Morning Prayer: Feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec 28th)

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Psalm(s): 2, 26
Old Testament: Isaiah 49:13-23
New Testament:Matthew 18:1-14

The feast of the Holy Innocents is by far one of the days which I find hardest to “celebrate” during the liturgical year.

This day commemorates the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, while Herod slaughters all the first-born males in Judea in an effort to stamp out any challenge to his authority.

The account is only found in the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18) and while its historical accuracy is questionable, it is certainly not an impossible event. We know from the historian Josephus that Herod (and other members of the Antipas family) were particularly viscious.

Despite my own discomfort when I think about innocent babies being harmed 😦 I think that it is precisely that sense of disgust which makes this an important rememberance in the life of the Church.

Whether we want to admit it or not, there are children around the world who suffer and die for no good reason. There are infants and toddlers who are physically and emotionally abused every day. :(……We must never let that fact simply become part of our peripheral vision.

Today we honour and remember all those who suffer and die in innocence and give thanks for their life and witness to us <3. +

Morning Prayer: Feast of St. John the Evangelist (December 27th)

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Psalm(s):18:1-20
Old Testament: Isaiah 12:1-6
New Testament: Rev 1:1-8

He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
and from those who hated me;
for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:16-19)

I don’t know why…but when I read this verse in light of today’s feast, I pictured Saint John being whisked away by an angel on Ephesus where he had his great Revelation.

The author of the authentic Johannine texts (the Gospel of John, the First Letter of John and the Revelation to John) definitely felt like he was being persecuted.

This persecution came in the form of expulsion from the synagouge, slaughter by the Roman government and a genuine belief that the powers of darkness were in control of the present age.

Yet through all the trials and tribulations, the apostle John–and those who were part of his community–held on to the fact that the Light of the World had come and the darkness could not overcome it.

There was an unwavering faith that Jesus had come into the world not to condemn it, but to save it…and a belief that through Jesus we were no longer considered strictly the servants of God….but as friends, sons, and daughters of the Most High.

When we go through difficult times in our lives, may we too try and hold on to that knowledge. God is our Father, and he loves us beyond all measure. πŸ˜€ +

Morning Prayer: 1st Sunday after Christmas

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Psalm(s): 93, 96
Old Testament:Isaiah 62:6-7, 10-12
New Testament: Hebrews 2:10-18

You who remind the Lord,
take no rest,
and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it renowned throughout the earth. (Isaiah 62: 6b-7)

As I read this verse, I was reminded of a sermon I once heard on nagging. My Hebrew Professor was preaching on the parable of the widow and the unjust judge and pointed out that nagging was more than just being annoying.

Nagging is a fine art that requires skill and always has a definite point; to get someone to change their behaviour.

I find it interesting that in Luke’s parable and in this morning’s verse from Isaiah, the congregation is urged to nag after God. It is an interesting image, and certainly runs counter-intuitively to how most of us think about worship.

After all, being Protestant inheritors of the Christian message, worship is supposed to be for the glory of God alone. The faithful person should not pray out of a desire to get something from God, but because it is meet and right so to do.

Yet if we look at the Bible as a whole…..there is a whole bunch of negotiation and heckling that always takes place. Abraham bargains with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses constantly has to remind God of his covenant so that He refrains from smiting Israel….Jonah says that he will offer sacrifices in the Temple if God releases him from the belly of the great fish.

Bargaining is one of the realities of our relationship with the Divine. This can be difficult, since it skirts the line of putting God to the test…but one of the interesting things about the Bibile is that it always pictures our relationship with God as reciprocal .

YHWH is almost never depicted as a benevolent dictator, but rather as someone who enters into covenant with the faithful. He offers health, prosperity and life in exchange for the people living holy lives.

There is a constant theme of invitation throughout Scripture…..an invitation that we are free to either accept or reject. God may know the outcome already, but he never removes the element of choice from our lives.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…. (Deut. 30:19)

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Morning Prayer: Christmas Day

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Psalm(s): 2,85
Old Testament: Zachariah 2:10-13
New Testament: 1 John 4:7-16

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. (1 John 4:17)

This quote from John’s letter is one of my favourite in all of Scripture. So much so that it is part of my email signature and is attached to every message I send :). Love is the very essence of who God is, and by the Grace of our adoption in Christ, of who we are too.

God’s love is not always an eewy-gooey kind of love. It is a love that asks us to be fundamentally changed on the inside. A transformative and sometimes painful love that asks us to re-examine who we are and what we do.

One of the awesome things about Christmas though is that it reminds us of the Incarnation. Of God becoming one of us and dwelling in our midst. Any pains, sorrows, challenges, and joys we experience in this life have been shared by God in Jesus Christ.

The mission of Jesus was not simply one of mercy, but one of genuine desire. To invite all people to become children of God and to live in the Light. The Word became flesh to show solidarity with the human race…to join His very own voice to the cry of the poor, and the sinner.

In coming to Earth, Christ has inaguarated the Kingdom of God and he has healed the wound of sin forever. This is the day the Lord has made…we will rejoice and be glad in it. Alleluia!

Morning Prayer: Christmas Eve

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Psalm(s): 45 , 46
Old Testament: Isaiah 35:1-10
New Testsament: Revelation 22: 12-17, 21
Gospel: Luke 1:67-80

It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
The Spirit and the bride say, β€˜Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, β€˜Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.* (Rev 22: 17, 21)

Well here we are on the home-stretch of our Advent journey. I find it fascinating that the end of the Bible takes the form of an invitation. An invitation to know and believe in Jesus Christ.

Even the book of Revelation–which is arguably the harshest text in all of Scripture when it comes to sin and punishment, urges its readers to drink from the waters of life.

Over the last four weeks, we have been joining our voices with those who cry: “Come, Lord Jesus”. As we approach the feast of Christmas, let us remember with love and joy the Christ-child who came to save us. May we remember to always look forward to his coming…not out of fear of judgement and apocalypse, but out of sheer excitment to see our God face-to-face once more. +

Morning Prayer: Thurs. of Advent 4 (Dec. 23rd)

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Psalm(s): 93, 96
Old Testament: Isaiah 33:17-22
New Testament: Revelation 22: 6-11, 18-20

I’m sick with a cold right now so no new posts will be going up until I feel better :(….Pax Christi everyone+

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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