Christmas Day (December 25th)

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

Evening Prayer: Feast of All Souls (Nov. 2nd)

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Psalm: 119:73-96
Gospel: Matthew 13:53-58
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a book by St. Ambrose on the death of his brother (scroll down to Reading II)

Tonight I’m going to post what is called a litany….in this case one directed to the saints.

This is a very ancient practice and is one that is popular for All Saints and All Souls, two feast days which are very closely connected. In this form of prayer….the whole church dead and living ask for intercession, mercy, and forgiveness.

If you’ll notice, the way that litanies are structured are designed to again bring us to the contemplation of Christ , The saints who are listed are arranged according to their proximity to our Lord.

We start with Mary, the Theotokos (who is above the cherubim and seraphim), then angels, then apostles, then martyrs, then virgins, then theologians.

After recognizing those who have gone before, the whole church then adds petitions for themselves and for the world. Again asking that the whole world come to know Jesus

These litanies to God are not empty rituals….but an act of remembering the community we are a part of. A family that stretches across all times and places for the glory of God.

I hope you are able to get something out of this exercise, and–on this Feast of All Souls–may you with confidence find a place for yourself in the company of the blessed.

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy

Holy Mary Mother of God.
Pray for us
St. Michael (Archangel)
Pray for us
Holy angels of God
Pray for us
St. John Baptist
Pray for us
St. Joseph (stepfather of Jesus)
Pray for us
SS Peter & Paul
Pray for us
St. Andrew
Pray for us
St. John
Pray for us
Mary Magdalene
Pray for us
St. Stephen
Pray for us
St. Ignatius
Pray for us
St. Lawerence
Pray for us
St. Perpetua and Felicity
Pray for us
St. Agnes
Pray for us
St.Gregory
Pray for us
St. Augustine
Pray for us
St. Cecila
Pray for us
Holy men and women
Pray for us

Lord be merciful
Lord Save your people
From all evil
Lord save your people
From every sin
Lord save your people
From everlasting death
Lord save your people
By your coming as man
Lord save your people
By your death and rising to new life
Lord save your people
By the gift of your Holy Spirt
Lord save your people

Be merciful to us sinners
Lord hear our prayer.
Grant to all the souls of the departed eternal rest.
Lord hear our prayer.

Jesus son of the living God
Lord hear our prayer

Christ hear us
Christ hear us
Lord Jesus hear our prayer
Lord Jesus hear our prayer +

Morning Prayer: Feast of All Souls (Nov. 2nd)

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Psalm: 72
Old Testament: Nehemiah 13:4-22
New Testament: Rev 12:1-12

Although expressly forbidden to do so by the 39 Articles….the old Catholic in me can’t help but be intrigued by the concept Purgatory

Both Eastern Orthodox and Western Churches traditionally maintain that the living and the dead are in a mutual relationship….with each group praying for the other….so that the Church of all saints (which we discussed last night) is eternally bound together.

Roman Catholics went so far as to define the nature of that relationship during the medieval period……an illustration of which we have in Dante’s Divine Comedy

In his travels, through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, Dante describes the mid-level not as a place of torment like the Inferno….but as a place of purification.

At each level of the mountain, saved souls undergo certain activities and punishments that correspond to the 7 deadly sins.

What is fascinating about the way Dante frames this….is that the souls ascend to Paradise when they feel purified and worthy. The extent to which they must undergo trial and tribulation depends firstly on the will of God…..but also is dependent on the extent to which they feel weighed down by the sins of their past.

For whatever reason, this makes a whole lot of sense to me…..and gets rid of one of the more problematic theological outlooks of the Protestant movement.

Under some strains of evangelical thought, confessing the name of Jesus (regardless of when you do it in your lifetime) is the way to heaven. Under this model, it doesn’t matter if you utter it simply because you are afraid of dying, or afraid of punishment…..all that matters is that you say Christ is Lord.

If that’s all it takes……suddenly Grace seems really cheap. I think there is an element of one’s personal conscience which is also an important factor to be thinking of in a theological context.

God knows the thoughts of our hearts, and all our motivations for doing what we do…..

Am I willing to say that purgatory exists? No. But would I be surprised if we had to do some personal reflection and repentance before entering the gates of Paradise??? Not entirely ๐Ÿ™‚

On this Feast day we thank God for all those who now share in his presence…and look forward to that day when we will inherit the Golden Jerusalem with them. Alleluia! +

Morning Prayer: Feast of All Hallows (Nov. 1st)

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Psalm: 111, 112
Old Testament: 2 Esdras 2:42-47
New Testament: Hebrews 11:32-12:2

Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honour and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant. (Psalm 111:2-5)

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend on FB about reading the Bible. She is genuinely interested in reading it, but–like all of us–has a hard time with some of the more miraculous stories, and the depiction of God as a vindictive deity.

I promised her that I would post on this blog about how the Bible might be read in a different way. A way that focuses on relationship rather than by myth, theology or narrative…so here’s my best shot at it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Like the psalmist says this morning, all of God’s works are known….and like all great acts of history, those deeds tend to be recorded. ๐Ÿ™‚

The central themes of the Old Testament are many…..but they tend to revolve around two important aspects…creation and covenant.

In Genesis, God creates the world…..and it is not just good but very good. He also establishes a covenant with humanity that he will make them prosper…and that He will constantly be at their side.

But human beings–made in the image of an all-creative Father–also have an innate desire to be independent…..which causes them to sin….and to turn away from their one true companion; the God who made them.

At the risk of being overly simplistic, the rest of the Bible focuses in on how that broken relationship is lived out, and repaired…..that intimate bond between Father and children is built up, broken, and established again in a constant cycle. A cycle that ultimately ends with God and humanity coming out in joy and praise to take care of the earth and each other.

At its core, the Bible is a multi-faceted library of documents. I would go even so far as to say that it is an ongoing and eternal conversation.

As the reader flips through the pages of text, they are exposed to a multitude of voices……some divine, some human. Some sentiments of anger, hatred, and frustration…..met in turn with compassion, forgiveness, and Grace.

Despite what the reformers would have us think, Holy Scripture does not interpret itself …Adhering to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy will only leave with a pounding headache and a broken heart.

As a piece of literature, inspired by God and touched by the human hand…..it is a mixture of perfection and inadequacy….a living encounter between the Creator who wants his presence to be known…..and a world that struggles to listen for it’s Maker’s voice.

On this Feast of All Saints, one thing to keep in mind that we too are saints…by virtue of being baptized ๐Ÿ™‚

Whenever we open the Bible we join with the thousands who have come before us in trying to discern God’s will and true hope for us. We add our 2 cents (or 5 cents or 25 cents) to the conversation.

In the struggle to understand what God is saying to us and what we are saying to one another, Christianity is changed from a hollow, inanimate religion into a living, breathing, challenging Body of faith

Sure, this Body is weak and wounded at times….but is also glorious and triumphant when we get the message of Jesus right ;)….a message that we as Gentile North American inheritors of the Gospel have come to know through the written translation of the Bible.

Thanks be to God for the gift of his word on paper….but more importantly for the Word made Flesh that speaks from within those pages. Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (Michaelmas)

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Psalm: 34, 150
Old Testament:Daniel 12:1-3
New Testament: Mark 13:21-27

Hallelujah!
Praise God in his holy temple; *
praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts; *
praise him for his excellent greatness. (Psalm 150:1-2)

In Biblical literature, angels typically have two roles. As I alluded to this morning, they bring God’s messages to humanity…but they also have a special role in that they praise YHWH continually.

The heavenly host reminds us that we too are called not only to love God and neighbour…..but to give thanks and praise for the blessing of creation. As human beings, we are made in the image of the Trinity and given the gift of life….We are indeed marvelously made and surrounded by beauty beyond all telling.

Tonight….I invite you to join your voice and heart to the song of angels so that from north to south, east to west, from heaven to earth, we may proclaim that the LORD is King and his dominion rules over all. +

Evening Prayer: March 17th

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Psalms: 19, 46
Gospel: John 3:16-21
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Confessions of St. Patrick

โ€˜For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Well there it is…..the infamous John 3:16 has finally made an appearance in the Office this year. :)….

No doubt you have seen signs at protests, football games, and rallies that bear this verse……and yet….what does it mean?

Over the years, John 3:16 has been used for so many different purposes by the “evangelical” community. (Not to mention being a significant marketing tool for a WWE superstar)

I put evangelical in quotation marks not because I want to mock conservative right-wingers, but rather because all Christians are called to evangelize and spread the Good News of Christ.

That effort to spread the Gospel is part of the reason you see this bible verse prominently displayed at many big events. It cuts right to the heart of the message. Above all else, we are to believe that Jesus came to save us….nothing else matters.

I don’t mean that our outward physical behaviour doesn’t matter… it does…..a great deal :)…..but without faith in Christ, there is no reason to act…….there is no reason to be moral…..there is no reason to suspect that we are actually sinners in desperate need of redemption.

Without belief in Christ, all we are left with are the limits of human intelligence and benevolence. Forgive my cynicism here……but from what I have seen human intelligence and sense of compassion…..they don’t extend too far. Many times we are caught up in our needs and wants…..out of our pursuit of profit….and by a drive towards success.

John 3:16 has been used by many Christians to demonize those whom they consider unconverted heathen….oftentimes forgetting the follow-up line that Christ came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

While our God is a God of judgment, he also wills that all creation should be saved……or at least, that we should be given a choice. Our job is not to force that choice down people’s throats….but rather to invite them into relationship with the One who died and rose for all of us…..and did so out of love. +

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 isnโ€™t just for a day

(Repeat Refrain)

Sometimes when troubles are many
Life can seem empty itโ€™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.ย  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?”ย  In Christ’s death we have an apparent breaking of covenant and law.ย  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.ย  Jesus is raised, and trust is restored.ย  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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.+

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