Evening Prayer: August 18th (Combo Post)

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Psalms:131, 132, 134, 135
Old Testament: 2 Sam 19:1-23
New Testament: Acts 24:1-23
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise on the Hail Mary by Bishop Baldwin of Canterbury

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, β€œYou shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31)

Say it with me…..all together now πŸ˜‰

Lord have mercy upon us, and write both these thy laws in our hearts we beseech thee.

Unlike some of my contemporaries, I was first introduced to the Anglican Church using ye olde Book of Common Prayer

For those who don’t know…the Shema (“Hear O Israel”) and the response I quoted above serves as one of the opening prayers of the Eucharistic liturgy.

What I find interesting is that this prayer frames the whole point of the worship that follows.

Everything from the readings, the General Confession, General Intercession, the Offertory Prayer, the Prayer of Humble Access, and sharing in the Sacred Meal itself….. all of these acts are meant not only to serve as a reminder of God’s promises….but to literally change us and to inscribe God’s law and love into our own hearts.

Another important thing to remember is that God would never ask us to do something that he Himself would avoid.

As we bear witness to the priests words and manual acts over the gifts.. we are reminded about how God Himself, the Word made Flesh lived out the two greatest commandments… withholding nothing so that the whole world might be saved….. and that all would come to know the infinite love the Trinity has for all creation.

It is no coincidence that after sharing in the Body and Blood, the BCP then offers a second responsory prayer:

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee. And although we are unworthy, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Just as we respond to the prayer of the Shema asking God to move us and shape us, we respond to the Eucharist–the Sacred time in which we are not far from God–with an earnest plea that our new hearts and cleansed bodies can be used for God’s glory….that we too, like our Father will withhold nothing in proclaiming the gospel to all nations and to reconcile everyone we meet to the LORD.

May we always be strengthened by word and Sacrament to bear the image of Christ everywhere we go….and to live out the commandments. +

Morning Prayer: June 13th

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Psalm: 80
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 1:1-20
New Testament: Acts 1:1-14

Lectionary FTW! Since I didn’t get a chance to talk about Ascension on the actual Feast Day…today presents a perfect chance πŸ™‚

The Ascension of Jesus–just like the Baptism of our Lord–caused some significant hesitation and open questioning by the Church. Why didn’t Jesus just stick around??? Couldn’t he just chill out here on Earth until the Final Judgement???? Why did he have to leave at all???

In the effort to understand salvation history, the Church Fathers concluded (based on John’s gospel) that Christ had to ascend in order to send down the Holy Spirit to his disciples.

It’s not that he had to ascend, but that he wanted to. *Holds up flame-shield against the heresy police* πŸ˜›

Just like the Baptism was accomplished in order to bless all water for our salvation, so the Ascension is what blesses us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is not so much about Jesus leaving us behind, but his leaving in order to return to us…and for the King of Glory to reign in our hearts forever. +

Morning Prayer: June 9th

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Psalm: 105:1-22
Old Testament: Ezekiel 18:1-4;19-32
New Testament: Hebrews 7:18-28

β€˜Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own. (Ezekiel 18:19-20)

It may not seem like it on first read….but this prophetic shift in Ezekiel is HUGE . When the law of YHWH was revealed at Sinai, it was made explicitly clear that sin is a generational burden.. Of course the opposite was true as well……righteousness also extended to children…but the idea was that everyone was responsible for the whole well-being of the community.

Now…God declares through Ezekiel that the old ways are gone. God has now decided that each individual is only responsible for him or herself.

In an amazing declaration, God declares that the wicked who repent will no longer have their sins remembered….that they will be washed clean indeed. Through the power of Grace and Love, there is no point where we are beyond redemption. Alleluia! Alleluia!

If you get a chance in the next little bit, why not gather with a priest and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation? It gives us a chance to confess to God our sins…those times when we have missed the mark, and to gain encouragement from a fellow brother or sister in Christ to continue striving to live fully in the Lord.

More than that, we are given absolution. reminded that Jesus came to save us, and rejoices over one sinner who returns than 100 righteous ones. I for one, place hope in that promise. πŸ™‚

Each day, we are given the chance to embrace our hearts of flesh…..and to remember that through Christ….all sins are forgiven, and we are loved beyond all telling.

My dear readers…..my brothers and sisters…go in peace and pray for me, a sinner + ❀

Morning Prayer: June 8th

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Psalms: 101,109:1-4, 20-30
Old Testament: Ezekiel 11:14-25
New Testament: Hebrews 7:1-17

I will give them one* heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

Whenever I hear about hearts of stone being removed and replaced with new hearts…I am instantly taken back to elementary school :). When I was younger, hymns written by Don Schutte were super popular and this song was on repeat for almost every Mass I attended as a child:

God has already begun the work of transforming us, and making us new :). But the question remains…..what will our response be?

It’s all well and good to be given a new heart…a new perspective on love and life. But are we going to keep it to ourselves??? or exercise that new heart in the world around us??? I hope and pray that our response to Grace will be: “Here I am LORD, send me” +

Morning Prayer: April 12th

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Psalms: 121, 122, 123
Old Testament: Jeremiah 25:8-17
New Testament: Romans 10:1-13

β€˜The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart’
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because* if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved (Romans 10:8-10)

Here Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 30:14. There is a constant theme running in the Old Testament that God not only wants an obedient people, but a people whose actions and words flow from love…….and a free choice to live out God’s will in their lives.

Prior to the Fall, that’s exactly what we were able to do. After the Fall, we fell victims to our own needs and wants. Our heart’s desire was no longer for God…..but for preserving ourselves.

In Christ….that disorder has been healed. In baptism, our heart has been washed, and we are given the ability to love the Light rather than darkness :). As we approach Holy week, we are given a new opportunity to walk with our Lord to the cross. To be reminded of our baptismal promises, and the saving power of Jesus’ death and rising to new life.

Let us move forward with open hearts so that the King of Glory might come in. +

Morning Prayer: March 18th

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Psalms: 40, 54
Old Testament: Deut 10:12-22
New Testament: Hebrews 4:11-16

Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. (Deut. 10:16)

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

So I’m posting now because I haven’t had access to a computer until now…..but anyways, on to the reflection πŸ™‚

It’s not too often that I include two Bible verses for contemplation in the same post…..but I think they are related; especially for us as Gentile inheritors of the Gospel.

In our first reading, the question God addresses is: “What does the LORD require?” While the Law is upheld as something which needs to be followed, there is something deeper being hinted at.

In telling the Israelites to circumcise the foreskin of the heart, God is looking for relationship

The individual acts of obedience to statue and ordinance are good……but they are meant to lead to something deeper. A faith lived out, not in the hope of being rewarded…….but lived out with a sense of gratitude and a genuine desire to be close to God.

But how do we…..so far removed from the LORD’s great signs and wonders in Egypt and Calvary, come to believe??? The answer is the Word of God….both in its written form and in the Word that comes to us in the silent movements of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian story has been passed on through the words of Scripture. As North American Christians, we have no other source material. On one level, as Gentile inheritors, we literally take it on the authority of others that the Gospel story is true…we have no choice….especially in light of the plethora of interpretations that came as part of the Protestant Reformation.

On the other hand, we have the Word of God in Scripture…..a text that we can go to for ourselves……to study and critique and question for ourselves…….a process that can crack open our hearts, and let the Light permeate our darkness. +

Evening Prayer: March 1st

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Psalms: 10, 11
Gospel: Matt 6:16-23
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Confessions of St. Augustine

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)

It always astounds me how simple the Gospel can be sometimes. I can see no reason to explain it away with exegesis and/or commentary :D……

May we set our hearts on the one who creates, redeems and sustains us all the days of our lives. ❀ +

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