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A Rule of Life & a Prayer

January 13, 2017

Three days ago as Denise and I began our day with Morning Prayer (Northumbria Community’s “Celtic Daily Prayer: Book Two – Farther Up and Farther In”) I was touched deeply and profoundly by the Eata Reading for the day.

“Be content to live an anonymous, unspectacular, misunderstood life among people. Choose where possible those places or jobs where people are oppressed or deprived. Let Christ transfigure the darkness in ourselves and in the world. Let there be great care to maintain the simplicity of presence … Love what is obscure and little for there you will find Christ.” (p. 1408)

This is an excerpt from the Rule of the Ecumenical Franciscan Community of the Transfiguration which was founded in Sheffield, England. For more information, visit their website Franciscan Hermits.

I found it serendipitous to be reading this rule as our nation approaches Innaguration day on 20 January 2017. The church is divided… The nation is divided… Over 40% of eligible voters did NOT turn out on election day (a twenty year low)… Families and communities are divided… The hatred and venom spewed daily from Social Media platforms is incredible… The fear in many hearts is palpable…

As your Padre reflects, weeps, and prays, I keep coming back to the questions that so many have asked me and I have asked myself. How do we live? How do we love? How do we respond? Honestly, I vasillate between despair, grief, anger, and hope.

As I watch a train wreck of epic proportions unfold in D.C., my heart groans. Elected public servants on both sides of the aisle, seem to not give a damn about the public they were elected to serve. Instead they are entrenched behind walls and fortifications we haven’t seen since the insanity of World War One trench warfare. And like those days, the power elite think nothing of the countless lives they are sacrificing to keep themselves in power.

In Jesus’ day, it was the Scribes, Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and High Priests who got into bed with the Empire and sold the people down the river. When Rabbis like Jesus and Prophets like John the Baptist spoke out on behalf of ALL of God’s children, especially those who were marginalized and downtrodden… it didn’t end well for them.

So what about today? I take a line from the above Rule of Life: “Let there be great care to maintain the simplicity of presence.” How are we to be present? By standing with the voiceless, speaking out on their behalf and giving them voice… with the powerless, encouraging and supporting them AND standing with them as they are empowered. 

We must also be praying with the community! Pray for those who are considered enemies. Pray for the persecuted and the persecutors. And pray that God’s wisdom, love, and compassion would transform the halls of leadership in our nation’s capital and around the world.

As for me? I will endeavor to live the life Christ has called me to live. I will endeavor to live the life the prophet Micah calls me to live. Love God & Love Neighbor. Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God. Dear reader, will you join with me in a revolution where love overcomes hate?

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful reflection, Michael. I am held by these lines too: ““Let there be great care to maintain the simplicity of presence.” And I agree with your suggestions on ways to live this out. I’ve also added a new book to my ever growing ‘Wish List’, thanks to your opening paragraph. I was intrigued enough to search it out on Amazon, but thought I ought to start with Book One in the series! Bless you, Brother. for your caring heart and compassionate soul. It comes across in all you share. ❤

    • Thank you, Joy ❣❣

      The Ministry of Presence was the mantra of the USAF Chaplaincy when I was in uniform. It is a phrase near and dear to my heart and continued ministry out of uniform.

      • Aah… I can see why. But I remain curious about the “scotsirish” title you bear, largely because I’m from the UK, and also because I have some Scottish and Irish ancestry. I know.. It explains a! 😊 💜

      • My ancestry is 3/4 Scots and 1/4 Irish… Mom is Canadian and her ancestry goes back to Scotland. Dad’s Mother came from Scotland at the age of 12. His Father’s family traces back to Ireland.

        And the Padre, of course, is a monicker that came from my days in England with the USAF as a Chaplain.

      • Thank you for satisfying my curiosity. You have an interesting ancestry, Michael! 😊

      • 😉 Indeed!

  2. Cheryl Anne permalink

    My Dear Brother, with all my heart, I stand with you. A few nights ago as I was in that liminal space just before sleep, four words came into my mind very clearly; “Humility, Hospitality, Helping, Healing”…over and over, these words circled around in my soul. I had been questioning my vocation, my service in Christ’s Name; what I am *about*, and these are the words that came. Simplicity of Presence seems to be the golden thread weaving through each of these things; at once the most basic and the most potent gift we can offer; wherever we may be, whomever we may encounter. Blessings of Hope, Peace, and Courage to you and Denise as you walk in Love. ❤

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