Prophets, St Matthias and the kneeling of the Church to Isalm


(“Saint Matthias” | Serra Brothers workshop)

Tuesday was the feast day of St Matthias–May 14th on the Gregorian calendar…
the calendar most of the world now follows.
However, our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters follow the Julian calendar
and so their commemoration of the feast day is August 9th.

But for our purposes today, for those of us who adhere to the Gregorian calendar,
we’ll just stick with May 14th.

St Matthias was the disciple that, following the death and Resurrection of Jesus,
and then that of his Ascension was voted on by Peter and the others to fill the void left
by the betrayal and subsequent suicide of Judas Iscariot.
(Acts 1:15-26)

It was the replacing of one who betrayed with one who remained faithful.
It was also a fulfilling of prophecy.

May 14th was also a day that I actually had time to catch the latest youtube episode of
Anglican Unscripted with US host Kevin Kallsen and our favorite rouge Anglican priest,
Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

Our dear friend actually started the segment by mentioning that their day’s discussion
was to be quite timely given the fact that it was the feast day of St Matthias.

After watching the episode, I understood the nod to the significance of St Matthias.
That being the replacing of betrayal with dedicated devotion.

A devotion that, in the face of severe trial and grave threat to life,
never wavered–one iota.

Those in the US, other than disheartened Episcopalians and Anglicans such as myself,
may not understand nor be interested in what a former British Anglican bishop has to say.
They may wonder why I continually reference the man.

So for those of you who wonder who in the heck I keep talking about, quoting or referencing,
in a Wikipedia and from his own bio nutshell, here is who is he is…
“Gavin Roy Pelham Ashenden (born 1954)
is a British Anglican clergyman.
He was a Chaplain to the Queen from 2008 until his resignation in 2017.
He was ordained in the Church of England, but left it in 2017.
That year was consecrated a missionary bishop by the Christian Episcopal Church,
a continuing Anglican jurisdiction outside of the Anglican Communion.”
On the Feast of St Michael and All Angels 2017,
the Archbishop of the Christian Episcopal Church announced that Dr. Ashenden
had been consecrated as a Missionary bishop to the UK and Europe.

But there is more to the man than a quick bio—

Bishop Ashenden knows music and its history, he has a law degree, he studied psychology
and theology, he is an accomplished and deeply published author, he has been a teacher,
preacher and even smuggler—smuggling Bibles into the communist Soviet Union.
He has served in small parishes and he has served a Queen.

He is keenly knowledgable about history be it the history of religions, governments or law.

In other words, he is a man who knows his stuff.

Yet because he knows “his” stuff, why should any of that matter to you, you might now be asking.

Well, because my friend, if you are one who considers themselves a Christian, as well as a member
of the Judaeo/ Christian democratic Western Civilization, Bishop Ashenden paints a grave yet
painfully honest picture of your very world…a truth that you need to familiarize yourself with
before you are caught like so many will be, blindsided.

Would I call Bishop Ashenden a prophet?

Perhaps.
Perhaps I would.

I do know that much of the modern-day world wonders why we have not heard from the
likes of such prophets like those from the days of old.

Those wizened voices who rose up most often from obscurity,
bending the ears of kings and warriors alike by foretelling things that were to be.
Those men who dreamed dreams and shared visions.

Not like a Nostradamus mind you, but more like a Jeremiah, Obadiah or an Isaiah,
or even a John The Baptizer.

I know I’ve been guilty of lamenting ‘where are the prophets?’
Where are those voices of Truth…?

But as I’ve pondered such a notion…it has dawned on me that the prophets are indeed
alive and well…they are found the world over and rest in the voices of men and women who
speak the Truth about Jesus Christ…His life, His teachings, His death, and His resurrection.

They are the ones who do not bend the Truth for convenience sake.
They are not the appeasers or the pleasers of an egocentric society or a materialistic world.

They are the men and women who literally die each and every day for their faith because their
trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Christ alone.

They do not care about social norms, culturalisms, objectivism, convenience, or popularity.
They do not care what a world gone mad thinks of them.

They are not afraid.
For those who speak Truth are never afraid.

During Tuesday’s segment, host Kevin Kallsen made mention that he had seen on a
recent Yahoo News interview freshman Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib,
who happens to be a practicing Muslim, state that the notion of the Holocaust gives her
“a calming feeling.”

Are you kidding???
Holocaust and clam used within the same sentence???

And yet Congress, along with mainstream media, has basically all ignored such a statement.

Who in their right mind has any sort of sense of calm or peace whenever thinking of the Shoah,
in other words, the Holocaust???

I’ve looked into the back story a bit and it appears that some feel her words were taken
out of context…but, I don’t agree.

And so as the segment’s conversation continues,
the good Bishop actually takes a closer look at Islam and that of the Chruch’s odd embrace
of a religion that has always stated that living
in harmony with the followers of the Cross will never be tolerated.

Bishop Ashenden notes that Mohammed’s Islam has, for the better part of 60 years,
been taught by theologians to be one of the three legs of the Abrahamic religions…
with the other two legs being that of Christianity and Judaism.
However our dear friend staunchly, and without hesitation, states that that thought
is absolutely not the truth.

Mohammed borrowed the Biblical characters such as Noah, Mary, and even Jesus,
in order to give credence to “his” religion.

And he denied that Jesus ever rose from the dead.

The good Bishop states that “Mohammed is nothing more than a dictator who demands submission.”
whereas Jesus Christ offers himself as a sacrifice.

Islam is not a cousin of our faith but on the contrary…runs counter to Christianity.

The troubling thing, however, is that we are today witnessing a global Chruch who wants to
appear friendly, accepting and even embracing of Islam.
Going so far as to inviting Muslim neighbors into a Chruch’s sanctuary in order to celebrate
the ending of Eid by covering up the crosses in order not to offend.

Is not covering the cross on the altar of the Chruch a turning of one’s back to Christ and all
He stands for in our faith?
Is that not a betrayal of convenience?

To follow Jesus means that we are not to be ashamed nor disassociate ourselves–ever.

Bishop Ashenden reminds us that we know more about Hell from Jesus than from anyone else Biblically.
He shares that Jesus was and is very specific about consequences…
So much so that He tells us that to deny Him, results in the opposite of Paradise…
it results in Hell.

Yet so many of us will argue that we are a polite society.
We don’t want to rock the boat.
We want to accommodate and be neighborly and friendly.

But to what extent?
At what cost?

Do we opt to turn a blind eye, ignoring public servants who speak positively about
egregious atrocities such as the Holocaust?

Do we rewrite God’s word so that His words now fit better into our current day and times?

Do we cover up and hide the key representative symbol of our faith,
thinking that others of differing faiths may find it offensive?

Evil is alive and well…yet no one likes to admit such let alone think about such.

Bishop Ashenden tells us that Christianity, and only Christianity, offers a defense against Evil.
Jesus cleanses the human heart of such Evil.
Yet the fingerprints of Satan are very much visible within and across the global collective Church.

Truth is being turned upside down as there is not enough regard for the truth in our
social culture.

And yet we are reminded…
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life…the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life…
(John 14:6)

Do not compromise.
Do not be ashamed.
Do not hide.
Do not deny.
Do not pretend.

being defined by the writing on the wall

“It is also a warning. It is a warning that, if nobody reads the writing on the wall,
man will be reduced to the state of the beast, whom he is shaming by his manners.”

Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth


(as seen on the blog Writing’s From The Raven’s Desk)

Yesterday I offered a post more or less from an observational standpoint.

I had read an email post by the Presbyterian Free Chruch Scottish Pastor David Robertson
on his take on the Episcopal Chruch of Australia versus the Scottish Episcopal Chruch.
An email posting that oddly was MIA from his blog.

Obviously, it’s an odd Juxtaposition but he’s on sabbatical in Australia and has spoken to
and with a good many Episcopal groups while traveling about.
He’s learning a thing or two about a splintering church.
It is becoming apparent that the writing is clearly on the wall.

Other’s have seen it.
Bishop Gavin Ashenden for one.
David has also seen the writing on the wall for the SEC back home in Dundee.

I saw the writing on the wall years ago here in the US.

Yet it was two comments I received yesterday from two different friends and sisters in
Christ that really brought all of this into focus.

It can be a most dismal story when one is sounding the clarion call…
That whole ‘woe to you’ clanging coming from the mouths of the likes of the Jeremiahs and Johns
amongst us…

The world is not receptive.

Nobody seems to like hearing, nor being reminded of, the seemingly negative and killjoy
mantra to “repent, the end is near” nonsense.

And yet is that not what we are actually seeing and hearing from those lone
voices out there?
Voices that the majority shun but voices we so desperately need to hear?

Voices like David’s and Gavin’s…
Men who are now being threatened, set apart and scorned…?

Both Kathy and Shara brought this point home with steely percision.

Firstly Kathy (atimetoshare.me) said:

Homosexuality, same-sex marriage, gender alteration,
believing only certain parts of the Bible are true,
looking at the ten commandments as the ten suggestions, chastity,
waiting until marriage to have sex, sex outside of marriage,
the sanctity of life on both ends of the spectrum, altering the Bible to fit the times,
not looking at sin as a problem – all parts of what’s going on in the church today.
We have taken tolerance to a whole new level and it has infiltrated our churches as
well as our lives.
The devil must be jumping for joy.
His insidious nature has weaseled its way into every aspect of society,
gnawing away at it bit by bit until it becomes unrecognizable.
I pray that the end is coming soon.

Then Shara (https://scasefamily.com/) polished it off with exquisite clarity:

Fascinating and sad…was reading yesterday that people say
Christianity is shrinking, but it’s actually being more clearly defined.
Interesting post friend!

And it has been that very fact that…the fact that we aren’t necessarily seeing
some sort of death knell for Christianity…
though denominations are beginning to morph into the unrecognizable as they depart
and fall from God’s word…
but rather we are seeing Christianity being polished and honed
a Christianity that is simply being refined and more sharply keenly defined…

The furnace is heating up as God works on the faithful, refining and preparing us for what
is to come…

“The glory of a good person is the evidence of a good conscience.
Have a good conscience and you will always be happy.
A good conscience can bear a great deal and still remain serene in the midst of adversity,
while a bad conscience is fearful and easily ruffled.
Only be glad when you have done well.
Evil persons are never really happy, nor do they feel peace within them;
for ‘there is no peace for the wicked, says the Lord’ (Isa. 48:22).
Even though the wicked may protest that peace is theirs and that no evil shall harm them,
do not believe them. For God’s wrath will suddenly overtake them,
and all they have done will be brought to nothing and their plans destroyed.”

Thomas á Kempis,
The Imitation of Christ p.76

The old grey mare ain’t what she use to be…

When we learn from experience, the scars of sin can lead us to restoration
and a renewed intimacy with God.

Charles Stanley


image courtsey the web)

Remember the song from childhood?
The Old Grey Mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…
Meaning that a once fine horse was no longer the fine swift steed she once had been.
Her prime past as she was now old and sluggish…

I could be talking about myself or…
I could be talking about something else entirely.

Apostolic or Apostate…
What say you?

Apostasy:
1 : an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith
2 : abandonment of a previous loyalty

Apostolic:
of or relating to a succession of spiritual authority from the apostles held (as by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox) to be perpetuated by successive ordinations of bishops
and to be necessary for valid sacraments and orders

I received the following e-mail posting by our friend the Wee Flea but oddly it wouldn’t show up
when I clicked on his blog nor did it show up in the reader.

Odd indeed.

So I had no choice but to copy it pretty much word for word in its entirety…
as I found the words important.

Most folks reading these words probably wouldn’t really think anything written about the
Episcopal Chruch in Australia or the Episcopal Chruch of Scotland by an Evangelical
Scottish Presbyterian Free Church pastor of much importance.

The fact that the Episcopal Chruch, be it in Scotland or the US or anywhere
else for that matter—or even her Anglican parent counterpart in the UK…
is each slowly unraveling—however, such a fact is most likely not of any real concern or
relevance to those outside of these said denominations…
but here’s the thing—–
it is vastly important.

It’s important to all Christian Believers.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden, a former UK Anglican cleric, knows first hand the truth behind
David Robertson’s observations…as it is a large factor that lead him to leave his
post as Chaplin to the Queen as well as to leave the denomination he had severed since
completing seminary.

I myself have watched this same ‘observation’ unfolding since the mid-1970’s—
a slowly evolving insidious shift within my own Episcopal church.
At first, the shift was subtle…small and seemingly innocent.

But then it became bold and blatant and oh so defiant.

But when a church body takes God’s tenents, His commands, His words and rewrites them
in order to appease the masses, well, we all have problems.

And so goes one denomination, so goes her sisters.
Much like a domino effect.

The United Methodist Chruch is currently scheduled to hold a special council in order to
set straight its stance on gay marriage and openly gay clergy.

And so whereas some folks would find it rather strong wording to call a church body
an ‘apostate’, David raises the question—do we wish to be apostolic or apostate…
that is our real concern…

The following is the majority of the text body from David’s emailed posting:

The Apostate SEC
So it was with a heavy heart that I was reminded by my friend and brother,
David McCarthy of the other St Thomas’s Anglican –
(this one in Corstorphine Edinburgh) –
that there is another kind of Anglicanism.
One which is more apostate than apostolic.
Sadly as a proud Scot, it is embarrassing to have to confess that it is
the Scottish Episcopal Church which is leading the race to the bottom in
the worldwide Anglican church (although the Americans are not far behind).

The Australians recognised this.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia passed a motion on 7 September 2017,
condemning SEC’s decision to approve same-sex marriage as
“contrary to the doctrine of our church and the teaching of Christ”,
and declaring itself in “impaired communion” with the province.
It also expressed their
“support for those Anglicans who have left or will need to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church
because of its redefinition of marriage and those who struggle and remain”,
and presented their prayers for the return of SEC
“to the doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired relationships will be restored”

1) The Scottish Episcopal Church is Apostate.

It’s not just that in typical Anglican fashion it tolerates heresy and unbiblical practice.
If you belong to a mixed denomination you take that as a given and hope to see it reformed.
But because as a denomination it has now mandated a new view of marriage that
specifically goes against what God has said in his word.
In altering the canon on marriage to exclude gender,
the Scottish Episcopal church condemned Christ, divided the Church and mocked
the Scriptures.

Please note that saying a Church, as in a denomination, is apostate,
does not mean that everyone in that denomination is an apostate.
But nonetheless, why would a biblical Christian want to stay in an apostate denomination?

2) The SEC is dying.

Despite the claim that there are 100,000 Scottish Episcopalians,
the reality is that there is a weekly attendance of around 7,000.
We are told there are 300 churches but most of these are tiny and dying.
According to their own figures, 57% of their congregations are not viable.
It’s not always the case that one should leave a dying denomination,
but the key question is why remain on a sinking ship?

3) Reform from within will not happen.

One of the reasons given for staying in is that we are working for reform.
This is one of the greatest and most deceitful myths that evangelicals hang on to.
The liberals love sending ‘evangelical’ bishops to congregations that are thinking of
leaving, to tell them that ‘hang on, reform can happen, –
whilst they work to ensure that it won’t.
They want the evangelicals manpower and money –
they don’t want the evangelicals gospel, Scripture or Lord!

How do we know that reform won’t happen?
Because there are almost no examples in history of it ever happening.
Because the judgement of God is upon the church –
having left it to its own devices. And because the church has so compromised with
the world that it is determined to prevent any biblical reform.
Of course, I know the answer, often expressed as a pietistic truism –
‘God is sovereign and he can bring about renewal and revival’.

Indeed he is.
And indeed he can.
But just because God can send the ravens to feed me,
does not mean that I don’t go shopping for food!
To rely on the ‘exceptional’ in spiritual matters is as daft as relying on it in material.
God has given us normal ‘means of grace’ through which he works.
The Spirit, speaking in the Church, through the Word, bringing us Christ,
is the normal way that He builds us up. When the Church rejects the Word,
quenches the Spirit and despises the teaching of Jesus – it ceases to be the Church,
and becomes a means of destruction rather than a means of grace.

4) Faithfulness to Christ is more important that faithfulness to a denomination.

I heard a tremendous sermon from Simon Manchester (Anglican!) yesterday –
on Jesus and the temple.
The words that struck him (and me!) were those that spoke of Jesus leaving the Temple.
The temple was the central symbol of Judaism and biblical religion at that time.
But Jesus said it wasn’t about the temple, which would be destroyed,
but about him (and his words which would never pass away).
Every church needs structures –
we all have our temples. But when Jesus leaves the house –
its time to get out.

5) Get out of the burning building.

Before you decide where you are going.
When your home is on fire you don’t sit down in the living room and plan a new home –
you get out.
And then rebuild.

6) There is a hope for real, genuine renewal.

I met Canon David Short.
He is the pastor of an Anglican church in Canada that left the Canadian Anglican province.
(St John’s in Vancouver where JI Packer is an assistant minister).
It is a dreadful story – they lost a $1 million lawsuit
(taken to the courts by the Anglican Church) their buildings, home etc.
They had a hard, tough time for many years.
But now there are 75 churches in their renewed Anglican church,
and they are in fellowship with the majority of Anglicans throughout the world.
The remaining Canadian Anglicans are declining rapidly, closing churches and losing members;
(it is estimated that they losing some 15,000 members per year –
although they are very reluctant to give out any statistics – I wonder why?).
The question for Scottish Episcopalians is–do you want to belong to a dying church on the
pretense that it isn’t – or would you rather be part of a dynamic, renewing church?

7) Scotland needs more Gospel churches.

Of which denomination does not really matter.
Although Australia is heading down the same route as the UK,
regressing towards a Greco/Roman/Pagan culture;
it is not doing so at nearly the same rate as Scotland.
One reason is the number of Gospel churches that there are here.
This past week I spoke to an Anglican bishop who told me that his diocese has 60 parishes –
ALL of them are evangelical (and ‘low church).
That’s 15,000 people in a population of some 1 million making a difference in every part of their communities.
I doubt the whole SEC with its 300 churches has half that number.

8) For the unity of the Church –“ don’t leave Mother Church’ is the cry.

Faithful Scottish Episcopalians will hear that cry many times –
both from liberals and evangelicals.
But who is leaving?
If people in St Thomas’s, St Silas or other evangelical SEC churches leave they are not
the ones being schismatic.
The schismatics are in the Synod and hierarchy who have voted to leave the doctrine,
tradition, Bible, and Head of the Church). For example, the TEC
(the Episcopalian church in the US) have just voted to remove the words
‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘procreation’ from its marriage service in order to make it more
‘LGBT compliant’.

Of course, the SEC leadership here will say that could never happen here.
But if they do so they are not telling the truth.
Evangelicals have been lied to every step of the way –
and yet like suckers, we still keep believing from the false prophets tell us!

And then the protest comes.
But that’s not loving…and it’s not loving to leave.
It’s not loving…?
Is it loving to stay?
Loving to whom?
As for ‘unloving’ just watch how the ‘loving’ wolves turn on the sheep when
they decide to follow the Shepherd and not the thieves!
Legal threats are just the tip of the iceberg.
There is nothing more intolerant and unloving that a liberal ‘Christian’
who has been spurned or challenged!
Ironically if someone votes for St Thomas’s to remain in the SEC, they are voting not for unity – but for schism and disunity.
They are allying with the apostates of the American TEC and rejecting
the vast majority of Anglicans in the Global South.

Of course, it would be ideal if the evangelicals in the SEC all left together,
as one – but given the divided nature of evangelicalism,
the tribalistic nature of Scottish church politics and the fear factor, that appears unlikely…
Still, we can pray for the real unity of the Lord’s people!

9) For the Good of your own souls –and your families.

I meet so many people who tell me that they were once Christians but have now turned away.
Some are from an evangelical background but the vast majority are from ‘liberal’ churches.
It’s little wonder that they turn away.
Because they have not been fed or taught the glorious, beautiful gospel of Christ.
Instead, they have been fed poison.
Why would I expose my family or myself to spiritual food poisoning?
10) For the glory of Christ. That should be the Christians primary concern.
It may be that someone is able to explain how remaining in an apostate denomination
which denies Christ, his Word, and his people; promising obedience to it;
financing and supporting it; brings glory to Christ, but I just can’t see it.
Leaving because you acknowledge Jesus is Lord,
because you love him and want to serve him according to his Word,
may be costly and hard – actually let me rephrase that –
it WILL be costly and hard.
But oh how glorious! We will not give the glory of Christ to another.
That’s why we obey the command of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:14-18.
This passage was not written about marriage…it was written about being yoked
with unbelievers in worship. Hear the Word of the Lord.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be my people.”

2Cor. 6:17

Therefore,

“Come out from them

and be separate,

says the Lord.

Touch no unclean thing,

and I will receive you.”

2Cor. 6:18

And, “I will be a Father to you,

and you will be my sons and daughters,

says the Lord Almighty.”

God consciousness

Paul believed that in the whole field of Christian experience the first
step is with, and remains with God.
Thought, feeling and endeavor must find their basis and inspiration in,
the sovereign mercy of God.

Duncan Campbell


(image of Rodel Chruch, Lewis and Harris courtesy the web)

A couple of weeks back, my friend David, over on Ebbs and Flow, offered a couple of posts
regarding a bit of obscure history in his recounting of the tale of the
‘Revival in the Hebrides.’

This “revival” actually took place on the island of Lewis-and-Harris
during a time period running from 1940-1953.

I was not familiar with this “revival” but my curiosity was piqued–so I ordered the two books
David had recommended regarding this spiritual phenomenon.

The impetus…two elderly octogenarians, one blind, literally laid on the floor prostrate
before God immersed in a state of deep and earnest prayer…seeking a promise.
They did this for three nights each week until their prayers were fulfilled.

David offers a bit of background…
These ladies carried a burden so great that they prayed on their faces in front of the
peat fire in their crofter’s cottage three nights a week.
Three nights a week for months on end these two ladies persistently cried out to God in Gaelic
claiming a promise from Scripture:
I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon dry ground (Isaiah 44:3).
Their burden was for the folk of their parish, especially the young.
They had no idea of when God might answer their prayer,
or of how God might answer their prayer.

https://nwelford.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/clean-hands/
https://nwelford.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/a-distant-generation/

With my small corner of the world being currently consumed by all things new baby, I’ve
not had the time nor opportunity to delve further into the story of the Revival nor of the
Scottish minister, Duncan Campbell, who played a key instrumental part in the Revival.
Not until last evening when I finally managed to crack open the small blue book,
The Price and Power of Revival by Duncan Campbell, taking in a couple of pages before
closing my eyes from the weight of a month plus of pure exhaustion.

When I first read David’s initial post regarding this revival and of these two
elderly women who came before God entreating Him to fulfill a promise…
the promise of pouring water and floods upon a dry thirsty ground,
I was actually moved to tears.

Whereas their prayers were for their entire community, their focus was primarily
on the youth of their community.

These two humble elderly women believed God…without doubt…
and they believed in His promises…
so it was only natural that they went about imploring God to fulfill His promises.

The faith of a mustard seed…
a tiny smallness in which greatness is found.

Oh so simple and yet oh so profound.

They believed.
They prayed.
Their earnestness and honest heartfelt prayers, in turn, answered in miraculous fashion.

Duncan Campbell offers the following…

The Divine in the human:
In God’s creative plan, man holds a unique place,
distinct in this respect that he alone of God’s creation is capable of God-consciousness.
“This consciousness, or feeling,
is as much a verity as any other fact of human consciousness:

The notion of ‘God-consciousness’ is something that I think lies buried within the heart each
and every human being…be it dormant or not.

And it is the moving of the Spirit which awakens this sleeping giant.

I’ve recounted this little story before but it came flooding back when I
had read David’s post…

Years ago when I was a teenager, still in high school, I was running errands with
my “godmother” who was the wife of the dean of our Chruch. Ours was an Episcopal
Cathedral so the lead priest of an Episcopal Chruch is known as a dean.

They were a deeply spiritual couple who were actually actively involved in the current
spiritual revival taking place within the Catholic and Episcopal denominations known
as the Charismatic Movement.

This was during the mid 70’s…it was a time of cultural settling yet spiritual growth
following the contentious 60’s.

I don’t recall how our conversation got on the subject but my godmother commented
on the obvious curiosity behind my apparent draw to a deeper spirituality…
this given the fact that I was an angst-filled teenager whose family was not exactly
the most religious–
So how in the world I had stumbled upon my current path of a Spiritual journey,
all of which seemed more than a bit odd, was beyond her soul…

But she had a clue…

From first glance, I was not exactly one who others would imagine to be a deeply seeking person…
seeking deeply what Catherine Marshal called “Something More” —
which was the title of one of her numerous books and one that I just happened to be reading.

Knowing my history…that I had been adopted, my godmother turned to look me in the
face and proceeded to tell me that she believed someone who had known of me and of
my existence had prayed…
that someone had prayed for me for all these years…
as those prayers had been directing my path all these years…

And so yes, we pray earnestly because we have been told to pray without ceasing…
God has made us a promise and He will not turn a deaf ear to that promise…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

work done while sleeping….

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long.
If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


(tiny prayer box / Julie Cook / 2018)

The above image is that of a tiny, badly tarnished silver, prayer box.
This particular little box, along with others like it, was very popular in the late
80’s early 90’s.
This is the one that I had at the time.

Just inside the tiny box, you can see a bit of blue paper.
And might I add, that is a very tiny piece of blue paper with an equally tiny
written prayer.
But we might note that the prayer was anything but tiny.

Below is an image of another prayer box.
This particular box was discovered buried along a street in the old City of David sandwiched between some tile during construction taking place in a car lot.
This tiny box, made of some sort of animal bone, dates from either the 5th or
6th century AD and is considered to be a Byzantine prayer box.

Rather than a tiny piece of paper with a tiny scrawled prayer resting inside the tiny box, there is actually a small and very worn Icon, or painted image, of what is thought to be Mary.
Such a prayer box was intended to be carried in a pocket or pouch and acted as a
tiny traveling church, as one could open the box and pray before a holy image…
taking one’s prayers directly to the source.

The Byzantine time period from which this little box dates was a very tumultuous time
for the Middle East along with the whole Mediterranean region.

The Roman Empire had fallen to the Visigoths and Carthage had fallen to the Vandals…
add in the push from Attila’s Huns and it was a very dangerous time to be either
Jewish or Christain.

I can only imagine the prayers offered before this ancient little box…
as I am left to wonder whose box it was and how did it come to rest buried
in a parking lot in Jerusalem.

Right before Christmas a longtime blogging friend emailed me that she wanted me to
look into something she had just purchased.
This friend has since moved on from the blogging world, as she is a working mom
with young children whose time has not been her own.
She is an extremely devout Christian with a deep Jewish heritage.

She is very familiar with the idea of prayer, particularly those that are written and
placed before God.

It is a tradition that at the Wailing wall in Jesurelum, prayers are written down and placed in the crevices of the wall, as the wall is considered Holy by Jews as well as many Christians.

Often seen rocking slightly back and forth as their heads gently touch the wall, Jews will stand for long periods of time before the Wall, hands resting outward with palms facing upward or either with hands reverently folded…they will be immersed in deep meditative prayer.
Others, be they tourists or locals, merely push tiny bits of paper into the cracks as they lay their written prayers before what it thought the Divine Presence of
God Himself.

The Wall is considered Divine because it is a remnant of the actual Temple.

Human beings seem to have a very deep need for the tangible when it comes to their relationship with the Divine Presence of God…to be able to touch, to write to physically connect is of the utmost importance to many of the faithful.

Be it prayer beads, a knotted prayer rope, icons or even a prayer box–the
tangible and physical connection between penitent and God is a deeply profound
yearning as well as a mystery.

What my friend wanted me to look into was what is known as a sleeping Joseph.

Now that might sound odd and even appear odd but the story behind the small figurine is anything but strange and is actually rather full of gentleness and a gracious sense of comfort.

We know very little about Jesus’ earthly father Joseph.
He is only mentioned early on in the Gospels of both Matthew and Luke and later in the books of Mark and John
It is in Matthew (1:1-18) that we read of his lineage harkening back to
David.

It is also when we read of the importance of dreams regarding Joseph as God came to Joseph at the most key moments in his life as a husband and father during his sleep. First Joseph is reassured that Mary is indeed telling the truth regarding her pregnancy and that he is to follow through with marrying her.
Secondly, Joseph is warned to take his young family to Egypt in order to flee Herod’s wrath and the killing of the Innocents.

I can remember my Godpoppa, the Episcopal priest, giving a sermon one Father’s day
about Joseph.

And he noted what we already know, that historically, we know very little regarding Joseph as he seems to simply “disappear” from scripture once Jesus begins
his earthly ministry.
He is not mentioned throughout the three years of ministry as being present and is not by Mary’s side at the crucifixion.

And so we simply and sadly assume he died at some point during Jesus’ growing up.

As we are left to wonder about this earthly father of Jesus.

Thinking about Jesus’ earthly father actually brought tears to my Godpoppa’s eyes as he had lost his own father when he was only 16. His was a heartfelt observation about what a life Joseph must have lived.

He most likely taught Jesus the skills of carpentry.
How to be a craftsman using both his mind and his hands.
He taught Jesus what it meant to be reverent and prayerful
He taught Jesus the demonstrative nature of what Jesus intuitively knew,
how to worship His actual Father…no doubt a precarious balance and a heavy burden
for the earthly father.
He also taught the young boy respect.

There was a humble yet focused obedience that Jesus learned from Joseph.

And he learned about the importance of prayer…

The small figurine my friend shared with me is a prayer box of sorts.
The idea being that as you ready for sleep you place your concerns, worries, prayers
written down while placing them under the sleeping Joseph.

How often is your sleep disrupted by the heaviness of concern and worry?
Your thoughts, including your subconscious, consumed by the weight of whatever it is
that is eating at you. Your family, your friends, your work, your health, the health of those you love…there is a quickening of need that plays out even while you attempt to sleep—you pray as you drift off only to toss and turn…

The Joseph “prayer box” asks that you write down these concerns and or petitions,
laying them beneath Joseph—a man who was accustomed to Godly encounters during his sleep through his dreams, as you literally give your concerns over to God.

Trusting that He will, as He does, see, hear and know…

This is not a discussion on the topic of Saints nor of the notion of their interventions or of denominational differences, infighting, and angst…
it is rather a reminder of the human need and desire for a tangible and or physical connection as we literally acknowledge the weight of our concerns, worries and thoughts along with the very real need to literally give them over to God.

For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber in their beds,

Job 33:14-15

a little more empty during a tough year…

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not;
and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


(The Very Rev. and Mrs David B. Collins–David and Virginia “Ginny” /
Julie N.Cook / 1981)

In this grainy old photo you see two people who were very much in love—

…and those two people were two individuals who I loved very much as well.

He had been a Naval Officer during WWII and she a staring actress in the original
production of Carousel on Broadway—and yet they somehow met, fell in love, married
and loved one another well into their 90’s….

And they had each loved me.

The year of the photograph was 1981 and it was taken during an evening
a group of us had met up at our favorite British Pub in Atlanta.
The Churchill Arms.
One could have walked into this pub and felt magically transported across the
proverbial pond to a different place and time.

I think both young and old in our group that night wished we were all in England–
during a different time.

Back then, back when I was young, at that pub on Thursday nights,
the Atlanta Bagpipes and Drums would hold court and practice.
There were the nightly dart competitions.
And on Friday and Saturday nights, a dear older lady would play the piano
as everyone would gather around to sing rousing renditions of Waltzing Matilda,
Keep the Home Fires Burning, Over There, etc….
all the while enjoying a pint of Whitbread, Guinness or New Castle….

Funny thing thinking about a bunch of late 70’s college kids singing Waltzing Matilda
and actually knowing not only the words but what the song was about and when it had actually been popular….

I think the pub is still there…where it was back in my youth…
But it’s now a modern trendy sort of place sans all the typical Anglophile
paraphernalia.
No longer does it harken back to a better place and time.
As it beckons to the cutting edge millennial…with it’s more otherworldly
bar atmosphere of the 21st century.

It was probably an odd place for a group of college kids to gather along with their
parish priest, the current Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St Philip…along
with this vicar’s wife…..but the church was no small parish,
he was no small church vicar and we were no average lot of kids.

There was very much a homey feel here, there was a fire place, lots of wood—
a place we, a bedraggled little extended “family,”
could all gather to enjoy one another’s company.
A place we could chat, catching everyone up on life at our various colleges and
hear what we had missed at Church.

The drinking age at the time was 18 so we were all good and by the time this
picture was taken, I was well into my early 20’s.

I’ve written about both of them before.
For various reasons…be it because of my adoption, my faith, my family, my life…
as they each had had a prominent role in my small corner of the world.

They each taught me a great deal about life, love, living, dying, fighting,
believing…. as well as lessons about Faith, God, hopefulness, healing and Grace.

They each saved me, more times than I care to recall, from myself.

They each knew of the failings and egregious actions of my life yet
loved me none the less.
As I certainly worked hard at testing that love many a time.

I am who I am to this day because of them.
Better because of who they were.

They actually laid hands upon my head, several times, as they prayed for healing.

Not for a physical healing but for a more profound and more important healing.
A deep spiritual healing.

He was adopted, just like I was.
We shared that—just as she shared us.
She knew the importance of deep healing.
And she knew how important such healing was for both of us and to our pasts—-
to the two people she loved.

They had 4 children of their own…
and then there was me—the surrogate 5th.
They claimed to be my Godparents…by proxy really…for when I was baptized
as an infant, our paths had not yet crossed.

The relationship was set in motion in 1966 when they first moved to Atlanta
in order for him to take the over the position of dean at the Nation’s largest
Episcopal Cathedral.

They are not my parents yet my own parents knew of the great importance and role
this couple played in my life…and where there was jealously there was also
a knowledge that the relationship was necessary for all of us….
Just as their children knew that they were sharing their parents with me
and yet they often spoke in terms of me being “the truly good child”.

Over time, I learned, as I grew and matured, that they needed me just as much
as I had needed them…
life has a way of teaching us such things.

The end of the year will mark a year since he’s been gone.
Her passing was on Tuesday….
And now they are Home, together.
This I know.

Yet that doesn’t make me less sad.
Doesn’t make me feel less lonely.
Doesn’t stop from reminding me that all my parents are now gone…
along with an aunt and uncle, a brother and cousin along with all grandparents.
That all are gone…but me.

Odd how that makes one feel.
Even at almost 60 years of age.
Good-byes are never easy.

There was a time when I could not have weathered this tremendous amount
of loss I’ve experienced this past year…
but I now have a deep knowledge and understanding of Grace.
I am saved by that Grace.
They taught me that…and then some…

reflective remembrance

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty;
it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.”

― Coco Chanel


(a slice of the Mile High Pie from Bones in Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2017)

As long as I can remember, my birthday has always fallen on the weekend of the
Georgia / Auburn football game.
Never mind if my birthday was on, say a Wednesday,
the birthday has always been marked by this hallowed grudge match.

A grudge match rivalry game considered, by those who write the history of
collegiate sports, to be the oldest college rivalry
in all of college football dating all the way back to 1892.

So this past weekend was no exception when it came to birthdays and football games…
despite the actual day being a few days after the fact of said game.

And so it would have only seemed to make sense that my beloved Dawgs would have
stepped up to the birthday plate by delivering the best gift possible—
a defeat of this most ancient of foes…putting them one more game closer
to a year of perfection….
Yet alas…
it was not to be….

Yet defeat is not the intent of today’s thoughts but rather the musing of what was,
what is and what will be…

When I turned 21, way back when I was in college at this same beloved college of
which I speak of today, I had been invited by a young man who I really liked at
the time, to travel down to Auburn for the game in honor of my birthday.

But I had a conundrum.

My godparents, the priest of my church and his wife, had already invited me to come
home as they wanted to have a small party in my honor.

Now I don’t know too many 21 year olds who would spend even a second weighing out such proposals…as whether to stay or go—as most any 21 year old in their right mind
would have wholeheartedly opted to go to the football game…
excitedly ready to spend a great weekend with great friends
and a potential great beau all the while living it up as one’s team beats
up another—

I however chose the latter.
I went home.

I really can’t say how many 21 year old kids had the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta,
at the time, bake them a birthday cake, but me…

And yes it was indeed a small intimate gathering… yet one that was, obviously, most memorable.

The game would have been no doubt memorable as well…or maybe not…
because I couldn’t even begin to tell you who won that year…
and I can recall that that young man was only a beau for a short time…
but on the other hand I do remember those other particular individuals who loved me
enough to want to make a special day even more special in their own small way.

And so it is with this day of marking the passage of time,
that I find myself being a bit wistful.
Because isn’t that what we do as we age, we become wistfully reflective.

So in keeping with this notion of being both wistful and reflective,
I am poignantly reminded that this is the first birthday that is to be spent
in 58 years without my dad and aunt.

Mother has been gone since just before I was to turn 26, but Dad and Aunt Martha
have been around throughout of what seems to be the duration of time…

Each of them knew how to make a birthday celebration both special and memorable.
As I remain grateful in recalling the years gone past that they did make a special
day just that— special.
Just as I am sad thinking of a new year without them.

And whereas there will definitely be some sadness on an otherwise momentous day…
besides nursing what could have, should have, been with the Dawgs running the table
on a possible all out rout of a season of wins…
it will be a day marked with a sense of without…
of what was and of what is no more…

Yet as our dear friend Coco Channel so pointedly reminds us—
it is not necessarily a matter of what we may have once been or been given,
rather it will be a matter of who and what we will opt to one day be…

May we opt to be both wiser and kinder….


(my husband with his birthday girl / 2017)

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,

Isaiah 42:2,3,4