Evening Prayer: June 21st

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Psalm: 97, 99, 94
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 6:1-16
New Testament: Acts 5:27-42
Gospel: Luke 21:37-22:13
Patristic Reading: N/A can’t find a copy online 😦

If this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow themβ€”in that case you may even be found fighting against God!’ (Acts 5:39)

This quote from the great rabbi Gamaliel (depicted above) is probably one of the soundest pieces of advice I have ever heard in Scripture :). Having said that I often wonder how often the institutional church takes it to heart. πŸ˜›

Many parishes of different denominations are doing all kinds of weird and whacky things in terms of liturgy, service music, mission and outreach projects…all in the hope of improving their community….or in many cases, help their community to grow.

Time after time, I have heard about congregations who ran programs that did not perform well…..or that produced less bums in the pews than had been hoped for. Of old historic buildings closing their doors. It’s all very sad. But at the same time….I wonder if we ever take the time to ask this question:

What is God doing here?

Are our efforts to improve spiritual community, or as a marketing gimmick? What if there is something in the congregation that needs to die? What if the ministries currently being pursued are not life-giving, and not of our Father???

I say this not to be trite……but to point out something very important.

If we truly consider ourselves an Easter people…..than we must recognize that God is ALWAYS active….even when we don’t like what he is doing. πŸ˜‰

If we truly place our hope in the resurrection, then the closed church doors will again be open…..even if it might be in a different location and a different circumstance.

If we truly believe that Christ is the new Adam and death has no dominion over Him….then we have no cause to weep…..only a cause to rejoice! πŸ™‚ What seems to be devastating now might just be part of a bigger plan. It might just be the cross we must bear so we can meet angels who bring us tidings of greatest joy!

Simply put….if anything the Church is doing is of God, it will have only one possible outcome. It will blossom and give life abundantly. Alleluia! Alleluia! πŸ™‚ +

Evening Prayer: March 15th

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Psalm: 37:19-42
Gospel: Luke 5:1-12
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Against the Heresies by St. Iranaeus

…When Simon Peter saw [that the nets were full to bursting] , he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, β€˜Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ (Mark 5:8)

Imagine that you have been up since the wee hours of the morning trying to catch fish. And there is absolutely nothin’ doing.

Keep in mind this is not the fishing we think of in Southern Ontario…..with sunshine, a beer and time to relax. These are men who must fish every day. They must get enough product to market to gain their livelihood. No fish means you don’t eat that week :(.

Dog tired, chilled by the open winds on the sea…and totally despondent…you have a strange looking dude come and ask you for passage so that he can escape the growing crowds.

Not caring very much, Simon agrees. A minute later he finds himself with literally boatloads of fish. The source of his worry is INSTANTLY taken away.

Wouldn’t that scare the crap out of you??? It’s no small wonder that Simon wants to distance himself from this person who has massive amounts of power. Powerful enough to punish him for any wrongdoing…..just as he was powerful enough to reward Simon for the sanctuary of the boat.

Jesus’ actions and words are interesting here. He doesn’t shy away from the sinner. Rather he invites him into a new ministry….to be a fisher of people. He doesn’t punish Simon’s wrong-doing but instead invites him into relationship.

Our Lord is a God who is concerned with sin yes….but we are also told that he will rejoice more over 1 sinner who repents than 1000 who enter the presence of God with a clear conscience.

More than that, Christ wants to transform us and invite us into relationship with him.

In doing so, Jesus makes it clear that the road is not easy……but he does promise that at the end we are given grace and abundance beyond our wildest dreams; fed in body, mind, and Spirit. Thanks be to God who welcomes sinners and does not shy away from those who are scared. Christus Victor! Alleluia! +

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