Evening Prayer: May 10th

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Psalms: 36, 39
Gospel: Luke 4:31-37
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Augustine

Oh happy circumstance! 😀 I skipped over the “God is love” quote this morning, only to have St. Augustine bring it back to me this evening. Funny how life works out sometimes. 😉

Check it out:

Which of us would dare to pronounce the words of Scripture: God is love? He alone could say it who knew what it was to have God dwelling within him. God offers us a short route to the possession of himself. He cries out: Love me and you will have me for you would be unable to love me if you did not possess me already.

In many other world religions, God is often depicted in the form of a lover. For some reason, Christianity–especially in its Western form–has tended to shy away from such language.

Part of that reason is due–I think–to the influence of Greek philosophy….where the material world, and eros are conceived of as dangerous to the soul. Granted, they are not detrimental to the soul…..but rather they get in the way of the soul realizing its true potential.

What John’s letter teaches us in saying that God is love….is that the duality so popular for the Greeks is boulderdash for Christians. We are only given the ability to love because we have felt love ourselves….We only feel the yearning to be in community because God himself initiated it in the mutual love of the Holy Trinity.

Our whole being…..our whole raison d’etre is not to seperate ourselves from love and desire……but to love and desire the right thing namely God and our neighbour.

The idea that God is love is not so much a mushy admission that YHWH is a hippy in disguise, as it is a candid reminder of where we come from.

God spoke the Word in the beginning and the world was created out of nothing….purely for His pleasure and so that he could share his love and Spirit with other beings. To do anything other than love is to deny who we truly are. To borrow one of Mark Twain’s famous phrases:

“Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.”

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Evening Prayer: Jan 12th

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Psalm: 12, 13, 14
Gospel: Mark 1:29-45
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Against the Heresies by St. Iranaeus

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain* in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

All three psalms tonight are essentially asking the same questions over and over……just where is God these days? Is he coming any time soon? Why do I feel so alone?

Being a Christian can sometimes feel like that….even within the Church itself :P.

Perfect example is tonight…..I am headed to a Vision Committee meeting where members of the congregation are helping to look ahead to the future to see where St. Jude’s ministry lies.

For fresh young bucks out of seminary like me, or people who are geared towards change on the committee…..some of the things we put forward to the congregation at our town meetings seems glaringly obvious to help add vitality (and potential numbers) to the parish.

It’s not a guarantee that my own personal vision(s) or those of the committee will always prevail…and that’s a healthy thing….since it means we’re getting feedback from those whom we are charged to help grow spirituality. 🙂

On the flip side it can also be frustrating work. Sometimes those who look ahead to the future of the institutional church are discouraged and despondent. There are times when even those who are creative and innovative simply run out of ideas.

My point here is not that visioning ahead….or pursuing proactive acting for change is not useless. Far from it. 😀

But it struck me tonight that Psalms like 12, 13, and 14 are incredibly honest poems. They touch on a human experience that is very real and don’t mince words about it.

The Daily Office (or any exercise in which we read the Psalms) gives us a chance to be in touch with those emotions from another person’s perspective. To identify with them and say with confidence “Thank God I’m not the only one who feels this way” 🙂 +

Onw

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