesus institute the washing of feet (which we will do tonight at the Maundy Thursday service at Victoria House), but He also instituted the Last Supper which He celebrated as part of the Passover with His disciples. He picked up the afilkomen, the Bread of Affliction, and instead of saying, "This is the Bread of Affliction," said instead, "This is My Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19).

And Jesus also took the Cup of Elijah that was set at every Passover table, never touched until Elijah's return to herald the coming of the Messiah. It was this special cup of the Messiah that Christ raised before speaking, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My Blood" (Luke 22:20). The symbolism would not have been lost on the disciples: Jesus was declaring Himself the Messiah by using the cup of Elijah at the close of the Passover meal.

The word "Maundy" means "commandment," and Jesus told His disciples at this final meal together, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

So in light of Maundy Thursday, I offer this original poem. It's still a little rough in places, but it does convey a little of the love I have for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Maundy Thursday
Tipped to my lip,
I open my mouth, allow the wine,
Swallow, and attempt to grip
His holiness, not mine --

My eyes on the icon fix,
Set glowing upon the wall --
My hardened conscience pricks,
Knowing I do not love at all.

Yet He loves -- He Who died
On that cross, bleeding.
Meanwhile, my sin I hide,
His Word barely heeding.

What can I do? cries my heart.
How can I deserve His Gift?
Yet His grace doth impart
Love, joy, and mercy so swift.

My hands, my heart, heavenward I raise --
With tears streaming down my face,
Upon His loving visage now I gaze,
Accepting fully His blessed grace.

Susanne Barrett, Copyright 2009
So as we worship Christ this Maundy Thursday, may we all remember Christ's commandment to us, phrased so simply and perfectly by Saint John in his first epistle:

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God....Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:7,11).
May we all love as He loves, this day and each day, now and always!

Abiding in Our Saviour,

(Partial repost from the Archives)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Joining in Praise and Thanks

At Women's Retreat, hosted by Pine Valley Bible Conference Center

It's been awhile since I've added to my Thousand Gifts with the Gratitude Community at A Holy Experience. I just haven't been blogging like I used to, mostly because I am working on a fiction project. It's just for fun, but I am investing most of my writing time into that project rather than blogging lately.

I hope to turn this fiction project into a summer course at Brave Writer, if I can make time to plan and write the class. We shall see....

Although it has been quite a few weeks, I still have many thanks to offer to my Lord, for His goodness and mercy are neverending. So again I add to my list as I trudge along the path of gratefulness.

So this week I thank God for:

501. ...the lovely retreat last weekend with the beautiful women of Lake Murray Community Church, complete with waking to a snow-dusted world (pictured above).

502. ...spending a wonderful day with my beautiful girl on her nineteenth birthday

503. ...the blessing of friends who come up to my "home turf" once a year for retreat, drawing me closer to them and to God each spring.

504. ...texting with one of the strongest and most incredible women I know, rejoicing that we have a lunch date set up for this week after not seeing each other since early November.

505. ...warm, sunshiny spring days that call for the changing of sheets from flannel to percale.

506. ...daffodils coming and going, blooming and fading each March through April.

507. ...the wonderful students in my Intermediate and Advanced Writing courses at our co-op Class Day and in my online Macbeth class at Brave Writer.

508. ...the intriguing discussions arising in our Lenten study of C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves with Father Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity each Wednesday.

509. ...the Book of Common Prayer 2011, which are due to be delivered to us in San Diego this week! So excited to have a REAL copy!!!!!

510. ...the sorrows and joys of Holy Week spreading out before us this week.

Wishing you all a blessed Holy Week as we re-experience Christ's final week upon this earth,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day!

Today is THE DAY.

National Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day.

So as I leave to teach my co-op writing classes (in about five minutes while I gulp down yogurt), I have two poems tucked in my pocket, one original and one by my favorite poet, ee cummings.

So along with "Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town," I have this one of mine that I may share as well:

Easter Life
Proudly he shows his egg
dyed greenly-blue--
a small earth
of continents and seas
enclosed in his palm.

Child, you hold a world:
beneath colored surface
the boiled skin glistens whitely,
encircling a sterile yolk--
a life once possible.

Your life, mine--
all life possible,
enclosed in His palm
as sun peeps between hills,
the whitened stone yields--
revealing His deserted tomb.

Susanne Barrett


What's in your pocket???

Wishing you a happy day of poetry,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month!

I want to direct poetry fans to the Academy of American Poets for a plethora of materials to celebrate National Poetry Month.

One especially wonderful celebration takes place on April 14: Poem in Your Pocket Day! Everyone from students to business people are encouraged to put a favorite poem in their pockets and share the poem with friends, family, colleagues, etc. I'm hoping to have a "Poem in Your Pocket Day" at our home school co-op which just happens to be...April 14!

As much as I would like to join National Poetry Writing Month or other poetry-writing activities, I have far too much going on this month to compose poetry regularly.

So, in the spirit of National Poetry Month, I am posting a link to my favorite poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot (as it's too long to post here).

My favorite poet, e.e. cummings, wrote my second favorite poem, which I am posting below for your enjoyment:

anyone lived in a pretty how town
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did.

Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
with by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

So enjoy National Poetry Month!!! And I would LOVE to hear what your favorite poem is--please comment!

Poetically yours (especially this month),

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Discipline of Fasting...Quotations...and Blessings

I don't often take the time to read e-mails from Sojourners, a Christian magazine focusing on living our lives for Christ through politics, social justice, culture, etc. I simply haven't had to time to open much besides personal e-mails lately.

But I'm really glad I opened today's e-mail from Sojourners, written by Jim Wallis.

Inside was a reference to one of my favorite Christian books, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. And the oh-so-timely topic: fasting.

I am fasting from certain foods during this Lent, and it has not been easy. Right now a bag of Tostitos are calling to me from the pantry. Eating no grains and no sugars is not easy in our culture, and this last weekends' mini-vacation provided a significant challenge that I did not rise to successfully.

I have certainly not walked this Lent without falling on my face a few times, thanks to Peppermint Jojos last weekend and a tall Java-Chip frap (no whip skinny at least) yesterday at Starbucks.

But through fasting and failing and fasting again, I have been seeing God working in and though me. Instead of relying on food for comfort, I am relying more (not relying totally, as I should be, mind you) on God instead. Wow. That's a significant shift for me.

During this Lent, I watch spellbound with surprise and joy as Christ (my friend, partner, Saviour) punches holes in one of my (many) idols, causing its hold on me to weaken a little more every day. Thanks be to God!

And the e-mail I opened a few moments ago reminded me of the progress Christ is making in my spirit as I read a list of quotations from the "Fasting" chapter of Celebration of Discipline. And although I usually share quotations on Sundays, I simply can't wait that long to share these wonderful quotations from this chapter of Foster's excellent book with you all:

"Fasting must forever center on God. … If our fasting is not unto God we have failed" (54, 55).

"More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us" (55).

"We cover up whatever is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface" (55).

"Fasting reminds us that we are sustained 'by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' (Matt. 4.4). Food does not sustain us, God sustains us" (55).

"Therefore, in experiences of fasting we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the word of God. Fasting is feasting!" (55).

"Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them" (56).

"This is not excessive asceticism; it is discipline and discipline brings freedom" (56).

"In many ways the stomach is like a spoiled child, and a spoiled child does not need indulgence, but needs discipline. … You are to be the master of your stomach, not its slave" (57).
So as I continue through Lent, fasting and praying, I also remember the conversation I had with my wise chiropractor yesterday, Dr. Charles Burns. He was telling me about some changes he wants to make in his practice, and he mentioned that chiropractic and other natural modalities were simply aspects that can open us up to the healing power of God. And I noted that the practice of spiritual disciplines, including living the Christian Year in celebrating Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Passiontide, etc., have no power in themselves; they merely open our spirits to the power of God.

That's a profound truth, one that Foster mentions in several of his books.

The spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, practicing Lent, etc., have no intrinsic power in and of themselves; rather, they are ways in which we may open our spirits to see God working in and through us. God is always at work; it's up to us to see Him at work, glorifying Him for Who He is: our Father Who loves and cares for us; His only Son Who sacrificed Himself for us; His Spirit Who lives and breathes in and through us.

When we open ourselves to the workings of God through these disciplines, we are soooo blessed as we join God in His delighted work.

And then the difficult disciplines that force us to put aside flesh in order to allow Spirit to shine are transformed into joy-bringers and glory-givers. And we exult in the blossoming of His Spirit within us.

All thanks and praise be to our Lord God, the One Who daily, daily, daily loads us with His blessings!

Walking the path of joy-filled discipline,


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