Evening Prayer: July 15th

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Psalm: 35
Gospel: Mark 3:7-19
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise on the Mysteries by St. Ambrose

Random fun fact: When I was in seminary, we often would joke around about being posted to “St. Swithin’s by the Swamp” for first ministry assignments (to refer to parishes out in the boonies)…..At first I thought it was just a euphemism my profs. and colleagues used…..turns out he’s an actual saint who is venerated in England….Today (July 15th) is his feast day. 🙂

Light is preferable to its shadow, reality to its symbol, the body of the Giver to the manna he gave from heaven.

At the risk of getting a little too po-mo in my reflection……I kinda like what Ambrose says here.

In the Christian conception, the Sacraments are what allow us to see God as He truly is…a person who gives us life and fulfillment for the body, the mind and the soul.

Our God is not one who hides behind the veil of heaven…..but discarded the veil and came down to meet us face to face. One of the unspoken extensions of this is that the Sacraments change us too.

By placing our faith in a God who reveals himself fully, we are also making a choice to show our full selves to the world….to be a reflection of the one who created us and reshaped us in baptism. St. Ambrose’s call to recognize the bread and wine as Body and Blood also act as a subtle reminder that our lives are to be sacraments…our actions are to be outward and visible signs of the inward and invisible Grace we have received.

We don’t have the time or energy to waste in presenting false personas to the world……After all….what does that accomplish…..except to hide behind the comfortable veil of sin and self-will once more????

The key–I think–is to remember that we have been adopted as children of the Most High. Once we claim that identity for our own…..the true Light which dispels all darkness becomes a part of us……so that when we encounter one another 1:1, the other person sees not only our personalities…..but the love of Jesus radiating through us……as we are truly meant to shine in this world. ❤ +

Evening Prayer: July 14th (Combo Post)

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Psalm: 37
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 20:24-42
New Testament: Acts 13:1-12
Gospel: Mark 2:23-3:6
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise on the Mysteries by St. Ambrose (Scroll down to Reading II)

earing the garments given her in the rebirth by water, the Church says, in the words of the Song of Songs: I am black but beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem. Black because of the frailty of humanity, beautiful through grace; black because she is made up of sinners, beautiful through the sacrament of faith. When they see these garments the daughters of Jerusalem cry out in wonder: Who is this who comes up, all in white? She was black, how is she suddenly made white?
When Christ sees his Church clothed in white – for her sake he himself had put on filthy clothing, as you may read in the prophecy of Zechariah – when he sees the soul washed clean by the waters of rebirth, he cries out: How beautiful you are, my beloved, how beautiful you are; your eyes are like the eyes of a dove, for it was in the likeness of a dove that the Holy Spirit came down from heaven.

A lot of Patristic and medieval sources look at the Song of Songs as an allegory for Christ and the Church; and I gotta be honest….sometimes I don’t always get it :P.

The book itself is actually a Hebrew poem which frames the dialouge between two young lovers. It traces the relationship from courtship all the way to marriage…..and some of the sexual references are VERY obvious! 😛

I suppose it’s that erotic imagery is the reason why I could never jump into metaphorical mode with this poem. Aside from the mystical tradition, Christianity has never been all too comfortable with sex-talk….let alone when it is applied to their own institution.

Unlike the Hindu religion which is very comfortable talking about semi-erotic expressions of the Divine, the Church–more especially in the West–came to view any form of “lover” language as sinful.

And yet….in Ambrose’s treatise we get a different glimpse of how God loves us. It’s not simply the agape love of a benevolent Creator….but the eros of a King who loved us so much that he clothed himself in the flesh. A Christ who takes on both joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain so that we can be brought closer to the Father.

God is not only concerned for our well being, but he is passionate in his desire to make us his children. It is not a detached love…..but a love filled with give and take….a love that is real and vulnerable. It is a love that can be rejected, and a love that can hurt us….but it is also a love that has the potential to embrace us and change us as well.

We are made beautiful in Christ…that is how God sees us…..and it’s also how He wants us to see ourselves. +

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