Evening Prayer: July 23rd

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Psalm: 138, 139
Gospel: Mark 6:1-13
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the 2nd Letter to the Corinthians by St. John Chrysostom

[The disciples] went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them (Mark 6:12-13)

I always find it interesting that the commissioning of the disciples is so simple. 🙂

Notice that Jesus doesn’t ask the 12 to go around asking people if they had accepted Christ as their own personal Lord and Saviour. In fact, that approach to evangelism is nowhere to be found.

Instead, the instructions are to travel light and to accept hospitality. The content of the disciples preaching was not on doctrine, but on a call to repentance and a conversion of the heart.

I wonder if churches today–for all their focus on social justice and communicating the love that God has for all creation– are as eager to preach this message of radical change as the early followers of Jesus.

You see….repentance is not a popular message…..we like absolution, Grace, and forgiveness….but repentance not so much.

I suspect that part of the reason for this is that when we confront all our sins and wrong-doing, we are faced with the reality that we are not living our lives the way we ought.

Although it might not seem like it….this attitude is extremely counter-cultural. We live in a world that emphasizes over and over that our short-comings are due to a lack of self-confidence, that we are all good moral beings, with no need for God and simply in need of embracing our own system of ethics.

Tomorrow morning, I have the joy of leading the Liturgy of the Word at our regular Eucharist. As part of that ministry, I have the privilege of inviting people to confess their sins……inviting them to confront the ugliness of their lives…..and to earnestly seek God’s guidance and assurance that even though we are not perfect, God will use us to reflect his glory and be living icons to the world.

The apostles call to repentance is not to make us feel bad about ourselves…but so that we can claim Grace and forgiveness as our own. A chance to make the abstract personal…and that the Perfect Physician will heal us completely in body, mind and spirit. +

Morning Prayer: July 15th

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Psalm: 31
Old Testament: 1 Sam 21
New Testament: Acts 13:13-25

So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. (1 Sam 21:6)

Ever notice how the Old Testament is filled with people doing things that they aren’t supposed to do? Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden Tree…Cain kills his brother out of jealousy…Abraham deceives Pharaoh which leads to disease and famine for the king’s household….Jacob steals the birthright of his twin…and now we have a priest giving the Bread of the Presence to someone outside the Levitical family.

And yet….what do we find as God’s response to these events. God allows Adam to live, Cain is protected, Abraham is given a son, and Jacob becomes the namesake and patriarch of a nation.

God takes the things that we might perceive as unholy and transforms them into something…..not only good…..but great. 🙂 Definitely gives us food for thought when we get stuck in liturgical ruts….or feel that certain individuals should be restricted from the Lord’s Table because of their “bad” behaviour, non? +

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. +

Evening Prayer: Feb. 11th

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Psalms: 91, 92
Gospel: Mark 10:32-45
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon by St. Leo the Great

Did you really expect a picture of anything else??? Vive le Egypt!

The dullard cannot know,
the stupid cannot understand this:
though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction for ever,
but you, O Lord, are on high for ever. (Psalm 92:6-8)

While I am loathe to meditate on Scripture in light of a revolution……I’m going to do it anyway :P. In case you haven’t heard, the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned today in the face of pressure from its citizens. This is an amazing accomplishment…and certainly an event that is a first for my generation.

The uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan signify something much more powerful than political movement. It is a living example of truth and discontent speaking to power; of the proletariat and middle class alike joining forces to face dictatorship.

The idea of justice triumphing over corruption is all over the place in the Psalms. The revolution is nowhere near complete. It remains to be seen who will take up the leadership/gain the support of the military. It has the potential to be a disaster and a repeat of the past…but it also has the potential to be a move in the direction of true freedom.

What is most moving to me is that although 300 individuals have died in this movement (RIP <3), it has been a largely non-violent movement; standing in stark contrast both to Canadian/US military efforts, and the stereotypes which seem to surround the nations, republics, and kingdoms of the Middle East.

Let us unite our prayers that the spirit of peace and change remains with this movement, and that the voice of the Egyptian people continues to be heard. +

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