Evening Prayer: Monday of Holy Week

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Psalm: 69:1-23
Gospel: John 12:9-19
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Augustine

Photo Credit: Fr. Dave Giffen of The Anglican Church of the Transfiguration (Toronto, ON)

More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
many are those who would destroy me,
my enemies who accuse me falsely.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?
O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. (Ps. 69:4-5)

I recently read Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. The book is an open meditation on what it means to be the Church….the community of God.

In his section on the Psalms…he offers an intriguing interpretation of what the Church is doing when it reads, chants or sings the from what he calls the “Prayerbook of the Bible”:

“The Man Jesus Christ, whom no affliction, no ill, no suffering is alien and who yet was the wholly innocent and righteous one, is praying in the Psalter through the mouth of his Church. The Psalter is the prayer book of Jesus Christ in the truest sense of the word. He prayed the Psalter and now it has become his prayer for all time. . . . Jesus Christ prays through the Psalter in his congregation. His congregation prays too, the individual prays. But here he prays, in so far as Christ prays within him, not in his own name, but in the Name of Jesus Christ. . . .

The Psalter is the vicarious prayer of Christ for his Church. . . . This prayer belongs, not to the individual member but to the whole Body of Christ. Only in the whole Christ does the whole Psalter become a reality, a whole which the individual can never fully comprehend and call his own. That is why the prayer of the psalms belongs in a peculiar way to the fellowship. . . .

In the Psalter we learn to pray on the basis of Christ’s prayer. . . .”

In our prayer life together…..and especially in the recitation of Psalms..we are of one voice…..one hope. Bonhoeffer goes even further to say that the parts in the Psalms which are difficult for us to understand….are in fact rooted and spoken in the Word of God…

In taking all the pain and sin of the world unto Himself…Christ can speak both knowing the fullness of God’s presence and God’s glory…but also to know the depths of despair that come with the Flesh and the rejection of the righteous.

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that the Psalms is one of the books that I struggle with the most. And yet, in reading Life Together I realize that I don’t have to comprehend everything I read. I don’t have to understand all of Scripture and Sacred Mystery. Instead, I am too walk hand in hand with my brothers and sisters…..knowing that Christ–the Word and Rock on which we are founded–speaks for us, in us, and through us.

For that…I give many thanks to God πŸ™‚ +

Evening Prayer: Jan. 24th

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Psalm: 44
Gospel: Mark 5:21-34
Reading from the RC Magisterium: An excerpt from Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church in the Modern World

Florence-li-Tim-Oi-First female Priest in the Anglican Communion (ordained 1944)


I’m actually going to observe EP over at the college chapel tonight….But I wanted to offer a short blurb on the ordination of women.

It’s actually kind of ironic that I’m posting this tonight…when I’m going to a joint service between Catholic seminarians and their Anglican counterparts.

The ordination of women was one of the reasons why I left the RC church….it never made sense to me that only men could be part of the clergy :P.

Florence Li-Tim-Oi was ordained by the Anglican Church in Hong Kong due to a shortage of priests during wartime. Following the Communist revolution, she was barred from her ministry and did not reclaim it until relocating to Canada (my home country :D)

Although there was significant kick-back when the ordination of women was passed by the North American church in 1978, I think it was definitely a move for the better. πŸ˜€

After all……doesn’t Paul say that there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, woman or man??? πŸ˜€

We are all one flesh in Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God! +

Evening Prayer: Jan 10th

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Psalm: 147
Gospel: John 6:1-14
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a letter of Pope Clement

He grants peace* within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat. (Psalm 147:14)

This reminds me of a hymn from my Roman Catholic days:

The miracle of feeding the 5000 is only a foretaste of Jesus himself….of the Body and Blood which he gave for our redemption….and which we partake in at the Eucharist πŸ™‚

The Eucharist (whether you believe in transubstantiation, simple memorial or something in between) is meant to change us….to feed us in body, mind and spirit……and to lead us to share the love of Christ with others.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Tonight I give thanks for the LORD who gives bread and wine for the journey +

Morning Prayer: Fri. of Epiphany 1

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Psalm: 103
Old Testament: Isaiah 52:3-6
New Testament: Revelation 2:1-7

For thus says the Lord: You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money (Isaiah 52:3)

As I heard this verse read in the Cathedral today, I was struck how counter-intuitive it is to our culture. In North America as in other parts of the world…money seems to be the thing that holds sway.

Yet here we have God saying something completely different. In God’s estimation….money means absolutely nothing. What matters is God’s action and reassurance that

It is I who speak, here am I (Isaiah 52:6)

.

I wonder what the world would be like if we had confidence in God’s presence, rather than confidence springing from the account balance in our accounts???? It’s certainly something to think about. πŸ™‚ +

Evening Prayer: Mon. of Advent 4 (Dec. 20th)

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Psalm(s):116, 117
Gospel: Luke 1:1-25
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon by St. Bernard

Almost didn’t make it in time for an entry tonight :P….Bus was a little late getting in and after supper and catching up with the family…..Evening prayer became more of a Compline session lol πŸ˜‰

I don’t really have a lot to say about tonight’s readings except to say that I’m finally starting to get a little excited for Christmas…..it certainly took long enough :P…….

I love the story of Zachariah which we heard tonight in the Gospel of Luke. Unlike the Annunciation to Mary, Zachariah’s disbelief is looked down upon. Why is that?

The simple answer (at least insofar as I can understand it) is that Mary was a young peasant girl…..not yet wise to the ways of God or of the world. Zachariah on the other hand has been around for a lot longer.

When the angel Gabriel hits him with the spiritual 2×4 of John’s birth, Zachariah has the experience of a priest not to openly question the power of God. After so many years of service, he was better equipped to handle visions than most folk.

And yet–even after all his time and experience, Zachariah is still dumbfounded and skeptical. I wonder how many times we find ourselves in that same boat????

Isn’t it wonderful that God still has the ability to surprise us? We might not be able to comprehend what is being said…..we may even doubt its truthfulness….but God makes the impossible happen anyway πŸ˜€ +

Morning Prayer: Mon. of Advent 4 (Dec. 20th)

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Psalm(s): 66, 67
Old Testament:Isaiah 11:10-16
New Testament: Revelation 20:11-21:8

Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds among mortals. (Psalm 66:3)

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. (Psalm 67: 3-4)

……..and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15)

It’s interesting that all three of these quotes/ideas appear on the same day in the lectionary. The Bible always has this weird tension going on about a surviving remnant. Sometimes it’s stressed as the only section of the population who is righteous while at other points, it is the remnant who lead others towards YHWH.

The difference in emphasis of course usually has to do with the literary context in which the author is writing. For Isaiah, the remnant is about the return from Exile, and making a fresh start. For John and the early Christian community, it’s about the unrighteous persecutors being judged and the saints inheriting the Earth at God’s coming.

So how do we make sense of these two (seemingly opposite) viewpoints on being the chosen people of God? Are we to lead others to the light? Or simply overwhelm them with kindness so that coals of judgement are heaped on their heads (Romans 12:19)???

I think part of the answer lies in the two great commandments: “Love the LORD your God with all your soul, heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself….on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt 22:37-40). It is all about intent.

If we start talking about being part of the faithful remnant….and claiming salvation for all but a few…..we had better be aware of why we are doing so. Are we inviting other people in to feel the love and power of Christ…or are we simply lauding our own “special” status over others???

Being a Christian is not about being special……or emphasizing that we have the one true path of salvation….quite the opposite in fact.

Being a Christian is about being a normal, regular, and flawed human being who is upheld by Grace. Our job as a faithful people is to invite others to enjoy the strength and confidence that comes from being witnesses to God’s love for us. We are called not only to the salvation of our own souls….but to go and proclaim His Good News to all nations, and to invite all into discipleship with us.+ πŸ™‚

Evening Prayer: Mon. of Advent 3

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Psalm: 44
Gospel: Luke 22: 39-53
Reading from the Saints: An excerpt from The Contemplation of God by St. William, Abbot of Saint-Thierry

This passage from St. William’s treatise caught my eye tonight:

You know that this disposition could not be forced on men’s hearts, my God, since you created them; it must rather be elicited. And this, for the further reason that there is no freedom where there is compulsion, and where freedom is lacking, so too is righteousness.

While I consider myself a rather optimistic Christian, the Anglican context I work in can sometimes be depressing. Some church-goers are sad to see shrinking attendance numbers. There is a lot of worry about how finances will balance out…..and how we can draw people in.

The problem that arises from this approach and mindset, is that the line between faith community and general marketing group gets blurred. There is so much emphasis on drawing people in with events, concerts, and guest speakers that we have forgotten the most important element.

That’s right…..we actually have to use the dreaded “J” word :S. We actually have to talk about Jesus ….Y’know……that dude……..the one who died, rose again, and ascended into Heaven…..Y’know……the reason our very church facilities exist??? ;)…

We have to be comfortable enough to bring the Lord up in casual conversation once more….Otherwise the part of the Church to which we belong (that is to say, the Anglican Church of Canada) really doesn’t deserve to stick around… If we aren’t spreading the Good News of the Gospel…..what are we here for????

I think–as an institution–the ACC has become painfully aware of its colonial legacy in Canada….and rightfully so. The horrible abuse of First Nations people and of other ethnic minorities is a reality which the Church must recognize and repent of :(.

But one of the byproducts of this awareness is that we have gradually become timid in expressing our faith. We don’t want to (once again) become the oppressors who are inflicting our beliefs on those who do not wish to be indoctrinated. At times, the Church refuses to act because it is afraid it might do the wrong thing.

All of this in spite of the angels persistent message: “Do not be afraid”

St. William is also very clear and practical. He realizes that you cannot convince someone of faith through sheer force….nor will you somehow oppress them by expressing your view of faith.

Thanks be to God, every human person has been blessed with an intellect and free will. They can choose what they believe and what they will not believe. We must give them the credit that they are due. πŸ˜€

All of this to say that–as the Anglican Church–we must be comfortable enough to speak about Jesus as our Lord and Saviour…..to express our views out in the open. After all……

how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, β€˜How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Romans 10:14-15)

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