Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Actors, Directors, Wisdom, and Forgiveness

But he was so merciful that he forgave their sins
and did not destroy them; *
many times he held back his anger
and did not permit his wrath to be roused.

For he remembered that they were but flesh, *
a breath that goes forth and does not return.
(Psalm 78, verses 38 & 39)

For many years I have read a certain bit of "experience, strength, and hope" in the AA Big Book thinking it was speaking to me as the "director" of this play of life I am in. Yesterday I noticed the word "actor". This makes a profound difference in my reading and my understanding. God is the Director, I am the actor. I am here to perform the work God has for me. This is made clearer both in Benedict's rule, which provides direction and instruction on living a life in the Lord's service, and in other twelve-step readings which remind the reader to conform our will with God's will.

Today, as I pondered my new found realization that I had read something wrong for years, I was struck by the beauty and power in these tw0 verses, where I realize that even if I made a mistake, God forgives me, I am only human and will make errors.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring Community Meeting

The Urban Abbey will hold its Spring Community Meeting from 9am to 3pm on Saturday, March 28, 2009 in St. George's Parish Hall. This will be our last community meeting with Ron and Donna Crocker, who have both been instrumental in making the Abbey what it has become, so we will use this opportunity to say good-bye and send them off into the retirement sunset with our prayers.

Our theme for the day will continue the Lenten focus on hunger that we have been exploring in the Adult Forum series, but take it to a higher level - spiritual hunger. The day will include Morning Prayer, lectio divina and time for silence, lunch, a whole-community meeting and discussion and a very special Eucharist.

The program is still taking shape so I will send more details as we work everything out, but we will essentially use the day to consider the question, "How does the Urban Abbey feed me and feed others?"

In the meantime, please RSVP to me by Sunday, March 22. Donna Crocker has agreed to organize the food for the day (we will really miss her skills in this arena!) so we need a good headcount. It would be helpful to hear from you even if you cannot make it or are still unsure by the deadline.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Daily Office Online

After a little investigation, I have learned that the blog http://dailyoffice.wordpress.com/ we have been following as we tweet Morning and Evening Prayer, is not an official blog from the Episcopal Church, despite the fact that it is entitled "Morning and Evening Prayer from the Episcopal Church." Thus, my statement in the previous post was not entirely accurate. The prayers are, nonetheless, from the Book of Common Prayer and the readings are all (as far as I can tell) chosen appropriately for each date, so these are prayers that Episcopalians can use as we pray the Daily Office.

As you can see from the comments to our last post, the author of this blog has objected to us referring to his work as we pray excerpts from the Book of Common Prayer on twitter. We will continue to refer people to this blog through our blogroll (see sidebar) since it is a beautifully done compilation that is easy to use.

Other online versions of the Daily Office exist such as this one http://www.unsogno.net/dailyoffice/ that includes only Morning and Evening Prayer and this one http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html that includes both a Rite I and a Rite II version. If you know of other online resources, please let us know and we will try to collect them here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tweeting the Daily Office

These days, it seems, all the world's a-twitter. Everybody from Senators to journalists are tweeting. The Abbey has joined the conversation in a unique way: twice a day we pray the Daily Office on twitter.

The Episcopal Church has a blog on which Morning and Evening Prayer is posted every day. I have been using the Abbey's new twitter ID @TheUrbanAbbey to post short excerpts of these prayers daily.

A screenshot of tonight's Evening Prayer session is shown here. It shows (in reverse chronological order) the "tweets," or short 140 character updates, I posted to the public twitter timeline as I read through Evening Prayer tonight. Nearly 70 people followed along - some from as far away as Britain and New Zealand.

Among the responses to our presence and activity on twitter are several comments that the Urban Abbey exemplifies a "new monasticism." Others point to us as an example of a new, electronically-enhanced approach to urban ministry. Many of those who follow us are, themselves, taking similar approaches to ministry in the virtual world.

It is an exciting time to venture into the brave new Web 2.0 world. If you would like to follow along with us, join us for Morning and Evening Prayer each day by signing up at http://twitter.com/ and following the Urban Abbey at http://twitter.com/TheUrbanAbbey -- see you in the twitterverse!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Updates to the Abbey Blog

We recently updated the look of our blog and added some new features. We've posted our Rule of Life at the top of the right sidebar, added a calendar of upcoming events and also included a list of other blogs you may find useful or interesting.

Our current links include The Daily Office blog, which posts Morning and Evening Prayer, every day, from the Episcopal Church, the blog of the Bishop of Buckingham, England and a blog authored by Rev. Bosco Peters of New Zealand. Please send us suggestions for other links, including your own blog if you have one, and we will take a look and might even add it to our list!

Monday, March 2, 2009

More of Father Don's reflections can be found on the Saint Johns Abbey website.

Lenten Thought

Dear Abbey Members and Friends:

Fr. Don Talafous' meditation for Ash Wednesday is below. In today's meditation, he returns to the theme of our 'crosses' by inviting us to think of whether 'adding' some Lenten discipline to already overloaded lives is more appropriate than looking at 'how' we approach the crosses existing in our lives now -- be more generous with our time for co-workers and family, be more patient with the person who always seems to get under our skin, etc. I was listening to this week's edition of Speaking of Faith that deals with depression. One of the people interviewed spoke of a person who helped him the most. That person just sat with him and offered his presence, not suggestions for how to pull out of his depression. I find the meditation below most challenging and a way to truly grow spiritually. Living our lives more generously certainly has the ring of our Savior calling.

Shalom and many blessings, George

"If you wish to be my disciple," Jesus says, "you must take up your cross each day, and follow in my steps" (Luke 9:23). Can't we read in that expression 'your cross' an indication that there is already a cross of some type in our lives? It might be lying neglected under some papers. The point is that it's there, in my life. I don't have to go looking for it or figure out how to make myself one. What Jesus and Lent urge is that we should take it up more generously each day, with good spirit, turn it to good, rather than looking for some other cross which can never have the custom built character of this one, the cross given us by nature or life. Some of the stuff we hear about Lent suggests that we look for what I would call luxury crosses or substitute crosses. Instead of handling well the cross that is right before us, we decide on something more satisfying to our egos, like an hour on our knees each day or skipping meals. These crosses can be about as significant as the ones that rock stars hang around the necks or from their ears. Francois Mauriac has said that the only genuine crosses are those we have not chosen ourselves. Aren't these what Jesus calls 'our' crosses? What are they? For example: the stress that comes with our work; a difficult person we must work with; some nagging physical problem which has no simple solution; putting up more patiently with some grouch or, better yet, not being one ourselves; facing that morning task with more alertness. Let us take up our cross daily; if we haven't lifted it lately, it's right there. All we need is a closer look. Fr. Don Talafous, SJA 2/25/09