Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Moments in a Monastery – Part 3

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PRIME

Prime, or the First Hour, is a fixed time of prayer said at the first hour of daylight between the morning hour of Lauds and the 9 a.m. hour of Terce. At Pluscarden this is approximately 35 minutes after Lauds and like all the liturgical hours, except the Office of Readings, it consists primarily of Psalms. Known as one of the Little Hours, the word “Prime” comes from Latin and refers to the first hour of daylight meaning dawn. So accompanied by the ringing of the church bells I once again headed to worship and quietly took my place kneeling in prayer. There in the silent darkness, while shadows danced in the faint flicker of the candle light, I became acutely aware of my sin, with its burden and bondage. I came face to face with my sinful self, I wept for the wasted time, time I had spent in worry or wants instead of worship. In that moment the morning light started to flood into the chapel and as I sat, stuck in the shadow of my sin, I looked up and saw the light piercing the panes of the stain glass window, illuminating them in a radiant picture of color. I was reminded of my real reality, that because of Christ I am not condemned. That because of Christ we are not alone, left to the ravishes of sin, we have a resurrected rescuing Savior. This was one of those magical morning moments, caught between the last shadows of darkness and the first rays of day, between the tides of sin and the truth of grace. That moment when the sun light filters in and despair is dispelled, when darkness is displaced as it flees the flooding light. I have never been so overwhelmed by the gift of grace, where without the reality of the Resurrected Savior I would still be stuck in darkness. Looking at the light streaming through the stain glass I though about how someone painstakingly cut and assembled each piece of that picture puzzle of glass. How they intended for it to shine forth Christ, yet no matter how much work they did, without the illuminating light it would forever be a drab lifeless window. So it is with us, unless the light illuminates the dark places of our lives, unless we let Christ peirce our problems, the true picture of His beauty will never be realized in and through us. Before the light of a new day dawned there was only the man made light of a few feeble candles, constantly struggling to keep the darkness at bay. Candles that had to be tended, their wicks trimmed and even with the best care and attention failed as they were consumed. So it is with our best attempts to light our own life, they require constant and copious amounts of effort, which not only fall short but fail. Oh we may think that we produce a little light, but its really just a pretense of light, false and failing, which at best casts an eire shallow shadow of spirituality. Yet how different our light to His, what a contrast between the pre dawn darkness and the light of day. Between moments filled with self effort and those filled with sanctification. Yes I know that until the Lord calls me home, I will be caught in the twin realities of sinner and Saint, yet when I choose to let His light flood my life others will get to see my Savior more than my sin. Sometimes what we need isn’t another sermon but simply silence before the Savior, time just to soak Him in and let the love of His light washes over us. Listened to the Monks that morning, singing their songs to the Savior, I was reminded of our desperate need for God, as Psalm 63 says: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.” Just like David in the desert so our souls also crave Christ, desiring to call out, letting our lips proclaim His love. It was David’s experience in the dry, waterless wilderness that prompted him to think of the thirst of his soul for God. It was this thirsting of his soul that caused him to earnestly seek God, which makes me wonder do I earnestly seek him? This phrase earnestly seek can be translated, “Early will I seek You.” Not only do we earnestly seek Him but God becomes the first thing that we want. So what is it that I am seeking, what is it that I want when I wake? Am I eager for God or could it be that I have been saturated and pacified with a soul substitute? In verse two we see that Davids longing for God was fueled by his vision of God’s glory, having seen God in the sanctuary. When was the last time I saw God for who He is and not for what I wanted? When was the last time having seen His power that I was moved to awe instead of asking? David life was filled with difficulties yet he chose to proclaim God’s power through praise, instead of petitioning God over his problems. David understood the power that praise had to satisfy his soul as much as the richest of foods could satisfy his body. He praised God for His loyal love, a love that is both present and powerful, a love that is better than life. Just like David we too will have times in the desert but they do not have to be dry times if they are permeated with praise. Praising God is the natural expression of a heart that meditates on the Master. Today as the Sun rises on your situation, as the light touches your life, will you choose to live a life of praise regardless of the problems? I want to close by praying with you: Father what a gift it is to serve you, to sit with you, knowing that its not through our works but through your word that we the church are changed. I ask you to speak in the silence, to encourage the oppressed and discouraged, to lift up the downcast, to strengthen the weak, to heal the hurting. Protect us from our pride so that we can boost in your provision. Father let your Spirit move in your people with power so that the purpose of their life becomes your praise, Amen.

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