*I realize my last post was very strange and random and somewhat ridiculous :). Sometimes thats just what's going on inside this head . . .
We are reading Richard Foster's book on Prayer in our Small Group (Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home) and I was so encouraged by this part:
The true sacrament is holy personality. —P. T. Forsyth
Sacramental Prayer is incarnational prayer. God in his great wisdom has freely chosen to mediate his life to us through visible realities. This is a great mystery. God, who is pure Spirit utterly free of all created limitations, stoops to our weakness and reveals himself to us through the physical and the visible. The eternal Son becomes an infant in a feeding trough. The bread and the wine are invested with sacramental power. We bow under the wonder of it all.
Over the centuries an unfortunate and, in my opinion, completely unnecessary division has arisen among Christians. On the one side are those who stress liturgy and sacrament and written prayer. On the other side are those who stress intimacy and informality and spontaneous prayer. And each group looks at the other in pious condescension.
It is here that we need the holy conjunction “and.” We need not be forced to choose one over another. Both are inspired by the same Spirit. We can be lifted into high, holy reverence by the richness and depth of a well-crafted liturgy. We can also be drawn into breath-taking wonder through the warmth and intimacy of spontaneous worship. Ours is a spirituality that can embrace both.
Even now, many years later, I remember well my experiment with “religionless Christianity”—a popular notion of the times that had been inspired by the prison writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Here was my experiment: I would seek to live in continuous communion with God for three months without any outward “props” whatever—no Bible, no liturgy, no Eucharist, no preaching, no worship services, no set times of prayer, nothing. God was gracious to me during those ninety days, but far and away the most important thing I learned was how badly I need those “props” to keep me pressing in to the Divine Center. I discovered that regular patterns of devotion form a kind of skeletal structure upon which I can build the muscle and tissue of unceasing prayer. Without this outward structure, my internal heart yearnings for God simply do not hold together. These regular patterns—usually called rituals—are, in fact, God-ordained means of grace.
First of all embarrassingly enough I had to look up incarnational and liturgy. For those of you who would also have to look them up they mean:
incarnational - embodiment of God in the person of Christ
liturgy - a form of public worship; ritual; a collection of formularies for public worship; a particular arrangement of services.
And I thought of all the times I have wanted to explain myself on this blog or to people around me about the constant contradiction with the many things in life: the difficulties of having a newborn/the joys of having a newborn; writing serious stuff/writing light hearted stuff, etc. I was just encouraged by this portion of the book and I thought it could apply to many things in life: two things that when done by themselves can lead to imbalance - but when done in tandom, actually breed health.
So, there's the nugget for the day. The book is phenomenal and I highly recommend it. I also recommend his book called, The Celebration of Discipline. Truly, it is the greatest spiritual book I have ever read.
Have a great day!