Tag Archives: strength

Make every word count

Otherwise, if you say a blessing with the spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since the outsider does not know what you are saying? For you may give thanks well enough, but the other person is not built up. (1 Cor. 14:16-17)

In the Episcopal Church, today is the feast day of Samuel Isaac Joseph Scherechewsky, Bible translator and Bishop of Shanghai, who spent the last 25 years of his life, largely unable to speak, paralyzed and in a wheelchair, translating the Old Testament into Mandarin and the entire Bible into Easy Wen-Li.

He accomplished this monumental feat by typing with only two fingers.

These days, most of us type a lot, using our fingers (or thumbs) to send out a blizzard of emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook status updates, Instagram tags, Snapchat pics, and so on.

There is nothing wrong with staying connected by social media — I love it myself — but I can’t help wondering how much we are building one another up, how solid a contribution we’re making, how much we are writing or saying anything that will last beyond the moment.

There’s an astonishing (appalling) humility to the end of Bishop Scherechewsky’s life: one wheelchair, two fingers, one project that would endure.

What message might God be inviting you to deliver in order to build people up?

What else might need to fall away in your daily life and activities so you can focus on making every word count?

Collect of the Day

O God, in your providence you called Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and sent him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the Holy Scriptures into languages of that land. Lead us, we pray, to commit our lives and talents to you, in the confidence that when you give your servants any work to do, you also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Pattern and strength

Choir of King's College, Cambridge

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Wherever the service is heard and however it is adapted, whether the music is provided by choir or congregation, the pattern and strength of the service, as Dean Milner-White pointed out, derive from the lessons and not the music. ‘The main theme is the development of the loving purposes of God …’ seen ‘through the windows and the words of the Bible’. Local interests appear, as they do here, in the Bidding Prayer; and personal circumstances give point to different parts of the service. Many of those who took part in the first service must have recalled those killed in the Great War when it came to the famous passage ‘all those who rejoice with us, but on another shore and in a greater light’. The centre of the service is still found by those who ‘go in heart and mind’ and who consent to follow where the story leads. (From the program of the 2013 service)

Pattern

Let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child; and let us make this Chapel, dedicated to Mary, his most blessèd Mother, glad with our carols of praise. (From the program for the 2013 service)

Though the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols as celebrated at King’s College, Cambridge is an elaborate feast of sight and sound, its pattern is clear to anyone familiar with the Daily Office.

After an opening prayer, the main body of the Lessons and Carols service consists of nine readings from Scripture carefully chosen to tell “the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious redemption brought us by the Holy Child.”

Interspersed between the lessons are musical responses — carols and hymns — in place of the canticles we use in the Offices day by day.

The service of Lessons and Carols, like the Daily Offices, concludes with collects appropriate for the season.

Though the Festival of Lessons and Carols was planned in 1918 out of Dean Eric Milner-White’s felt need for “more imaginative worship,” its roots in the Prayer Book pattern of Morning and Evening Prayer are deep and nourishing.

Strength

The collects which conclude the service of Lessons and Carols, like the collects in the Daily Office, rehearse our “sure and certain hope” in the resurrection:

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thy only son, Jesus Christ: Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him, when he shall come to be our judge; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

O God, who by his incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, grant you the fullness of inward peace and goodwill, and make you partakers of the divine nature; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

In the strength of Christ we find not only rest but nourishment for service.

I’m weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be
Of Jesus Christ, the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ, the apple tree.