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. +

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

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Psalm: 8, 148
Old Testament: Job 38:1-7
New Testament: Hebrews 1:1-14

Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)

OK I’m going to be straight up with you…..I’m not sure what to make of this whole angel business. For one thing, the angels depicted in the Bible aren’t the innocent little kids with wings, and halos and chubby faces…they’re described more like this:

Cherubim

Seraphim

Far from the cute and cuddly, non?

For another thing, the concept of angels smacks of mythology and superstition. Can I really believe that there is a celestial general named Michael who defeats the powers of evil and carries out God’s will on earth???

Here’s the rub. If I believe in a Creator God (which I do) I have to believe that he–being the maker of the known universe–is able to do anything he wishes. Just because I can’t physically see some creation doesn’t mean it has no existence. I’ve never observed an atom or a molecule in a microscope, and they are invisible to my eye….but I know they are real. It’s the same thing with angels.

Even if I don’t accept literally the descriptions given in the Bible…..there are still times when I must admit to having felt that I was being watched over, protected, and guided by God.

Did God produce this feeling from his own hand? Through the hand of an angelic power? Who knows. Does it make a difference???? I don’t think so.

The source is still the same…..everything flows from the loving hand of God……and maybe the point of angels is not so much that they are these terrifying other-worldly creatures….but that they are agents of God’s mercy and grace. They remind us not only of what we are called to be…. servants of the LORD…but of what we are to proclaim: a message of hope to those who are in despair.

Most of all, they are a reminder that we are not alone….we are not the sole creators of our destiny……that there are forces beyond our control smiling in benevolence and gently guiding us through danger as we follow the pattern of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

Evening Prayer: Eve of the Transfiguration of the Lord

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Psalm: 84
Old Testament: 1 Kings 19:1-12
New Testament: 2 Cor 3:1-9;18

The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, ‘Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.’ He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:7-8)

When most people read this passage from Kings, the focus is usually on the fact that God is present in the silence. That is all well and good…and an important excerpt for understanding God…but I find myself drawn to the angel’s words.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I place a big emphasis on santification and theosis in my writing and preaching.

But where do we get the strength to be transformed? Who gives us the insights to change our lives inside out and upside down? The angel reminds us tonight that all of these things come from God Himself.

Nothing we ever do comes strictly from our own efforts….but with the help and love of the One who made us so that:

All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18a)

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast on which we see Christ as He truly is….I pray that God will remove the scales from our eyes…..to lift the veils of our own bias and ignorance…of our laziness and apathy….so that we can travel up the mountain to be see God’s glory in all creation; and make our way back down to bring that vision and life to those who are in darkness and lost in despair.

Praise to the Holy Trinity who gives us everything we need :). Amen, Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th)

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Psalm: 110, 132
Old Testament: Wisdom 9:1-12*
Gospel: John 1:9-14

‘I will not enter my house
or get into my bed;
I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling-place for the Mighty One of Jacob.’ (Ps. 132:3-5)

The sentiment being echoed here by David matches his earlier desire in 2 Samuel to build a temple to YHWH as a place to store the tabernacle….the place where the tablets of the Law and the Bread of the Presence reside.

Normally you would think that a central place of worship would be something that God would openly endorse…..except….He doesn’t 😛

In response, God mockingly asks the king if he would build a house for the ruler of the universe?? Acting as though the Almighty could be someone who could be contained.

In Christian theology…..Mary, the Theotokos (God-bearer) is said to be the tabernacle of the LORD. In her womb she carries the Word made flesh, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords….and yet that too is temporary.

For nine months our Saviour was cared for by the Blessed Virgin, and yet–like all mothers–Mary had to let go of her identity as an expectant mother once Jesus was born. The Son was no longer inside of her, but was revealed and given as a gift to the whole world. ❤

So I sit here on the Feast of the Annunciation wondering if we are building churches to contain God….or whether we are using church buildings as a place of nourishment, warmth and growth. A place where we are fed with the Word and Sacrament..

Not simply to stay in our wombs of comfort, but to give birth to our own witness of Christ saving the world through the wonder of His cross and resurrection. May God grant us the strength to push past the birth pangs and to rejoice at the arrival of new life. Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: Eve of the Annunciation

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Psalms: 8, 84
Old Testament: Genesis 3:1-15
New Testament: Romans 5:12-21

The Lord God said to the serpent,
‘Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.’ (Genesis 3:14-15)

As I think most of you know I grew up as a Roman Catholic…….and if you went through the Catholic school system (at least in Hamilton, Ontario) you have most likely seen the statue of Mary pictured above at some point in your life. 🙂

In case you can’t see it all that clearly, it is a serene image of Mary. Her arms are extended in a warm embrace while crushing a snake beneath her feet.

This is a clear allusion to the Genesis passage. Just as Christ is the new Adam who brings abundant Grace and pardon in place of Sin, Mary is the New Eve who resists the temptation to follow her own will…and instead crushes the devil forever. ❤

I will freely admit that I have no particular devotion to Mary but I am starting to appreciate her more as I continue to study systematic theology. 🙂

In Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Annunciation is a dual purpose and (in some sense) a reciprocal event. In becoming Flesh, Christ sanctifies all human Flesh, and yet, in Mary freely accepting the pregnancy, she is the one who gives Christ the tabernacle of her womb…to be nurtured, sustained, and to grow….so that all people might be able to see the face of God. <3. Ave Maria, Alleluia!+

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