Morning Prayer: Feast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15th)

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Psalm: 113, 115
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 2:1-11
Gospel: John 2:1-12

I admit it…..I was in a funk last week….partly because I was surrounded by death :(. Responding to pastoral situations over the physical death of a loved one……. and the “little deaths” of addiction and depression took an unexpected toll on my own sense of well-being.

Seems kind of appropriate that as I stumble back to this blog, I am confronted with a Feast that deals with death.

Being of the ol’ school…I celebrate this Feast as the “Dormition” or the Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary….This is in contrast to both my current practice as an Anglican and my roots as a good Catholic boy.

Having a Protestant heritage, the Anglican Church tends to shy away from elevating the Mother of God in any way, shape or form. So August 15th is simply referred to as the “Feast of St. Mary the Virgin” in the BAS calendar.

On the flip side, Catholics believe in the doctrine of the Assumption in which Mary is assumed bodily into heaven without tasting death.

As with so many things, I straddle the line between both traditions and embrace Eastern Orthodox teaching. In the tradition of Byzantium, the teaching was that Mary died a physical death but that her body was resurrected and assumed into Heaven some three days later.

Now you may be asking the question of why I split these theological hairs…and my answer is really quite simple. The Feast of the Dormition serves a dual purpose. On the one hand….it reminds us that we will all experience physical death, regardless of how holy we are. It is a day on which we–as Christians–acknowledge and accept that there will be a time when we are called to depart this life and await the next.

But the commemoration of the Church does not stop there….it goes a step further. In recognizing Mary’s assumption, she becomes the first of all Christian followers to experience bodily resurrection.

Death is revealed not to be the final victor…..but rather eternal life triumphing over the limits of sin and human nature.

Mary holds for us the hope that we too will be gathered into the great cloud of witnesses; to anticipate the day when the dead shall be raised, and no tear will be shed. To long for the day when the world will finally know what it means to live in the Kingdom of God..a place where justice, peace, and love overflow in abundance forever.

Through the Mother of God, we live in continual hope for the dawning of a new day. Alleluia! Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: May 9th (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 25, 9, 15
Old Testament: Daniel 4:19-27
New Testament: 1 John 3:19-4:6
Gospel: Luke 4:14-30
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a Commentary on 1 Peter by Bede

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor perish for ever. (Psalm 9:18)

โ€˜The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lordโ€™s favour.โ€™ (Luke 4:18-19)

Today I want to concentrate on something that often gets relegated to the after-life when–really–it should be the exact opposite.

Constantly throughout the New Testament there is talk about the Kingdom of God. It is the subject of parables, prophecy and the ethical teachings of Jesus.

A time when the oppressed are given relief, when those who are in prison are set free and all physical infirmities are healed.

In their original context, Christ was not speaking about a future time…..but declares

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 20)

It is meant to be a present day reality. And yet, the time of God’s reign has long since been taught and preached as part of our heavenly reward after death.

Of course, this is partially true…..since we will inherit the Golden Jerusalem at the resurrection of the dead….but for some reason, Western theology confused the term Kingdom of Heaven with “the place we go when we die.”

While this might be convenient and heart-warming for most folks to accept…..it is not the reality of Christian teaching.

The kingdom of God is something that has already begun. It started with the Incarnation of Jesus into the world….and is continuing to transform our world today. ๐Ÿ™‚

In our Baptism, we are not the agents of this change…..God is ๐Ÿ˜€

*BUT* we are stewards and co-creators with our Creator….that is the ministry we were given from day one…(or day six, depending on which chapter in Genesis you’re paying attention to ;))

So the question we are left with is…….in what way are we called to proclaim the Good News and do our part to co-create that reality with our Father??? +

Morning Prayer: April 2nd

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Psalms: 87, 90
Old Testament: Jeremiah 13:1-11
New Testament: Romans 6:12-23

The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

A large portion of Romans is dedicated to the question: “Now that we are saved, how do we act?” Paul wants to dissuade new Christians from continuing in sin and immoral behaviour, and–above all–he wants to avoid the idea that people can continue living lives of debauchery, while being given eternal life.

For Paul, the internal state of grace and thanksgiving was to be reflected in outward behaviour, and in the sanctification of the body.

In last night’s post, I talked about the idea of redemption……of being bought back from the devil. One of the implications of that outlook is that our bodies are now longer our own. We are, literally, the property of Christ.

This is a difficult concept in a culture which points so much emphasis on individual freedom…..but it can also give a picture of ourselves which provides hope. If God is indeed directing our bodies through the power of the Holy Spirit, why would we want to go astray??? If we are living into our baptismal covenant, there is reason to believe that God will change the world in and through us.

Slowly but surely, through faith and hard work, the Kingdom will be brought to fruition, and all of creation will rejoice in peace, unity, and concord. +

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