The Prayer of Sweat

This past weekend I tried a Hot Yoga class for the first time with a my friend and brother Wesley.  First all, if you know me, you know that heat and me are not friends…AT ALL.  I would rather live in the Northwestern Territory than be above 90 degrees at any time in my life.  However, when a good friend tells you that it will be good for you and keeps bugging you to go, you go for that friend (and yourself).

So I walk into a room of 20-30 people, the temperature slowing rising to HEAT OF THE RISING SUN or 105-115 if you don’t want to be dramatic.  The air is heavy with heat and humidity, it feels like a struggle to breathe, to take that breath in and out burns down to my lungs.  I am dripping sweat everywhere after about 5 minutes.  I can feel the heat seeping down into my gut and my heart.  I think my interior organs are frying, or at least, steaming within my body.

But I keep going…

After awhile, I begin to view this sweat as a prayer. Each drop, a song to my creator, thanking Him for forming me.  The heat began to feel like the love of God, the refining and purifying Love of God found through Christ.  Each movement, each position, was an act of surrender to Him, to Him placing me in the furnace to be renewed again.

I met God on Saturday in my practice on my mat as an individual and with a group of people who were of mixed ages, races, genders, political affiliations, and religious backgrounds.  Most of them probably didn’t recognize the grace that comes from the heat, but I felt it, and I came out of it different.

I have found yoga to be the manliest activity I can do, not because yoga is in and of itself “manly,” but because I am being taken down to my base parts to be made new by Christ.  I am learning that I do have my own strength, but that I am made more of a man through Christ’s strength working in me.  It has taught me to be a more peaceful father and husband, to see all things  as working together for God’s good will and purpose.

So as I leave this evening to go and be tortured by the heat, may I continue to see Christ’s love coming to me through my practice so that I can become more fully in line with His Grace & Love.

 

Advertisements

LEX: Orandi, Credendi, Vivendi

The law of prayer is the law of belief which is the law of life.

Essentially, how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live. The law of prayer or worship is the law of life.

As an Anglican, our whole life should be shaped by Scripture and the Holy Spirit through our common regula of the Book of Common Prayer.  It used to be said that if you want to know what an Anglican believes, go to a service and listen to their prayers.  Nowadays, however, that may  not be the case with Episcopal Bishops crossing their fingers during the creed and the ‘plain meaning’ of words being twisted to form something completely contradictory.  Our prayer book was written, in my opinion, as a reformed Catholic book.  It’s little “r” reformed because it took what was considered essential liturgically and ritually for a proper service and that’s what was made mandatory and big “C” Catholic because it was based not on some continental Reformational document, but on the ancient liturgical rites of both Sarum in England and the East.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that it’s lack of devotional material and the downplaying of both the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist and the role of the Communion of the Saints, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, make it less than perfect.  However, I think it takes the idea of unity within the Faith seriously in bringing those who would otherwise kill each other into the same fold.  But how does this book, that so many ignore, actually shape our faith?

Matthew Dallman, a friend and liturgical scholar, is focusing his academic portfolio on the works and life of Fr. Martin Thornton.  Thornton states that the Anglican regula is divided into three parts:  Mass, Office, and Devotion.  One without the other would make an incomplete Christian.  For me, there is where I see truly the Anglican ‘Three Streams’ theology– it allows for a common service of communion (catholic), a focus on Scripture and prayer in the Office (evangelical/reformed), and the ability to have personal devotions that are less structured if so chosen (charismatic).  These three parts, when used together, creates worship experience that is formational and participatory, rather than a service that is just ‘watched.’

I believe this was a major outworking of the Oxford Movement that quickly got lost in the ritualist movement and why I think going back to the ‘roots’ of our movement is key for those of us who are carrying on their mantle.  As Anglicans, we need to learn to shape our life– including how we view time– by the Prayer Book.  We need to regain our memory of our Saints and ‘Blesseds’, we need to participate either corporately or individually in the Daily Offices, we need receive Jesus at least weekly into our bodies through Holy Eucharist or the Mass, and we need to learn spiritual practices that bring us into a closer relationship with Him.  As Anglicans, and especially for those of us within the context of the ACNA, we need to act and worship like Anglicans.  With the upcoming finalized Texts for Common Prayer, we need to grasp and run with these rites (or older rites like the 1662 BCP, 1928 American BCP, or the 1962 Canadian BCP) and begin to use them to shape ourselves and our congregations.  That is true catholicity.  The Anglican Church, in all its messed up glory, is a fellowship or tradition within the greater Catholic church and we need to realize what that means for us and the responsibility that is on our shoulders to keep the Faith.  It also means we need to lay down our own opinions and look to the example of the patristic church (as Lancelot Andrewes said:  ‘One canon reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of Fathers in that period—the centuries that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith’)  and give up innovations that are truly not catholic or ‘part of the whole.’

 

So pick up a Prayer Book (or go online here or here and print one out) and learn to say the offices.  There is a great resource here and here for you to pray along with and if you are ever near Atlanta, drop me a line and we can join up for morning or evening prayer at my parish.  If you are a Priest, Deacon, or lay leader within your parish, start a time of Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer sometime during the week to complement your weekly Sunday service.  If you are not using a Prayer Book for your Sunday worship, pick one up and try it out.  But most importantly, begin to let the words of your prayer shape your beliefs (and vice versa) so it works out into a life lived fully for Christ and His Church.