Posted by: davidlarkin | November 5, 2011

Darkness at Noon

O God, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you: for in repentance and rest shall we be saved; in quietness and trust shall be our strength.

Isaiah 26:3 and 30:15 (Adapted)

This devotional passage, which combines two verses from Isaiah, is adapted from the noon reading in the daily devotionals in the Anglican/Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (“BCP”). I prefer and have replaced “returning” in the BCP reading with “repentance” in the passage as the Hebrew is translated in the New International Version 1984.

I have the BCP daily devotionals as a personal document on my kindle for my use. Today I noticed the wisdom of placing this passage in the noon devotional. Mid-day is when we are half way through the stress of the work day and a pause for prayer for peace is just right. Noon can be a time of spiritual darkness – worry, anxiety, confusion, or just longing for the end of the work day or the work week as we contemplate a lonely sandwich, or skip lunch because there is no time.

In the mid-1980s, I remember waiting for a bus in Los Angeles while my spirit and mind were highly distressed about my life. Likely I was running out of money and wondering where I would find a job. I was carrying a pocket New Testament and I remembered Paul’s wonderful remedy for worry and stress:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:6-8 (New International Version 1984)

Paul tells us not to worry, and that through prayer for peace, we will have it. And with “thanksgiving” to give thanks, and to remind us of our dependence on God, and how He supplies our needs, including our emotional needs. Further he admonishes us to think on good things as a means to continuing peace. I remember reading that passage as a prayer waiting for the bus, and because it worked. It was the first time I had applied the passage in real time and I remember it vividly. The noon passage from the BCP is a very short prayer and petition for peace, hence the wisdom of including it at noon for devotions.

Paul’s admonishment is a practical application of Jesus’s words from the Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34 (New International Version 1984)

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