Saturday, 24 February 2018

Bible Prayer Points for Lenten Ember Day Three: ARM Canada Call to Prayer

Thanks to the Prayer Book Society of Canada for this image. 
That it is St Matthias Day today in the BCP calendar caught me by surprise this morning having already posted the Ember Day readings from the Daily Office in both BCP and BAS lectionaries earlier. Not to worry, they’re all good and profitable and for training in righteousness (1 Tim 3.16). 

I believe it is no accident that these readings are presented before us at this particular time. In particular this morning I was struck by the following: 

1 Cor 4.1-7 or 8. 
This reading appears for today both in Morning Prayer in the BAS lectionary and for Evening Prayer on the feast day of St Matthias the Apostle in the BCP. Two things lit up for me to pray: 
  1. Paul calls us to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God (vv1&2). Marriage between a man and a woman is one of those mysteries, a profound mystery, in fact (Eph 5.31-32). Lord, may we be faithful stewards of your gift of marriage, that profound mystery. 
  2. We are also not to go beyond what is written (1 Cor 4.6). Lord, may we resist the temptation to go beyond your Word in Holy Scripture in any of our Church’s teaching and doctrine. 

Mt 7.15-27
This is for St Matthias’ Morning Prayer. The following points prompted my prayers: 

  1. Beware of false prophets (v15) and apostles (see the petition in the Collect for St Matthais above). LORD, help us by Your Holy Spirit to recognize false prophecy and apostles and to avoid being led astray by them. 
  2. Not everyone who says, “‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (V21). It is vitally important that we discern what the true will of the Father is for our Church. LORD, Your will be done in Your Church as it is in heaven. 
  3. Building our house on the rock rather than on the sand (vv 24-27). LORD, may all our building be on the rock of properly hearing Your Words and doing them well and faithfully. 


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Lenten Ember Day One: Wednesday—Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada Call to Prayer

It begins again. Wednesday, the first of the Lenten Ember Days. The morning Book of Common Prayer readings include the final verses of Matthew 26 where Peter denies Jesus. Uncomfortable on any day, but especially on an Ember Day when I’m really trying to be faithful and to seek The LORD’s face.

Does the way I live my life make my Christianity obvious enough that no one would have to ask whether or not I am “with Jesus” (Mt26.69)? And if anyone does ask, will I have the courage to say Yes, I’m with Jesus, I know him, I believe in him and what he teaches in the Holy Scriptures?

Pray for that courage when the opportunity comes, and to answer without compromise, yet with gentleness and respect (1Peter3.15).


Monday, 19 February 2018

Anglican Renewal Ministries Canada Call to Prayer

Last Sunday, the First in Lent, our priest called us to worship using the following Exhortation: 

Brethren, in the primitive Church it was the custom to observe with great devotion the days of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, and to prepare for the same by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided also a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for holy Baptism. ... the whole Congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution contained in the Gospel of our Saviour, and of the need which all Christians continually have, of a renewal of their repentance and faith. I therefore invite you, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting, and self-denial, and by reading and meditation upon God’s holy Word.” (from A PENITENTIAL SERVICE FOR USE ON ASH WEDNESDAY AND AT OTHER TIMES, The Book of Common Prayer, 1962, Canada; p. 611)

The need for such prayer and fasting, in particular, I believe, is now urgent. The wonderful and distinctive saltiness of Jesus and his Church is being dissolved in the post-Christian soup of our culture as we settle more and more comfortably into it. Too many of us have lost confidence in Holy Scripture’s often counter-cultural answers to the tempter’s crafty questions, “Did God really say…?” (Gen 3.1). 

If ever there was a time when we in the Anglican Church of Canada need to renew our repentance and faith, it is now. To observe such a Lent would be a good way to do so and if you haven’t begun already, THE LENTEN EMBER DAYS BEING THE WEDNESDAY FRIDAY AND SATURDAY (21, 23 & 24 February) AFTER THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT (see The Book of Common Prayer, p142) would be an excellent place to start—or to enhance what you’ve already started with some added Ember depth and solemnity. There you will find some rubrics, or instructions, concerning helpful Collects and readings. There are also daily office readings in THE TABLE OF LESSONS, pp xxiv-xxv. 

These and Book of Alternative Services readings can also be found at

Please join us in prayer for the Anglican Church of Canada and for General Synod 2019—for the revival of our Churches, the spread of Scriptural holiness, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers.


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Getting Back to Basics: an Excerpt from the Winter 2017 Issue of Anglicans for Renewal

From the ARM Chair

Since the last issue, I have enjoyed opportunities to share some time with the Calgary Chapter of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer, and the Synod of the Diocese of Athabasca. It was delightful and encouraging. Anglicans are alive and well and open to the Holy Spirit! They are hungry and thirsty for more of The LORD. I know, that sounds like a clich√©, but it’s true! I was impressed by the commitment to prayer in both gatherings. I enjoyed seeing ARM Canada’s Episcopal Visitor, Bishop Fraser Lawton, minister so gracefully among his clergy and people. I got to meet many faithful, salt-of-the-earth Anglican lay and clergy folk, an Anglican bishop from South Sudan, a priest from Iran, two priests from Zimbabwe and one from the Philippines. It was grand!

The Anglican Fellowship of Prayer theme for the day was The Spirit Helps: the Holy Spirit in Our Prayers (Rom. 8:26) and for the Athabasca Synod, Renewal in Mission, both good grist for the Holy Ghost mill. Jesus was our host and the Holy Spirit was our guide into the truth He represents.

I’m writing this on All Hallow’s Eve — Saints of the Reformation Era day, according to the Anglican Church of Canada’s lectionary page. As you may have heard, this is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. At the Athabasca synod, I spoke about how, just as many people think that we need to get back to the “three R’s” of the good, old-fashioned basics in our school system, there are some R’s we would also profit from getting back to in our faith lives.

Repent is the first one that comes to mind: the first word of the Gospel according to Jesus (Mk 1:15). Peter calls us to Repent so that times of Refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19-20). Renewal is another R word that’s dear to our hearts. As the Holy Spirit moves among us, keeps us aligned with Jesus and keeps us Refreshed, Reformation continues.

As I was looking through an old notebook, I came across this by Catherine Marshall in her book, Christy:
When your heart is ablaze with the love of God, when you love other people—especially the rip-snorting sinners—so much that you dare to tell them about Jesus with no apologies, then never fear, there will be results. One of two things will happen. Either there’ll be persecutions, or the fire will leap from your heart to catch and blaze in the depths of other men’s beings…And then when the blaze starts, the reforms will follow as surely as the flower follows the bud, or the fruit comes after the blossom on the tree. (New York: Avon, 1967, p341)
Let’s pray for hearts ablaze with Jesus and for Results and Reforms following!

In my notebook, I also came across this item that I’d copied out from the Summer 1992 issue of Anglicans for Renewal:
We today must not offer a sort of Christian icing on the unchanged cake of many of the idols people worship. Jesus Christ is not the sugar for the coffee of your life. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life and without it people are starving! He is the Light of Life and without him people are stumbling in the dark.
We need to come out of our holes and courteously, humorously, firmly and intelligently commend the faith.
Renowned Anglican evangelist, Michael Green, wrote that. He and Catherine Marshall both give us a timely Reminder that the charismatic Gifts of the Spirit are all given to build up the church by bringing people to Jesus.


From the Fall 2017 edition of Anglicans for Renewal Canada magazine. Subscribe to a print or digital version here

Sunday, 24 December 2017

What If God Loves You?: a Short Sermon for Christmas Eve - with Reference to Isa 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14 and Luke 2:1-20

The Christmas Eve Homily at StB in 2011.

What if God loves you? 
What if Caesar Augustus issuing that census decree which sent Joseph and Mary off on the road to Bethlehem, expecting a child, and the baby being born and wrapped and placed in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn really is part of a divine plot to show you that the Father Himself loves you? Just that. What if that really set the angel and the glory of the LORD off and scared the shepherds out of their wits? What if there really was then, and is tonight, a great company of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to everyone on whom His favour rests?

What if God’s favour rests on you tonight.   
No, really; what if God loves you? 
What if when Isaiah wrote the words in our first reading 2,700 years ago, not only did God already have Jesus—the child born, the son given, the great light—in mind, but also you and me; to light up the dark places in our souls and lives tonight? 
What if God loves you? 
What if the grace of God that brings salvation has really appeared to all people? What if the salvation bringer really is Jesus? What if He really is a Saviour sent to save you and me? What if Jesus really is making a glorious appearance here in the Scriptures, the bread and the wine tonight, newborn baby no longer, but our Mighty God and Saviour, who gave himself for you and me to redeem us from all wickedness done by, or to, us and to purify us for himself and make us his own.

What if God loves you? 
What if he loves your kids? How can you make sure they get that? 
"Rejoice," wrote Isaiah. Celebrate. Have fun. Kids are attracted to genuine joy and fun. Set them a Christmas-spirited example by saying “No” to godless living and the sinful, indulgent pleasures Paul wrote about in our reading from Titus. Live self-controlled, upright and godly lives, eager to do what is good. Kids respond to goodness. They’ll see the God who loves them in it. Hurry, like the shepherds, to find where Jesus is and go there (you got it right tonight). Come often, and bring your kids with you, make sure they hear the story, over and over again (you know how they love to have stores repeated—try and skip a page), amaze them with the good news that God really does love them. Like Mary, treasure these events and what they mean and take them home and ponder them in your hearts with your kids. Like the shepherds, go home glorifying and praising God for all the things you are hearing and seeing this night and all that you will enjoy together over the next few days.
Because, if this is all true, it changes everything. It can no longer be just Christmas that’s magic. Life gets re-enchanted. Angels, glory and heavenly hosts, blessed hope, amazing grace, and Jesus himself—Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, the Christ—will light up your lives and the lives of your children like a Christmas tree. Batteries are included.  

What if God loves you? 


Saturday, 23 December 2017

Putting On the Armour of Light: Advent Ember Days of Prayer and Fasting for the Anglican Church—Prayers at Mid-Day

One of them in the BCP is this:
And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.
BLESSED Saviour, who at this hour didst hang upon the cross stretching out thy loving arms: Grant that all mankind may look unto thee and be saved; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (p16)
Saving faith for all is the goal. Pray for our church to be a fruitful part of that.


Putting On the Armour of Light: Advent Ember Days of Prayer and Fasting for the Anglican Church—Day Three

Well this will reveal the super spiritual saints among us! Who fasts two days from Christmas? And the awful thing is, even if we we are feeling a little full of ourselves because we do, we can’t tell anyone lest we lose our reward! (Mt 6.16-18) Sigh.

Fasting, or not, do take some time—at least a moment—to pray for the Anglican Church of Canada today—it’s people, its leaders—present and future, its Synods and councils. Pray that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will continue to reign over us with truth and grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

For readings and other resources see yesterday’s post.

May your Advent waiting and Ember Days Prayer (and Fasting) be rewarded with the renewed presence of Jesus himself—extra bright, palpable and unmistakable—in your Christmas worship and in your celebrations with family and friends.