Holy Musing

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

“My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned…” (Psalm 39:3).

One of the great losses of our increasingly instant and distracted culture is the gift of musing. How many hours of musing have been sacrificed to scrolling on Facebook, or have been lost as the phone rings, the email pings and the doorbell tings? These days musing has had to become an art form, something which is repackaged and sold to us under the brand of Mindfulness. These days it seems that only men of a certain age lean on a gate and stare.

Three thousand years ago David was engaged in the silent practice of musing, and found his heart being warmed. He did not flee from his thoughts into noisy distractions but faced them, and dwelt on them in the conscious presence of God. Concerns turned to prayer, confusions were expressed and all was spoken out to God. HIs was a life which was well examined, and well considered. Not for David a thoughtless drift towards the grave.

Centuries later, George Matheseon - the blind Scottish minister who penned “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” dwelt on this verse of David. I can do no better than leave you with the words he wrote as he pondered this glorious mystery:

O my soul, wouldst thou have thy life glorified, beautified, transfigured to the eyes of men? Get thee up into the secret place of God’s pavilion, where the fires of love are burning. Thy life shall shine gloriously to the dwellers on the plain. Thy prayers shall be luminous; they shall light thy face like the face of Moses when he wist not that it shone. Thy words shall be burning; they will kindle many a heart journeying on the road to Emmaus. Thy path shall be lambent [gleaming]; when thou hast prayed in Elijah’s solitude thou shalt have Elijah’s chariot of fire.

The Prayer of the Morning

“O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3) - Over time a rich pattern of prayer formed within the monasteries, but it would be foolish to think that regular daily prayer is simply the preserve of the monk or nun. When Cranmer put together the Book of Common prayer it was his intention that all in the parish would join in raising voices of praise twice a day. As Spurgeon put it: “The morning is the gate of the day, and should be well guarded with prayer. It is one end of the thread on which the day’s actions are strung, and should be well knotted with devotion”.

Before the Ending of the Day

Before the ending of the day, Creator of the world, we pray, that with thy wonted favour thou, wouldst be our guard and keeper now - Ambrose of Milan (340-397) is one of those greats of the church who makes you long for days of steadfastness, intellect and purpose. He was a defender of the faith, who spent many years battling those who denied the full divinity of Christ. When made bishop, he lived a life of simplicity and gave his money to the poor. The hymn, which takes the form of a prayer, asks for God’s protection through the night - a protection of both body and soul - before finishing with a verse calling upon the Trinity

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