Morning Prayer: Maundy Thursday

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Psalm: 102
Old Testament: Lamentations 2:10-18
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Cor 10:16-17)

Maundy Thursday is always an interesting Feast Day for me, especially growing up a Roman Catholic background. In that particular tradition, the emphasis for today is placed on the institution of the Lord’s Supper…..celebrating the fact that Jesus took ordinary things, and transformed them so that we might never be without His presence.

But gathering around the table has a greater significance than being fed for our own benefit. In sharing the Body and Blood of our Lord with others, we are united in a spiritual bond that cannot be broken. A bond which makes us not only fellow human beings…..but brothers and sisters who find ourselves in relationship with one another.

I don’t know about you……but I DEFINITELY know some folks in Churchland that I don’t particularly enjoy. Personalities clash, differences of opinion arise, and in some cases, that schism can manifest itself in fighting, arguments, and seeing that person as “somebody else….someone I don’t have to interact with”

Holy Thursday challenges us to sit with others that we don’t enjoy or get along with. Don’t forget: Even Judas was able to share in this sacred meal. 😉

As we enter into the Three Great Days heading towards the Resurrection, may we come to see ourselves in the stories of Scripture, and recognize that we are called to enter into God’s presence….. even when the images are gruesome and ones that we would rather ignore……It is only through suffering, service, and fellowship with sinners that the Paschal mystery can really happen. +

Evening Prayer: Feast of the Beheading of St. Jean-Baptiste (Aug 29th Combo Post)

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Psalm: 102, 86
Old Testament: Jeremiah 38:1-6, Judges 16:28-30
New Testament: Revelation 7:13-17, 1 Peter 3:13-18

But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Pet 3:14-16)

While it doesn’t surprise me to be celebrating a martyr today, I’ve often wondered why St. Jean-Baptiste gets not just one day but two .

I have a sense that we do it for a few reasons.

One being that Jesus said that John was a pretty important dude. My guess is that the Church–upon hearing these words…..felt that it couldn’t be an all-together bad thing to celebrate the Forerunner twice.

More to the point though….I think that the community of the early church was very much aware of its surroundings. In a Roman pagan world, followers of the Way found themselves being persecuted, hunted and killed. So much so that Tertullian was prompted to remark that:

the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church

In remembering John’s beheading, Christ-followers found a saint who they could relate to. A saint who stood up for morality even at the cost of his own life. A saint whose life was taken away through the scheming and deceit of others.

If you were to look to the life of the saints…..which do you think speak most to the current generation??? What about in your own life????

Leave a comment on this post and let me hear what you think. +

Morning Prayer: Good Friday

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Psalm: 22
Old Testament: Wisdom 1:16 – 2:1, 12-22
New Testament: 1 Peter 1:10-20

You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that helf Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom. +

Evening Prayer: April 8th

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Psalms: 107:1-32
Gospel: <a href="John 6:52-59
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from an Easter letter of St. Athanasius

Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink (John 6:53-54)

This is the third straight day we have had readings about Jesus as the Bread of Life. I want to draw your attention to a nuance in the Greek that makes tonight’s passage especially striking.

The word translated as “eat” in this passage, is actually a much more specific verb in the Greek. In its proper context, the sentence reads more like this.

“Very truly, I tell you, unless you munch the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who munch on my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day….”

In fact, it was this text that caused so much confusion in the ancient world. Romans thought that Christians were cannibals! 😛

While Christian theology has many different understandings of what it means to eat the flesh and drink the blood of our Lord…this mystery has been worked out most thoroughly and intentionally in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

I could never hope to cover Eucharistic theology in one blog post; entire volumes have been written on the subject! But the very fact that Jesus uses such an intense verb to describe Eternal life I think leads us to a few interesting conclusions.

One is that living the faith is an *earthy* and lived experience. It is something that requires we get our hands dirty…..and to quite literally take a bite out of life.

Related to this idea is that our Christian heritage is an Incarnational heritage. At the heart of the Church’s salvific identity, there is a fundamental conviction that God and earth are united. One cannot be separated from the other…and that we experience God in the everyday things of life.

As Anglicans, we have held on to this sacramental understanding. In which the bread and wine are an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible Grace.

We come to the Lord’s table in the assurance and hope that even though the bread and the wine seem completely ordinary (and even tasteless if you use styrofoam wafers)…they are actually something completely transcendant. The Bread is the Flesh of Christ…… to make our flesh clean…..to remind us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, the Wine is the Blood of Christ…..to cleanse our souls…and to remind us that any inner turmoil we are experiencing will be calmed by the still, small voice of the Spirit.

As we go to receive the Sacrament Sunday by Sunday….God is making a statement. God declares that we are a forgiven people…..a new creation….beloved children. ❤

In response, we unite our voices in prayer and praise for the way in which God has saved all of Creation through his Son…..May we always feed on Him in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving. +

Evening Prayer: April 7th

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Psalm: 73
Gospel: John 6:41-51
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon by St. Leo the Great

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against him. How much more does it bring to those who turn to him in repentance

I haven’t even come close to reflecting on it yet….but I am down to preach on Palm Sunday this year. As part of my prep., I plan to watch the Passion of the Christ.

Yes, it’s gory, yes it’s over the top…but there are also some profoundly human moments in the film. As I reflect on St. Leo’s words tonight, I am reminded of one of the fundamental questions that was raised for me while I was sitting in the theatre. Which of those cuts, scrapes, and wounds represent me???

I have always been perplexed, fascinated, and altogether horrified by the very fact that Christ came to suffer and die. On the one hand, it is a very provocative doctrine, and very easy to apply to friends, families, and enemies. Thinking about how salvation is bestowed on others is easier….it’s more abstract. But what about when it becomes personal???

It was in watching Mel Gibson’s movie that I realized the Crucifixion was more than an abstract event. It was real. Disciples were disillusioned and disappointed. Mary must witness the torture and death of her Son..something that no mother should have to go through 😦 and ordinary people are generally confused by what is going on.

Am I really worth all of that pain and disappointment???? What have I done to deserve any kind of consideration??? Why couldn’t he die without torture and without pain???? At least that would make it easier to accept.

But the astounding thing is, the miraculous thing is…..God says we are that important. Any mistakes you have made….Jesus tells you you are forgiven. All the times you have hurt others…..Jesus tells you that you are forgiven…..For all the times that you wish you could do things differently….Jesus tells you that you will inherit Paradise with him, and that he is with you until the end of the age. May you always rest in that Eternal presence. +

Morning Prayer: Feb. 14th

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Psalm: 89:1-19
Old Testament: Isaiah 63:1-6
New Testament 1 Timothy 1:1-17

‘I have trodden the wine press alone,
and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath;
their juice spattered on my garments,
and stained all my robes. (Isaiah 63: 3)

Well today is Valentine’s Day and the traditional colour is red…..but I certainly wasn’t expecting this kind of Scriptural vividness first thing in the morning :P. Humanity’s “juices” sprayed on God’s robe…….eeeew!

Though it must be said that today’s readings fit with the minor feast of St. Valentine….he was after all a martyr :P.

But seriously……what do we make of this text? Clearly this is a vengeful image of God and his power. He even sounds downright bloodthirsty :S

Well let’s face it…….our God is a wrathful one……something theologians tend to shy away from. The difference though is that his violence was turned away from us and placed upon His own shoulders. God’s justice demanded that the debt of our sins be paid by someone..Graciously and by His mercy….it was not asked of those who deserved it. ❤

Instead, Christ drank the cup of suffering and misery so we wouldn't have to. It was Jesus whose blood was spilt and whose robe was stained…..and by it…we are washed clean.

I am reminded of a verse from the hymn "O Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face
Cloth'd then in Blood-washed linen, How I'll sing thy Sovereign Grace
Come my Lord, no longer tarry, take my ransomed soul away
Send thine angels now to carry me to realms of endless Day.

May we give thanks every day for the redemption we gained through the love of the Lamb 🙂 +

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