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


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: Feast of Pentecost

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Psalm: 145
Gospel: John 14:21-29
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Against the Heresies by St. Irenaeus

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. (John 14:27a)

…..”look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace of that kingdom where you dwell now and forever, Amen.”

Ah! Flashback to my Roman days. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, this quote from John serves as the invitation to the Peace in the Eucharistic liturgy of the RC church.

Incidentally, it’s also my go-to phrase whenever I have the opportunity to introduce the peace in Anglican churches. Hope I don’t get accused of Popery! I guess some old habits die hard ;).

In reality though, I think that the promise of Christ’s peace is an essential starting point for faith.

Yes…we might come to the faith filled with doubts and questions…..yes we may go through periods of isolation and even questioning if God’s promises are real. Yet…in all of that….it is only peace which can give clarity of thought. Peace which can help us to let go of the past…and peace allows us to recognize that we are all made in the image of God.

Any kind of peace….even the so called “inner calm” is never something we can really earn.

I don’t know about you……but any time I have experienced tranquility…… real tranquility…. it has been spontaneous, unexpected and sudden.

In the twinkling of an eye, old guilts don’t sting as sharply, scars from the past don’t ache quite as badly, and you realize life is OK. 🙂

In those moments…..I can only hear Jesus promise of peace as a gift ….a moment freely given to enjoy life….however fleeting that moment may be.

When Jesus promises his disciples peace, he is not only sending an Advocate and Guide for them….but setting the tone for a whole way of life. A way of life that is filled with praise, awe, and wonder. A life truly that is truly rooted in eucharista ….a life in a posture of thanks….rather than in the posture of a beggar.

That is what the Feast of Pentecost calls us to remember. That Christ came in the world to give wholeness to our hearts and minds…..and in that wholeness of self…..we then bring our peace….our shalom to everyone we meet.

May we take courage in our Lord’s words to not be afraid….and to go out boldly to proclaim the Good News that the blind shall see, the deaf shall hear, the captive will be set free…..and yes, even those who are dead will be raised to life again. Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia! ❤ +

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Evening Prayer: Feb. 23rd (Combo post)

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Psalms: 119:145-176, 128, 129, 130
Old Testament: Ruth 2:1-13
New Testament: 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:17
Gospel: Matthew 5:21-26
Patristic reading: An excerpt from a letter about the martyrdom of St. Polycarp.

Since this is a combo post….I want to cover two things…..both of which I think are super important for understanding the Gospel message as a whole.

First off, I want to continue our journey with Ruth…..

Here in Chapter 2, Ruth is now settled in Judea with her mother-in-law Naomi…Ruth sets to work the wheat fields as a poor peasant. This imagery is not to suggest that she is working for wages….but rather that she is destitute and poor…having to hope that Boaz (the owner of the field) has heeded the words of the Torah not to reap the fields completely, but to leave some for the widow, the orphan and the resident alien.

The very fact that Ruth is able to find food speaks volumes about Boaz’s character, and his commitment that all should have access to food and drink…

This goodwill is augmented when Boaz extends the invitation for Ruth to gather wheat with his entourage rather than by herself. That way, she is able to feed herself and have access to water all day long; as well as to gather some food for Naomi.

I wonder what would happen if we were all so generous???

And the second thing I wanted to highlight tonight comes from the Gospel.

Ever wonder why we share/give the kiss of peace at Eucharist??? Sure it’s nice to shake the hands of friends, family and fellow parishoners……but it’s not just about being polite and cordial:

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister* has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,* and then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:23-24)

If anything, the peace is something which forces us to make contact with those people we would much rather avoid. The peace is not so much about maintaining the status quo as it is encouraging reconciliation between those who might not be getting along. This happens right before the Eucharist so that both parties can go to the table of the LORD in love and a clear conscience toward God and their neighbour.

May we all strive to be at peace with one another and to provide our brothers and sisters with food, water, and spiritual healing as the situation calls for :D. Amen +

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