Evening Prayer: May 13th (Combo Post)

3 Comments


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. +

Morning Prayer: May 12th

1 Comment


Psalm Psalm 37:1-18
Old Testament: Daniel 5:13-30
New Testament: 1 John 5:13-20

Florence Nightingale, whose witness the ACC remembers today

We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. We know that we are God’s children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

I don’t know about you…..but it seems to me that this HAS to be one of the most dangerous passages in Scripture. Is it really true that Christians do not sin? Can’t that be used as an excuse for any and all kinds of behaviour???

In order to get the full context of what is being said in this passage…..we need to back up a little to chapter 3:

Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God (3:8-9)

Much like the “faith without works” passage from James…..the outward actions and moral behaviour of a Christian serve as an outward sign of the sanctification that has already happened internally. A reflection of true repentance and of a genuine desire to love God with our whole being.

This is not to say that we will be completely free of missing the mark. For a letter which tries to uphold a call to a pure Christian life…1st John is well aware that we sometimes will fail and fall. He urges the congregation to discern between mortal sin and venial sin….to show compassion, understanding…..and to forgive one another as Christ has forgiven them.

None of us are perfect. We there are plenty of times when we hurt the world, and the people around us. We need to remember that we must forgive the debts of others as we will be forgiven ours…..and to place our hope in the promise that:

If anyone sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 2:1-2)

+

Evening Prayer: March 14th (Combo Post)

Leave a comment


Psalms: 41, 52, 44
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 8:11-20
New Testament: Hebrews 2:11-18
Gospel: John 2:1-12
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Gregory Nanzianzus

Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested (Hebrews 2:18)

The letter to the Hebrews (as we will see over the next two weeks or so) is a fascinating read. Its authorship (though traditionally attributed to Paul) is anonymous and looks at Christ’s role as the high-priest for all of creation.

The fascinating thing about this portrayal is the stark contrasts that exist within the text. In some passages, Christ is depicted as being incredibly close to humanity….showing solidarity with suffering and the struggle against the devil/evil forces in the world. At other points, the cosmic Son is upheld as above all creation and reproach who has no tolerance for backpedaling, apostasy or sin.

As with so many other things in life, I don’t think it is either or. One of the beautiful things about the doctrine of the Incarnation as it has been worked out through the centuries is that we are not forced to decide. Christ is both fully human and fully divine……He is both our Lord and Master, while at the same time, revealing himself as our Brother and Friend.

Of course there is a time and place for reverence……if I didn’t believe that, I doubt very much that I would be becoming a priest. As we work through the readings over the next few weeks, we are going to be hearing about God as law-giver (in the OT) and Christ as the great Eternal Word (through the Gospel of John)….very lofty stuff.

With all of that said, and while there may be times when he seems aloof and outright indifferent to human concerns…….he is still moved to pity and love….to change water into wine….to lead us in celebration and life, rather than expecting us to quake with fear at his presence. 🙂

Taste and see that the LORD is good, happy are they that trust in him. (Psalm 34:8)

+

And yet

%d bloggers like this: