Evening Prayer: Good Friday

Leave a comment


Psalm: 40, 54
Gospel: John 19:38-42
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Catecheses of St. John Chrysostom

I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation. (Psalm 40:9-10)

Morning Prayer: Good Friday

Leave a comment


Psalm: 22
Old Testament: Lamentations 3:1-9;19-33
New Testament: 1 Peter 1:10-20

For the Lord will not
reject for ever.
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone. (Lamentations 3:31-33)

The Lamentations of Jeremiah are words spoken from the very depths of pain. They reflect a people who feel abandoned, discouraged and defeated. Yet here…..even at the point of feeling utter desolation…..the writer holds on to hope…..that God will show up.

And indeed He does. In the greatest way possible……Instead of inflicting his wrath and justice on us….He instead turns it inward… He takes what should have been our death and nails it to a tree……Today is not Good because our Lord suffers…..but rather because by that act of love, he has set us free from pain…and reminds all who suffer that they are not alone. The One who formed us from the dust shows compassion and solidarity with us, so that even he is not above our experiences.

In dying for us, he restores our life……Lord Jesus…..come in glory! +

Evening Prayer: Good Friday

Leave a comment


Psalms: 40, 52
Gospel: John 19:38-42
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Catecheses of St. John Chrysostom

Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. (John 19:39-40)

Tonight, Nietzsche is right. God is dead. Christ’s corpse is lifeless. The flesh has already begun to deteriorate and the true horror of the Cross hits home. You see…..the real scandal is not that Christ suffered and died. All men do that.

The impossible thing is that God, the Word through whom all things came to exist has abruptly fallen silent.

We cannot yet see past the great stone. We have not yet been greeted by angels bearing Good News. Tonight, we too are overwhelmed by fear, anguish, and pain…….Despairing at the fate of our Lord.

Tonight Death has claimed its prize, and we like sheep are lost and have scattered. +

Morning Prayer: Good Friday

Leave a comment


Psalm: 22
Old Testament: Wisdom 1:16 – 2:1, 12-22
New Testament: 1 Peter 1:10-20

You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that helf Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom. +

Evening Prayer: Fri. of Epiphany 1

Leave a comment


Psalms: 114 , 115
Gospel: John 2:1-11
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Maximus of Turin

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you. (John 2:3b-4)

Every so often we need someone to give us a kick in the ass. I know that’s certainly true in my life. I make no bones about the fact that I am one lazy dude. I like to sleep in, procrastinate, and rationalize why I can’t do something.

Sometimes the person who gives me that reality check is my spiritual director, at other times it is the people that I am ministering to in my pastoral care.

Most often though, the person who gives me the wake-up call is my Mom.

Moms are weird like that. They have a sense of who were are, and what we are capable of. When they see us not living up to that potential, they are not hesitant to speak up.

I suspect it’s because our mothers are always the ones who have known us the longest. They have known us even before we were born; and Mary, the mother of God, is no exception.

Here at the wedding of Cana, she sees a chance for her Son to bring people to faith. Despite Jesus’ own misgivings, she confidently expresses to the servants that he will act, and that they are to follow his instructions.

This first miracle of Jesus is not a cheap one either. Twenty or thirty gallons is a LOT of wine to have at a wedding. The fact that Christ would be so extravagant points to an important aspect of God. He is not only a loving LORD, he is also a generous friend.

The wine that God provides to the wedding guests is of the very best quality. God does not chince out. He wants us not only to live life, but to enjoy it, and live in abundance :D.

As we go forward tonight, let us give thanks to those friends, family, and loved ones who are always there to give us that extra push in the right direction. +

P.S. A friend on my FB page reminded me that today (Jan. 7th) is Christmas Day within the Eastern Orthodox tradition :D. May all of our brothers and sisters in the Eastern and Oriental Churches be blessed with the Light of the Christ-child, and be filled with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. 😀 ❤ +

Evening Prayer: Fri. of Advent 3

2 Comments


Psalm: 51
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-15
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from St. Augustine’s Commentary on the Psalms

Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities (Psalm 51:8-9)

Psalm 51 is one of the “big kanhuna’s” in the entire book of Psalm’s. According to the prologue, this Psalm was sung by David after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan. (2 Sam 12:1-15)

The king is so wracked with guilt that he pleads with God for forgiveness….laying his soul bare before God. David desired from the very depth of his being to be forgiven. You can almost hear the desperation in his voice.

Such intense longing is the subject that Augustine tackles as well. Augustine–like many of the Early Church Fathers–were incredibly practical folk. They knew that it was natural for men and women to have deep desires for all kinds of different things; material possessions, access to good food, healthy relationships with family and friends. These are all natural human needs.

Groaning is also an interesting choice of words here. A groan–while pretty basic–can convey many different emotions. It can express anger, disappointment, sadness, grief, uneasiness, discomfort…..the list goes on. Groaning is something we know how to do from birth, and is a fundamental part of expressing our humanity.

In part, I think that’s why Psalm 51–amongst many others–has captivated so many readers throughout the centuries.

It is a raw Psalm…..a cry from the heart. It is blunt, and ugly, and recognizes the utter failure of a broken man. It is Psalms like this that help us to remember that we are not the only ones who suffer….we are not the only ones who are broken-hearted. We are part of the communion of saints not only by virtue of the hope and joy of our common faith; but also in knowing that we travel together as the Church–the people of God–with all its aches, pains, and difficult times. +

Morning Prayer: Fri. of Advent 3

Leave a comment


Psalm(s): 40 , 54
Old Testament: Isaiah 10:5-19
New Testament: 2 Peter 2:17-22

So tired……must…..reflect…..on……..readings lol 😛

Today was definitely one of those days that I did MP while only half-awake and without coffee at my disposal :(……So needless to say the brain is not firing on all cylinders quite yet. As a result, today’s reflection is going to be short and sweet. One thing caught my eye from Peter’s epistle:

……for people are slaves to whatever masters them…. (2 Peter 2:19)

In its original context, Peter is still talking about being a slave to lust. This sentence however is much more profound and has other connections to the Christian tradition.

Matthew’s gospel tells us that it is impossible to serve two masters at the same time (Matt 6:24) and in Luke Jesus says that “wherever your heart is, there also is your treasure” (Luke 12:34)

The call to Christian life is about service…..we are not called to be masters, but slaves for Christ just as Paul was.

What serves as master in your life??? Does it control your actions and outlook on life???? Do we need to re-evaluate what takes precedence in our lives? I wonder….. +

Evening Prayer: Fri. of Advent 2

Leave a comment


Psalm: 35
Gospel: Luke 22:14-30
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Against the Heresies by St. Ireneaus

If I didn’t know any better….I would say that the author of Psalm 35 sounds downright paranoid:

But when I stumbled, they were glad and gathered together;
they gathered against me; *
strangers whom I did not know tore me to pieces and would not stop.
They put me to the test and mocked me; *
they gnashed at me with their teeth.
O Lord, how long will you look on? *
rescue me from the roaring beasts,
and my life from the young lions (vv. 15-17)

Clearly the Psalmist feels both threatened and abused. He openly wonders where God is in the midst of his trouble. Following the stories and traditions of his heritage, he asks repeatedly for YHWH to come to his aid:

Fight those who fight me, O LORD; *
attack those who are attacking me.
Take up a shield and armor *
and rise up to help me.
Draw the sword and bar the way against those who pursue me: *
say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” (vv. 1-3)

He wants God to show up and show up NOW!!!!

It seems somewhat strange that this Psalm should coincide with reading Luke’s institution of the Eucharist. God shows up….but it isn’t with a shield and buckler. It is with nails in his hands and feet, and wearing a crown of thorns.

Christ himself felt betrayed during his Passion, and even asked God to intervene in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet Christ was not spared humiliation and death. A humiliation and death that we remember constantly in the worship life of the Church.

In the new covenant of Christ….suffering is not avoided, but embraced. It is a hard thing to wrap our brains around….Wouldn’t God just show up in might like the days of old??? Wouldn’t that be easier???

I confess that I do not have the answer to that question :P…..but it seems to me that tonight’s readings are pointing us in a very specific direction. There is a notion that unearned suffering is both to be expected in this life, and (to quote Martin Luther King Jr.) it is somehow redemptive. Suffering unjustly is part of what it means to be a Christian.

It’s not part of the faith that we embrace very often or enjoy……but its also an important aspect that we cannot afford to avoid. If we are to truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus….and if drawing nearer to Him is the goal….that must somehow entail carrying a cross. +

Morning Prayer: Fri. of Advent 2

Leave a comment


Psalm: 31
Old Testament: Isaiah 7:10-25
New Testament: 2 Thessolonians 2:13-3:5

A little late in posting this morning :P…..I got stuck in the snow coming back from Morning Prayer and making a stop at the Post Office. On the upside, Xmas cards are now done! 😉

Today’s reflection is short and sweet. As I was reading through the Isaiah excerpt this morning……I was struck once more by one of its central motifs: Destruction and redemption.

Look, the young woman* is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.* 15He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria. (Isaiah 7:10-17)

While this oracle is one of hope, and one that is linked to Christ in the Gospel of Matthew, it also brings with it destruction. The Northern Kingdom will fall and only a remnant will return to Judah to inherit the blessings of God.

In a nutshell….the message of Isaiah (consistent between all three authors of the text) is that God will punish, but he will also rebuild. He will bring about war…. but the lion will eventually lie down with the lamb…..and children will be able to play with one another over the den of the asp. 😀

This is also true of our Christian narrative. We cannot have resurrection and new life without suffering and death. On the flip side–because we are a people of faith and promise–we cannot have death and suffering without being brought back from the dead. 😀

There is always a give and take with the life of faith. Times of darkness and times of light. Times where we feel lost, and times where we know we have been found and embraced with open arms once more.

Christianity is not a quick fix to make us feel good…..it is a way of life +

Evening Prayer: Fri. of Advent 1

Leave a comment


Psalm(s): 22
Gospel: Luke 20:41-21:4
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Proslogion by St. Anselm of Canterbury

St. Francis Xavier

 

Tonight is definitely one of the nights I’m glad the psalms keep repeating themselves in the lectionary.  There is no way that I could cover Psalm 22 in one blog post lol ;).

Psalm 22 has become so connected with the Christian narrative that nearly every verse could be taken and analyzed. It was the Psalm uttered by Jesus on the Cross and the Psalm that gave structure to all four Passion narratives.

One of the things that helped me focus my prayers this evening was the ending of the excerpt from St. Anselm:

Teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me as I seek, because I can neither seek you if you do not teach me how, nor find you unless you reveal yourself. Let me seek you in desiring you; let me desire you in seeking you; let me find you in loving you; let me love you in finding you

Seeking the LORD is one of the whole points of the Daily Office. It provides a system to take some time out of the busy-ness day to get to know this God of ours…..to find out who He really is.

For the person of faith…..to find God is to find someone who boldly asks:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (v. 1)

whose

heart is like wax it is melted within my breast;
[whose] mouth* is dried up like a potsherd,
[whose] tongue sticks to [his] jaws;
[and who is laid] in the dust of death. (v.15)

The God we seek is a vulnerable God…bruised and bloodied…..subject to the scorn and derision of all. God shows up in the way we least expect.

The whole point of Christ’s first Advent in the flesh was to feel our pain, to bear our grief, sorrows, and sin. To show solidarity with those who suffer, and to redeem the whole of creation.

As shocking as this may seem, it does give us a clue as to how God operates in this world. In the first place–and most moving to me–is that God understands what it means to hurt, to be overwhelmed with sadness, to be helpless and to be lost.

But more importantly…the Cross teaches us that God can transform suffering and death to joy and new life. At the end of the day, we too can join in the psalmists praise; confident in the power of the Resurrection:

To him,* indeed, shall all who sleep in* the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.*
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and* proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it (v. 29-31)

Older Entries