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:

    Lyrics

Refrain:

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.  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?”  In Christ’s death we have an apparent breaking of covenant and law.  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.  Jesus is raised, and trust is restored.  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. 🙂

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:

‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, 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. +

Evening Prayer: March 3rd

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Psalms: 18:21-50
Gospel: Matt 7:1-12
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Moral Reflections on Job by St. Gregory the Great

It is you who light my lamp;
the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)

OK am I the only one who thought of this when reading this verse 28????

😀

Seriously though, this line is the one that caught my attention tonight. God is the one who gives light to guide our feet on the path….but where does this path lead to???

Ironically enough, it leads us back to Him who is the source of life….

For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:9)

Light is an important part of our life..it allows us not only to see…..but to see in colour and detail. It can be a spot of joy on otherwise dreary, snowy, and overcast days that are otherwise miserable… :P…..Can you tell I’m looking forward to spring???

Light can also give us direction in the darkness…..at times when we are uncertain and lost…..its appearance can give hope admist despair.

May you always find yourself in the light, and remember that in light, we reflect the one who made us in delight +

Morning Prayer: March 3rd

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Psalm: 18:1-20
Old Testament: Deut 4:32-40
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

. Therefore, to keep* me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.* Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power* is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:7-9)

So yesterday we were talking about weakness, and how it can sometimes be frightening to talk about them; especially in front of others.

Here in a moment of honesty, Paul admits that he is not perfect. That he has a thorn in his flesh that is causing him some spiritual anxiety.

There have been various speculations as to what this “thorn” my be. Some think it to be lust, while others believe that it may refer to some physical ailment that Paul suffered from.

I find it interesting that in his prayer-life, Paul does not get what he wants. The thorn is not removed, but rather God tells Paul “My grace is sufficient for you.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be peachy and trouble-free….It means that though thorns may persist in our lives, they are not the end all and the be all. They will be conquered through Grace, and God will give us the means to overcome them.

Here I don’t mean supernatural healing…..although that is not entirely off the table either :)….after all, for God all things are possible.

However, the Grace of God can bring us the means by which to deal with our problems, be it through therapy, medication, regular exercise etc. and will surround us with people–family, friends, and even random strangers–that will build us up and put things into a new perspective…to help to make the load lighter.

Whatever your thorn, I hope that the pain is not unbearable…..and that you find yourself surrounded by love, friendship, and trust.

At the very least….know that there is someone out in London, ON Canada praying for you during the Daily Office ;). Blessed be. +

Evening Prayer: March 2nd

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Psalms: 12, 13, 14
Gospel: Matt 6:24-34
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from The Confessions of St. Augustine

Do not worry about tomorrow. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matt 6:34)

When I first joined the Anglican church, I used to attend a mid-week Eucharist with a lovely bunch of elderly ladies :D. One of my lasting memories of that place is hearing the priest reading this passage, smiling brightly and chuckling to himself before proceeding to preach.

At the time, I was amused and very surprised to see the minister have an almost comical reaction to Scripture. Now that I have a few more years experience under my belt, I can definitely understand where he was coming from.

Seminarians and priests alike have a special perchant for worrying and stressing. For some reason, in proclaiming the very Word we say leads to life…..those who work in Churchland sometimes forget that food, shelter, clothing, vestries, financial reports–and everything in between–ultimately rest in the hands of the Creator, and not with us mere mortals.

There is a saying from AA that says the trip to sobriety involves taking it “one day at a time” and not to look too far ahead and become overwhelmed. That too is what God wants for us.

Notice that God does not promise that our lives will be trouble free….but rather, that he will provide for our needs. Notice that Jesus doesn’t say we will be relieved of the need to bitch and complain about the crappy things in our lives, he merely asks us to consider the lilies of the field, and the birds of the air.

God knows the troubles we face daily–and indeed–He has experienced them on his own when he came to the Earth. The key is to remember that we are not alone in our struggles……we are not alone in our disappointments……we are not alone in our doubts and uncertainty for the future…We are joined hand in hand with the Son and with the rest of Christ’s living body–the Church to support each other, and to figure out what it means to be the heart, hands, and feet of God’s coming Kingdom.

May we always journey together in hope, anticipation, and wonder. +

Morning Prayer: March 2nd

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Psalm: 119:1-24
Old Testament: Deut 4:21-35
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 11:21b-33

Pissing contest anyone?!? ;)…….That certainly seems to be what’s happening here in Chapter 11:

. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman—I am a better one: with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one (2 Cor 11:22-24)

and Paul’s list of sufferings keep going for another 5 verses lol :P.

There are other interpretations I am sure, but I’ve always thought that Paul (especially in the Corinthian correspondence) is very subtlely mocking the people that he thinks have misinterpreted and distorted the Gospel message. And who wouldn’t be a little glib in his position???

Here you have a man who (in his former life) following the Jewish law to the letter in an effort to be in right relationship with God…Suddenly, he finds his very character criticized by members of the Church who initially accepted and embraced him. Wouldn’t you feel a little bitter??? I know I would! 😛

Luckily for us, Paul’s smugness is tempered by his conversion experience. He understands himself to be a servant….the least of all the apostles….and that if he is to boast in anything, it is in the weakness he displays, and in Christ Jesus.

I wonder how many of us would feel comfortable making all our weaknesses public. As someone who has struggled with disability, doubt and depression….that is a scary scary prospect! :S

For me, being honest about my struggles in front of God and in front of others is one of the tough parts of being a Christian. But why is there this emphasis on weakness in the first place???

For one it reminds us that no one is better than anyone else. . Every single one of us has weaknesses, sins and parts of our character that we would much rather hide and make us vulnerable to pain……both as recipients, and as perpetrators :(. Remembering our own Fallen-ness is a reality check that keeps us grounded in recognizing that all are equal as sons and daughters in the eyes of God.

More importantly though, we are to boast in weakness because our Saviour himself was weak. It was only through submission, torture, pain, betrayal, fear and the Cross that humankind could be rescued from sin and death.

Although being upfront about our weaknesses and short-comings can be terrifying, it can also be liberating and lead to life. More than that, it is part of our call to discipleship. In being weak we emulate the one who came to redeem us and change us from glory to glory. +

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