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.+

Morning Prayer: January 19th

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Psalm: 38
Old Testament: Isaiah 44:24-45:7
New Testament: Ephesians 5:1-14

There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.

My wounds grow foul and fester
because of my foolishness;
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all day long I go around mourning.
For my loins are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am utterly spent and crushed; (Psalm 38:3-8)

In the Psalm appointed for today we hear of a man who is utterly bowed down with suffering. I know for myself that I become a big suck when I get a cold…..let alone having wounds that stink and fester :P.

Yet again, the Psalmist is stuck with the question of why me?

Also…..this Psalm is a little different……Normally in a Psalm that begins with lament, it ends off with praise and assurance of God’s victory. Here we get none of that, aside from a brief interlude v. 15-16.

Sometimes we don’t have the answers or the confidence in God’s ability to save. That doesn’t make us bad Christians or unbelievers…..It merely makes us human…who naturally hurt, who naturally wonder, and who naturally doubt.

The Good News is that God sees it all and will often act in new and surprising ways towards us. The Jews being saved by Cyrus–a gentile Persian king–was the last possible outcome that the exiles in Babylon could have imagined. And yet, they found themselves brought back home to the land of their ancestors where they could rebuild the Temple and worship on God’s holy hill.

There will be when we feel sick in body, mind, and soul. Sometimes seperately, sometimes all three at once. But God is with us, and is always ready to act on our behalf out of love. +

Evening Prayer: Jan. 14th

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Psalm: 22
Gospel: Mark 2:13-22
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Discourse Against the Pagans by St. Athanasius

Similar to the Servant songs mentioned in the post for Morning Prayer…Psalm 22 is one of those texts which (unfortunately) gets a half-assed treatment in the Christian tradition.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1

Nearly every Christian is aware of the first line of this Psalm….for they are the words spoken in anguish by Christ upon the cross. Most Christians are also aware of some of the imagery employed here as referring to the Passion of our Lord:

For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;*
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots (Psalm 22:16-18)

.

The thing is…..in most lectionary cuts for Good Friday and other liturgies of the year, that’s where the reading of the psalm stops. In church at least, we don’t always get to hear the stuff that comes after the doom, gloom, suffering and despair:

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued* me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;*
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,*
but heard when I* cried to him. (Psalm 22:22-24)

In the end, the Psalmist praises God for helping him overcome the evils that he is faced with. 😀 At the end of the day, God does not forsake his own…but rescues the afflicted……Alleluia! Alleluia! ❤

The use of the Psalms in the New Testament are only part of the puzzle. In order to get a fuller understanding, we have to take a look at the bigger picture.

While Jesus was giving voice to his own pain, loss, and feeling of abandonment upon the Cross……it is also a subtle recognition that God will help him conquer death itself. What feels like defeat now ultimately saves the universe and allows us to cry Christus victor! The LORD is Risen indeed! 😀 +

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor* shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever! (Psalm 22:24-26)

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