Evening Prayer: Good Friday

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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

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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! +

Morning Prayer: June 10th

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Psalm:102
Old Testament: Ezekiel 34:17-31
New Testament: Hebrews 8:1-17

As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats: Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture? When you drink of clear water, must you foul the rest with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have fouled with your feet? (Ezekiel 34:17-20)

Sheep are dumb. No, really…. They’re dumb. If left to their own devices, sheep will continue eating grass until they pull the roots right out. Without someone to shepherd and guide them, the flock would inadvertently starve itself and die off.

It is in light of this metaphor that God assures his people that he will set someone over them to be their protector. Time and time again this week, the words have repeated that They shall be my people, and I YHWH will be their God.

Over and over, God invites us into relationship with Him. The call to holiness is constant….not because of moral duty, but because of a sincere desire on behalf of the LORD to be in relationship with us….and so that we can share in his joy and divine nature.

For us…..the Good Shepherd is none other than Christ himself. He is the one who lays down his life on our behalf, and brings us back when we are lost. For all our sheepish stupidity, we have the ability to hear the voice of God in our midst. May we always heed that call and follow Jesus wherever He might lead.

Evening Prayer: June 9th

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Psalm: 105:23-45
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from A Commentary on John’s Gospel by St. Cyril of Alexandria

Whenever the Lectionary asks us to reflect on the Good Samaritan…..I always find it difficult to comprehend the radical nature of this parable. As a Canadian who finds himself in a post-Charter context and surrounded by a fairly liberal circle of family and friends…..the issue of race or ethnicity has never been a source of conflict in my life…at least not overtly.

That’s not to say that racism is gone, or the biases that surround different nationalities don’t exist…but it’s something that I don’t personally understand.

A couple of years ago, I heard a sermon by one of the youth at St. Christopher’s in a way that touched me and blew my mind all at the same time :P.

I wish I still had access to the MP3 so I could share it; but essentially, she challenged my assumption of who the Good Samaritan is.

Normally when we think of this story, we think of someone who is in need of being rescued….someone on the margins of society we are called to help be a voice for.

Or perhaps–on the metaphorical level–we picture the God as the one picking us up…. binding our wounds, our emotional hurts and our sins with healing and love.

But what if….in this age of atheism, consumerism, and moral apathy….the robber suffering on the road…..half beaten to death….what if that person was God???

What if….instead of God saving us, we needed to save God???

I leave you tonight with that question. Feel free to leave some thoughts in the comments section below.

As always, I continue to pray with and for you as we joyfully anticipate the Feast of Pentecost. +

Evening Prayer: Good Friday

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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

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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: 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 awayโ€”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! ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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. +