December 22nd: O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations)

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O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

Out of all the titles for Jesus, I think this one–for me–is probably the hardest to grapple with. It’s not because I think it untrue, but because I see a world filled with many different leaders, and torn apart by their differences. Unity under a single king requires that all people (or at least a vast majority) assent to his rule.

Can Jesus really breach that gap???

I suppose at the heart of that question…. a leap of faith is involved. If Christ taught us anything, it’s that he came to bring reconciliation between humanity and God…..

By holding on to that truth…..Jesus becomes our king……nothing else matters…..the most important relationship in our lives–between us and our Maker–is healed. Anything that stands beyond that is purely secondary.

by holding on to that truth, we realize that the Grace and Forgiveness we have received for ourselves is a gift…….and that evangelism is not so much a desire to convince someone that Jesus is Lord, but a desire to share what we have been given with others.

Christ is not a king who demands taxes and labour….only that we bring ourselves, so that we may know the peace which passes all understanding. In possessing that peace, we are able to look on our fellow human beings not as competitors with hidden agendas, but people who are just as flawed and broken as us, looking to be made whole.

And so…..we look for that King now….and knowing that in serving Him…..our viewpoint is forever changed. Alleluia!

Lord Jesus, come soon! Come and be born in our hearts! +

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Last Sunday Before Advent: Feast of Christ the King (Combo Post)

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Psalm(s):118, 145
Old Testament: Isaiah 19:19-25
New Testament: Romans 15:5-13
Gospel: Luke 9:11-27
Patristic Reading: Anexcerpt from a discourse on prayer by Origen

Wow! It’s been almost a year since I started this blog, and the Church once again prepares itself to contemplate the great mystery of the Incarnation, the payment of the Cross and the victory of the Empty Tomb. A victory that inaugurates the feast which we celebrate today.

The Feast of Christ the King (since renamed the Reign of Christ to remain gender neutral) is a time when the community of the faithful takes a collective breath. To recognize that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father and that the promises of God have been realized.

More than that, this is a celebration…..a rejoicing in hope…..not of what the world was….broken, dark and sinful……..but of what the world IS a creation made new…….a world where everything is made possible.

A world where segregation, hatred, and injustice are no more. Where Jew, Gentile, women, man, slave and free live as one…….but I’ll let a better preacher than myself take the lead here…..While his message is in the context of the civil rights movement, dreams are always bigger than we can ask or imagine.

The bright day of justice will emerge, all will live in the light….. and thanks to the love of Jesus we are set free at last, if only we drop our chains! +

An Evening of Nostalgia: Part 1

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Last night, I got to relive a small portion of my childhood :). Following a service of Evensong @ Cronyn and a quick dinner, Linda and I headed to the Westmount Mall.

Almost $40 later, we had our tickets and popcorn in hand. We both got geeked out over the new Muppet movie coming out, put on our 3D glasses when prompted and settled in to watch what is–at least in my eyes–the greatest Disney film of all time. 😀

Lion King was originally released when I was 12 (1994) and I remember going to see it in the theatre with my uncle John. I loved everything about the film! 🙂 The music, the humour, the artwork….everything was so well done <3.

When it was released on VHS a few months later, Lion King quickly became a favourite of my younger sister Stephanie (aged 6 at the time) and before long…Simba, Mufasa, Scar, Timone, Pumbaa and the rest of the gang were household names at 41 Glenie Ave. :). I must have watched that movie hundreds of times. ❤

Then adolescence hit….and it wasn't cool anymore to watch Disney movies at home…the VHS tape went on the movie-shelf…and eventually, I moved away from home.

While I have watched clips on Youtube since, by the time I had entered the theater last night, I hadn't seen the full film in about 10 years.

And yet, despite that hiatus….As soon as that /EPIC shot of the sunrise over the Savannah came on screen I was instantly transported back to my childhood :D.

Throughout the entire 87 minutes…I found myself mouthing the dialogue, singing the songs, and laughing out loud. My enjoyment was increased 1000 fold not only by the fact that I had a beautiful woman beside me, but that we were surrounded by young families with kids. The little girl behind us got frightened when Simba was being chased by hyenas, cried when Mufasa died and laughed at ALL the fart jokes lol :D….

It was so cute and innocent….and it warmed my heart to know that–even in the midst of all the busy-ness of the world and the rush to grow up and be mature–there is still room to be a kid 😀

Watching the Lion King as an adult also had a very different feel to it compared to when I was growing up……but I’ll be putting that in the next post so that you–my dear readers– are not subjected to having to read through a wall of text. 😉 +

Morning Prayer: September 2nd

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Psalm: 31
Old Testament: 1 Kings 11:26-43
New Testament: James 4:13-5:6

Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin. (James 4:17)

While hearing this Scripture read at the Cathedral this morning I was immediately reminded of the 2nd Murder’s speech from Shakespeare’s Richard III:

Skip ahead to 6:35 ff. to hear the speech and subsequent dialogue

When debating whether to kill the Duke of Clarence and collect their fee from Richard, the assassin proclaims that he won’t meddle with conscience because it only leads to guilt, trouble and inability to do what we wish.

If only turning off that still small voice was so easy.  Our conscience is what helps us to determine the will of God and the road of sin.  Without it, there can be no living in holiness…nor is there anything  to keep us from living in chaos.

I would love to be able to be fun and fancy free…..and yet….I am entirely too human…and conscience indeed comes into play…especially if I do something bad.

The warning from James–although directed to the rich who squander wealth–speaks to us all.  As much as a guilty conscience can convict us, a clear conscience can enable us to live with joy and peace.

I pray that this day we find peace in our souls…..and if we are restless….that the Spirit will move us to repent and be healed by the Great Physician which heals all malady and makes hearts of cold stone into beating hearts of flesh with the power to love +

Morning Prayer: June 23rd

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Psalm: 105:1-22
Old Testament: 1 Sam 8:1-22
New Testament: Acts 6:15-7:15

‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you (1 Sam 8:7b-8)

Disaster. In many ways here we have the beginning of the end for Israel. Despite Samuel’s warning that a king will cause the people to become vassals and slaves, they are insistent in getting their own way.

Initially, Saul is picked…which leads to civil war. Then David is chosen…….which goes well for a while, but eventually crumbles. While David’s son Solomon shows early signs of promise, he becomes corrupt and turns Israel away from YHWH and straight into the arms of Baal.

But what do we do with this story in 2011??? Other than saying “HAHAHA! silly Israelites”???

One place to start is to look at the deeper context. Israel is not just asking for a leader…..they are asking for a leader other than YHWH and his chosen prophets.

Their request for new leadership is not so much a “reasonable request” by poor nomads who are surrounded by monarchies…..it is an echo of their complaining in the desert..

Instead of complaining about miserable manna, they are now complaining about the way God chooses to govern them.

“What kind of God would give us a measly judge??? Don’t we deserve a king???? What has YHWH done for us lately anyhoo???”

Call me crazy…but I don’t think that sentiment is completely foreign to our own time. Even in my own experience, I question the way God works all the time….and a lot of time, I wish things could be different.

What causes those kinds of emotions, though? I think that more often than not, it stems from the fact that we forget God is our King. That he is the one in charge of our lives.

We forget the promises of Christ that we–like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field–will be provided for, loved, and protected. We want to be masters of our own destiny.

As we pray each day, let us remember that our God is indeed a great God and king above all others. O come let us worship +

Morning Prayer: May 10th

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Psalms 26, 28
Old Testament: Daniel 4:28-37
New Testament: 1 John 4:7-21

While I absolutely ❤ the passage from 1 John this morning….it is the Old Testament lesson that caught my eye….mainly because it is so off-kilter compared to the rest of the Biblical narrative.

Here we have Nebuchadnezzer…..the great king of Babylon….going insane and–through that experience–comes to know YHWH as the Lord of all Creation.

The event in and of itself is not unique. Throughout the Old Testament there are examples of kings, prophets, and court officials doing some rather eccentric things. People who temporarily lose their minds as a punishment for blasphemy or pride.

In the end, they are always restored to wholeness and peace of mind…..but the twist here is that Nebuchadnezzer is a Gentile.

In the natural flow of the Jewish tradition….this isn’t supposed to happen. The oppressor of God’s chosen one cannot possibly be given an experience of the divine, can he???

It would be absurd to think that mental illness is a punishment from God. He doesn’t work like that. The crux of the story lies in the fact that this foreigner, this stranger……even he is not outside the Grace of God.

The good news which shines through in this passage is that even the worst of us might be able to see God. Even those of us who feel so lost….who feel as though we have lost all semblance of “normal” and “healthy” might one day join our voices with the Babylonian king; in declaring God’s wonder and glory in our lives:

I blessed the Most High,
and praised and honored the one who lives forever.
For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does what he wills with the host of heaven
and the inhabitants of the earth.
There is no one who can stay his hand
or say to him, “What are you doing?”

At that time my reason returned to me; and my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom. My counselors and my lords sought me out, I was re-established over my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven. (Dan 4:34b-37)

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Morning Prayer: Tues. of Advent 4 (Dec. 21st)

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Psalm:72
Old Testament: Isaiah 28:9-22
New Testament:Revelation 21:9-22

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor. (Psalm 72:4)

Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And in the spirit* he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal (Rev. 21:9-11)

In Advent and Christmas we hear a lot about Jesus being from the line of David. What is so important about this royal figure??? Aside from Israel’s greatest military leader, he is also portrayed as a fair ruler who was incredibly devoted to YHWH.

The story of David and the righteousness attributed to his person are more than just character traits. They point to something much more important in terms of the Biblical narrative.

The king was not only supposed to be a ruler…but was supposed to lead the nation in the worship and praise of God. That’s why we have David and Solomon presiding at major festivals and sacrifices in the two books of Kings.

The monarchy was meant to represent the strong bond of the eternal covenant between YHWH amd his chosen people. A look ahead to the time when God’s purposes and humanity’s purposes will coincide.

The earthly Temple and the earthly Jerusalem are only reflections of what God has in store for us. He wants us to be his bride. He wants us to enter not only into a contractual agreement with him…but into a loving marriage.

We don’t play up that image very often in the Church….but perhaps it’s one we ought to think about a little more. God doesn’t just want our intellectual assent and belief. He ants us to be in relationship with Him….and for us to form a bond together that shall never be broken. +

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