What a wonderful summer I had. In the (hopefully) near future I should have lots of recipes to share because, as is my custom, I made sure to get recipes and tips for the new foods I tried on my travels. I was awed and blessed by the outpouring of hospitality I received everywhere I went, inspired and encouraged artistically and spiritually, and refreshed and recharged by relaxing times with friends in beautiful places. I am perhaps most thankful for the intensity with which I felt God's presence with me and love for me as I went about my work and play. I was constantly reminded of His sovereignty and power which is so beautifully partnered with His perfect love and mercy. But the element of God's character that struck me most during the past months was generosity. God is GENEROUS, friends. So generous. Indescribably, unfathomably generous.
Shortly before embarking on my travels I repurchased the Book of Common Prayer (having given my old copy to a friend last year). I love liturgy, and find the prayers and readings that go along with the assigned daily Scripture passages incredibly rich and illuminating. I also find the structure of the morning and evening prayer times helpful as, to be honest, I often have trouble staying focussed and/or moving beyond my immediate felt needs. I took the BCP with me on my trip, and loved using it for morning and evening devotions (though I usually didn't have enough time in the morning to go through everything and almost always passed out at night before I could finish!). Now that I'm settling back in to life here in Jville, I love sitting with my coffee at the breakfast table and going through the BCP readings and Scripture.
That said, I want to share two prayers with you right now. Many of you will already have heard them (especially the first prayer, which is a prayer of confession). As I pray these prayers and meditate on God's goodness, I am so convicted and encouraged. Even if you already know them, I encourage you to go through them with fresh eyes and see if God uses them to speak to you.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.
Me enjoying the Black Sea in Sozopol, just south of Burgas in Bulgaria