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.Β  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 πŸ™‚

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. +

Evening Prayer: Shrove Tuesday (March 8th)

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Psalms: 36, 39
Gospel: John 1:18-29
Patristic Reading: N/A

For I am but a sojourner with you;
a wayfarer just as my forbears were (Psalm 39:12b)

Since the early days of the Church, the season of Lent has been paralleled with the Israelites 40 years in the desert. As a result of the sin of idolatry with the Golden Calf (along with some other major offences) God declares that the 12 tribes must take the long way around, and wait for the entire corrupt generation to die off.

In this 40 year period, the emerging Jewish people are beset by temptations, infighting, jealousy, abuses of power…every trial under the sun.

Likewise in Lent, we read about how Jesus was tempted by the devil before starting his public ministry….of his internal struggle and frustration of trying to explain to the disciples that yes….he must actually die in order for God’s plan to of salvation is carried out. He even faces outright rebellion from his own disciples…..so intense that he must declare “Get behind me Satan!”

In these 40 days and 40 nights…..we too will be stretched. We will read difficult passages, and contemplate difficult teachings. We too will be tempted to cave on our fast. To go back to our old ways because it is comfortable and convenient. We may even be tempted to walk away from God completely :(.

Whatever the case may be…..we are called to make the journey….to see where the road leads…….and what awaits us at the end. May we have the courage not to look backwards; walk forward with confidence, curiosity, and hope.

I will set my eyes on your hill
Jerusalem, my destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way,
this journey is my destiny!
Let no one walk alone,
the journey makes us one.+

Morning Prayer: Shrove Tuesday (March 8th)

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Psalms: 26, 28
Old Testament: Deut 6:16-25
New Testament: Hebrews 2:1-10

While not an official feast-day in the liturgical calendar, Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday) is BY FAR one of the best celebrations of the Church.

I ❀ breakfast food…….a LOT! So anytime it can be had twice on the same day I am SO in! πŸ˜€

Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to party and celebrate before the Great Lent begins tomorrow–on Ash Wednesday. The 40 days of Lent were/are traditionally observed as a fasting period, and Mardi Gras served as a way to get rid of all the fat and sugar in one's household.

A traditional fast is still maintained by the Eastern Orthodox churches, with the eating of meat and dairy products highly discouraged.

In the West, fasting from food or drink has fallen by the wayside; but many have held on to a tradition of "giving something up" for Lent…or conversely taking something on in order to enhance their spiritual growth.

Today's Scripture for the Daily Office is particularly appropriate as we head into the six weeks leading up to Easter. When children ask "What is the meaning of the Law and statutes of God???", the Jewish people are not told to give a strictly intellectual response. Rather, they are to remember God's saving acts and to tell these stories with joy from one generation to another:

We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. The LORD displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household. He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors. Then the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case. If we diligently observe this entire commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, we will be in the right. (Deut 6:22-25)

The instruction here is not to give a straightforward answer……but rather to point to the traditions and stories of our faith; to contemplate them and turn them over in our minds….looking at things with a new perspective. Remembering the WHY of what we do….as opposed to just doing it out of habit.

In the next forty days, we are called to remember the story of Jesus’ temptation, his trek to Jerusalem, his betrayal, torture, death, and–finally–rising victorious from the grave.

May we not seek to give straightforward answers…but rather point to the stories of Jesus, and let those narratives guide the way through the wilderness….inviting others to join us along the way +

P.S. EP will be posted a little later than usual since the pancake supper at my parish goes ’till 7pm πŸ™‚

Evening Prayer: March 7th

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Psalms: 9, 15
Gospel: John 1:1-18
Patristic Reading: N/A

And the Word became flesh…..From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:14;16)

Gregory of Nazianzus once wrote “the unassumed is the unhealed”. For Gregory and the Early Church Fathers, the whole point of Jesus coming to earth and becoming human was so that all human beings could be washed clean of sin. If he were to have come just as fully divine, nothing about man’s nature could be changed. Sin could not be remedied.

But (as the early councils of the Church clarified) we are confident that God came to earth both as fully human and fully divine and this has far deeper implications for how we enter into relationship with our Creator.

As the Word became flesh……he also assumed everything about us. Joy, hate, fear, anger….all our emotions have been shared and experienced by the Son.

To be honest with you, this is one of the greatest reasons why I am a Christian in the first place. It’s not only that my salvation is assured…..but it gives me great comfort to know that I am not alone in feeling all the ups and downs of life. Our God is not an impersonal benefactor. He is not an impartial judge with no sense of compassion.

Rather he is someone who has felt the emptiness of hunger, the longing of thirst, the pain of abandonment, and the despair of doubt. Likewise…..Jesus is someone who rejoices with us in times of abundance, prosperity, hope and joy. πŸ˜€

Our God is one who journeys with us during Lent on the long road to Jerusalem, and invites us to new life in the glory of the empty tomb…..

Thanks be to God πŸ˜€ ❀ +

Morning Prayer: March 7th


Psalm: 25
Old Testament: Deut 6:10-15
New Testament: Hebrews 1:1-11

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me* out of my distress.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:16-18)

I’m definitely distracted today after the meeting with my Archdeacon. Basically, it seems the powers that be are confuzzled (understandably so) over what to do with access to the altar in any potential placement. I keep saying it’s not a huge problem, and I am fast approaching the point of not being polite about it anymore. Not quite over the edge but almost lol ;).

I know it’s somewhat dangerous putting this out in a public forum where my potential employers could read it, but something needs to be said.

Let me be very clear. I am very sympathetic to church architecture, history, and the concept of sacred space. I get that raised altars and steps signify approaching heaven and God’s glory. Some high altars are absolutely beautiful……but what about looking at it from the other side???

I also TOTALLY admit having a bias here (duh!), but isn’t the Incarnation about God coming down to us??? Not us ascending to Him??? Why should we be so afraid of changing or moving the holy furniture? An altar is still holy no matter where it stands….and call me crazy…..but I hold out the hope that congregations….the people of God are not shallow communities. πŸ˜€ ❀

I think if people *knew* they had a disabled person coming to minister to them, they would open to having an accessible altar….. I can definitely understand that there might be some resistance…..even some questions as to whether the chancel area and altar are "wasted" if they aren't used on a regular basis….these are good questions…….but NO ONE is having these conversations. So…. I guess I'm starting them here πŸ˜€

It is easy to say "the church is wrong…….boo to exclusion!!!"……but let's face it……up until the 1960s and beyond there was no "formal" participation by the disabled community in liturgical life…….Churches simply didn't have wheelchair accessibility on the agenda….and probably would not have even occurred to them to think of such things. The institution/Diocese is not the bad guy here .

I get that and I don't hold a grudge……really I don't :)…..but this is now 2011. More than that, the Christian Church–especially in North America–is going through another reformation…..a re-imagining of itself and what the role of the faithful is in a post-modern, post-internet age is…..and one of the things we *must* rethink what it means to be accessible to all…not just to people in wheelchairs.

The issue of accessibility is not only about justice, equal access, or even compassion…..it is about incorporating EVERYONE who is baptized into the community. I truly believe that if we frame it in *that* context, congregations would be much more open to change….to try something a little different……at least that is what I pray for. πŸ˜€

As the quote from Psalm 25 states….all I can do at this point is put my trust in God and work like hell to remember that the Church is not just bricks, mortar, and stairs….but a movement….a community of people that works together to preach the gospel …..and one that relies completely on God’s love, mercy, and grace in its life together. +

Evening Prayer: Last Sunday of Epiphany (Transfiguration Sunday)

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Psalms: 114, 115
Gospel: John 12:24-32
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Confessions of St. Augustine

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25)

The whole idea of dying to ourselves is a scary idea; especially in a culture that puts so much emphasis on the individual self. Note though, that Jesus’ words here don’t advocate dying just for the sake of dying, but so that we can grow and gain true and abundant life.

It’s also somewhat appropriate that we are reading this *just* as we head in towards Lent; a time when traditionally we let something go or give something up.

The Lenten discipline is not so much about self-induced torture as it is recognizing something as an excess……as something which is potentially holding us back from our getting to know Christ fully.

For me this year it’s coffee…I rely way too much on stimulants to keep me going rather than a regular cycle of prayer, eating healthy, and exercise.

On the surface this may seem like a simple self-help technique…..but it’s really not. Christian living is one that is Incarnational; a lifestyle which celebrates body and soul being interconnected and whole. Something which I have not attended to in a very long time.

So what about you? What are you willing to give up this Lent???? What might help you to grow spiritually, emotionally, or physically this year and bring you closer into line with God??? +

Morning Prayer: Last Sunday of Epiphany (Transfiguration Sunday)

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Psalms: 148, 149, 150
Old Testament: Deut 6:1-9
New Testament: Hebrews 12:18-29

So why is this commandment set above all others??? What is its significance?

At first glance it seems obvious……of course we love God…..don’t we???? It makes sense that we have an affection for the one who created us from the dust. But do we love him to the exclusion of all else???

It is no surprise that the Shema is always coupled with the commandment not to have other gods before YHWH.

You may remember last month, I mentioned Tim Keller In his book Counterfeit Gods he argues that these Gods refer not only to foreign deities but to ideas and roles as well.

Do we love God more than wealth? Do we love God more than we love our independence? Do we love God more than being a parent? A spouse? A student? A priest?

These questions are difficult as they cut to the very heart of our identity :P…..That said, I do wonder what the answer to these questions would be if we were to answer honestly. +

Evening Prayer: March 5th

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Psalms: 110, 116, 117
Gospel: Matt 7:22-29
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Zeno of Verona

I remember this Gospel passage as the one used for my sister’s wedding; kind of appropriate given the stuff that I’ve been reflecting on about trust and relationship in the last few posts.

Rocks are an important image in the Bible. In the Psalms, God is often referred to as the rock and refuge of Israel and the oppressed. In the Exodus story, God makes water to flow from a rock in the desert, so that his people to not die of thirst. Jesus calls Peter the rock on which he will build his Church.

Rocks are solid and intractable. Yet they also come in a variety of shapes, colours, compositions, weight, etc.

No two rocks are the same….each has been uniquely formed by tectonic force……bearing the stamp of the stress and pressure they have been under.

We are kind of like that too. Each experience in our life….whether it be stressful, joyful, or otherwise exerts certain pressures on us. They change the way we are shaped.

Sometimes it’s for the worse, but sometimes for the better…but we are nonetheless different from how we were before. I hope that as we move forward in our lives…..we continue to be shaped by our experiences. With any luck, the end result will be that the people around us will encounter someone who is changed by their joy and delight, rather than twisted and warped by frustration, hate, and disappointment. +

Morning Prayer: March 5th

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Psalms: 20, 21
Old Testament: Deut 5:21-32
New Testament: 2 Cor 13

Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.
They will collapse and fall,
but we shall rise and stand upright. (Psalm 20:7-8)

When I went to go visit my family last weekend, I attended Mass at our home parish and heard this hymn:



All that we have and all that we offer
Comes from our hearts both frightened and free
Take what we bring now and give what we need
All done in His name

Some men rely on their power
Others put trust in their gold
Some men have only their Saviour
Whose faithfulness never grow old

(Repeat Refrain)

Sometimes the road may be lonesome
Often we may lose our way
Take courage and always remember
Love isn’t just for a day

(Repeat Refrain)

Sometimes when troubles are many
Life can seem empty it’s true
But look at the life of the Master
Who lovingly suffered for you

Trust is a crucial component to every relationship, whether human or Divine.Β  Make no mistake……there will be times that we feel that trust has been breeched between the Creator and ourselves….When we feel abandoned and betrayed.

But here’s the thing: So did Jesus.

On the Cross we don’t have a confident Saviour…..but one who cries out “My God, my God why have you abandoned me?”Β  In Christ’s death we have an apparent breaking of covenant and law.Β  The righteous man is not supposed to die, nor the innocent man condemned…..God is supposed to protect the innocent……..and yet we find the Son of God suffering, dead, and laid in a tomb.

3 days later…….the story takes a dramatic turn.Β  Jesus is raised, and trust is restored.Β  What felt like abandonment only a few short hours ago is now the joy of reunion……and what seemed like a gross injustice is now revealed as the most loving justice for all that could ever be dreamed of. πŸ™‚

The next time you feel your trust waining…..know that a) it is completely normal and b) that our Heavenly Father will restore it so that we can live more fully into His presence.+

Evening Prayer: March 4th (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 16, 17, 22
Old Testament: Deut 5:1-12
New Testament: 2 Cor 12:11-21
Gospel: Matthew 7:13-21
Patrstic Reading: An excerpt from the Moral Reflections on Job by St. Gregory the Great

So today we have the Ten commandments coupled with this line from the Gospel:

β€˜Not everyone who says to me, β€œLord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (Matt 7:21)

Eek! :S……It’s sometimes uncomfortable to think about, the connection between word and deed is important for us to think about; especially given the Protestant heritage of the Anglican Church.

As the Reformation evolved from Luther, a special emphasis was put on choosing Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour. While the idea of a personal relationship and profession of faith is good in and of itself…..it can sometimes be twisted.

A classic example is the “sinner’s prayer” and altar calls in the more “Evangelical” traditions. While I don’t agree with every theological stance that he takes….one preacher who tackles this issue brilliantly is Paul Washer:

The key for the life of faith is that words and actions meet so that our faith is not proven to be dead.

It is easy to get sucked into the idea that all we need to do is believe. I know I’ve fallen in the trap before….and I think we all do at some point :P….Just because the Reformation put so much emphasis on the fact that we are totally depraved, doesn’t mean we should act that way. +

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