Spread the word…..

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Been away for a few days….but I saw a video on a friend’s FB page and thought it definitely worth sharing. πŸ™‚

I missed posting yesterday for the Feast of St. Bartholomew……but I imagine his approach to discipleship might look something like this:

Evening Prayer: June 6th

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Psalm: 89:19-52
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise of St. Cyril of Jerusalem

No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:61)

Oh look another uncomfortable bit of Scripture….awesome! πŸ˜€ [insert sarcasm here]

Seriously though, this is one of Jesus’ teaching that makes me distinctly uncomfortable. I don’t know about you, but I look back all the time. At past relationships, past work-experiences, past times where I was genuinely happy.

There are lots of times that I take my focus off of Jesus and place it somewhere else. If my mind is always meandering…how can I hope to do anything of value???

Now the good Protestant in me says..of cooooooourse we can’t do anything of value….we are all depraved sinners beyond the pale in need of Grace….but at the same time, I ask myself whether Jesus can really ask me to be unwavering in my determination. And the answer I’ve stumbled upon is that yes, he can. πŸ™‚

This isn’t to say that we won’t screw up multiple times in our efforts to follow our Lord…..but rather he has given us the Holy Spirit to put us back on the right path, through repentance.

Each time we confess our sins to God with a humble and contrite heart, we are given what St. Symeon calls the Baptism of Tears.

The fantastic and radical news of the Gospel is that Christ expects us to follow him with our whole heart, mind, soul and body. He knows that we–as finite, sinful beings–are going to need help along the way. We are not perfect and therefore he has sent his Spirit as our Advocate and guide.

To borrow from the Patristic reading tonight, St. Cyril puts it this way:

In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit.

Repentance is what allows us to see God. It is the process through which we can make peace with the past behind us and not look back on our mistakes. Each time we turn to the LORD in earnest, we are given the strength to walk forward and not look back. What was old is now made new….and what was once unable to do anything is now inspired and gifted to do things far greater than could ever be asked for and imagined.

Jesus tells us that even if we fall flat on our faces, we can cry out his name and keep walking the path of discipleship in faith. He never leaves us without hope and comfort. Amen, Alleluia! +

Morning Prayer: April 15th

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Psalm: 22
Old Testament: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-13
New Testament: Romans 11:13-24

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root* of the olive tree, do not vaunt yourselves over the branches. If you do vaunt yourselves, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you (Romans 11:17-18)

In using the metaphor of an olive tree, Paul makes it very clear that the mission to the Gentiles is not something new….but as an extension of Israel’s divine call to be the people of God.

Through the growth of new branches, the Apostle hopes that the Jewish people will have the veil lifted from their eyes. In witnessing the Gentiles streaming to the Christian movement, they would see that Jesus was indeed the anointed one foretold in the prophets.

Interestingly, we have yet another discussion of roots in Jeremiah:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:5-7)

In Exile, the Jews found themselves on the outside looking in. As foreigners which had to lay down roots in a foreign land and hope to prosper……they were not always the strong tree.

So what does that say for us??? I think one of the messages is that–spiritually–we are called to lay down roots wherever we are. Just as the Son of Man has no place to rest his head, so are his disciples called to always be flexible, on the move and adaptable.

There is nothing wrong with laying down roots. That’s a natural human impulse. It allows us some level of comfort, and ability to spread the gospel without being anxious about how we will eat, and where we will find shelter. My hope is that our roots may be healthy ones…..nurtured by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit; so that if we have to move and make changes, the transplant will lead to ever more abundant growth. +

Evening Prayer: April 9th

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Psalms: 107:33-43, 108, 33
Old Testament: Jeremiah 23:9-15
New Testament: Romans 9:1-18
Gospel: John 6:60-71
Reading from the Magisterium: An excerpt from Gaudem et Spes

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

 

β€˜Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, β€˜Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:67-68)

The question of where to go was the central question of the day for Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In 1933, following the rise of the Nazi party, the legislature point forth a bill that required all churches in Germany to swear an oath of allegiance to the Fuhrer and to display his picture on the altar.

Along with a handful of other theologians, Dietrich refused to take the oath…bucking the trend of almost every other pastor in Germany. He was committed to the truth that only one person deserved veneration on the Table….. Christ himself. He retreated to England for a time, and then was asked to return to Germany to lead an underground Church. Feeling the need to return and serve Christ in his home country, he jumped on a steamer and headed to Europe.

He served the Confessing Church faithfully for years, and even participated in the Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler. Right up until his imprisonment and death in 1943, Bonhoeffer held firm to the conviction that he had no other place, except by the side of his Saviour and Lord. May we all be blessed with such courage and conviction. Amen. +

Evening Prayer: March 12th

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Psalms: 42, 43
Gospel: John 1:43-51
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Against the Heresies by St. Irenaeus

β€˜Can anything good come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46)

It is hard to say for certain what kind of man Nathaniel was. We only catch a short glimpse of him here in the Gospel of John. If I were to speculate though, I would say he was a pretty skeptical guy. At Phillip’s invite to “come and see”, he readily questions whether anything good can come from a backwater town.

Furthermore when Jesus identifies him as an Israelite in whom there is no deceit, Nathaniel asks how Jesus knows him. There seems to be a great deal of mistrust…

And then it what appears to be a rather odd turn of events, Nathaniel boldly declares that Jesus is the Son of God and King of Israel…..even though Christ simply stated that he saw him hanging out by the fig tree.

This might seem strange at first….but I think it makes a little more sense if we skip to the end of John’s gospel *spoiler alert* lol πŸ˜‰

Nathaniel’s confession sounds suspiciously like that of another apostle we know. Unlike the doubting believer who requires concrete evidence, Nathaniel’s faith is unprompted and spontaneous.

One of the central questions in the Fourth Gospel, and for us during Lent, is what kind of believer we are to be. Are we the type to recognize Jesus right away……or do we need more convincing???

If it is the latter, what proof would we need? If the former, how do we make sure we are recognizing Christ, and not some figment of our imagination and self-construction???

I am not saying that one type of discipleship is better or worse…..and if pressed, I would definitely consider myself more Thomas-esque….but the question still remains……how and where do we see Jesus today??? +

Evening Prayer: March 11th (Combo post)

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Psalms: 31, 35
Old Testament: Deut 7:12-16
New Testament: Titus 1* (supposed to be Titus 2, but I switched them yesterday by accident)
Gospel: John 1:35-42
Patristic Reading:An excerpt from a sermon of Pseudo-Chrysostom

They asked [Jesus] “Rabbi (which means ‘Teacher’) where are you staying?” He said to them: “Come and see” (John 1:38-39)

Throughout Lent, the Daily Office lections are leading us through the Gospel of John. The fourth Gospel takes a completely different approach to Jesus’ ministry. Whereas the synoptic tradition tends to hide and tease us with Jesus’ identity, John is very straightforward.

From the very first sentence, the reader is made aware that Christ is the eternal Word. The point for John is not to discover who Jesus is, but rather to bear witness to Jesus’ true nature as the Son of God…and to experience his presence for ourselves.

Thus, when John writes about the call of the first disciples…..the emphasis is not being on fishers of men……but on a simple invitation to come and see.

The Dean of Huron College once said that it would be a worthwhile exercise to read John as an exposition and power of the spoken Word of Christ, and I think that it might be one of the themes I pick up for this Lenten season.

Just as we were invited on Wednesday to remember that we are dust, the LORD is inviting us here to break open the Word, to follow him and to see whether what John the Baptist claims is true…..Can this really be the Messiah? The Lamb who takes away the sins of the world??? I hope in the next 40 days to explore these questions with you…..and if you are up for it….we might just be able to figure out where Jesus is staying in the here and now. πŸ™‚ +

Evening Prayer: 3rd Sunday of Epiphany

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Psalm: 103
Gospel: John 5:2-10
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy

Given that I preached on Jesus’ call to discipleship…I’m definitely in a certain mode of thinking today.

As I went through the readings tonight, I was struck that–in John’s gospel–the people who are healed don’t second-guess Jesus…….they just get up and go on their way :).

I wonder how many of us would have the same response…..or whether we would be tempted to tell Jesus that he was full of crap :P.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ words have a definite authority…he speaks and things happen. So why is it that we sometimes doubt the power of God to revive the Church and the world????

I don’t have an answer, but I thought it an interesting question to leave with you to reflect on together. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. πŸ™‚ +

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