Evening Prayer: June 11th (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 25, 9, 15
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 18:5-16, 27b-30
New Testament: Acts 11:19-30
Gospel: Mark 1:29-45
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Rule of St. Benedict

That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons………. [The next day]in the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:32;35)

It strikes me as funny that Mark would go out of his way to mention that Jesus both healed the sick and prayed while it was evening/when it was still dark .

Night and darkness implies a hidden-ness…..something that is unseen. As I read this tonight, I think about those things we do behind the scenes…..or those people that quietly observe us and help us along the way without being obtrusive….

Maybe this passage speaks to the fact that we need the introverts and the silence as much as we need the extroverts and the labour for the kingdom…or as St. Benedict might suggest: Obedience, prayer and work. +

Evening Prayer: Feast of the Holy Trinity

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So this is not my usual posting style…but I figured I would throw this comment up there for Internet posterity. πŸ™‚

Today was indeed very good and filled with worship, genuine surprise, and a sense of awe and wonder at God’s greatness.

Sometimes you can feel God’s grace abounding in such a way that it fills your whole day. It was like that for me. I had uplifting worship (both Eucharist in the morning and Evensong in the early hours of the night). Add that to fascinating conversation with some amazing teenagers, a Footloose viewing, and finding joy in the presence of another…..

that my friends is what you call a an awesome Trinity Feast. πŸ™‚

Part of the reason I don’t want to be bogged down by form tonight is because sometimes prayer has to be spontaneous. And tonight all I have to say one huge thank you to the blessed Father, Son, and Spirit who now and always give me life. ❀ +

Evening Prayer: Wednesday in Holy Week

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Psalm: 74
Gospel: John 12:27-36
Patristic Reading:An excerpt from a treatise of St. Augustine

β€˜Now my soul is troubled. And what should I sayβ€”β€œFather, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, β€˜I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ (John 12:27-29)

Tonight, I had the absolute pleasure of attending Evening Prayer @ the Cathedral using the Holden setting composed by Marty Haugen. There were about a dozen of us altogether and the music was superb.

I also got to hear a wonderful sermon preached by the Deacon. In her homily, she used the illustration to hammer home the significance of the crucifixion.

A bridge operator working the night shift decided to take his son into work with him one evening while working the night shift. As the midnight train came through, he got a call to lower the bridge so it could pass. Without thinking, the operator lowered the bridge.

To his absolute horror, he heard a blood-curdling scream. His son had wandered off onto the tracks when he was not looking and was caught in the mechanism that lowered the bridge.

The Father had a choice. Knowing that the train did not have enough time to stop and save the boy, he could either let his son live and have the train crash into the river, or save his son with the consequence that hundreds of passengers would die.

Faced with this agonizing decision, the father did the only thing he could do. He pressed the button to lower the bridge and let the train pass. Sacrificing his only Son while the people on the train ate, drank, and slept peacefully en route to their destination.

Such was the pain for God when Christ was put on the Cross.

Christ knew the pain and he laid on the tracks anyway. With a troubled spirit and a fearful heart, he faced death head on. Not so that he could be saved. But that we would be saved and God glorified.

I wonder how many of us realize how high the price of our salvation really was. Thanks be to Christ our Lord who valued us beyond all telling. +

Evening Prayer: March 22nd

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Psalm: 68
Gospel: John 4:43-54
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Confessions of St. Augustine

For those of you who don’t know, the Evening Prayer service begins with this versicle and response:

V: O Lord, I call to you, come to me quickly
R: Hear my voice when I cry to you
V: Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense
R: and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

In tonight’s Patristic reading, Augustine examines the implications of this imagery for the Christian understanding of who Jesus is:

The evening sacrifice is then the passion of the Lord, the cross of the Lord, the oblation of the victim that brings salvation, the holocaust acceptable to God. In his resurrection he made this evening sacrifice a morning sacrifice. Prayer offered in holiness from a faithful heart rises like incense from a holy altar. Nothing is more fragrant than the fragrance of the Lord. May all who believe share in this fragrance.

Aside from the sheer aesthetic beauty of this metaphor, it stands as a perfect example of why I read the Church Fathers.

There is no way in a million years that I would make that kind of mental leap as an academic theologian….but that doesn’t mean that the comparison offered by Augustine is useless. The early centuries of Christian thought allow us to see the Bible in a completely different light. For the early Church, the Scriptures were always a whole unit, as the complete revelation of God to the world.

It stands in stark contrast to the logical and often streamlined approach of the historical-critical method. It points to a fundamental difference in mindset…..When you approach the Bible….what hat do you wear? Does it make a difference? I think it does.

When we read the lections in a context and attitude of prayer….does that also make a difference??? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below + πŸ™‚

Evening Prayer: Shrove Tuesday (March 8th)

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Psalms: 36, 39
Gospel: John 1:18-29
Patristic Reading: N/A

For I am but a sojourner with you;
a wayfarer just as my forbears were (Psalm 39:12b)

Since the early days of the Church, the season of Lent has been paralleled with the Israelites 40 years in the desert. As a result of the sin of idolatry with the Golden Calf (along with some other major offences) God declares that the 12 tribes must take the long way around, and wait for the entire corrupt generation to die off.

In this 40 year period, the emerging Jewish people are beset by temptations, infighting, jealousy, abuses of power…every trial under the sun.

Likewise in Lent, we read about how Jesus was tempted by the devil before starting his public ministry….of his internal struggle and frustration of trying to explain to the disciples that yes….he must actually die in order for God’s plan to of salvation is carried out. He even faces outright rebellion from his own disciples…..so intense that he must declare “Get behind me Satan!”

In these 40 days and 40 nights…..we too will be stretched. We will read difficult passages, and contemplate difficult teachings. We too will be tempted to cave on our fast. To go back to our old ways because it is comfortable and convenient. We may even be tempted to walk away from God completely :(.

Whatever the case may be…..we are called to make the journey….to see where the road leads…….and what awaits us at the end. May we have the courage not to look backwards; walk forward with confidence, curiosity, and hope.

I will set my eyes on your hill
Jerusalem, my destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way,
this journey is my destiny!
Let no one walk alone,
the journey makes us one.+

Evening Prayer: Sat. of Epiphany 1

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Psalms: 112, 113
Gospel: John 4:46-54
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon by Faustus of Riez

Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens. (Psalm 113:2-4)

Today I had a really interesting chat with one of my good friends from school. We talked–among other things–about the North American church…..particularly the Anglican context.

There has been a lot of apprehension right now about shrinking numbers in the congregation and a gradual decline of the community aspect of Church.

The thing is, this concern is very much a North American phenomenon. Around the world–particularly in Africa and Asia–Christianity has been experiencing steady growth. The Church universal is growing….we just don’t pay attention to that fact in our Canadian bubble.

All around the world, at all times of the day, people are praising God and encountering Christ. Instead of focusing in on the negative…why not take stock and rejoice in those parts of the world in which the Light of Christ is shining brightly???

I have a sense that it is in those places we can learn much about how to spread the Gospel and to develop a real sense of community, if only we take the time to stop moping. πŸ˜€ +

Evening Prayer: 11th Day of Christmas

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Psalm: 72
Gospel: John 10:10-17
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from The Five Hundred Verses of St. Maximus the Confessor

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs awayβ€”and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice

Tonight I want to cover the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It might sound odd for someone for someone with an M. Div. to say….but I have always been somewhat perplexed and challenged by this depiction of God.

For one it reinforces the idea that the Son came into the world not to condemn the world….but to save it. Pretty straightforward stuff right???

But here’s the thing…..While I can believe that…..it’s very hard for me to deal with the implications of such an idea. When I come across people I consider immoral….or whom I don’t like very much…I want to see them punished…..and I want to see them punished now! πŸ˜›

When I say punished I don’t mean I want to see them put to death…..but it certainly wouldn’t hurt my ego to see the people I don’t like be publicly embarrased at some point….or to see them fail in some aspect of their lives.

But that’s not how Grace works…..God’s way is not our way. Grace is precisely those who don’t deserve anything receiving a Gift anyway. Of wrong-doing being forgiven rather than punished….

Grace is not about justice….Grace is about pure love. πŸ˜€

On the flip side of this Grace coin…I sometimes wonder whether it is really true??? Is it a reality??? or is it some myth people have made up to excuse the bad behaviour in our lives???

I have done some pretty horrible things in my life. I have caused physical, mental, and emotional damage to strangers, friends, family….and even against those whom I love more than life itself. 😦

I think that’s where faith comes in. Faith is different than certainty. We aren’t asked by Jesus to know that He speaks the truth..only to believe it.

Faith in our relationships–both human and divine–means that there is an element of trust involved. While I don’t know that my sins have been forgiven….I trust that it is so. For my part, I also endeavour to follow Jesus’ teachings to the best of my ability.

If Grace has been extended to me–who definitely does not deserve it–who am I to judge the next person beside me…let alone someone who has done me harm???

This trust in God’s grace through Christ is the whole hope of the Church. We act together as a community of faith to follow the Shepherd as best we can…and to be open to the fact that even those outside of the fold are cared for and loved beyond all measure. +

Morning and Evening Prayer: 7th Day of Christmas

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Psalms: 46 , 48
Old Testament: Isaiah 26:1-9
New Testament:2 Cor 5:16-6:2
Gospel: John 8:12-19
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon by St. Leo the Great

As we look a the readings appoiinted for today…there is a lot of discussion around light, ministry, and celebration. With tonight being New Year’s Eve, thereis definitely a party atmosphere around.

For many people, the New Year is a time to make resolutions and major changes….a commitment to making a fresh start. The life of faith–ideally at least-is to dedicate ourselves to being ambassadors for Christ. The whole of the Christian message is that Jesus’ atonement on the cross offers a fresh start for everyone regardless of who they are or what we have done.

May all of you be blessed in 2011 with every kind of happiness and with inspiration by the Holy Spirit to be reconcillers. +

Evening Prayer: 6th Day of Christmas

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Psalm(s): 23, 27
Gospel: John 7:53-8:11
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Refutations of All the Heresies by St. Hippolytus

Tonight’s gospel is very easy to talk about in the abstract….it’s easy for us to say…”yes of course….no one should throw stones…..silly scribes and Pharisees”….

But when sin and offence happens to us….I wonder how forgiving we would actually be???

Especially with adultery…..cheating hurts and it hurts deep . While I have not been the primary person cheated on….I have seen the effects that cheating can have on important and loving relationships.

What tonight’s reading does is lift up a mirror to sin. It is very easy to externalize it..and to punish it…..because then it doesn’t apply to us .

Jesus encourages us to take a step back from hate, anger, and hurt and helps us to realize that we too can be the cause of hurt to the world.

The call to Christian life is a recognition that although we are the cause of hurt in the world…we can also be the source for healing and reconcilliation..which according to Paul is the primary ministry for all Christians.

This commitment does not minimize the hurt caused by the wrongs done to us, or the wrong we do to others….but it is a step in the other direction. To turn injury into pardon, hate into love, and alienation into acceptance. +

Evening Prayer: Feast of St. Stephen (transferred from December 26th)

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So yeah…..normally I do evening prayer around 6:30pm….but I had coffee with friends….then I returned home and stayed up talking with my mom till 2am….

Needless to say, the Office was neglected tonight….It’s one of those situations where you say the Jesus Prayer throw up an intercession request from St. Stephen and hope the baby Jesus understands. πŸ˜›

This is proof positive that yes–even those with significant theological training and a genuine desire to pray just sometimes don’t have the energy to do a whole liturgy before waking up in 7 hours.

Apologies to any who were counting on inspirational words this evening 😦

I promise I will have something super interesting to say tomorrow lol πŸ˜› +

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