Evening Prayer: Feb. 18th

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Psalm: 107:1-32
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise on First John by St. Augustine

Some wandered in desert wastes ,
finding no way to an inhabited town;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress (Ps. 107:4-6)

Some sat in darkness and in gloom,
prisoners in misery and in irons
,
for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
Their hearts were bowed down with hard labour;
they fell down, with no one to help.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress; (Ps. 107:10b-13)

Some were sick* through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities endured affliction;
They loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress; (Ps. 107:17-19)

If we read Psalm 107 too quickly we tend to miss some of the subtleties here. While the Psalm as a whole is directed to the congregation of Israel. We actually have God showing up and reaching out to three different groups of people: the lost, the captive, and the sick. Hmmm where have I seen this before?????????

The thing with this passage is that God shows up to His people in spite of our bad behaviour and our tendency to stray away from the Father. The Father shows up anyway…. but why???

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Let us take Luther’s mantra to heart….to believe the Word of God that tells of Jesus Christ our Saviour…..who came to make us whole through pure Grace and and to take comfort in the faith that all our sins are forgiven and that we have been made new. Alleluia!+

Evening Prayer: Feb. 10th

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Psalms: 85, 86
Gospel: Mark 10:17-31
Patristic Reading: Couldn’t find the excerpt online tonight 😦

Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, β€˜For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ (Mark 10:26b-27)

I have just recently finished a book entitled The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller (pictured above).

Keller–who is a Presbyterian minister in New York–tackles a whole bunch of different objections to the Christian faith which are posed by contemporary skeptics, atheists, and secular individuals. While this may sound incredibly dull and dry….he writes in a very engaging fashion. The book itself is divided into two halves.

The first part deals with objections to Christianity, whereas the second deals with Christian theology and its application to the modern world.

In the chapters dedicated to the concept of sin Keller makes a fascinating point. He argues that atheism, and over-zealous religious commitment are the two extremes on the same pole. Both involve a certain amount of pride….and the ultimate conviction that the individual can save him/herself by virtue of their own effort.

For the atheist, the assumption is that God does not exist, and therefore the individual strives to construct meaning around their lives by the roles they choose to inhabit….a parent, a spouse, a professional etc. The essence of this mind-set is that one becomes their own Saviour.

The problem is…..once these self-defining roles are removed nothing is left.

The over-religious person on the other hand is so committed to rule-following that they believe God owes them something. It is not by the Grace of God that they are saved…but by the greatness, and cumulative effect of their own moral efforts.

The problem with the over-religious folk is that they become self-conscious and self-absorbed. At the same time, they are haunted by a sense that they should be holier, do more good…..and look down on those who aren’t as committed as they are.

In both the case of the zealot and the atheist is that they are seeking to save themselves. Both schemas of salvation are me centered

Grace is the exact opposite of self-constructed reality. Grace is other-centered . There is a sense in which Grace and the invitation to the Kingdom of God is a free gift. In order to receive that gift however, we need to surrender everything to Christ. It is only in giving away our power to control our destiny, that we ultimately fulfill it.

The rich man in tonight’s gospel was crushed to hear that he would have to give up his possessions to enter the Kingdom. Part of his reality was built on the assumption that his wealth was a reflection of his piety…when he was asked to give up that reality for something new……he walked away.

I hope and pray that as we contemplate and heed our own call to follow Christ, God will make the impossible true, and allow us to drop the things that are holding us back from feeling the full power and warmth of His love for us. +

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