Morning Prayer: Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14th)

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Psalm: 66
Old Testament: Numbers 21:4-9
New Testament: John 3:11-17

So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. (Numbers 21:9)

Does this symbol look familiar???? Yep. you guessed it…it’s the medical symbol…..the one you see on ambulances, prescription pads, medi-braclets and even on some EMS uniforms.

The serpent and pole is only one of a whole slew of religious symbols that our secular society has gradually (and conveniently) forgotten the origin of.

The story from Numbers also happens to be one of my favourite in the OT…..God is sick and tired of hearing the Israelites bitch and complain……so he decides to do what gods do best….smiting! 😛

But the story doesn’t end there. Unlike other stories in ancient culture–where a sacrifice is required to appease the deity–YHWH decides to listen to the prophet of his people, and to have compassion. He doesn’t even require a sin-offering of a young bull…..he just instructs Moses to make a simple statue which everyone may look at to be saved from death.

Aside from the obvious allusion to Jesus hanging on a pole/tree (which I will cover in this evening’s post)….I think we can take this story from the Hebrew Bible on its own merit.

The lesson for today’s reading has to do with keeping our focus. So long as we keep our eye on God and what he is doing in the world….as long as we don’t let our gaze become distracted by the crazy pace of this world, and the temptation to satisfy our selfish desires…..As long as the Holy Trinity is the centre of our lives….we will have eternal life.

Notice that the reading doesn’t say that the snakes stopped biting, or that there was no pain……only that those who were afflicted by the snake-bites had to look at the bronze pole and trust in the LORD’s saving power…which admittedly is a trust that I have been lacking in the past week. 😛

May we all on this Feast of the Holy Cross…..turn our eyes to the LORD to see his glory and to feel his love. +

Morning Prayer: Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6th)

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Psalm: 2, 24
Old Testament: Exodus 24:12-18
New Testament:2 Corinthians 4:1-6

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 4:6)

The Transfiguration is a difficult feast to talk about. For one thing, it is not entirely clear why it is included in the Gospel accounts. Jesus’ clothes are made to shine dazzling white, with a repeat of the message coming at Christ’s baptism….that he is God’s chosen and that the people should listen to him.

So what’s the significance? Why does the Church care to remember this moment in history?

For myself, I think it’s important to remember that the encounter on Mount Tabor happens just before Christ’s entrance into the holy city to face His passion and death.

The message to listen to the Son of God on the way to Jerusalem is not only a call to listen to his teaching…..but to observe the Lamb of God taking up His cross and following the will of the Father.

If we want to see Christ as he truly is….we must be prepared to be mocked, ridiculed, and have our lives put in danger. Only then can our lives be truly united to the Son and then we too will arise victorious from the pain and strife of the grave.

Take up thy cross
and follow Christ
nor think ’till death to lay it down
For only those who bears the Cross
may hope to wear the glorious crown +

Evening Prayer: 4th Sunday in Lent

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Psalms: 66, 67, 19, 46
Old Testament: Jeremiah 14:1-9;17-22
New Testament: Galatians 4:21-5:1
Gospel: Mark 8:11-21
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the works of St. Augustine

Now you,* my friends,* are children of the promise, like Isaac. But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. (Galatians 4:28-29)

Ever notice how a lot of the Biblical narrative hinges on the impossible??? A hundred year old woman bearing a son, a Hebrew outlaw leading the Jewish people into freedom, a shepherd boy becoming a great king, and of God Himself taking on flesh.

Imagine the immense pressure Sarah, Moses, David and Jesus found themselves under. Against all odds, they had to hold on to the conviction that God would be true to his word, and make the right things fall into place.

Just like in times past, the world continues to be hostile to dreamers, and people who hold out for the impossible. The focus now tends to be on productivity and profit, rather than on fulfillment and true happiness.

As we draw ever closer to the mystery of Holy Week….let us hold on to our audacity in believing the Truth proclaimed to us in the gospels; that God will save us and give us life….even when we think it impossible. +

Evening Prayer: March 16th (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 119:49-72, 49
Old Testament: Deut 9:13-21
New Testament: Hebrews 3:12-19
Gospel: John 3:1-15
Patristic Reading:An excerpt from a treatise of Bishop Apphrates

Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, for forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin you had committed, provoking the Lord by doing what was evil in his sight. For I was afraid that the anger that the Lord bore against you was so fierce that he would destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also. (Deut 9:18-19)

So sorry for no post this morning :(…..I was a little distracted today. With my dad and sister over on the weekend, we had a pretty intense discussion about the future and how things are unfolding right now in my life….it’s certainly lots to think about and I wasn’t really in the mood to write earlier in the day.

But I’m back in the groove tonight….and I just wanted to point to yet another Moses parallel we find during the season of Lent. For 40 days and 40 nights……Moses fasts and pleads with God to forgive the infidelity shown by Aaron and the other Israelites.

In effect, Moses (as the leader of the whole nation) is doing penance on behalf of the whole. I don’t know why……but this sorta flipped a switch in my brain…….maybe the example in Deuteronomy puts a new spin on Lent.

With so much emphasis on self-improvement and self-sacrifice during the Great Fast ……what would happen if we were to turn that focus outward???? Giving something up, or doing something which is on behalf of the community we belong to??? What were to happen if Lent became less individualistic????

I dunno….but for me it’s an interesting thing to contemplate…..what do you folks think???+

Morning Prayer: March 15th

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Psalm: 45
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 9:4-12
New Testament: Hebrews 3:1-11

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s* house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God’s* house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm* the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. (Hebrews 3:5-6)

In a rare instance, we actually have a direct connection between the OT and NT readings for the Daily Office today. The scripture passage from Deuteronomy recounts all of the bad things Israel did while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the law…….and at the end of the Hebrews selection we have a warning not to be like those who turned their backs on God.

In the middle, we have an interesting comparison between Moses and Jesus. Both are held up as paragons of virtue, but in fundamentally different ways. Moses was a faithful servant, while Christ is a son.

This points to an important comparison that is popular not just with Paul, but with Early Church Fathers. They were always looking at the Old Testament as a sign-post for the New. For example, Eusebius sees Joshua as a forerunner of Jesus because their Hebrew name (yeshua) is the same. The living water that bursts forth from the rock is seen as a forerunner of the water that runs from Jesus’ side on the cross.

As a modern scholar of the Bible, it is hard for me to take this approach seriously……but it is part of our heritage in the Christian family. While the parallels might be weak……. two things stand out in my mind:

a) Even if they are false, some of the theological precepts that develop around them are amazing. Early Church thought should not be discounted simply because it is antiquated

b) Since the Bible is God’s Word, it is meant to be read as a whole…at least in the context of a faith community. Additionally, no individual ever has a definitive reading of Scripture. Who am I to say that the OT doesn’t point to NT? I can certainly have my own opinions….and rely on the interpretation and tradition of the Church….but it is not outside the realm of possibility that the two are compatible. +

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