Evening Prayer: Saturday in Easter (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 145, 104
Old Testament: Isaiah 25:1-9
New Testament: Acts 4:13-21
Gospel: John 16:16-33
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Jerusalem Catecheses

He will swallow up death for ever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25:8-9)

During the season of Easter, we are reminded that death itself….the last enemy…..the cause of all our tears….the thing that invades like darkness has been utterly destroyed.

I sit here prepped to give a sermon about doubting Thomas at the 9:00am service tomorrow at Cronyn, and I can’t help but think that Thomas was right to be skeptical.

The whole idea that death no longer has the final word seems like a fools’ hope; an imaginary tale to assuage our guilt for sins past. Thomas had seen the torture on Good Friday and knew its horror. A whole week had passed and still he had no proof of what was real. All he had was the testimony of friends.

How many times have we heard church gossip and known to take it with a grain of salt?

One of the things which I think is missed most often is how disappointed and disillusioned the disciples would have felt after the death of their Master.

This was a man they have pinned their hopes on…..believed in his promises; only to see the government crush him without mercy. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

It would take a lot for me to move past that grief…..and I have a feeling it was the same for Thomas.

And yet, the focus shifts once his hands slide through the wounds in Christ’s hands, feet and side….In joy and praise, he declares “ My Lord and My God “. The doubter recognizes before all others that this indeed is the Word made Flesh who was with God when the world was created.

Thomas’ doubt is what ultimately led him to faith. ๐Ÿ™‚

His example leaves room for us not to have (or expect to have) all the answers. At the same time, we can unite our voices with his in the faith and hope that the resurrection is indeed real, and that all the chains which constrained us have now been broken! ๐Ÿ™‚

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life +

Morning Prayer: March 29th

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Psalm: 78:1-39
Old Testament: Jeremiah 7:21-34
New Testament: Romans 4:13-21

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already* as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarahโ€™s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:19-21)

One of the key things for Romans (and indeed of Christian theology is answering the question of: How do Gentiles enter into covenant with YHWH???

Paul takes a very interesting approach…..rather than saying that all should be circumcized under the Law, Paul points out that Abraham himself–the very founder of Judaism–was not subject to any formal law.

Rather, the father of all nations had to hold onto a promise….

In making this connection, Paul flips conventional ideology on its head. Abraham no longer becomes the follower of God’s prescribed will….otherwise the promise of descendants might be construed as something which Abraham might be owed.

Since the walls of following statute broken down, so is the excuse that Gentiles are to be excluded. Now everyone is asked not to do God’s will to get in..but to believe in the promises he makes.

For anyone who has had to rely on someone else’s word knows that is an extremely uncomfortable position. What if they decide to bail on the last minute???? What if the person decides to only do 30% of what they had initially said???

Faith in God is not easy….because it is based on a promise of new life and salvation. So how do we know that God is going to live up to our expectations???

For one, we can look at the examples found in Scriptures……taking examples from their lives, prayers, and actions. Another way is to look at the world around us. To look at the beauty of nature, and of the people who make a difference in the world around us. Those Spirit-filled moments are but a foreshadow of the Kingdom of God which Christ inaugurated and has invited us to enter into. +

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

โ€˜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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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??? +

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