Easter Day (Combo Post)

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Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! +

We have made it to the dawn and discover the tomb empty. Christ has trampled on death, and given us freedom from sin! Christus Victor!

Today the whole Church…..from North to South, East to West rejoices in new life as we celebrate this feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!

On this great day of hope, celebration and praise, let us all hear with joy the Paschal invitation of St. John Chrysostom.

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.
If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.

If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness;
for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first;
he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second.

You rich and poor together, hold high festival.
You sober and you heedless, honor the day.
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.
let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free.

He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.

It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.

For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

Evening Prayer: Even of All Hallows (Hallowe’en)

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Psalm: 34
Old Testament: Wisdom 3:1-9
New Testament: Revelation 19:1,4-10

Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ (Rev 19:10)

Growing up, I was definitely one of those Roman Catholic kids that didn’t understand the whole saint thing. To me, they were the people enshrined in the stain-glass……their stories often seemed unbelievable……their lives of virtue and inner peace entirely too convenient.

Even stranger to me was the whole idea of praying to the saints….asking them to talk to God on our behalf…..why wouldn’t I just pray to the Father or Jesus directly???

I’ll touch on the theology of intercession tomorrow…but for right now, I want to concentrate on what we hear from Revelation. In his vision, John is so overwhelmed that he feels moved to spontaneous worship.

Not knowing the proper outlet for that praise, he starts to bow down before the saint (holy one) that is unveiling the message of what the apostle sees.

Startled, the saint stops him….and–in my head at least–I can picture that exchange being very awkward for both parties. Wanting to dissuade any false illusions, the white-robed companion immediately directs the writer’s attention back to Jesus.

Contrary to the way the cult of the saints was taught to me in RC circles, the saints are not the object of worship. Rather, looking at their lives is SUPPOSED to lead us to Christ, and the virtues that he teaches in the Gospel……a point which is not always explicitly made.

Tonight, on the eve of All Saints, we are also made aware that the Church–the community of the faithful is an eternal reality. Made not only of the people living in the world today…..but of all who came before us, and those who will follow in the future.

The seemingly endless tales of Christian men and women are a call to be holy as God is holy….and in the next few days we celebrate the fact that progress in a faithful life is not only possible, but that it has the power to shape the world…..and shape it for the better. A transformation that began and was made possible by the One who clothes us in righteousness with His blood. Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: Feast of the Beheading of St. Jean-Baptiste (Aug 29th Combo Post)

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Psalm: 102, 86
Old Testament: Jeremiah 38:1-6, Judges 16:28-30
New Testament: Revelation 7:13-17, 1 Peter 3:13-18

But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Pet 3:14-16)

While it doesn’t surprise me to be celebrating a martyr today, I’ve often wondered why St. Jean-Baptiste gets not just one day but two .

I have a sense that we do it for a few reasons.

One being that Jesus said that John was a pretty important dude. My guess is that the Church–upon hearing these words…..felt that it couldn’t be an all-together bad thing to celebrate the Forerunner twice.

More to the point though….I think that the community of the early church was very much aware of its surroundings. In a Roman pagan world, followers of the Way found themselves being persecuted, hunted and killed. So much so that Tertullian was prompted to remark that:

the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church

In remembering John’s beheading, Christ-followers found a saint who they could relate to. A saint who stood up for morality even at the cost of his own life. A saint whose life was taken away through the scheming and deceit of others.

If you were to look to the life of the saints…..which do you think speak most to the current generation??? What about in your own life????

Leave a comment on this post and let me hear what you think. +

Musical interlude for the weekend :)

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Hello folks:

I’m headed out to Strathroy to milady’s church to preach on the Gospel reading for Sunday.

This means I won’t have a consistent connection to the interwebz until I get back Sunday afternoon…..so I leave you tonight with an inspirational piece from Loreena McKennit…..

May God walk with you this night and always. ❤ +

Evening Prayer: Feast of St. James (Combo Post)

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Psalm: 34, 33
Old Testament: Jeremiah 16:14-21; Jeremiah 26:1-15
Gospel(s): Mark 1:14-20; Matthew 10:16-32

     St. James Led to Martyrdom, c.1722-3 by Piazzetta, or Piazetta, Giambattista

[About the time Paul and Barnabas were sent out from Jerusalem] King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. (Acts 12:1-2)

Today we remember the first of the 12 apostles to be martyred. Tonight’s post boils down to a simple point and a single question:

Contrary to our North American bubble and sensibilities, I’m here to tell you that martyrs still exist

Would you die for Jesus?

Morning Prayer: Feast of the Nativity of St. Jean-Baptiste (June 24th)

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Psalm: 82, 98
Old Testament: Malachi 3:1-5
New Testament: John 3:22-30

So normally I use a piece of Scripture as the catalyst for my reflections here on this blog. Today, however, I was caught by the utter simplicity and directness of the Collect appointed for today:

Almighty God,
you called John the Baptist
to give witness to the coming of your Son
and to prepare his way.
Give your people the wisdom to see you
and the openness to hear your will,
that we too may witness to Christ’s coming
and to prepare his way.
Through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.

Take a look at this prayer. It asks not only for correct vision to see God…..but the courage and strength to do His will. 🙂

In the Forerunner John the Baptist, all Christians have a clear example of what it means to give witness and to be a prophet. He was not a man who messed around. He called a spade a spade, and never made light of people’s deeds. May the whole Church…the whole Body of Christ rejoice in this day and pray that some of John’s character will rub off we who are called to preach the Gospel and speak truth to power. +

Evening Prayer: Eve of the Nativity of St. Jean-Baptiste

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Psalm: 103
Old Testament: Sirach 48:1-11
New Testament: Luke 1:5-21

Y’know…..for all my religious education and seminary training….I’ve never quite understood the connection between Elijah and John the Baptist. I mean….it makes sense since Elijah preached repentance and destruction just like Jesus’ cousin…..but why is he the prophet singled out for comparison???

I don’t pretend to know the answer and would welcome any feedback from my readers as to why Jewish/Early Christians would have made this connection. 🙂

That aside, I was drawn to a line that was repeated both in the lesson from Sirach, and is repeated with slight adjustment in Luke. Check it out:

At the appointed time…you will turn the hearts of parents to their children (Sirach 48:10)

The Third Evangelist quotes this same line, but adds an extra role for Elizabeth and Zechariah’s son.

With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 5:17)

What causes me to scratch my head a little bit is that John the Baptist’s ministry was not exactly lovey-dovey. If anything, his call to repentance and harsh words against the Pharisees seems extremely divisive.

But what if the parent talked about….the one we are reunited with….is not a human one. What if our hearts are being turned to the Father??? Then the reading and comparison starts to make sense.

If our relationship to the Father is broken, then every other relationship in our lives can be potentially off-balance. The call to repentance and baptism is not to avoid destruction and wrath…..but as an invitation to right-living and right-relationship.

Tonight we thank God for sending his messenger to make our crooked ways straight and to prepare a highway for our God…..so that we might know our Father face-to-face. +

Note to the reader: You will have to forgive my use of the French name tonight….it’s one of the few times I let my ethnic heritage show even though I can’t speak the language very well 😉

Evening Prayer: Feast of Pentecost

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Psalm: 145
Gospel: John 14:21-29
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Against the Heresies by St. Irenaeus

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. (John 14:27a)

…..”look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace of that kingdom where you dwell now and forever, Amen.”

Ah! Flashback to my Roman days. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, this quote from John serves as the invitation to the Peace in the Eucharistic liturgy of the RC church.

Incidentally, it’s also my go-to phrase whenever I have the opportunity to introduce the peace in Anglican churches. Hope I don’t get accused of Popery! I guess some old habits die hard ;).

In reality though, I think that the promise of Christ’s peace is an essential starting point for faith.

Yes…we might come to the faith filled with doubts and questions…..yes we may go through periods of isolation and even questioning if God’s promises are real. Yet…in all of that….it is only peace which can give clarity of thought. Peace which can help us to let go of the past…and peace allows us to recognize that we are all made in the image of God.

Any kind of peace….even the so called “inner calm” is never something we can really earn.

I don’t know about you……but any time I have experienced tranquility…… real tranquility…. it has been spontaneous, unexpected and sudden.

In the twinkling of an eye, old guilts don’t sting as sharply, scars from the past don’t ache quite as badly, and you realize life is OK. 🙂

In those moments…..I can only hear Jesus promise of peace as a gift ….a moment freely given to enjoy life….however fleeting that moment may be.

When Jesus promises his disciples peace, he is not only sending an Advocate and Guide for them….but setting the tone for a whole way of life. A way of life that is filled with praise, awe, and wonder. A life truly that is truly rooted in eucharista ….a life in a posture of thanks….rather than in the posture of a beggar.

That is what the Feast of Pentecost calls us to remember. That Christ came in the world to give wholeness to our hearts and minds…..and in that wholeness of self…..we then bring our peace….our shalom to everyone we meet.

May we take courage in our Lord’s words to not be afraid….and to go out boldly to proclaim the Good News that the blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, the captive will be set free…..and yes, even those who are dead will be raised to life again. Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia! ❤ +

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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: May 13th (Combo Post)

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Psalm: 105
Old Testament: Daniel 6:1-15
New Testament 2 John
Gospel: Luke 5:12-26
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Ephrem the Deacon

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist! (2 John 1:6-7)

Uh oh! There it is……the dreaded word: anti-Christ…..any images coming to your mind???

This:

Or this:

Or maybe if the traditional Reformers had their way….. it’s this guy:

The fact of the matter is that the concept of the anti-christ has been so far removed from its original meaning in fiction and popular conception that we have forgotten its true meaning.

Anti-christ is simply anything or anyone who runs contrary to upholding two basic principles:

a) That Jesus Christ came truly in the flesh and
b) that we are called to love one another, as he has loved us.

It is for these reasons and these reasons alone that someone is considered anti-christ….or in opposition to Christ’s commands. Far from a malevolent demon-child who will initiate Armageddon….the author of 2 John is teaching us to avoid false teachers who would draw us away from the fundamental truths that Jesus came to save us as fully human and that we are to emulate his love.

If we start straying from those basics….. that’s when we get into trouble. In forgetting who Jesus is and what He did for us…we forget that we are a redeemed people in need of Grace. If we forget his command to love others….than our experience of Grace becomes self-centred, self-contained, and self-driven….which is the very opposite of the Gospel message.

In reality, we do nothing by ourselves…..we only prosper through the power of God. The power of a God who loved us so much that he took our flesh to show his solidarity with us……and died so that we might have life again.

May we never become anti-christs and always seek to live out our lives declaring the power of our Lord Jesus and sharing his love for us with the world. Amen. +

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