Tag Archives: Phyllis Tickle

Teach your children well

I am at HIMSS, the annual meeting and trade show for healthcare IT, meeting clients and colleagues both in my company’s booth and after the day’s show is ended.

Yesterday I reconnected with a friend and former colleague, who shared with me a recent experience of “house church” when he and his wife told the parable of Jesus and the rich young man (Luke 18:18-30), and their children reenacted the story. The 18-month old played Peter, naturally, tugging on Jesus’ sleeve: “But what about us, Lord?”

The psalmist this morning underscores the importance of teaching the faith to our children:

That which we have heard and known,
and what our fathers have told us,
we will not hide from their children.

We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord,
and the wonderful works he has done.
(Psalm 78:3-4)

At the Lenten Retreat I recently attended, Phyllis Tickle spoke of how the Biblical story is told in tent and synagogue and Temple. For Jews, the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD focused their faith and practice on the synagogue and home.

She suggested that as the institutional church (Christianity’s Temple) is becoming less prominent in people’s lives, it becomes even more important to share the stories of faith in small groups (synagogue) and at home (in the tent).

Even during difficult times — times of persecution or the loss of cherished traditions — the people of God recount the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord so that their children will learn about the faith.

It was entirely appropriate, then, that the Canticle following the Old Testament lesson this morning was drawn from the Song of the Three Young Men, who though they were thrown into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, sang songs of praise to God (Daniel 3).

Their song, recounted in the Apocryphal book known as the Prayer of Azariah, has formed part of the Church’s daily prayers for centuries now (Canticles 12 and 13 in our BCP).

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
(BCP 90)

Whatever your circumstances may be, share your praise of God with your children so they will learn about the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord.


All who stand by night in the house of the Lord


Therefore, if you would not fall, cease never in your intent, but beat evermore on this cloud of unknowing that is betwixt you and your God with a sharp dart of longing love, and be loathe to think on anything less than God. (The Cloud of Unknowing, 14th c.)

I am attending the Annual Lenten Retreat at the DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin, led this year by Phyllis Tickle.

The topic of the retreat is “the Observant Christian: Pilgrims of the Emergence.”

While the content of Phyllis’ talks will be primarily on Emergence Christianity, the weekend is shaped by the practice of “fixed-hour prayer” using the offices she compiled in a series of volumes titled The Divine Hours. She organizes the prayers appointed for each season and day of the week so that you do not have to flip back and forth in a breviary but can more easily pray the offices.

The brief passage above from the Cloud of Unknowing is contained in the office of the Night Watch for today.

Whether you are awake before dawn on purpose or restless from being in an unfamiliar place, when you pray the Night Watch you join with all “who stand by night in the house of the Lord” (Ps. 134).

It is good to be back in this particular “house of the Lord,” a place that figures heavily in my own spiritual geography. I look forward to the next couple of days spent with Phyllis and my fellow-pilgrims.