Friday Epistle for February 2, 2018

February 2nd, 2018 by
Dear Friends,
Tonight and tomorrow we will be looking at how the Word of God, Worship and Prayer can shape our lives as followers of Jesus.
Here is a quote from RUN WITH THE HORSES – THE QUEST FOR LIFE AT ITS BEST by Eugene Peterson on scripture, and a short piece reflecting on the prayer life of Jesus.
Blessings to you all!
“Jehoiakim with his penknife is a parody of all who attempt to  Scripture, who attempt to bring it under control and reduce it to something manageable. Scripture cannot be . It is God’s word calling us to a personal response. The word of God addresses us, calls us into being. The only appropriate response is a reverent answering. It is always more than we are, always previous to us, always over us.” P.130
Learning from Jesus’ Jewish Prayer Life
It’s good to have a taste of Jesus’ customs and culture, but as Christians, our goal is not to become more Jewish, but rather to become more like Jesus.
There is, however, one Jewish practice that all of us would benefit from, and that is adopting a type of Jewish prayer which can transform a person’s spiritual life. These have been used for thousands of years, even back to New Testament times.
What was this wonderful style of prayer? It is the habit of “blessing” the Lord. It is an attitude of continual thankfulness toward God that expresses itself through brief prayers that acknowledge him as the source of every good thing. It ultimately comes from the Scriptures, when Moses admonished the Israelites not to forget the Lord:
When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God…(Deut. 8:10-11)
It was easy for the Israelites to cling to God in the desert, but very easy to forget God when times got better and they prospered in the Promised Land. The cure, according to the rabbis, was to continually remind themselves of God’s care by uttering a short prayer of thanks, to “bless the Lord.”
This pervasive act of prayer kept God’s presence and love continually on their minds. Jesus and Paul both would have practiced it, and Paul may have had it in mind when he told Christians to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:16-18).
A Practice from Before Jesus’ Time
Before the time of Christ, the Jews developed a number of short blessings to be said whenever the occasion arises, in addition to saying longer prayers in the morning and evening. Some of them are now prayed in the daily synagogue service. Modern custom begins all of them by saying, “Blessed are you, oh Lord our God, King of the Universe.”
The idea is not to bless objects and people, in our usual Christian sense of the word, but to bless the Lord, with the understanding that we are focusing on him as the source of all blessing. The word for bless, barak also means “to kneel,” suggesting that when we bless God, we mentally bow on our knees to worship him.
In Jesus’ day the first line was probably just “Blessed is he,” but the rabbis felt it was important to be reminded that God is King over us in order to “receive on ourselves the Kingdom of God,” so they added the rest of the line later. So in these prayers we mentally kneel toward God, remind ourselves of his goodness, and that he is our King.

About this author:

Carl Buffington

Carl Buffington, Rector My ministry at New Covenant began in 1993. Barbara, my wife, and our 3 children moved here from Evergreen, CO, high and dry to low and wet, quite a change. I was brought up in the northeast, a suburb of New York, and Barbara grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. We met while I was attending The Philadelphia Divinity School in West Philadelphia where I received an M.Div. degree in 1972, and I was ordained a deacon and priest in the same year. I went to seminary directly from college. I earned an A.B. degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. For 5 years of my ministry I was a traveling evangelist, sharing the story of our Lord and his presence and power in a different church every weekend. What I have always loved about New Covenant is the blending of the charismatic, the evangelical, and the sacramental aspects of the Faith. And what still gets me up in the morning is seeing people change, seeing people encounter the living Lord. I just love to see hearts changed by the Holy Spirit. Education: BA from the College of William & Mary 1969 MA in Divinity from the Philadelphia Divinity School 1972 Ordination: Ordained in the Diocese of CT – Deacon and Priest 1972 Ordained and Consecrated a Bishop, Emissary to Boga Diocese, Democratic Republic of the Congo - 2015

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