Morning Prayer: Feast of Saints Peter & Paul (June 29th)

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Psalm: 66
Old Testament: Ezekiel 2:1-7
New Testament: Acts 11:1-18

Man…..there’s such good content in today’s readings that I found it really difficult to pick just one focal point. I highly suggest reading through the lections yourself this morning….maybe even leave a comment on this post as to what stuck out the most for you. πŸ™‚

Speaking for myself, I was once again amazed by Peter’s retelling of his dream…..and his initial protest against God:

I also heard a voice saying to me, β€œGet up, Peter; kill and eat.” But I replied, β€œBy no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” (Acts 11:7-8)

In both the case of St. Peter and St. Paul…..they were called to do things that–initially–they thought were repugnant. Peter…a devout Jew was asked to eat unclean food and to open the doors of the Jesus community to those who were on the outside.

Saul too was a Jew…..but was asked to show compassion on those whom he labelled heretics…..a people he didn’t feel had the right to even exist. πŸ˜›

Both conversions required a metanoia……a change of heart…..a fundamental shift in the way they thought….and a call to a radical way of living.

I wonder how many of us resist the call to Grace???? I pray that on this feast day…..we take courage from the witness of the Church that God is good and can change even the most unlikely people into saints. +

(As a short theological aside, I should add that some theologians say that Grace is irresistible……I am not one of those thinkers ;))

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Evening Prayer: June 25th (Combo Post)

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Psalm: 107:33-42, 108, 33
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 9:15-10:1
New Testament: Acts 7:30-43
Gospel: Luke 22:39-51
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Homilies on the Beatitudes by St. Gregory of Nyssa

It does not say that it is blessed to know something about the Lord God, but that it is blessed to have God within oneself. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

As someone who was interested in religion from a very young age, I can relate to St. Gregory of Nyssa’s words here. For a long time, I had a mental relationship with God…I wanted to know answers…..I wanted to understand why things were the way they are….Why there could be only one religion….I wanted certainty.

While I can’t speak for all Roman Catholics, my own experience was that God wasn’t someone who could be known. Mediated and explained by the clergy, sure..but in terms of personal relationship…..oh hell naw. πŸ˜›

So I sit here and wonder……how many of us have cerebral relationships with Christ??? I was lucky….I was able to find something new and fresh in the Anglican liturgy….but how many people grow up in their own traditions…bored to death by what they hear over and over. πŸ˜›

I guess that’s where we have to put our trust in the Holy One in Three. When we come to a faith that’s personal….it’s never anything that we do ourselves. It’s something that God builds up in us. It’s yet another time where we have to rely less on ourselves and our own strength than in the one who made us.

Tonight I pray that the Holy Spirit moves you to experience God 1:1 and to know that you are loved beyond any treasure. +

Morning Prayer: June 23rd

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Psalm: 105:1-22
Old Testament: 1 Sam 8:1-22
New Testament: Acts 6:15-7:15

β€˜Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you (1 Sam 8:7b-8)

Disaster. In many ways here we have the beginning of the end for Israel. Despite Samuel’s warning that a king will cause the people to become vassals and slaves, they are insistent in getting their own way.

Initially, Saul is picked…which leads to civil war. Then David is chosen…….which goes well for a while, but eventually crumbles. While David’s son Solomon shows early signs of promise, he becomes corrupt and turns Israel away from YHWH and straight into the arms of Baal.

But what do we do with this story in 2011??? Other than saying “HAHAHA! silly Israelites”???

One place to start is to look at the deeper context. Israel is not just asking for a leader…..they are asking for a leader other than YHWH and his chosen prophets.

Their request for new leadership is not so much a “reasonable request” by poor nomads who are surrounded by monarchies…..it is an echo of their complaining in the desert..

Instead of complaining about miserable manna, they are now complaining about the way God chooses to govern them.

“What kind of God would give us a measly judge??? Don’t we deserve a king???? What has YHWH done for us lately anyhoo???”

Call me crazy…but I don’t think that sentiment is completely foreign to our own time. Even in my own experience, I question the way God works all the time….and a lot of time, I wish things could be different.

What causes those kinds of emotions, though? I think that more often than not, it stems from the fact that we forget God is our King. That he is the one in charge of our lives.

We forget the promises of Christ that we–like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field–will be provided for, loved, and protected. We want to be masters of our own destiny.

As we pray each day, let us remember that our God is indeed a great God and king above all others. O come let us worship +

Morning Prayer: June 22nd

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Psalms: 101, 109:1-4;20-30
Old Testament: 1 Sam 7:2-17
New Testament: Acts 6:1-15

[the Israelites said to Samuel] β€˜Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, and pray that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines. (1 Sam 7:8b)

As someone who feels called to the priesthood, I definitely feel a tug on the heart-strings when I read this passage. Whatever else I am called to do……whether it be youth work, mission and outreach, figuring out church finances……I am called first and foremost to pray for the people I serve.

It took me a while to grasp that. For a long, long time I viewed prayer as a way to give God my grocery list of needs and wants. Now that I’ve become a bit more mature (not much though :P) I’ve learned that prayer is much much more.

When we come to God…..we bring not only ourselves, but we unite our voices with whole Christian community.

The early Church was insistent that we never pray alone. From the solitary hermit in the deserts of Egypt to the busy family of 5 praying before meals….it is all part and parcel of the same package.

Like Samuel, we are asked not only to pray for ourselves…..but for our friends and families.

To add to the craziness…..Jesus turns things on their head and says we must pray for our enemies…for those we hate……for those who insult us…..and for those whom we struggle to love. πŸ˜›

As much as I hate saying the Daily Office sometimes, I am thankful that it forces me to carve out time for others. It forces me to speak aloud to the Trinity when I would much rather just get my tasks done for the day.

Above all though, I am thankful that I have been called to a vocation which allows me to work on my prayer-life–and even more than that–to be supported by my brothers and sisters in Christ as I move forward into ministry……some of which I hope will be officially ordained and recognized by the Church. πŸ™‚ +

Evening Prayer: Feast of the Holy Trinity

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So this is not my usual posting style…but I figured I would throw this comment up there for Internet posterity. πŸ™‚

Today was indeed very good and filled with worship, genuine surprise, and a sense of awe and wonder at God’s greatness.

Sometimes you can feel God’s grace abounding in such a way that it fills your whole day. It was like that for me. I had uplifting worship (both Eucharist in the morning and Evensong in the early hours of the night). Add that to fascinating conversation with some amazing teenagers, a Footloose viewing, and finding joy in the presence of another…..

that my friends is what you call a an awesome Trinity Feast. πŸ™‚

Part of the reason I don’t want to be bogged down by form tonight is because sometimes prayer has to be spontaneous. And tonight all I have to say one huge thank you to the blessed Father, Son, and Spirit who now and always give me life. ❀ +

Evening Prayer: June 16th (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 84, 85, 86
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 2:27-36
New Testament: Acts 2:22-36
Gospel: Luke 20:41-21:4
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer by St. Cyprian

I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover, my flesh will live in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence (Acts 2:25b-29)

So….heathen that I am…..I didn’t post anything last night or this morning. Rest assured much praying was being done on my part πŸ™‚

Last night, after a wonderful dinner…I was privileged to attend a service of Confirmation and reception.

At this particular liturgy, some 20 young people made commitments to Christ as adults, claiming their place as stewards of the Church universal, and also to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit for each of their individual ministries. :).

As an added blessing, a lovely young lady was received as a new member of the Anglican Church of Canada Congrats to all! πŸ™‚

In his homily for this service, our bishop gave what I thought was a great message……which doesn’t always happen with episcopal sermons lol ;).

In essence, Bob reminded those gathered in the Chapel that we come together as a community to remember Christ; and to celebrate the Trinity in our midst. Without that….we are nothing but a hollow, institutional shell.

That’s why I love reading the sermons from Acts like the one we have this evening. In his loose paraphrase of Psalm 16, we hear of Peter giving witness to the life, teaching, and effect of Jesus’ ministry on his own heart…and extending that invitation to all of Judea.

Notice that in both the original Psalm, and in Peter’s re-framing of it, a sense of celebration is retained. Our faith is not something that is meant to bring burden and strict moral obligations. Rather it is something that causes us to be glad of heart and rejoicing with all our might.

Does that mean we can discard those parts of Christianity that stretch us? What about those times when we feel crappy and not joyful at all? Can we ignore the commandments of Jesus if a particular commandment does not cause us to feel warm and gooey inside???

Call me crazy…..but I don’t think that’s what Peter is after here….Notice that Psalm 16 doesn’t say we will never fall into despair….or find ourselves with difficult moral choices to make. Rather it’s that God will lift us up out of the Pit….give us a Light to follow in the darkness.

Even when we have to be uncomfortable, and are called to do something which seems impossible, Christ will always be there to look us in the eye and give us strength and support.

Thanks be to God for such a wonderful gift. πŸ™‚ + ❀

Morning Prayer: June 13th

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Psalm: 80
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 1:1-20
New Testament: Acts 1:1-14

Lectionary FTW! Since I didn’t get a chance to talk about Ascension on the actual Feast Day…today presents a perfect chance πŸ™‚

The Ascension of Jesus–just like the Baptism of our Lord–caused some significant hesitation and open questioning by the Church. Why didn’t Jesus just stick around??? Couldn’t he just chill out here on Earth until the Final Judgement???? Why did he have to leave at all???

In the effort to understand salvation history, the Church Fathers concluded (based on John’s gospel) that Christ had to ascend in order to send down the Holy Spirit to his disciples.

It’s not that he had to ascend, but that he wanted to. *Holds up flame-shield against the heresy police* πŸ˜›

Just like the Baptism was accomplished in order to bless all water for our salvation, so the Ascension is what blesses us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is not so much about Jesus leaving us behind, but his leaving in order to return to us…and for the King of Glory to reign in our hearts forever. +

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