Evening Prayer: March 28th (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 80, 77
Old Testament: Jeremiah 7:1-15
New Testament: Romans 4:1-12
Gospel: John 7:17-36
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Basil the Great

Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come (John 7:30)

In John’s gospel we always get references to Jesus’ “time”. We first get a hit of it in chapter 2, in which Jesus tells his mother that his “time has not yet come” whilst at the wedding in Cana.

We get it again in chapter 4 with the Samaritan woman at the well; in which Jesus tells her the time is coming and is now here that God will be worshipped not on mountains, but in Spirit and truth.

It is especially poignant in John 12 in which Jesus responds to some Greeks who wish to see him. At that moment, God declares:

I have been glorified, and I will be glorified again. (John 12:28)

So what is the glory that is to be revealed??? it is the crucified and resurrected Christ.

It is for this event that we wait for during Lent. Of the great Paschal drama of betrayal, Cross and victory. More importantly it is a glory in which we share through our baptism.

So what do you do in the meantime…….we fast, we pray, and we repent……in the hopes that our lives will be changed. That our hearts and minds might be transformed and renewed so that we do not judge by appearances, but by what we know to be the Truth. +

Evening Prayer: Ash Wednesday (March 9th)

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Psalms: 102, 130
Gospel: Luke 18:9-14
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a letter to the Corinthians by St. Clement

Le Penitente by Pietro Rotari

 

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities. (Psalm 130:7-8)

The whole point of observing fasting periods is not so much self-deprivation as it is about hope and re-orientation. As we journey towards the Cross, lost in the desert of sound, sight, smell, taste and touch…… we long for something that is real

That’s not to say that the five senses are bad…..after all, we are a Church that believes in the essential goodness of the body which has been redeemed through Christ.

At the same time, there is a temptation to become to reliant on the body…on instant gratification, and the raw rush of emotion.

Lent seeks to get past that….by subduing the flesh (or additionally, things which are causing us to be lazy, stressed, or spiteful) room is made to contemplate the Spirit….to let Christ take his throne in the hearts of each of us.

Take some time in these next weeks and months to listen to what the Spirit–our advocate and guide–is saying to the Church in and through us. After all, we are all members of the one body of the faithful.

May we all, in the name of the LORD observe a Holy Lent and wander hand-in-hand with our Saviour….trusting in his great mercy towards us. +

Morning Prayer: Ash Wednesday (March 9th)

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Psalms: 32, 143
Old Testament: Jonah 3:1-4:11
New Testament: Hebrews 12:1-14

I must admit….whenever the big Holy Days in the calendar arrive, I always feel myself pulled in a million different directions. Should I talk strictly about the readings appointed for the day? Should I explain the rationale behind the observance of Ash Wednesday and Lent? Should I talk about the major themes associated with the liturgical season??? Oi vay! So many decisions to make. :S

I suppose I want to start by saying that Lent is important. Beginning with Ash Wednesday……we are confronted by this basic fact: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Today, we are asked not only to contemplate our own mortality……and to face what is perhaps the even bigger question of “what do I do now???”

I wish that the Anglican Church would add the follow-up phrase to the imposition of ashes that I grew up with in the Roman Catholic church……”Remember, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; Repent and believe in the Good News

Ash Wednesday is not just about turning away from the things that separate us from God, but to embrace the remedy for the defilement of our sins…to look to the Great Physician who binds up our wounds, soothes our pain, and heals our broken hearts. ❤

The first step in this process is repentance. To recognize and turn away those things which cause us to hurt others, and which lead us away from God; Those times when we live as though we are worthless sinners who cannot be redeemed; forgetting our true heritage as people who have been blessed, cleansed, and purified in the waters of baptism.

Ash Wednesday serves as the wake-up call for this awareness…… to begin the process of returning to the Father, and to remember our true calling: To worship God in Spirit and truth; to bring reconciliation and peace to all.

This is all very easy to write in a blog post…theologizing from a distance…..but this year, it is my hope that Lent could turn into something deeper. I want it to be more than simply an intellectual exercise.

May we all my have the courage to be intentional about getting to know Christ in these 40 days and together, observe a Holy Lent.

I confess to Almighty God
and to you my brothers and sisters
that I have sinned through my own fault.
In my thoughts and in my words;
in what I have done and what I have failed to do.
So I ask blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the angels and saints,
and to you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the LORD our God.

+

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??? +

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