Evening Prayer: Twelfth Night (Eve of Epiphany)


Psalms: 29, 98
Old Testament: Isaiah 66:18-23
New Testament: Romans 15:7-13

Movilio courting Olivia from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  Being the last day/evening of Christmas, January 5th is a popular night for festive celebration and entertainment in Britain.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)

So distracted…….must…..post…..to…….blog :S

Seriously……I think I’m relishing in my laziness….I only have some 20 days of being slothful….after that, and being ordained, praying the Daily Office every day becomes part of a vow and something I can’t ignore lol 🙂

Tonight was one of the first evenings in a while that I felt myself missing prayer….so here I am….some 60 minutes later with some thoughts.

The quote from Romans above can be used as one of the closing lines of Morning or Evening Prayer….and I think it’s important for us to take some time to look at this whole peace and joy business :).

As a former Roman Catholic, and finding myself in a fractured Church family…(although come to think of it, the Church is always broken)….I often find myself faced with walls of bias, mistrust, or outright distaste.

To give an example of what I am talking about….I have heard stories of RC clergy that have refused to give Anglican clergy the Eucharist. While this definitely falls within the priest’s jurisdiction of Closed Communion…it has always baffled me.

Similary, I find it odd when those who are ordained or involved in the Church “write off” or try to explain away the past atrocities of the institution they serve. For survivors of sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse, those scars are real and don’t go away. 😦

The message of the Epiphany though is that nothing that divides us is as strong as the the God who binds us together. The joy and peace that comes from believing is not necessarily a feeling of certainty…..but of a knowledge that we are part of something bigger….

Something that has the power to bring even the furthest apart to an intimate close relationship.

The walls of denomination, skepticism, or misguided behaviour mean nothing when we remember that God called the entire world “very good” and that his Son came to set up a tent with us in solidarity.

We are never alone…and while that notion can be scary sometimes…..it can also be the one thing that gives us something to hope for, and a joy to cling to. +

Happy New Year Everyone!

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Just a little note to say that I’m back from vacation and will start posting again tomorrow 🙂

For the 8th day of Christmas, and to celebrate the new calendar year, I bring you a little bit of joy from the Muppets

On The 2nd Day of Christmas, A blogger gave to me…….

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A song for the feast of St. Stephen, celebrated today 😀

Christmas Day (December 25th)

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For unto us a child is born, O come let us worship! +

Christmas Eve Sermon

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Since I will be at Christmas services until midnight or shortly thereafter, I have decided to post my sermon notes/pointers in lieu of MP/EP. Keep in mind that this is not the script I use, as I rarely preach with notes in front of me…..but it conveys the basic gist.

I hope this night finds you surrounded by the love, peace, and joy of the Christmas season……Unto us, a child is born, Alleluia! O come, let us worship!

O Lord touch the words of my tongue so that only the truth may be spoken, and only the truth heard. Amen.

Merry Christmas everyone! For those who are visiting here, I hope you find this service one of warmth and hospitality as we all gather to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord.

I have no problem telling you that while I am joyful this evening, I am also incredibly nervous. This is my first opportunity to preach on Christmas Eve and I’m just a *little* freaked. I think part of the reason is that this holiday means so many different things to a whole lot of people.

I shared some of this anxiety via a FB status last week….and I got many solid pieces of advice. One of which was: “Keep it short, and sweet and they’ll love you forever”…I’ll definitely try and do that as we hear this gospel passage together.

The other bit of conversation that has been shaping my thoughts this week is a conversation I had with my girlfriend on Monday.

We were hanging out, and I asked her what Christmas was all about (half-expecting her to repeat Linus’ monologue from Charlie Brown’s Christmas) when she looked up at me and said with excitement “PRESENTS?!?”

We laughed about it at the time…..but for whatever reason it stuck in my head. I LOVE presents. I have fond memories of receiving all kinds of interesting gifts….like the one year I got a punching bag for Christmas…..which I think I touched maybe half a dozen times after the holidays……or the time when my sisters and I were taken downstairs to have a pool-table and air-hockey table magically appear before our eyes.

Not gonna lie. That stuff is awesome. And I’m very lucky that my parents had the resources (especially as they got older) to get us these gifts.

But why is it such a natural impulse to give gifts at Christmas? We all want stuff….but why would we spend 3 hours in a mob of people at the shopping mall to get it?

I think at the heart of it….when we buy or make someone a gift…..we are making a statement……

In presenting someone with a gift, we want to honour and surprise the person we care for by giving them something meaningful……to quantify—or make known in some sense—what they really mean to us.

I know that this year (at least for me) things have been financially tight. I haven’t been able to spend as much and sometimes feel like I’m being cheap……that my gifts don’t always accurately reflect what I want to say…..they don’t say “I love you” loud enough.

And that’s where tonight’s gospel challenges us. God wanted to give us a gift too….He wanted to shout to all humanity…..beyond everything else…..I love you…..

God could have given us anything…..piles and piles of gold…..he could have asked each individual in the world what they wanted and granted it…..and yet…..what do we find??? A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Instead of “stuff” we get something else. Something we don’t expect…..An infant arrives in a stable……a light to those in darkness……Emmanu-el, God with us….to say without a doubt…..I want to give everything I have…..eveything that I am….to you. You are my beloved.

Oftentimes we don’t conceive of God as someone who WANTS to be with us…Rather it’s because he’s the big sky-god that needed to come down and save us from our sins….

But the message of Christmas is something entirely different.

God says that this night and tomorrow shall be his dancing day, I would my true love give the chance to see the legend of my play and call my true love to my dance. Sing O my love, my love, this have I done for my true love.

Through Christ becoming one of us, God invites us into a new way of living. A way that’s not based on stuff…..but on giving the gift that counts the most….our hearts.

The best way that anyone can express their love for another is to spend time with them, to weep with them when they cry, to laugh with them in times of joy, and yes even to dance when the occasion calls for it.

As you leave this place to celebrate the rest of the holidays, I leave you with this thought….indeed Christmas IS all about the gifts….but not the stuff we can find at the store……

It’s about giving the gift of ourselves to those who are important to us. To let them know exactly how we feel about them…and to extend that love to others who might not otherwise experience it.

Whenever you can, let people get to know you. Whether they be a total stranger on the street or someone you’ve known for a long time. And I say this not as some self-help lesson….but because in doing so, we are following the Christ who gave us the greatest gift possible…and allowed us to see God face to face. Amen. +

Evening Prayer: Fri. of Epiphany 1

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Psalms: 114 , 115
Gospel: John 2:1-11
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Maximus of Turin

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you. (John 2:3b-4)

Every so often we need someone to give us a kick in the ass. I know that’s certainly true in my life. I make no bones about the fact that I am one lazy dude. I like to sleep in, procrastinate, and rationalize why I can’t do something.

Sometimes the person who gives me that reality check is my spiritual director, at other times it is the people that I am ministering to in my pastoral care.

Most often though, the person who gives me the wake-up call is my Mom.

Moms are weird like that. They have a sense of who were are, and what we are capable of. When they see us not living up to that potential, they are not hesitant to speak up.

I suspect it’s because our mothers are always the ones who have known us the longest. They have known us even before we were born; and Mary, the mother of God, is no exception.

Here at the wedding of Cana, she sees a chance for her Son to bring people to faith. Despite Jesus’ own misgivings, she confidently expresses to the servants that he will act, and that they are to follow his instructions.

This first miracle of Jesus is not a cheap one either. Twenty or thirty gallons is a LOT of wine to have at a wedding. The fact that Christ would be so extravagant points to an important aspect of God. He is not only a loving LORD, he is also a generous friend.

The wine that God provides to the wedding guests is of the very best quality. God does not chince out. He wants us not only to live life, but to enjoy it, and live in abundance :D.

As we go forward tonight, let us give thanks to those friends, family, and loved ones who are always there to give us that extra push in the right direction. +

P.S. A friend on my FB page reminded me that today (Jan. 7th) is Christmas Day within the Eastern Orthodox tradition :D. May all of our brothers and sisters in the Eastern and Oriental Churches be blessed with the Light of the Christ-child, and be filled with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. 😀 ❤ +

Evening Prayer: Twelfth Night (Eve of Epiphany)

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Psalm(s): 29 , 98
Old Testament: Isaiah 66:18-23
New Testament: Romans 15:7-13

Tonight marks the start of Epiphany season. This is the time when we contemplate what it means for Jesus to be Saviour for the whole of creation and not just for the Jewish people.

One of the main points of the magi visiting is that they are on the outside coming in to worship the Son of God. Their arrival marks the start of a ministry that will last for the rest of Jesus’ earthly life…and continue on in the life and faith of the Church.

As we migrate through the next two months of this new liturgical cycle, we are invited to continue contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation…what does it mean for God to dwell amongst his people and open their hearts??? What does it mean for us as inheritors of a tradition 2011 years in the making????+

Morning Prayer: 12th Day of Christmas

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Psalm(s): 2, 110
Old Testament: Joshua 1:1-9
New Testament: Hebrews 11:32-12:2

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)

The command from YHWH to “be courageous” is repeated three times in today’s Old Testament reading.

Anyone who has studied ancient texts and scriptures knows that repetition is a key literary device. It provides a framework for the text, and serves as the central message or theme for the passage–and sometimes–the book as a whole.

The book of Joshua is all about being coraugeous. It is a scripture filled with battles, chaos and confusion. The Israelite people are faced with imposssible odds as they march to take posession of the land which God has promised them.

Having faith that God will prevail in our lives takes a lot of courage. I know for myself that there are many times when I doubt whether I will be ordained or not….whether my ODSP cheque will stretch far enough to cover bills and groceries.

It also takes a lot of strength and courage to deal with people and situations which overwhelm us. When there are tasks in front of us that just seem way too big to accomplish.

The Good News in all of this though…is that we are not alone in these endeavours. God continually promises Joshua (and us) that he is standing at our side….ready to defend us and lift us up. 🙂

Personally, I also take comfort not only in Divine support…but in the knowledge that I am not the only one who must make this leap of faith. Everyone who is on the path of faith is called to be strong and brave…..and we can suppport each other as we journey together….moving the mountains which stand in our way and taking hold of the promises that God has set before us. +

Evening Prayer: 11th Day of Christmas

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Psalm: 72
Gospel: John 10:10-17
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from The Five Hundred Verses of St. Maximus the Confessor

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice

Tonight I want to cover the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It might sound odd for someone for someone with an M. Div. to say….but I have always been somewhat perplexed and challenged by this depiction of God.

For one it reinforces the idea that the Son came into the world not to condemn the world….but to save it. Pretty straightforward stuff right???

But here’s the thing…..While I can believe that…..it’s very hard for me to deal with the implications of such an idea. When I come across people I consider immoral….or whom I don’t like very much…I want to see them punished…..and I want to see them punished now! 😛

When I say punished I don’t mean I want to see them put to death…..but it certainly wouldn’t hurt my ego to see the people I don’t like be publicly embarrased at some point….or to see them fail in some aspect of their lives.

But that’s not how Grace works…..God’s way is not our way. Grace is precisely those who don’t deserve anything receiving a Gift anyway. Of wrong-doing being forgiven rather than punished….

Grace is not about justice….Grace is about pure love. 😀

On the flip side of this Grace coin…I sometimes wonder whether it is really true??? Is it a reality??? or is it some myth people have made up to excuse the bad behaviour in our lives???

I have done some pretty horrible things in my life. I have caused physical, mental, and emotional damage to strangers, friends, family….and even against those whom I love more than life itself. 😦

I think that’s where faith comes in. Faith is different than certainty. We aren’t asked by Jesus to know that He speaks the truth..only to believe it.

Faith in our relationships–both human and divine–means that there is an element of trust involved. While I don’t know that my sins have been forgiven….I trust that it is so. For my part, I also endeavour to follow Jesus’ teachings to the best of my ability.

If Grace has been extended to me–who definitely does not deserve it–who am I to judge the next person beside me…let alone someone who has done me harm???

This trust in God’s grace through Christ is the whole hope of the Church. We act together as a community of faith to follow the Shepherd as best we can…and to be open to the fact that even those outside of the fold are cared for and loved beyond all measure. +

Morning Prayer: 11th Day After Christmas

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Old Testament:Genesis 28:10-22
New Testament: Hebrews 11:13-22

Augh!! I screwed up again :(…..I went through all of yesterday thinking it was Tuesday and posted today’s readings in Jan. 3rd’s spot….I /FAIL at life…..anyway today’s lections are from Jan. 3rd…..I need to pay closer attention next time 😦

Anyhoo here we have the story of Jacob’s ladder. I have always liked the image of angels ascending and descending towards Earth. It serves–at least for me–as a reminder that Heaven and Earth are not two distinct places….but rather that they are interconnected.

There is a song that the choir in my highschool always used to sing……the chorus goes like this:

Oh I believe there are angels among us.
Sent down to us from somewhere up above.
They come to you and me in our darkest hours.
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give.
To guide us with the light of love

Maybe it was because they over-used it……or maybe it’s cause the song is so damn catchy…..but those lines always stayed with me.

If you read the rest of the lyrics the angels don’t take the form of flying humans robed in white but in the people we meet and hear from every day.

God works not only in the supernatural sense…..but can also speak to us in the people, places and things we are already familar with.

May you meet an angel this day and be brought closer to the one who formed you from the dust, filled you with His Light, and marked you as His very own child. +

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