Christine did a series of four illustrated talks for the Church of the Redeemer on ‘Art in the Church’ up to 1600s. They were mostly viewed on line and You Tube has been carrying them as well. It is a fascinating subject, how Art was affected by the split between the Eastern and Western Churches. The Eastern remained more God centered and mystical utilizing icons where as the West became more humanistic and pointed towards man and his achievements. Christine is very interested in where art’s function is in contemporary Christianity; especially how that relates to the fundamentals of iconography in the American Christian culture today. She has been exploring a post graduate study in this subject, possibly in London.
Here are the you tube links for the talks- they are great!!
Michael, continues with his chaplaincy work in the local hospital when specific terminal calls come in. The Covid transmission is expanding again and inevitably the deaths are increasing too. Spending even a small amount of time around the nurses and patients on the front line of this pandemic, there is no doubt that to downplay the seriousness of Covid 19 is an arrogant deception, as some news stations have purposely and tragically successfully done.
Thank God, that within nature we can also be reminded of the creative hand of God. In deed that is so significant at this extremely pressured time to turn our eyes onto what is good, as Philippians 4:8 always reminds us.
‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is
pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’
Also to seek the truth, not be led by deception away from focusing on Christ but swimming in the spirit of politics, which has surrounded the recent election, as 2 Corinthians 11:3 warns.
‘But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.’
So my prayer is that we keep eyes on God and the Blessings he continues to pour into our lives through this New Year, filled with new opportunities for the church.
Sending you all our love and prayers for a blessed, healthy and Happy New Year!
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9
Sometimes we encounter Christians, who are sure, they are the holders of ‘the true light’. That they have been given a prophetic word, which must mean that they are following the correct path and them only. Then there are some who hold to a strict tradition which has always and only done things in a certain way, so any broadening of that way, is named heretical.
The question then becomes, how does one interact with people who are so dogmatic they are unable see the other side of the coin; no matter how much truth the other side of the coin holds.
As ministers for Christ these are encounters we have all the time. These are not interactions with non believers but with other Christians.
‘Well, you say, this has been going on since the beginning of the Church, Christ was dealing with these same situations.’ The Christian family, as broad as it is, as diverse as it is, as large as it is, as dogmatic as parts of it are, is still completely loved by God the Father. God is able to continue loving all of it.
The Light which God brought into the world; His Love, is for everyone.
I cannot claim or assign myself, more lovable by God than any other.
I also cannot claim my way to worship, or express my creative gifts, as the only way that God would want it practiced. However, I do know He wants me to worship Him and be creative for Him, as He does with everyone.
This Christmas as we reflect on Christ bringing his true light into the world, I will try to remember that God’s love came into the world for everyone.
Christine has been invited to give a series of talks for Advent at Church of the Redeemer, the Episcopal Church that we belong to. The Title of the series is “New Perspectives in Church Art”.
Well, lots has happened in November. Freedom Village collected and donated over 1200 lbs of turkey for Thanksgiving for food challenged families. Christine delivered a commissioned icon of CS Lewis. We had an election which, unreally, was claimed to be a fraud. The in-person Alpha class that I led at Freedom Village was completed with a full house, fully masked.
Yes, we are looking forward to Christmas and time to fully celebrate Christ’s birth.
We pray you are well and looking forward to it as well.
Recently Christine and I were swimming in our communal pool, close to sunset, and we had a visitation from a bald eagle. It swept into a tree close by, then decided to come and perch directly above our pool, on a low oak bow. We watched it and it watched us. We prayed and sang in tongues. It watched us. We treaded water and swam, it kept watching us. Half an hour later we finished swimming and the eagle was still there.
Biblically, eagles are associated with Old testament prophets. They are also symbolic of spiritual victory. They are one of four faces of the cherub, along with humans, lions and eagles. They are often described in flight because that is where their beauty, speed and power is really evident. They are also very caring and nurturing for their young.
In June 20th 1782 the bald eagle was adopted as the American national emblem and appears on many forms of coinage, bills and national insignia. The eagle represented leadership and freedom. At this moment America is poised at possibly the most significant political election of our lifetime. Which direction the eagle flies will determine the kind of world we live in.
America, for many, was known, as a ‘great melting pot’, where people of all kinds, color or social standing could join in, with grit and desire, to form an extraordinary blending of multiple talents. This blending was unique in its vision of and for freedom. Unfortunately, that vision has fallen into multiple layers of divisive misinformation. The real truth about America is hard to identify, but that has become our work of the future. The ‘truth and reconciliation’ programs which have led many nations and communities out of extreme division and destruction, could be explored here. However, that route functions not through a spirit of politics, of domination and contrition. It has to come through the Holy Spirit, of truth and forgiveness.
The church, in its collective nature, needs to focus not on the realm of politics, but on the Holy Spirit and Kingdom of God.
John 8:31-32 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The church has handed it’s work over to politicians and politicians have run with that power for their own gain. We need to really find the truth behind the deep roots of division and disparity of race, employment, incarceration and health within America. The church is the only body capable of doing that.
So, I am praying, for righteous leaders to start searching for truth and reconciliation, from within the church. To come forth to lead a unified church, not from the fallen platform of politics, but through the living body of Christ. It has worked in the past and with prayer it can happen again here, ‘in the land of the free.’
I hope that is a prayer you could join with me in.
Finally, even the President of the United States has decided that wearing face masks should be encouraged, and he may actually have worn one for a couple of photo opportunities. Clearly that change of mind came four months, 150,000 lives and a decimated economy, too late.
I just pray that those who oppose stopping at red lights, wearing seat belts and putting a face mask on in public get the message, that at this stage our country is at war and it is selfish, dangerous and ‘unpatriotic’, not to do so.
I have to admit that when you consider the 58,000 Americans who lost their lives in the Vietnam war, what is happening in America right now, is so much more devastating; soon to be three times the number of deaths.
On top of that we have around 17 million unemployed and millions of families living with uncertainty about the future for themselves and their children’s education.
We have to realize this is a terrible situation to be facing a critical election, which was manipulated by foreign countries the last time around, and is already being assigned conspiracy theories about postal ballets, etc. The protest marches for Black Lives Matter have been devalued again, leaving the whole issue of racism unresolved until another incident.
None of what I just wrote is news to any of us and it can not be just swept under the carpet by partisan views. It is too deadly. It is too horrible. It is too painful for so many people. If we do have compassionate hearts as Christians, we really have to take a long hard look at our responsibility in this time.
As a Christian I have to challenge other Christians to look honestly at where their opinions are being formed. Is it through the life and teaching of Jesus Christ or is it through the political views of Fox News? I see the spirit of Jezebel is at work here and that is not through Jesus Christ. All I ask is that you read through the account of Jezebel’s ways in Kings and see whether that spirit has usurped legitimate authority for personal political gain in this country.
As Chaplain to an elderly community I am seeing a lot of people question what life is about, as they have to stay in lockdown. There is going to be a huge emotional fall out for the elderly, for children and the unemployed from this pandemic.
Christians with compassion in their hearts is what is called for with the Holy Spirit working through them.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
I so much thank God for his love as we navigate our lives and responsibilities at this time. We pray for each of you that God keeps you and your loved ones safe and healthy, and we pray also for all medical workers, doctors, nurses, and hourly wage workers that they also will be kept safe and healthy. In Jesus’ name we pray.
OK, so where did April go? We had Easter, all on line. It was an Easter I will always remember. We have had time to think and pray, to listen to the birds, to catch up with so many things from the back burner. But slowly, slowly we have come to realize we are not living in the same world we were living in January.
We are in a time of a ‘New Normal’. How long the ‘New Normal’ will last, is hard for us to know at this point, but certainly the New Normal has replaced the ‘Old Normal’ in many ways, for good.
The saying, ‘this too shall pass’, is one which my father would encourage me with in difficult times, and of course this pandemic will pass; mostly. However, if we assume after it’s passing we will go back to the Old Normal; no way.
This has been a wake up call. It happens to have come in the form of a health and economic attack. It will come again, with another ‘new virus’. Or it could come as severe weather, with significant climate change which is now close to inevitable. It could also come as food shortages and famines; the united nations reported 10 nations who already have more than a million people each without enough food, which could possibly be joined by another 26 nations in a similar vulnerable position as this pandemic unfolds. With all these major world events the movement of resources and people searching for safety will exasperate our nationalistic phobias. Did we wake up yet?
We are standing on shaky ground all around.
One of the assigned scriptures for this Sunday is Psalm 23. Such an amazingly powerful holy document written by a shepherd boy turned king, David. So powerful that it is very often included in memorial services because it is so uplifting.
David had many challenges, victories, personal failings and dreams, but the most significant thing he had was his complete love and trust in God. The first line, the first statement is David’s position from which everything else can follow.
The Lord is my Shepherd.
After that statement of belief, the results of that belief unfold. Security, provision, rest, peace, good direction, the ability to start over, how to live a pure rewarding life, helping people turn to Jesus. It also says there will be hard times, there will be death. It is all part of life. Even so we can stand in peace, with closeness to God, his protection and direction, comfort. Despite the fact we are under attack, we still have provision through the Holy Spirit, in fact the Blessings are more than we can handle, our cup overflows. We can be sure of God’s blessings and sure we will be with him in eternity.
That all comes from the first statement. The Lord is my shepherd.
Why do we need a wake up call?
Well, like sheep, we get drawn to where ever we think there is green grass. Our heads are down following whatever looks good next, the next good patch of whatever pleases us. Jobs, houses, curtains, deserts, lawn mowers, TV, scandal, ice cream; we are always on the lookout for the next ‘green grass.’
So when we finally get a ‘wake up call’; from a pandemic, famine or drought, hopefully we realize we are a long way off the tracks.
So the question raises up again, where is my shepherd now? Nowhere to be seen, although I know he must be around, I have been so very busy, so totally involved, with—whatever. I am lost, I have just kept looking for the next green thing in my life, loosing track of direction, loosing track of a real purpose. Loosing track of the big picture, why am I here?
Hopefully, we will wake up to realize there is no stable ground around us, that there is nothing safe. Except God.
So our heads have to come out of the sand. We can ask for forgiveness and turn back to the shepherd. In fact, when so many people do that, we realize there is an awakening opening up. So many people are getting called back to Christ that we are now praying deeply for revival. For by His wounds we have been healed. How could we forget that?
This is why our prayers are so needed at this time. That there will be an awakening to how far we have strayed from our Shepherd. Sheep love to follow. I pray that we could turn to follow God and not our own selfish ways. Because Jesus stands waiting for us to come to him, no matter who we are, no matter how depressed we are, no matter how addicted we are, how lonely we are, how nationalistic we are, how partisan we are or how much we have hated our neighbors. He is still holding out his hand to us in this ‘New Normal’. Thank God, in all things.
Please keep Christine and me in your prayers and ask the Lord how to work for His Kingdoms’ revival.
“The heavens declare the Glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork .” Psalm 19:1
The Sheer Extravagance of God
Going through a month’s snaps to find images which represent our lives for the last month, I always have to include some close ups of plants I have noticed and delighted in.
The thought, ‘the sheer extravagance of God’, came to me as I picked one of the blooms from a Floss Silk Tree which flower here in November. The trees become huge masses of pink flowers before their leaves form. Their trunks have large thorns like medieval armor.
God is extravagant not only in the beauty of what he has created but also in the huge variety. My mind is astounded and gives thanks this Thanksgiving for how God provides for us so well.
One of the stories this month was of a woman in my bible study class deciding that she wanted to give back a turkey to the homeless. She had as a child received a Thanksgiving turkey because her family was poor and she wanted to give back, now in her seventies, and she could afford it. She asked if I would help her get the turkey and deliver it when the time came. Well she talked to friends about what she was doing and slowly more people came alongside her donating for turkeys.
Well, the outcome was we bought 565lbs of turkeys and delivered them for Thanksgiving to a charity called Turning Points in Bradenton. It was God’s extravagance, each time we thought we had fulfilled the money collected, there was still more left over and we returned to the freezer to pick out some more turkeys!
Christine completed a commission of our Lady of Knock, a five by three foot painting for a school library, which was shipped out this month. The story of a vision appearing to a group of people in the Irish town of Knock, is reported by the Roman Catholic Saints website, as:
‘The apparition in County Mayo in Ireland of Our Lady of Knock is reported to have occurred on the evening of August 21, 1879, the vigil of the octave of the feast of the Assumption. Those who witnessed the miracle ranged in age from five years old to seventy-five.
The apparition was described as follows: “Our Lady was wearing a large, brilliant crown and clothed in white garments. On her right was Saint Joseph, his head inclined toward her and on her left Saint John the Evangelist. To the left of Saint John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb.” Standing only a few feet off the ground, the Blessed Virgin wore a white cloak and was described by witnesses as being incredibly beautiful. She wore a bright golden crown, and appeared to be praying with her eyes looking toward heaven with her arms bend in front of her with her palms facing inward.’
For Christine, this commission has been yet another wonderful opportunity to learn more about the different ways God has interacted with His church. The different streams of the church have such a rich history of how God has chosen to make himself known. It is different for all of us and we cannot judge another’s experience, only give thanks again that God cares enough to find different avenues to connect to us, His whole church. I am sure that everyone who reads this blog could give an example of how God has made himself known to them. Perhaps through a vision, or a healing, maybe through the audible word of God, or just that quiet thought which suddenly appears in our minds which we KNOW we have to listen to and act on.
In November one of the big events is Veterans day. Michael had the role of leading the service which was really well attended. So many people had served America in one of the five services and each one had a photograph of them dressed in their appropriate uniforms many years ago. For Michael it was a lesson to not look at the elderly as they appear today, but remember how active, dynamic and handsome they were when they were younger. We owe a huge debt to those who have gone before us and spent some of their best years fighting for the values that made America great. Now many are truly disheartened by what is happening in this country today and feel helpless as to what to do.
The only answer I can offer is for there to be an outpouring of prayer for healing in this nation and righteous leadership.
Jesus prayed that the church would not be divided. In many ways the church has been divided and the country is divided and it is ripe for a fall, as Jesus warned in Mathew 12:25.
Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.’
PRAYERS FOR OUR NATION
Let us pray for this nation, without calling on the ‘spirit of politics’, which continues to be an idol against the Holy Spirit. “Make thy face to shine upon thine servant; save me for thy mercies sake.” Psalm 31:16 May God ‘s face shine upon our country and save us for His mercy’s sake.
As Christians we are called to be active Christians, not waiving that assignment to politicians. The spirit of politics may cover itself with the talk of righteousness but not the walk, as is being revealed now. ” Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
We both had a trip to San Antonio, TX, in October. It was a mixed purpose trip; Michael gave a talk to a Garden Club there and also did some garden photography. Christine has an October birthday and we were grateful to be able to celebrate that at the same time.
We managed to get some time to visit two of the early Missions there; Los Alamos and Concepcion. Los Alamos was very crowded with visitors but there was definitely a strong sense of national pride in the history of the sacrifices made there. Mission Concepcion, which is still an active parish, had a spiritual presence and simplicity I found reminiscent of a monastery.
An old painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the Mexican Marian visitations, hangs in the vaulted church sanctuary and particularly caught Christine’s eye as an early example of this very famous Catholic image. Christine wrote an icon of that image in the past, which is unusual, as it is mostly seen as a religious painting.
Christine taught an icon class at St Peter and Paul Church in Bradenton which has become a regular location for an annual class. It was a smaller intimate class which created a real closeness to the Lord as the work is undertaken in deep prayer.
Michael continues as the Chaplain for Freedom Village and sometimes wonders how God placed him in an elderly and mostly financially secure community as a lot of his past has been with marketplace and street ministry.
Then he is reminded that we are all souls, whether rich or poor, secure or in physical danger, we all will have to stand before God and answer for our lives. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, no matter what their circumstances are.
Working with the elderly is certainly a good primer for what we can anticipate of our own lives in the future. In America people are living much longer lives than they used to do and 95 years is becoming more the normal life expectancy than the unusual.
So a question Michael hears over and over again is, ‘what is the purpose of life?’
It becomes an even more pressing question for those who are bed bound, totally dependent on others for meals, using the bathroom, staying washed and shaved, etc. The list of their dependence goes until the elderly become reliant on others for everything, like a babe in arms.
We are introduced to this world as infants and we are escorted from the world as senior infants. How much purpose our lives carry at the end of our independent and active years will most likely be a reflection on how much we have a relationship with God. After all, I believe that is the real purpose of our lives; to have a relationship with God.
For those who find themselves not believing there is a God, quite often a purpose for life is found through their children or grandchildren’s lives. Fear, confusion and anger often develops along with a pathos of not knowing why they are still here being a burden to others.
Seeing a future continuing for one’s family within this worldly context is what we can all ponder on. But Christians are given so much more than that, we are given a future continuing on into eternity of Glory and worship, not only with our blood family but also with our spiritual family. Our spiritual family encompasses not only the living believers but also all those past. Today is ‘All Saints Day’ in the traditional streams of Christianity and it reminds us of the enormity and significance of our family. As a family member, our ‘Father God’ or ‘Papa’, always wants to hear what is on our hearts, we can always talk with Him, even if we are too old or sick to speak out loud, He will hear us. So, we will always have a purpose for our lives and the purpose is prayer. Being in relationship with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10.
Please keep us all in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.
Christine finished off a commissioned icon of the Ascension which is going to New Jersey shortly. The colors and forms of the figures are wonderful. Christine has been diligently daily drawing from a course put out by Sister Petra and she keeps sharpening her iconography skills. She is booked to take a week’s class from a couple of Russian Iconographers in November.
An exciting development for her has been creating a new page on her website for ordering prints of different sizes of her icons. This means they are now coming available for people around the world to purchase directly from the web. Please take a look.
August was a busy month also because we actually searched out and bought a new condo to live in. It has two bedrooms and enough room to empty out a storage space we have been storing paintings and photographs in. The location is much closer to the church we fellowship in and the landscaping has many old live oak trees with hanging Spanish moss. We are really excited about this change and have some painting to get done before we can move in.
Day 4 Hope
Michael took part in a local charity event with some of its’ follow up meetings called ‘Day 4 Hope’, a wonderful program to help homeless children be prepared for starting school, with medical, dental, backpacks, hair cuts, food and even a professional photograph of the parents and children. This is just a part of what this charity does and it’s program extends into the community by partnering churches with schools, which enables Christian volunteers establish strong relationships with identified families of need and help them over the long term.
People may have a mental image of Florida being a place where people go to retire, play golf, and relax on their spoils of life. This may be true for some, but actually, Florida has a very broad and vibrant community, with many more young people than old. There is a lot of wealth mixed in with a lot of people who are just getting by. There are many homeless and people in need for one reason or another. Drugs, human trafficking, environmental exploitation are all taking place; requiring armies of volunteers who try to address these issues and put people back together again. Charities, halfway houses, hospitals, twelve step programs, community minded police forces, churches and municipal agencies are all answering what Jesus referenced to in Mark 14:7:
‘For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.’
That text for some reason calls to my mind a simple awareness which happened while I was ministering in hospital recently. I opened my eyes during a prayer session and focused on the old wrinkled charcoal black hand of a patient resting in my white fingers. He was old, in fact he may have been close to his passing. He was in the ICU ward and I was visiting whoever seemed to want or need a Chaplain. Our prayer went on and on, and I could tell the Holy Spirit was present. He kept repeating very slowly, ‘In the name of Jesus.’ He would not let go of my hand. We did not want the presence of Jesus to leave. Our backgrounds must have been so very different but we were at that point united, calling on Jesus. When Jesus shows up powerfully, you do not want him to leave.
I often wonder if we were able to have or even expect Jesus to show up, while we are ‘doing good for the poor,’ what ever aspect of ‘poor’ that was, whether, poverty, health, shame, addiction or homelessness, how much more change there would be. God is a God of miracles when we expect and really pray for it. So often he is not invited in when we are ‘doing good for the poor.’ It seems like at the most obvious times that we do need God’s presence, we tend to not invite him. Is that because it is now counter cultural to do so? Well, maybe we do invite him in. The question is do we really expect him to come?
Do we open up our eyes and say only God could have done this? Placed a black hand in a white hand and bound them together in prayer.
Christine had another teaching class at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY, with several returning students. She has a following of students who want to continue to go deeper into the experience of writing icons. Teaching in a monastery which has a daily cycle of five prayer services by the monks makes it even more of a prayerful experience. The retreat coincided with some of the very hot weather which spread across the North East this July.
Michael continues with the chaplaincy work in the elderly community at Freedom Village and Blake hospital. There are so many end of life situations which people are dealing with. To bring the love of Christ into those critical times is a great privilege and also can be very demanding. One of the constants that has brought him relief is photographing the beauty of creation, in all manner of things.
It is God’s creativity, which is never endingly astonishing and it is available for all to see, ‘who have eyes to see.’
Paul writes about creation in Romans 1:19-21, saying that everyone should recognize the extraordinary presence of God by the awesome divine nature of the things that have been made. He says there is no excuse, for not recognizing God’s hand at work, or for not honoring it.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
We are in a time where respect for God’s creation is not a priority for the leadership of America or Brazil [the rain forest is being destroyed at the encouragement of Brazil’s president, our president has turned away from recognizing global warming and the Paris agreement]. The environment is loosing at irrevocable speed to human development and greed.
The environment is just one arena but now there are many areas where Christians have decided to place their trust and favor in a political spirit, following blindly ‘false Christian’ political leadership away from those things dear to Christ’s heart. Loving our neighbor, has moved to creating walls, division, racism, inequality, lies and squandering truth. Michael thinks we have a responsibility to point out as a Christian, that many are following a political spirit, which will turn whichever way it believes it can gain the most votes. It has no heart for what the consequences are. It is not driven by love but by a bullying greed. It is a political spirit not the Holy Spirit.
Michael grew up in England and his father witnessed how the fascist mentality was allowed to grow in Germany and Italy before the war. The mistake the Christians made in trusting that political spirit, rather than being responsible to the Holy Spirit, were profound.
We are responsible to the Holy Spirit, responsible to the love of Christ, responsible to Glorify God our Father, one person at a time one Christian at a time. Not to place our work and responsibility at the feet ‘fake Christian political figures’.
‘For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.’
Jesus taught how to separate between the political spirit and the Holy Spirit, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.’
I pray that we render to God the things which are God’s and gives thanks and honor to all He creates and not turn our responsibilities over to a false spirit.
Christine completed the large St Peter icon commission and Father Keith Owen collected it by driving down from St Peter’s Church, Lakewood, Ohio. It underwent a quick installation to coincide with the official opening of new buildings for St Peter’s Church on Pentecost. Now she is working on some smaller icons, St Camillus and the Holy Face of Christ. It is a very different process of icon writing when the size is a lot smaller and she finds that it is always good to have a change.
I had a quick trip to NY and Newport, RI for photography. The Newport job was in an extremely interesting property which has follies, grottoes, fountains et al. All very personal to the owner of the property. He has created all this over the last 20 years. I was fortunate to have just a short hail storm otherwise it was beautifully sunny window in a very wet spring and many beautiful photographs were had!
One of the people I visited this week with my Chaplaincy work told me that having a good singing voice takes continued practice, it is not something one keeps unless it is exercised. It was obvious to me once she had said so but I had never thought of that before. I used to sing in a choir at school but now find it hard to carry a tune through the length of a hymn.
There are so many aspects to ministry that one needs to keep on practicing so you do not lose them, which becomes a loss to you personally and also to those you are ministering to.
1 Timothy 4:14-16 says this perfectly.
14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Yesterday I presided over a memorial service in a Baptist church. It was for a man I had ministered to, prayed with and watched him go through the slow stages of going from life on earth to everlasting life. It was all part of the work I now have as a Chaplain in an old people’s community. I love what I am doing; teaching, praying, visiting, preaching, studying the word and caring for people in the last chapters of their lives. Quite often they have experienced very full lives and been highly trained and educated. I make many mistakes and I so often feel inadequate, but I believe God called me to that work and yet I still often hear God calling me in my head, ‘Michael, Michael I am calling you.’
I reply ‘take me Lord, what are you calling me for?’
It comes again, ’Michael, Michael I am calling you.’
Am I still not engaged as God purposes? Is there more?
Then I realize, of course there is always more. God always has more than we can imagine. What I need to pray into though is to hold fast the gifts God has given me and to keep exercising them. There is a destination to keep my eyes on and not turn around to look at my past; like a ploughman holding steadfast his course exercising his skills till the end of the furrow. God will direct my path if I keep exercising His gifts and loving Him.
Luke 9:62. Jesus said to him, ’No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
So please keep us both in your prayers as God continues to work His will in our lives that we would truly know His purpose and destination for us.
The mission of The Fra Angelico Institute for Sacred Art is to deepen the prayer life of Western and Eastern Rite Catholics by evangelizing the truth, goodness, and beauty of God through education and the prayerful creation of sacred art. People of all faiths are welcome.