Ponderings for Sunday 19 May 2019: Week 5 of Easter

My Faith Pondering

Eucharistic Readings for Sunday: 19 May 2019: Week 5 of Easter

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Jesus gives us a new commandment!  He commands us to love one another.  Why is this commandment new?  Has not the commandments always commanded us to love one another?  Actually, according to the Ten Commandments we are told, in list form, how to “treat” one another.  The last six Commandments address our relationship with one another and have us to honor our parents, not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to give false testimony against a neighbor, and not to covet. While this laundry list of commandments keeps us in good relationship with one another it only runs around the edges what God really wants. And that is for to love one another. 

Jesus has us to love each other as he has loved us. As I have pointed out in earlier blogs, this Command differs from the Synoptic Gospels in that it does not say “love your neighbor as yourself” (Hoping that you love yourself).  But rather requires us to love our neighbor as Jesus loves us – and it must be remembered that Jesus loved us all the way to his death on the cross.  This was sacrificial love, unconditional love, agape love.

In the first expressions of love the word love is used as a verb, that is an action we are to do, that is to love one another.  Jesus ends with love as a noun.  That is, he says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  To have love makes love a thing we have, and, we most certainly do.  And it is in us to share and relate to others with.

My Fitness Pondering

I met a remarkable man yesterday.  He was not a particularly large man but it was apparent that he was in good shape as he helped us unload eight-foot tables and some chairs.  It was revealed later by a friend that this man got up every day at 3:30 AM or so and went running.  I was impressed!

My Music Pondering

I was whistling the melody for “Come thou fount of every blessing” yesterday when a parishioner asked me to actually sing the words to that tune.  And I did.  She knew she knew it but perhaps could not quite remember the words.  It is good always to hear a hymn in our hearts.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Ponderings for Saturday 18 May 2019: Week 4 of Easter

My Faith Pondering

AM Psalm 55; PM Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23) Wisdom 7:1-14; Col. 3:12-17; Luke 7:18-28(29-30)31-35

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3: 16 – 17)

The writer of the words to the church in Colossae to admonish one another carries with it also the message of being willing to be admonished as well.  We correct others and we are corrected by others.  It is give and take.

This writer also encourages us to sing.  I like this encouragement.  Singing hymns is praying. I have favorite hymns I like to sing that I am also learning to play either on guitar or piano.  Sometimes when I get really into it, I move to the melody.  I love it when it takes over me.

Lastly, this Colossians writer teaches us to do the work we have been given to do in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God.  So, counsel, given and received, singing to lift our spirits, and then all we do and say, we do in the name of Jesus.  Got it.  Thank You Jesus.

My Fitness Pondering

I am in a good place with my morning workouts.  It has come to just being habit for me.  It has moved on from something I sometimes dread.  I can’t remember the last time I did not do pushups first, or almost first thing in the morning.  Now I have to watch and be careful not to add too much to my morning workouts.  I hope that when you who read these words of mine you are mindful of your body and the need your body has for exercise. I believe daily exercise is better than having to take pills every day. Is this something that you want to work towards?  Your doctor should be the judge of that.  Exercise is my daily pill, as well as my milk cow “every day ethic.”

My Music Pondering

I played with two other guitarists last night.  It was fun playing and singing contemporary Christian songs. I mingled with old friends. We had good food and fellowship. But it began and ended with music.  Music is so important to us humans.  I believe God made us that way on purpose.  From David to the Revelation to John, singing has been shown in Holy Scripture to be something God intends for us.  I have been told that I have large ears.  Good!  I love hearing the Word and hearing hymns and songs of all kinds. It is becoming my art of choice.  Thank you Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Ponderings for Friday 17 May 2019: Week 4 of Easter

My Faith Pondering

Readings for Thurgood Marshall: Lawyer and Jurist, 1993

Psalm 34:15-22Amos 5:10-15,21-24Matthew 23:1-11

“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.” (Psalm 34: 15)

I have a repeating saying that my congregation has grown used to.  It is that “God’s ears hears tears:” probably not correct grammar.  I explain to them that all crying is prayer.  Even if a person swears that he or she is an atheist, yet if they cry, they pray.  God has planted in us this signal that connects us to God should our countenance fall.  While the ears of God are open to the cry of people, God’s eyes are upon the righteous as the Psalmist says. I believe Thurgood Marshall was one of the righteous.  This day we remember Thurgood Marshall.  “Thurgood Marshall was a distinguished American jurist and the first African American to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.” (Taken from The Great Cloud of Witnesses for May 17)

“At the age of 32, Marshall successfully argued his first case before the United States Supreme Court and went on to win 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the court. As a lawyer, his crowning achievement was arguing successfully for the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, in 1954…..”  “Marshall compiled a long and impressive record of decisions on civil rights, not only for African Americans, but also for women, Native Americans, and the incarcerated; he was a strong advocate for individual freedoms and human rights. He adamantly believed that capital punishment was unconstitutional and should be abolished.” (Taken from The Great Cloud of Witnesses for May 17)

Thurgood Marshall was one of the righteous as the Psalmist says because he loved people, all people, African Americans, women, Native Americans, and the incarcerated.  He was a good judge because of his love for all people. How about you and me?  Can we stretch our hearts out wide enough to embrace those different than ourselves?

My Fitness Pondering

Exercises done early yesterday, I went to my weekly Cursillo Group Breakfast.  So it was a rush through the exercises.  But I have that good feeling of fulfillment when I’m done.  I truly believe that the “will” to do daily exercise must be committed to in the mind first.  Once we have made up our minds to do something we will do it.  This understanding also works for things like quitting smoking.  We just have to decide that that’s what we want to do and do it. Be in charge of yourself.

My Music Pondering

I’m doing lots of playing now.  This everyday thing is really working. Tonight I play guitar in a Cursillo group.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Ponderings for Thursday 16 May 2019: Week 4 of Easter

My Faith Pondering

Readings for the Martyrs of the Sudans (16 May 1983)

Wisdom 3:1-9 Psalm 116:10-17 Hebrews 10:32-39 Matthew 24:9-14

“And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.”  (Matthew 24: 12)

On this day we remember the horror of the Martyrs of Sudan.

“On May 16, 1983, a small number of Episcopal and Roman Catholic clerical and lay leaders declared they “would not abandon God as they knew him.” Possibly over two million persons, most of them Christians, were then killed in a two-decade civil war, until a Comprehensive Peace Treaty was signed in January 2005. ( Taken from the Great Cloud of Witnesses for May 16)

Many people have been killed because they profess Jesus the Christ as their savior and redeemer. I am always hurt by the torture and killing of people solely because of how they believe in God, especially when the way they believe in God does no harm to others.  I am also struck by the death defying determination of clergy who live and work for the sake of the Gospel.   Would I continue in my ministry if my ministry was under threat of persecution and/or death?

We have it easy here in America.  I pray my faith is strong.  I don’t want it tested but I realize I stand on the shoulders of many Christian martyrs, men and women, who would not back down or renounce their Christianity even to save their own lives.  The decision to stand in the faith is not always a clear black and white choice.  Sometimes, like the evangelist says, little tolerances or intolerances grow and the increase of lawlessness eases us into more and more unloving ways. As this happens, our love grows cold. We must remain vigilant and inclusive.

My Fitness Pondering 

My new schedule of working out after posting my blog seems to be working.  However I know myself well enough to know that if I procrastinate till later in the day, I won’t workout at all. 

My Music Pondering

In the same way I have decided to just become music focused after working out for the remainder of my day, as much as I can with all that I have going on.  Also, while learning a new piece I like just playing the melody, single-handed first, and then going full on. This is exciting for me.

As I look to the next chapter in my life I really want it to be musical in some way.  I do not know exactly how that is going to play out but I am excited about it.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Ponderings for Wednesday: 15 May 2019: Week 4 of Easter

My Faith Pondering

AM Psalm 119:49-72; PM Psalm 49, [53] Wisdom 4:16-5:8; Col. 1:24-2:7; Luke 6:27-38

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

This is Luke’s version of the Golden Rule.  Its premise is based on a healthy desire for yourself.  So when I think of what I have appreciated most in my life it has been the teaching moments, or maybe better put, the learning moments.  But even then I had to put aside my own know-it-all attitude so that I might be able to receive instruction.  I love it when people “teach me” something new and wonderful, something life-changing. I am a little beyond the material world of “having things.”  I would so much rather someone teach me to fish than give me a fish.

So, in doing onto others, I want to teach people important things, life-changing things.  I want people to teach me new stuff, life evolving stuff.  I want life-long learning.  Therefore, I want to teach others as well. This is my take on the importance of the Golden Rule.

My Fitness Pondering

My workout went well yesterday.  I did pushups bend and squats, pull ups, sit ups, dips, leg lifts and concluded with yoga beginning the yoga with the dreaded “crow” position.  I hate that bird.  Well, I don’t hate the bird, I just stress about doing that particular yoga position. 

My Music Pondering

I have two things to say about my musical experiences.  First, my music practice needs to move up in the day.  I find that if I put it at the end of my day the quality of my learning is greatly diminished.

Second, playing the piano requires a great deal of eye to hand coordination. I have to see the notes and “automatically” have my fingers go to the right place just as I am typing this journal without looking – it just happens.  This will take practice – practice that requires morning application, not end of the day, fatigued struggling. My descriptive language needs to change from doing music everyday to doing music every morning.  That’s a little change in language but a big difference in results.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Ponderings for Tuesday 14 May 2019: Week 4 of Easter

My Faith Pondering

Daily Office Readings, Year 1Week of the Fourth Sunday of Easter

AM Psalm 45; PM Psalm 47, 48  Wisdom 3:1-9; Col 1:15-23; Luke 6:12-26

“My heart is stirring with a noble song; let me recite what I have fashioned for the king; my tongue shall be the pen of a skilled writer.” (Psalm 45:1)

As a priest I am often called upon to preside over blessings, baptisms, weddings, funerals as well as to do opening invocations and closing benedictions.  I thank God for our Book of Common Prayer and I have used it so much that as I pray the words of the book flow easily from my lips.  And now as I blog my pondering, I pray and hope it is pleasing to people who need an inclusive way to trust and understand the will of God.

Writing helps me to better understand my relationship with God.  However, I must share with you that as I companion with people as a spiritual guide I ask them to try journaling.  Many have a hard time accepting the idea of putting their thoughts about their faith on paper, even electronic paper.  I have found that writing my ponderings down I can see how I have evolved over the years.   My tongue may not be the pen of a skilled writer but I share with whoever will read my words what our Lord has given me to say.

My personal faith creed again: I believe in God, the Creating Word, through the Holy Spirit of the Incarnate Word, in whom we live and move and love and have our being and to whom we must give an account.  This is where I am right now.  Write a basic sentence or two about what you believe in our own words.  It’s yours alone.  Read it later.  How have you evolved? Thank You Jesus.

My Fitness Pondering

I kind of rushed through my exercises yesterday.  I worked up a good sweat though.  I attended a group spiritual session also yesterday.  The people in my circle were amazed and somewhat humorous about my dedication to exercise.  We are all about the same age save one youngster.  I shared my “milk cow” metaphor with them as it pertains to an everyday commitment, and while they liked it, none were ready to commit to an “every day” exercise program.  Ha, ha.  It is what it is.

My Music Pondering

I spent a couple of hours on my electric piano yesterday.  I’m still working on “Praise to the Lord.” Another hymn that resonates with me is “Come thou fount or every blessing” (Hymn 686 in our 1982 Hymnal). When I sing the words “Prone to wonder, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love,” something happens inside me.  I need this hymn to remind me of my vulnerability.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Ponderings for Monday 13 May 2019: Week 4 of Easter

My Faith Pondering

Readings for Frances Perkins: Public Servant and Prophetic Witness, 1965
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 Psalm 37:27-31 Luke 9:10-17

“On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida.” (Luke 9:10)

We often overlook the private time that Jesus insisted on with his disciples.  This lesson was not lost on Frances Perkins.

“Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve a President of the United States as a member of the Cabinet.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for May 13)

“As a young adult, she discovered The Episcopal Church and was confirmed at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois, on June 11, 1905, and she remained a faithful and active Episcopalian for the remainder of her life.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for May 13)

“President Roosevelt appointed her to a Cabinet post as Secretary of Labor, a position she would hold for twelve years. As Secretary of Labor, Perkins would have a major role in shaping the New Deal legislation signed into law by President Roosevelt, most notably the establishment of the Social Security program.”  (Great Cloud of Witnesses for May 13)

“During her years of public service, Frances Perkins depended upon her faith, her life of prayer, and the guidance of her church for the support she needed to assist the United States and its leadership to face the enormous problems of the time. During her time as Secretary of Labor, she would take time away from her duties on a monthly basis and make a retreat with the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in nearby Catonsville, Maryland. She spoke publicly of how the Incarnation informed her conviction that humans ought to work with God to create a just Christian social order.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for May 13)

All of the above comes from The Great Cloud of Witnesses for May 13.  I am very impressed with the dedicated devotion of Frances Perkins. We all have busy lives.  Perkins had a really busy life but she made time monthly to refresh herself by taking a retreat.  We could all learn from her example.  We become more effective when we carve out some time to be with God in an intentional way.   Thank you Frances.

My Fitness Pondering

Working out every day is hectic but worth the evaluation of people who say that I’m in my 50’s.

My Music Pondering

For me, music is truly a form of prayer. It is artful prayer with feeling.  And if it is right that it is not ourselves that pray but the Spirit that prays through us, then the Spirit of God is Holy Melody.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.