Morning Prayer: Feast of All Hallows (Nov. 1st)

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Psalm: 111, 112
Old Testament: 2 Esdras 2:42-47
New Testament: Hebrews 11:32-12:2

Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honour and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant. (Psalm 111:2-5)

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend on FB about reading the Bible. She is genuinely interested in reading it, but–like all of us–has a hard time with some of the more miraculous stories, and the depiction of God as a vindictive deity.

I promised her that I would post on this blog about how the Bible might be read in a different way. A way that focuses on relationship rather than by myth, theology or narrative…so here’s my best shot at it. 😉

Like the psalmist says this morning, all of God’s works are known….and like all great acts of history, those deeds tend to be recorded. 🙂

The central themes of the Old Testament are many…..but they tend to revolve around two important aspects…creation and covenant.

In Genesis, God creates the world…..and it is not just good but very good. He also establishes a covenant with humanity that he will make them prosper…and that He will constantly be at their side.

But human beings–made in the image of an all-creative Father–also have an innate desire to be independent…..which causes them to sin….and to turn away from their one true companion; the God who made them.

At the risk of being overly simplistic, the rest of the Bible focuses in on how that broken relationship is lived out, and repaired…..that intimate bond between Father and children is built up, broken, and established again in a constant cycle. A cycle that ultimately ends with God and humanity coming out in joy and praise to take care of the earth and each other.

At its core, the Bible is a multi-faceted library of documents. I would go even so far as to say that it is an ongoing and eternal conversation.

As the reader flips through the pages of text, they are exposed to a multitude of voices……some divine, some human. Some sentiments of anger, hatred, and frustration…..met in turn with compassion, forgiveness, and Grace.

Despite what the reformers would have us think, Holy Scripture does not interpret itself …Adhering to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy will only leave with a pounding headache and a broken heart.

As a piece of literature, inspired by God and touched by the human hand… is a mixture of perfection and inadequacy….a living encounter between the Creator who wants his presence to be known…..and a world that struggles to listen for it’s Maker’s voice.

On this Feast of All Saints, one thing to keep in mind that we too are saints…by virtue of being baptized 🙂

Whenever we open the Bible we join with the thousands who have come before us in trying to discern God’s will and true hope for us. We add our 2 cents (or 5 cents or 25 cents) to the conversation.

In the struggle to understand what God is saying to us and what we are saying to one another, Christianity is changed from a hollow, inanimate religion into a living, breathing, challenging Body of faith

Sure, this Body is weak and wounded at times….but is also glorious and triumphant when we get the message of Jesus right ;)….a message that we as Gentile North American inheritors of the Gospel have come to know through the written translation of the Bible.

Thanks be to God for the gift of his word on paper….but more importantly for the Word made Flesh that speaks from within those pages. Alleluia! +

A Prayer of Confession…….

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I have recently finished a book on prayer that put a special emphasis on monasticism and making room for silence in order to hear God’s call.

In light of that material I have decided to forego the regular pace of this blog tonight….. and spend some time reading and listening rather than the usual talking and commenting on the Scriptures.

However, I don’t want to leave my readers hanging in terms of content for reflection…So I share with you a prayer of Confession that we used for Back to Church Sunday.

As someone who struggles daily against laziness and sloth I think I’m going to integrate it into my spiritual practice and definitely think it is worth sharing with others :).

Eternal God,
you asked for our hands, that we might use them for your purpose;
but we gave them for a moment, then withdrew them…
for the work was hard.

You asked for our mouths to speak out against injustice;
But we gave you whispers….
That we might not be accused.

You asked for our eyes to see the pain of poverty;
But we closed them….
For we did not want to see.

You asked for our lives, that you might work through us;
But we gave you a small part….
That we might not get too involved.

Lord… forgive our calculated efforts to serve you only when it is convenient to do so
When we serve you only in those places where it is safe to do so
And only ministering to those who make it easy to do so.

Forgive us,
Renew us,
And send us out as your instruments
That we may take seriously the meaning of our new life in you. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ
Son of the Living God
Have mercy on us sinners.
At the prayers of the most Holy Mother of God
O Saviour, save us! +

Evening Prayer: July 27th (Combo Post)


Psalms: 72, 119:73-96
Old Testament: 2 Samuel 3:22-39
New Testament: Acts 16:16-24
Gospel: Mark 6:47-56
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Catecheses of St. Cyril

Before I even *start* contemplating the readings for tonight…..let me just get this outta my system:

😀 😀 😀

The Bishop came, the Bishop went….and in between was a fantastic time of worship, community, and a wonderful lunch.

Granted, actual talk of ordination was kept to a minimum and definitely shied away from a little bit…but overall I think the experience was good not only for myself, my supervisors and the Bishop..but also the people who came out to sing praises to God and to open up the Bread of the Word together this morning at 10am.

With such an obscure time-slot for the visit, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of people to show. Imagine my surprise and delight when we had 20+ of my church family come together in prayer and support for the wok of the Gospel.

I cannot express in words how touched I was to see so many smiling faces in the pews and to know that I am so loved…….both God and his people are truly great! :D…..

Anyhoo… on to your regularly scheduled post………..

Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ (Mark 6:51b)

The biblical message to “be not afraid” is one that I have offered many many people in pastoral situations. It lies at the very centre of our Christian life. We are taught not to fear darkness, suffering, distress, or even death, but to embrace it in the hope and knowledge that both Light and Empty Tomb are the true reality.

Not only that, but the message to have no fear has it’s roots in the Old Testament. 99.99% of the time, any time God wishes to send a direct message to humanity through an angel….that messenger’s first words are always “be not afraid”

As I sit here and find this verse mirrored back to me in the readings for this evening, I find myself astonished that I couldn’t take my own spiritual advice to others and apply it to myself…..but then again, isn’t that the irony about the life of faith?

We are happy to extend absolution, forgiveness, blessing and promise to those around us……but developing amnesia when it comes to remembering the promises of God in our own sordid situations.

Don’t get me wrong…….the Divine reassurance that fear will be quelled, doesn’t mean that fear doesn’t exist……we are human after all :P.

But it does strike me as funny that after $20, 000, an M. Div. degree and a few years in professional ministry, that lesson still hasn’t managed to sink in. 😛 +

Morning Prayer: June 10th

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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.

Morning Prayer: Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

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Psalm: 72
Old Testament: 1 Sam 1:1-20
New Testament: Hebrews 3:1-6

So I know I have been away for a looooong while…..but I figured this feast day is as good a time to reclaim my place in the blogosphere as any :). Today the Church celebrates one of its most joyous occasions.

Cousins unite to celebrate their respective miracles and greet one another with a kiss of peace. One of the most important aspects of this day for me…is that God never leaves us alone.

Mary is faced with the prospect of being a first-time mom, she has also been told that her Son will redeem the world. No pressure right? 😛

And yet, in this incredible time of anxiety and stress, Mary can rely on her cousin Elizabeth; who is going through an equally surreal experience…..carrying a baby well into old age, who has been told that her son will herald the coming of the Messiah.

Together these two women will help to transform the world…taking responsibility for raising John the Baptist and the Christ-child. To instruct both of them in the Law of Moses and to make sure they grow up knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Today’s feast is a way of acknowledging not just the incredible challenge these women faced…..but the joy with which they embraced God’s plan for them. Elizabeth hails Mary as the most blessed of all women, and the child in her belly leaps for joy. Mary responds with the Magnificat, which is first and foremost a song of praise.

In all trials, tribulations and uncertainty…..their example teaches us that we must have joy in our hearts….if not for what God is doing in our lives….then as a way of thanking Him for the family, friends and strangers he brings into our lives to hold us up when we feel like we are falling. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Evening Prayer: Tuesday in Holy Week

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Psalm: 94
Gospel: John 12:20-36
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from On the Holy Spirit by St. Basil

Over the last few Sundays, the Church has been reading from the Gospel of John. In each of the readings–The Wedding at Cana, Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus and the Samaritan woman, Jesus and the man born blind, and Jesus raising Lazurus–there is always mention of Jesus’ “time”.

Initially Christ is reluctant, telling his mother that the hour has not yet come. He warns Nicodemus that the time is coming when all people must be born from above. In speaking with the Samaritan woman, he states that the time is coming and is now here when all people will not worship God on mountains but rather in Spirit and in truth.

The final two miracles act as an unmistakable sign that the Kingdom of God and the reversal of the status quo has officially begun.

Now….some Greeks ask to see Jesus. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like Jesus grants their request. These are the words that come out of his mouth:

‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:23-24)

Here our Lord makes a definitive statement…..the hour has come and somehow it involves death and bearing fruit. It may not seem like it at first, but this cryptic statement actually answers the Greeks request……..if they want to see Jesus…..see him as he truly is……they need to see him like this:

Only in seeing the Lord and Friend who dies can we really come to know God. There is abundant life yes…..but first we face the shadow of the Cross. +

Evening Prayer: 4th Sunday in Lent

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Psalms: 66, 67, 19, 46
Old Testament: Jeremiah 14:1-9;17-22
New Testament: Galatians 4:21-5:1
Gospel: Mark 8:11-21
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the works of St. Augustine

Now you,* my friends,* are children of the promise, like Isaac. But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. (Galatians 4:28-29)

Ever notice how a lot of the Biblical narrative hinges on the impossible??? A hundred year old woman bearing a son, a Hebrew outlaw leading the Jewish people into freedom, a shepherd boy becoming a great king, and of God Himself taking on flesh.

Imagine the immense pressure Sarah, Moses, David and Jesus found themselves under. Against all odds, they had to hold on to the conviction that God would be true to his word, and make the right things fall into place.

Just like in times past, the world continues to be hostile to dreamers, and people who hold out for the impossible. The focus now tends to be on productivity and profit, rather than on fulfillment and true happiness.

As we draw ever closer to the mystery of Holy Week….let us hold on to our audacity in believing the Truth proclaimed to us in the gospels; that God will save us and give us life….even when we think it impossible. +

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