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Next in the Anglican Bloggers' Collaborative Series from L&B: Mine Iron Heart
Prydain ^ | 3/21/2006 | Will

Posted on 03/21/2006 6:16:11 PM PST by sionnsar

Today from Lent and Beyond's Anglican Bloggers' Collaborative Lenten Series of meditations, we have Recalled to the Ordinary Things by Fr. Patrick Allen of the Diocese of Tennessee. Fr. Allen writes the Mine Iron Heart blog which is also worth checking out!

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
Fr. Patrick Allen: Recalled to the Ordinary Things
Filed under: Lent 2006, Anglican Bloggers Lenten Devotionals — Karen B. @ 3:30 am

This is the twenty-fourth in a series of daily Lenten devotionals by a group of Anglican bloggers and friends. Today’s entry is by Fr. Patrick Allen of the Mine Iron Heart blog. You can read other entries in the series here.


Each Ash Wednesday I find myself a little taken aback as I stand before the people of my parish and call us to our Lenten life:

I invite you, therefore, 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 meditating on God’s holy Word.

Self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. The thing that takes me aback is that these disciplines enjoined upon us as special emphases for Lent are not actually “special” at all. In fact, they are normal aspects of a normal Christian life, the bread and butter elements of Christian devotion. Or at least all previous generations of Christian believers would have recognized them so to be. Keeping a holy Lent is more a matter of getting back to basics than adding on spiritual booster rockets. And if these basics have become foreign and strange to us – well, that is something to ponder.

In today’s Gospel lesson for the Daily Office, we read of Jesus’ less-than-triumphal reception in his home town of Nazareth:

And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mk 6.2,3 RSV)

Without question, Jesus’ teaching got these folks worked up, although notice that Mark does not tell us what that teaching was. Likely, the sermon that day was some variation on the theme of “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” which Mark elsewhere tells us was Jesus’ constant message (cf. 1.14). But what Mark concentrates on here is the “familiarity breeds contempt” aspect of the story. The good people of Nazareth knew Jesus, knew his job, knew his family – he was, so far as they could tell, no one special. Who was he to call them to reorder their entire lives, to repent? Why would they look for the kingdom of God in him?

His neighbors and Nazareth “took offense at him.” Familiarity breeds contempt. We’re addicted to the unique and the novel. We want a “new and improved!” pattern of devotion. However, our Lord came to us not as a Roman emperor or a renowned scholar, but as a common man who worked with his hands; “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Is 53.2). And, in the main, Jesus still meets us and changes us in the common things, speaks to us in the still, small voice, is present in all his grace and glory in the simple elements of bread and wine in his Holy Supper. Lent is “special” in that it recalls us to the ordinary things wherein our Lord may still be found.

Self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. The pattern of Christian devotion is forever old-fangled. But the Lord who meets us in them “makes all things new” – even our hearts, even our weary lives. “Late have I learned to love you,” St. Augustine prayed, “Beauty at once so ancient and so new!” Amen.

Fr. Patrick Allen is rector of the Church of St. Joseph of Arimathea, a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.

1 posted on 03/21/2006 6:16:15 PM PST by sionnsar
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2 posted on 03/21/2006 6:16:54 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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