Morning Prayer: July 23rd

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Psalm: 55
Old Testament: 2 Samuel 1:1-16
New Testament: Acts 15:22-35

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag….Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them; and all the men who were with him did the same. They mourned and wept, and fasted until evening for Saul and for his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. (2 Sam 1:1;11-12)

I know it’s wrong to read New Testament values into Old Testament writings (I can almost see Gord Hamilton’s head exploding now)….but as I was going through this reading with milady…all I could think about was the idea of loving your enemy.

Despite having a good start to their relationship…..by the end, Saul and David were rivals aspiring to a single throne. Only one could win….and worst of all, someone (Jonathan) was caught right smack dab in the middle.

If I were in David’s position, I don’t know that I would be weeping, and fasting and tearing my shirt. On the contrary, I think my instinct would be to celebrate…..and possibly dance on Saul’s grave 😛

Even in a harsh world of royal politics, David mourns the loss of life…..any life……and that is something truly amazing indeed. +

Evening Prayer: March 29th

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Psalm: 78:40-72
Gospel: John 7:37-52
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Peter Chrysologus

Peter Chrysologus offers us the follwing reflection tonight:

To make [prayer and fasting] acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

It took me a while to grasp the whole mercy thing. Normally, I’m all for justice and restitution….I want to see the world as a fair place…….and yet we have a God whose fundamental message is one of forgiveness and grace…….of people getting exactly what they do not deserve; perfect pardon and peace.

Without getting into too many specifics or airing my laundry in the blogosphere…..I will say that a few years ago, there was a pretty significant rift in my family over an affair that was had. Virtually everyone close to me was affected by it in some way, and I was really angry at the perpetrator. 😛

I couldn’t understand how–despite this betrayal–the couple stayed together. At first, it seemed like they were ignoring the issue and pretending that it never happened.

As I learnt more however, I realized that the person who was cheated on, kept the relationship going because she thought it was in the best interests of the family. Ironically, my anger then switched from the perpetrator to the victim.

So much so that I told her that I would not forgive her. 😦 My mercy was far from exemplary on that day 😛

Luckily, we have since been reconciled…..but that was the first time I actually had to forgive someone for anything bigger than a white lie, or stealing some inconsequential property.

Mercy is a cool thing to talk about…a piece of theology that is lovely to speak about……but one of those doctrines that is incredibly difficult to live out in praxis. :S

One thing about mercy and forgiveness though, is that it has the potential to heal both the offender and the offended. It doesn’t mean that the scars disappear, or that the pain is nonexistent……but it does mean that the pain is not crippling…..and leads us to empathy for all of our sisters and brothers who have just as many broken relationships, and unresolved emotions as we do. +

Evening Prayer: March 16th (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 119:49-72, 49
Old Testament: Deut 9:13-21
New Testament: Hebrews 3:12-19
Gospel: John 3:1-15
Patristic Reading:An excerpt from a treatise of Bishop Apphrates

Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, for forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin you had committed, provoking the Lord by doing what was evil in his sight. For I was afraid that the anger that the Lord bore against you was so fierce that he would destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also. (Deut 9:18-19)

So sorry for no post this morning :(…..I was a little distracted today. With my dad and sister over on the weekend, we had a pretty intense discussion about the future and how things are unfolding right now in my life….it’s certainly lots to think about and I wasn’t really in the mood to write earlier in the day.

But I’m back in the groove tonight….and I just wanted to point to yet another Moses parallel we find during the season of Lent. For 40 days and 40 nights……Moses fasts and pleads with God to forgive the infidelity shown by Aaron and the other Israelites.

In effect, Moses (as the leader of the whole nation) is doing penance on behalf of the whole. I don’t know why……but this sorta flipped a switch in my brain…….maybe the example in Deuteronomy puts a new spin on Lent.

With so much emphasis on self-improvement and self-sacrifice during the Great Fast ……what would happen if we were to turn that focus outward???? Giving something up, or doing something which is on behalf of the community we belong to??? What were to happen if Lent became less individualistic????

I dunno….but for me it’s an interesting thing to contemplate…..what do you folks think???+

Morning Prayer: Shrove Tuesday (March 8th)

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Psalms: 26, 28
Old Testament: Deut 6:16-25
New Testament: Hebrews 2:1-10

While not an official feast-day in the liturgical calendar, Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday) is BY FAR one of the best celebrations of the Church.

I ❤ breakfast food…….a LOT! So anytime it can be had twice on the same day I am SO in! 😀

Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to party and celebrate before the Great Lent begins tomorrow–on Ash Wednesday. The 40 days of Lent were/are traditionally observed as a fasting period, and Mardi Gras served as a way to get rid of all the fat and sugar in one's household.

A traditional fast is still maintained by the Eastern Orthodox churches, with the eating of meat and dairy products highly discouraged.

In the West, fasting from food or drink has fallen by the wayside; but many have held on to a tradition of "giving something up" for Lent…or conversely taking something on in order to enhance their spiritual growth.

Today's Scripture for the Daily Office is particularly appropriate as we head into the six weeks leading up to Easter. When children ask "What is the meaning of the Law and statutes of God???", the Jewish people are not told to give a strictly intellectual response. Rather, they are to remember God's saving acts and to tell these stories with joy from one generation to another:

We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. The LORD displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household. He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors. Then the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case. If we diligently observe this entire commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, we will be in the right. (Deut 6:22-25)

The instruction here is not to give a straightforward answer……but rather to point to the traditions and stories of our faith; to contemplate them and turn them over in our minds….looking at things with a new perspective. Remembering the WHY of what we do….as opposed to just doing it out of habit.

In the next forty days, we are called to remember the story of Jesus’ temptation, his trek to Jerusalem, his betrayal, torture, death, and–finally–rising victorious from the grave.

May we not seek to give straightforward answers…but rather point to the stories of Jesus, and let those narratives guide the way through the wilderness….inviting others to join us along the way +

P.S. EP will be posted a little later than usual since the pancake supper at my parish goes ’till 7pm 🙂

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