Morning Prayer: October 31st

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Psalm: 56, 57
Old Testament: Nehemiah 6:1-14
New Testament: Revelation 10:1-11

Every now and again, I find myself taken aback and intrigued by the Biblical images and mottos that remain part of our popular culture. So imagine my geeky pleasure when finding this one:

in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:4)

Seems like a pretty general quote, non? But what if I showed you this picture instead???

That’s right, a partial psalm verse is paraphrased on American currency…..Incidentally, it’s also the piece of evidence used to prove that Santa Claus could exist after all 🙂

Also I can’t help but reflect on the irony of this happenstance, given the financial crash of ’08 and the ongoing Occupy movements. It seems that for too long, America (and Canada too btw) as a nation has started to place it’s trust in the wrong thing.

The emphasis is on trusting our stuff…..our status…..the goods that we can produce and purchase in the wider market.

Today’s reading reminds us that sometimes we have to re-evaluate where our trust is. Is it on a rock that is apt to crumble beneath our feet? Or on the cornerstone which gives us stability and quenches our thirst with living water????

Standing in the middle of Grey Street……….

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As you’ve no doubt noticed, my posts have been really sporadic lately…..there’s a reason for that…..and one that still mystifies me even after 20+ years of dealing with it.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve struggled with mild to moderate depression……and for whatever reason….. I’m going through a bout of it now 😦

The thing that bothers me most about this particular episode is that I’m not sure what’s triggering it….

Anxiety about the new program year is definitely a contributing factor….. I’m scared that the youth group won’t like my ideas..and more to the point…..there is a small part of me that believes no one in their right mind should be taking the geek in the wheelchair seriously. :P.

And yet…..I wonder why I’m always so insecure when it comes to stuff like this…it kinda makes me feel like I’m in high-school all over again :P….which (trust me) was not a happy place to be :S

Of course, I suspect that particular apprehension will clear up once I actually get into the rhythm of Sunday morning discussions and other youth group…similar to the way my pre-sermon jitters disappear on Sun. morning once I start speaking :).

Also there’s the street ministry at Bishop Cronyn….which is going well enough……but I don’t really have anything to gauge its success or–on the flip side–its shortcomings.

Any time I’ve been in a pastoral job before, it’s been in a context where the focus has been on self-learning and discovery. To a certain extent, that is still the case…..as every encounter in ministry has the potential to unveil something about our own personalities and spiritual growth.

But I am confused as to whether I should be striving for something more……and if I am…..what is that something. Is it to get them into the doors of the church? Is it to expand the coffee-house ministry?

At the beginning of the placement, I had envisioned expanding the pool of volunteers and setting up a job/employment hub in the coffee-house……neither of which came to fruition…I feel like I haven’t done my job.

The question of whether I’m doing enough has me pondering whether I’m getting lazy and too comfortable with the status quo. I still haven’t come up with an answer. 😛

A last piece of the puzzle is the fact that I’m in a relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely believe that things are progressing well :)….but for a very long time….I attributed my bouts of depression to loneliness and the lack of a significant other.

Now I am faced with a stark reminder that depression is not so simple….it is something that has its roots not only in environment…..but also in genetics…..and something I will continue to deal with whether I have a girlfriend or not :P.

So that’s where I am at these days and why I haven’t been on this blog very much.

But why am I sharing these reflections with you??? The answer is simple…..I know there are a lot of people who struggle with depression, and even in finding God in the midst of darkness and despair. I am no exception, even though I maintain a blog on daily prayer and feel drawn to the priesthood. there are many times when I feel weak, fake, inadequate, and lost…….

May the Holy Trinity guide all of us during the times of spiritual dryness and arm us with the knowledge that we are surrounded by brothers and sisters who struggle alongside us on the road. +

Tuning out the world…….

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I have been meaning to do a post like this for a while, but I kept putting it off……but two things happened this week that finally gave me the impetus to reflect on the effect that technology has on our interaction with the wider community.

1) While hanging out with milady on Sunday, I accidentally left my Ipod and headphones in the back of her car.

Since she works most of the week, and we only get to see each other on days-off, that meant I had three to spend three days without portable music, and no wi-fi connection at my fingertips. 😦

2) I finished reading Digital Disciple by Adam Thomas. In this short book, the author explores both the pros and cons of living in a world permeated by social networking, online gaming and Google searches that take mere fractions of a second.

He writes with a central question in mind: What does all this Tech (and its consequences) have for followers of Jesus Christ?

With these two events coinciding, I was forced to reflect on my own use of technology…..and more especially the power my Ipod gives me to ignore the world around me.

For those of you who don’t know…..I work part-time as a street pastor for one of the churches here in London. Basically, this job involves entering into pastoral relationships with people who find themselves homeless or (as is more often the case) those who are making a very limited income.

The government pensions that they are given are high enough that they can afford to live somewhere, but there is no guarantee that a) the living conditions they can afford are healthy for their well-being or that b) there is enough disposable income left to afford basic needs like food and clothing.

Normally, I go out for about 2-3 hours on any given day and scoot around the downtown area and the East End….listening to the lives and witness of these folks. If the situation calls for it, it is also my job to direct them towards services that they inquire about, or might be able to make use of.

What struck me over this past week….is that the Ipod allows me to dictate when I will listen and when I won’t. Having my ginormous headphones on signifies to most folks that my ability to listen is gone….or at the very least, occupied in another activity. It allows me to close my ears to the cry of the poor….and I openly wonder if that’s a good thing.

In the days of the Walkman and CD player, my ability to block out the world only lasted for as long as the AAA batteries kept running. After those two or three hours, I was forced to either go to the dollar store and get some more, or put the Walkman away and resume my “normal” life of interacting with people 1:1

Now….. with batteries and smart-phones that last the whole day, the option to engage with the world, or to drown it out becomes a conscious choice.

In the three days that I had without music, I found myself surrounded by snippets of conversation. Instead of my favourite tracks by DMB, my ears were filled with the loud drilling and hammering of the construction crews. Instead of contemplating the Gospel through a podcast, I found myself open to more encounters with those on the sidewalk.

I have no real end-point or conclusion to this post/reflection……but I thought it was important to throw it out there as both an observation for myself and–potentially–a chance for us collectively to think about: what distracts us from being disciples??? …..Leave a comment on this post with some of your thoughts. As always, I look forward to some discussion. +

Getting a reality check on the way home…….

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Copyright: Joey Lawerence

For those who know me personally….or have read some of my posts in the last few days you know that I have been (ever so gradually) freaking out about the Bishop’s visit to my parish placement.  Part of my apprehension tonight has to do with the fact that I don’t know how much this visit will impact my ordination status.

I know that the goal of attaining clerical office should be the furthest thing from my mind…..that the worship and ministry must come first……but what can I say??? I’m human and I want some things for myself damn it! 😉

In the midst of my own worrying, I decided to go for a late coffee @ Timmie’s….caffiene and sugar (in the form of baked goods) usually provide a short relief from any and all stress in my life. 🙂

On my way back to the apartment, I ran in to two people whom I know from my street ministry. Neither are homeless, but they are definitely in the lower income bracket, and usually have to bounce from place to place because rent is so high.

In the case of this particular couple, I know that they often cannot afford bus passes, and have to walk virtually everywhere. Based on where they live now, that means a solid 4 km hike to the East end…….that’s one way……

In conversing with them, I learned that yet again, there had been an income re-assessment performed and their benefits got cut by a substantial amount, forcing them to put their stuff in storage and (assuming things would fall into place the way they hoped) move into a new building at the end of this month.

Only problem is…..this building is SUPER sketch :P……with known prostitutes working there and drug deals happening on a regular basis….the case worker has tried to get them into a better setting but the wait list for the next available apartment is 8 months long. 😛

Needless to say……while I am still very nervous about tomorrow…..it doesn’t seem right that I should be bitching and complaining……I am in a good air-conditioned building, with food in my fridge and enough money to last me for the week.

Come liturgical or professional /FAIL tomorrow, I know that I am both lucky and loved…..and I need to constantly remember that whatever the Christian life is about…..it is most certainly not about me or my need for official status :P.

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