The alarm blares as I slide off the bed and somehow make it into the shower – nearly blind without my glasses and halfway sleep-walking with my eyes closed as I turn the shower on. My routine begins. It mirrors the daily lives of so many Anglicans across North America and beyond. Before anything gets accomplished, the coffee is brewing and hits my lips. Now I can concentrate. Now I can pray.
Unlike my lay brothers and sisters however, I am bound by the spirit of the 1662 rubrics to begin the daily offices. Although bound by law, I must remind myself that the daily offices are not a burden to my soul, but are unmerited grace prodding me to bow before my Maker, confess my sins, and be reminded of His most excellent Son’s sacrifice atoning for my miserable offending with my darkened heart and disordered passions.
Morning prayer begins. The grace of hearing the Word of God passes through my lips and returns to me through my ears.
The Lord is present.
He always is. He is never far from us. I finish my first of many cups of coffee (black and unadulterated, the way the Lord made it) and head towards my basement to my office nook. The blue light of my computer fires up and I start the day reviewing contracts, answering questions and concerns about compliance, and counseling others on how to handle situations with legal implications. I am a minister to God’s Word, God’s sacraments, and an attorney at law.
My vocation, like everyone’s vocation, is multifaceted. I do not necessarily have two vocations, but like a diamond, all Christians are multifaceted and reflect and refract several vocations at once. After all, I am a father, a husband, a minister, an attorney, a citizen of my locality, a volunteer, a writer. But underlying and (Lord willing) permeating through each of these facets is the diamond that gleams – Christ Jesus – who has bought us from slavery into adopted sons of God Almighty.
This reality is something I must remind myself of; else, my sinful heart will appear more like a diamond in the rough – uncut, dark, barely reflecting the One who truly owns me. This is where the Kingdom of God and kingdoms of man meet. It begins with the daily reminder that we are not our own. Or, as I pray the Jubilate Deo in morning prayer: “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; * we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
Blame it on being a lawyer, but I need the rubric binding me to pray the daily offices because of my natural slothfulness – the old Adam who dies hard. Therefore, sharing a vocation as a priest and an attorney assists in my sanctification (insert lawyer joke that lawyers can never be sanctified). I need to be bound by grace, because this sinner keeps eying the law and thinking, “maybe I’m not half as bad as I think I am.” The irony is I am half-correct – I am not as bad as I think I am – I am far worse.
But God is far more gracious than I am a sinner. Selah.
The day passes by quickly. Hours pass as though they were minutes. I try as best as I can to pray for and over the person for whom I am doing case law research. I forget and then get frustrated at someone for a deadline that is impossible to meet, but I will find a way to get it done. Then I feel the Spirit’s rebuke for the silly and disproportionate anger I have for such a mild problem. If I am honest with you, I give into the sin to not pray. Then my alarm goes off – it is time for Mid-day prayer. There’s the reminder I needed to resist the temptation and submit to the Lord by praying. I use the break to eat lunch while praying – “multi-tasking” and failing at both on a regular basis. The afternoon always seems to burn off like kindling starting a fire.
Phone calls and Zoom teleconferences eat away at the afternoon sunlight. My spirit heeds the Spirit’s inwards groaning, and I am pushed by God’s grace to pray with those on the phone. I inevitably pray the words of a prayer book collect because they are familiar, like an old friend. And frankly, those prayers are far deeper and more comprehensive than the words stammering out of my clouded mind. Although I am a counselor at law, I am also a spiritual counselor, and I ask the person on the other line, “How can I pray for you?” and “How are you really doing?” If I have learned anything in my years of being clergy and an attorney, people will tell their barber, their bartender, and someone who passed the bar things that they would never tell their minister.
God, in His divine and delightful humor, placed me here for His purpose. I need that reminder every day. We pray as we conclude the call and I bless them – something unique for some fellow Christians in other denominations while for others I can hear or see it is refreshing and surprising to receive a blessing from a lawyer. But I am more than a lawyer. I am more than a priest. I am a redeemed sinner, and every vocation God has blessed me with is an opportunity for Him to reflect the Son through me.
O God, make clean our hearts within us.
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.
Evening approaches. The sun’s rays are restrained as my eyes glaze over the words written by judges who have long passed and met their eternal reward. I think to what I have done and left undone.
Then the alarm rings – time for evening prayer.
I am a creature of habit. I have a particular method for how I store legal files; how I draft memoranda; how I write briefs; how I advise my clients; and how I move throughout the day. Years ago, I realized I am specially equipped to waste the time God provides instead of redeeming the time. One of the blessings of being a Christian in the Anglican tradition, is being rooted within time and grounded by the old paths of the prayer book. St. Paul urges us to “redeem the time” and “pray without ceasing.” This disobedient Christian needs the annoyance of a cell phone alarm to remind me to do my duty – pray, pray, and keep praying. Instead of gothic cathedrals tolling, I select a modern bell chime from my phone to beckon me to give the day a rest, and my soul rest, by going before the Lord in evening prayer.
The shadows of the sun’s setting envelops our home. I reach for my old friend and comfort, a leather Bible. The problems dancing in my head of work left undone is laid aside as I seek counsel from the Word of the Lord. It is more than a spiritual discipline, it is spiritual warfare as anything and everything appears to distract me from focusing on the wisdom of Holy Scripture. The battle to focus the mind on the eternal words on the pages is well worth it. The Scriptures help me to see who I really am, and who I belong to. Sleep inevitably pulls itself over my eyelids and I relinquish into the night, ready for another day.
This picture of daily life illustrates that the struggle we engage in is the same – whether laity or clergy – regardless of our multi-faceted vocations, we share a common call in Christ is to never forget the diamond of His Gospel that lives within us sinners. He is calling us in every profession, role, position, and vocation where we find ourselves to bear witness and shine His light. It is difficult while in this flesh, but we are gifted and equipped not with bootstraps to pull, but with the ever-living Eternal Spirit of Truth who is transforming and setting apart these bodies of dust into glorious temples of His Holy Ghost.
Be of good cheer and encouraged my fellow sinners, for Christ is risen and He is with you in your work, in your life, with your loves, and every ounce of our lives in this City of Man should bear fruit and point towards the City of God, the heavenly Jerusalem that is descending until heaven meets earth at Christ’s return. Therefore, let us redeem the time with our prayers, by our service, through our vocations to a world that is desperately in need Christ-bearing mechanics, cashiers, baristas, teachers, physicians, and yes – even lawyers.
Soli Deo gloria.
Originally published at https://www.anglicanchaplains-etf.org/