Reflections on a blessed Epiphanytide…..

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Man am I ever behind…….Last time I posted was on Twelfth Night…..and now we stand a week away from Lent……..where did those six weeks go??? 😛

Although I have still been praying the Daily Office with some regularity, the month of January was both eventful and Grace-filled. While I wanted to post here, I often found myself with little or no spiritual energy left to come up with something creative to say.

For that I want to apologize 😦

Now I’m back 🙂 and I feel compelled to share some thought and reflection about what has been going on in my life…..

The biggest event in the last month without any doubt was my ordination to the order of Deacon:

The experience was at once joyful and sobering. On one hand, it was the realization of a life-long dream. On the other, I was faced with an unpleasant thought: Crap! I have to be an adult now :P.

While I know my status has changed, it feels very weird when people call me Reverend or Father, or Padre. I suspect that this shock will wear off eventually….It’s amazing what can happen if I throw on that black shirt and collar :P.

I am still me….but now I’m me with responsibility attached. I represent something that’s bigger than myself..which is something I try to do anyway…but now I find myself more conscious of it.

More than that though, I am struck by the fact that it finally happened….after hard work, some luck and amazing people around me.

Those people also include those who read and contribute to this blog. By your presence, I made it through a very dark time in discerning my vocation. Your honest and open sharing of your thoughts and challenges to my own have pushed me to be a better writer, theologian…but most important, a better person. If I don’t say it often enough…… thank you! ❤

All in all…..I am left with this thought…which I hope will inspire you to pursue your own passions.

Dreams are real. Even amidst the crap, they can come true. We are never alone or without support. And God is amazing! +

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Evening Prayer: March 7th

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Psalms: 9, 15
Gospel: John 1:1-18
Patristic Reading: N/A

And the Word became flesh…..From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:14;16)

Gregory of Nazianzus once wrote “the unassumed is the unhealed”. For Gregory and the Early Church Fathers, the whole point of Jesus coming to earth and becoming human was so that all human beings could be washed clean of sin. If he were to have come just as fully divine, nothing about man’s nature could be changed. Sin could not be remedied.

But (as the early councils of the Church clarified) we are confident that God came to earth both as fully human and fully divine and this has far deeper implications for how we enter into relationship with our Creator.

As the Word became flesh……he also assumed everything about us. Joy, hate, fear, anger….all our emotions have been shared and experienced by the Son.

To be honest with you, this is one of the greatest reasons why I am a Christian in the first place. It’s not only that my salvation is assured…..but it gives me great comfort to know that I am not alone in feeling all the ups and downs of life. Our God is not an impersonal benefactor. He is not an impartial judge with no sense of compassion.

Rather he is someone who has felt the emptiness of hunger, the longing of thirst, the pain of abandonment, and the despair of doubt. Likewise…..Jesus is someone who rejoices with us in times of abundance, prosperity, hope and joy. 😀

Our God is one who journeys with us during Lent on the long road to Jerusalem, and invites us to new life in the glory of the empty tomb…..

Thanks be to God 😀 ❤ +

Morning Prayer: March 7th

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Psalm: 25
Old Testament: Deut 6:10-15
New Testament: Hebrews 1:1-11

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart,
and bring me* out of my distress.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:16-18)

I’m definitely distracted today after the meeting with my Archdeacon. Basically, it seems the powers that be are confuzzled (understandably so) over what to do with access to the altar in any potential placement. I keep saying it’s not a huge problem, and I am fast approaching the point of not being polite about it anymore. Not quite over the edge but almost lol ;).

I know it’s somewhat dangerous putting this out in a public forum where my potential employers could read it, but something needs to be said.

Let me be very clear. I am very sympathetic to church architecture, history, and the concept of sacred space. I get that raised altars and steps signify approaching heaven and God’s glory. Some high altars are absolutely beautiful……but what about looking at it from the other side???

I also TOTALLY admit having a bias here (duh!), but isn’t the Incarnation about God coming down to us??? Not us ascending to Him??? Why should we be so afraid of changing or moving the holy furniture? An altar is still holy no matter where it stands….and call me crazy…..but I hold out the hope that congregations….the people of God are not shallow communities. 😀 ❤

I think if people *knew* they had a disabled person coming to minister to them, they would open to having an accessible altar….. I can definitely understand that there might be some resistance…..even some questions as to whether the chancel area and altar are "wasted" if they aren't used on a regular basis….these are good questions…….but NO ONE is having these conversations. So…. I guess I'm starting them here 😀

It is easy to say "the church is wrong…….boo to exclusion!!!"……but let's face it……up until the 1960s and beyond there was no "formal" participation by the disabled community in liturgical life…….Churches simply didn't have wheelchair accessibility on the agenda….and probably would not have even occurred to them to think of such things. The institution/Diocese is not the bad guy here .

I get that and I don't hold a grudge……really I don't :)…..but this is now 2011. More than that, the Christian Church–especially in North America–is going through another reformation…..a re-imagining of itself and what the role of the faithful is in a post-modern, post-internet age is…..and one of the things we *must* rethink what it means to be accessible to all…not just to people in wheelchairs.

The issue of accessibility is not only about justice, equal access, or even compassion…..it is about incorporating EVERYONE who is baptized into the community. I truly believe that if we frame it in *that* context, congregations would be much more open to change….to try something a little different……at least that is what I pray for. 😀

As the quote from Psalm 25 states….all I can do at this point is put my trust in God and work like hell to remember that the Church is not just bricks, mortar, and stairs….but a movement….a community of people that works together to preach the gospel …..and one that relies completely on God’s love, mercy, and grace in its life together. +

Evening Prayer: Last Sunday of Epiphany (Transfiguration Sunday)

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Psalms: 114, 115
Gospel: John 12:24-32
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Confessions of St. Augustine

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25)

The whole idea of dying to ourselves is a scary idea; especially in a culture that puts so much emphasis on the individual self. Note though, that Jesus’ words here don’t advocate dying just for the sake of dying, but so that we can grow and gain true and abundant life.

It’s also somewhat appropriate that we are reading this *just* as we head in towards Lent; a time when traditionally we let something go or give something up.

The Lenten discipline is not so much about self-induced torture as it is recognizing something as an excess……as something which is potentially holding us back from our getting to know Christ fully.

For me this year it’s coffee…I rely way too much on stimulants to keep me going rather than a regular cycle of prayer, eating healthy, and exercise.

On the surface this may seem like a simple self-help technique…..but it’s really not. Christian living is one that is Incarnational; a lifestyle which celebrates body and soul being interconnected and whole. Something which I have not attended to in a very long time.

So what about you? What are you willing to give up this Lent???? What might help you to grow spiritually, emotionally, or physically this year and bring you closer into line with God??? +

Morning Prayer: Last Sunday of Epiphany (Transfiguration Sunday)

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Psalms: 148, 149, 150
Old Testament: Deut 6:1-9
New Testament: Hebrews 12:18-29

So why is this commandment set above all others??? What is its significance?

At first glance it seems obvious……of course we love God…..don’t we???? It makes sense that we have an affection for the one who created us from the dust. But do we love him to the exclusion of all else???

It is no surprise that the Shema is always coupled with the commandment not to have other gods before YHWH.

You may remember last month, I mentioned Tim Keller In his book Counterfeit Gods he argues that these Gods refer not only to foreign deities but to ideas and roles as well.

Do we love God more than wealth? Do we love God more than we love our independence? Do we love God more than being a parent? A spouse? A student? A priest?

These questions are difficult as they cut to the very heart of our identity :P…..That said, I do wonder what the answer to these questions would be if we were to answer honestly. +

Evening Prayer: March 5th

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Psalms: 110, 116, 117
Gospel: Matt 7:22-29
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Zeno of Verona

I remember this Gospel passage as the one used for my sister’s wedding; kind of appropriate given the stuff that I’ve been reflecting on about trust and relationship in the last few posts.

Rocks are an important image in the Bible. In the Psalms, God is often referred to as the rock and refuge of Israel and the oppressed. In the Exodus story, God makes water to flow from a rock in the desert, so that his people to not die of thirst. Jesus calls Peter the rock on which he will build his Church.

Rocks are solid and intractable. Yet they also come in a variety of shapes, colours, compositions, weight, etc.

No two rocks are the same….each has been uniquely formed by tectonic force……bearing the stamp of the stress and pressure they have been under.

We are kind of like that too. Each experience in our life….whether it be stressful, joyful, or otherwise exerts certain pressures on us. They change the way we are shaped.

Sometimes it’s for the worse, but sometimes for the better…but we are nonetheless different from how we were before. I hope that as we move forward in our lives…..we continue to be shaped by our experiences. With any luck, the end result will be that the people around us will encounter someone who is changed by their joy and delight, rather than twisted and warped by frustration, hate, and disappointment. +

Evening Prayer: March 3rd

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Psalms: 18:21-50
Gospel: Matt 7:1-12
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Moral Reflections on Job by St. Gregory the Great

It is you who light my lamp;
the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)

OK am I the only one who thought of this when reading this verse 28????

😀

Seriously though, this line is the one that caught my attention tonight. God is the one who gives light to guide our feet on the path….but where does this path lead to???

Ironically enough, it leads us back to Him who is the source of life….

For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:9)

Light is an important part of our life..it allows us not only to see…..but to see in colour and detail. It can be a spot of joy on otherwise dreary, snowy, and overcast days that are otherwise miserable… :P…..Can you tell I’m looking forward to spring???

Light can also give us direction in the darkness…..at times when we are uncertain and lost…..its appearance can give hope admist despair.

May you always find yourself in the light, and remember that in light, we reflect the one who made us in delight +

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