"Jesus said, I have come in order that you might have life--life in all its fullness."
"Be Still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:14
Think of the word, 'church', and what do you think of? I don't know about you, but I immediately hear organ music. I think of choirs and sermons and hard pews, lined up nicely in front of a stained glass window or two. I think of the kids skipping off to Sunday School, and the adults having coffee and chit-chat during 'fellowship'. I think of dress-up clothes and dress-up attitudes and dress-up platitudes. Now don't get me wrong. The Bible states clearly and emphatically that as Christians it is crucial that we gather together. And there is certainly nothing wrong with honoring Our Lord in lovely and reverent surroundings. The traditions of church are centuries old, and when it has earnestly followed the Bible and not man, church has woven good societies together. For some, attending church is where they find God. For others, church has turned them away from God. And perhaps there are others, like myself, that attend organized church, but are hungry for additional worship experiences, different ways to praise and connect.
I decided to follow Anglicanism, because this particular doctrine follows worship forms that have been carefully handed down since the time of the apostles. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the early church was largely composed of families worshipping privately in their homes. And in the Old Testament, patriarchs like Jacob, Joshua, and Moses all led their families in home worship.
I believe there is a special blessing for those who cultivate home worship. Although He is omnipresent, it doesn't mean that it doesn't please Him enormously to be invited and welcomed into your day to day life, through your front door and even deeper into your heart. Family worship is a way to do this, to learn about Jesus and his ways, to check in with Him daily in good times and bad, to reaffirm that He is near and to learn more about him in His Word and through praising him. Although a formal Anglican ceremony is listed below, there are a myriad of ways to worship. Sing songs, read a chapter out of the Bible and discuss it, or choose one of the thousands of good devotional books out there in your local Bible bookstore. Pray simple prayers together, or even watch a good Biblical story on TV and discuss it later. Today there are a dizzying array of educational materials out there for children. Worship can be as basic as children coloring a picture of Jesus and the disciples, or as complex as an adult Bible study with support books and CDs. Find something that you think you will really be passionate about, something that you feel will meet the personal needs of your family, and do it together as often as you can, but don't worry if you miss a time or two. Too often, when we miss devotions, this can morph into an excuse to 'give up', since you haven't done it consistently or 'perfectly', like we've blown some sort of celestial attendance record. It is amazing how often I encounter folks who believe that if they don't do their devotions every single night, somehow they've 'failed', and they should just let their Bibles go back to gathering dust. Don't let Satan do that little trick to you. (Heck, it's happened to me a time or two!) God applauds every single time you try, and every attempt builds a relationship that is just a little bit stronger than it was before. So get back up and continue again!
Friar Tuck (aka Father Dave)
Morning Devotion--in the Anglican Tradition
Morning prayers last approximately 12-16 minutes.
"Follow the Lord and Honor him: obey him and keep his commands; worship him and be faithful to him." Deuteronomy 13:3-4
"Be joyful there in his presence, together with your children." Deuteronomy 12:12.
If the father of the home is present, he is to lead devotions. If the father is absent, the mother can lead devotions. If both parents are absent, the oldest child is to lead devotions. If the oldest child abdicates his responsibility, the youngest child can lead devotions. Always conduct your service in front of the family alter. A family altar may be a crucifix on the wall, or a picture of Jesus on a bookshelf, or a hand drawn picture of a cross on the kitchen table. An altar is any space that you believe has been set apart, even if it is for this period of prayers only. Sacred space dedicated to God is all you need. For the most important space and most sacred of spaces dedicated for God is not a physical location, rather, it is inside your heart.
We begin with our right hand by saying; "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen." The word amen, means "I believe."
"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be always acceptable in they sight, O'Lord, my strength and my redeemer." Psalm 29:14
My family, the scripture moveth us, in sundry places, to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father: but confess them with a humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy. And although we ought, at all times, humbly to acknowledge our sins before God; yet ought we chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet together as a family to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul. Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart, and humble voice, unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying-
Whole family kneeling:
Almighty and most merciful Father: We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against they holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are pentitent; according to they promises declared unto mankind. In Christ Jesus our Lord. And Grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name, Amen.
Leader standing, family kneeling:
Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live, hath given power, and commandment, to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins. He pardoneth and absolveth all those who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.
Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do at this present; and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; though Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
The leader shall kneel (if possible) and lead the family to kneel (placing pillows under their knees if possible). The leader will say,
"The Apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray in Matthew chapter six. Jesus taught them how to pray in Matthew chapter six, verse 9-13.Thus, we are bold to repeat the words of Jesus by saying";
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be they Name. They kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kindom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Lord, open thou our lips.
And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.
Leader (bowing at the hip):
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.
Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord's name be praised!
Leader(Venite, exultemus Domino):
O Come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and show ourselves glad in him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God; and a great king above all gods. In his hand are all the corners of the earth; and the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it; and his hands prepared the dry land. O come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is the Lord our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth stand in awe of him. For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; and with righteousness to judge the world, and the peoples with his truth.
Sing a song about God or Jesus. Make sure it is age appropriate.
Choose a psalm. Read it responsively. The leader shall read one line. The whole family will finish the verse.
Leader (bowing at the hips):
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Read a section from the Old Testament.
Thanks be to God.
Lord, save thy people, and bless thine heritage. Govern them, and lift them up for ever. Day by day we magnify thee; and we worship they Name forever, world without end. Vouchsafe my family, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us. O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in thee. O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.
Read a section from the Epistles. You can allow your children to read this if they are able to read.
Thanks be to God.
Leader (Jubilate Deo):
Be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands; serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with a song. Be ye sure that the Lord he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving. And into his courts with praise, be thankful unto him and speak good of his Name. For the Lord is gracious, his mercy everlasting; and his truth endureth from generation to generation.
Lead another age appropriate song about Jesus or God.
(Normally this should be the wife of the couple. It is always the deacon's responsibility to read the gospel. The gospel of Jesus is the most important of all teachings):
The co-leaders states; This is a reading from the Gospel according to Saint____________, beginning in the _________ chapter, verses____________. At which time, the reader leads the family in making the sign of the cross over their forehead, their lips, and their heart. Read a section from the Gospels of Jesus Christ. The reader will end by saying, this is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Glory to you O Lord.
My family, I love you so much. I want to love you in the same way that Jesus loves us. Jesus loves us so much that he willingly died for us. It is important we understand our faith and the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It is important that we can tell others about Jesus. Thus, we must understand what the Apostles, who knew Jesus, passed down to us through their teachings and made into our Nicene Creed. The Apostles taught us the truth of God and of his Son, Jesus. Thus, I believe in one God the Father Almighty. Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God: Begotten of his Father before all worlds.God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered, died, and was buried: And on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick (living) and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the prophets: And I believe in one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: and I look for the resurrection of the dead: and the Life of the world to come. Amen.
The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.O Lord, show thy mercy upon us.
And grant us they salvation.
God, make clean our hearts within us.
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.
God taught us to teach our children. Today, I accept that responsibility to teach you what God wanted us to know. God said in Deuteronomy 4:9-10; "9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children." Thus, today, I share with you, the family that I love, the Ten Commandments of our Heavenly Father and the two additional commandments of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
God said; "I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have none other gods but me.
God said; "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them for I, the Lord thy God am a jealous God and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and show mercy unto thousands in them that love me and keep my commandments.
God said; "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
God said; "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work; thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, thy man servant,and thy maid servant, thy cattle, and the stranger that is within thy gates, for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
God said; "Honor thy Father and thy mother."
God said; "Thou shalt do no murder."
God said; "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
God said; "Thou shalt not steal."
God said; "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
God said; "Thou shalt not covet."
Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, and incline our hearts to keep these laws, we beseech thee.
Jesus taught us; "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."
Jesus taught us; "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self."
Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, and incline our hearts to keep these laws, we beseech thee.
Almighty Lord, and everlasting God, vouchsafe my family, we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern, both our hearts and bodies, in the ways of thy laws, and in the works of thy commandments; that, through thy most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
As for me and my house
We will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).