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

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Psalm: 97, 138
Old Testament: Isaiah 49:1-6
New Testament: Galatians 2:1-8

National Cathedral of SS Peter & Paul (Washington, DC)

Y’know…….one of the things that comes to mind on this feast day is the fact that Peter and Paul did not really like each other. In the course of their ministiry, they had several spats……the most famous of which we read about tonight

What stikes me though…..is that even though there was tension…..that didn’t automatically mean there was division. Although there was disagreement, they never broke communion with one another.

Is part of my reflection blurred by putting a special glaze on the Apostolic era? Probably. πŸ˜›

Yet, at the same time, there can not be any denial that both of these men brought thousands to Christ. Despite their differences….they were able to say emphatically Jesus Christ is Lord!

I wonder what the Anglican Church can learn from their example today. With all of our squabbles…….are we sending the right message? In our pre-occupation with minutiae, are we remembering the message of the Cross and empty Tomb???

Tonight forces us to take a good hard look at ourselves……and to realize that Christian unity is not about unanimous opinion…..but rather in the single message that God has come to save all of us….and that no one is beyond the reach of Grace. +

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 ;))

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™‚ + ❀

Evening Prayer: Eve of Pentecost

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Psalm:33
Old Testament: Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20
New Testament: 1 Peter 2:4-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Pet 2:9)

Sometimes I think Christians take their claim of holiness and priesthood a little too seriously….or rather not, seriously enough. In the zeal to evangelize, and to bring Christ to the masses, Western culture (Canadians included)…has found it tough to avoid an “us vs. them” mentality.

We are the ones who have the Gospel, right???? We are the smart ones…we know the Truth. We are the one’s saddled with responsibility and The White Man’s Burden laying heavy across our shoulders.

In taking such an approach, we have justified the destruction of First Nations people, sanctioned exclusivity on part of the Church, and condemned people to hellfire and damnation :P.

All because we didn’t pay attention to Peter’s next verse:

Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy. (1 Pet 2:10)

Read that verse, and the whole context changes. Now we cannot perceive ourselves as great….or as superior..but as a people who have been lifted up from the dust. Not as masters who can decide the fate of others, but of slaves given freedom and new life.

We are called not to judge each other……but to build one another up. Not to lament our brokenness, but celebrate in the collective joy we find in Christ Jesus…Not to look down on others, but encourage one another living in the Spirit.

I pray that on this birthday of the Church, we can not only celebrate the Spirit in our midst…but give Her the space to transform our hearts, our minds, and the way we each live in this world. πŸ˜€ +

Evening Prayer: March 15th

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Psalm: 37:19-42
Gospel: Luke 5:1-12
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from Against the Heresies by St. Iranaeus

…When Simon Peter saw [that the nets were full to bursting] , he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, β€˜Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ (Mark 5:8)

Imagine that you have been up since the wee hours of the morning trying to catch fish. And there is absolutely nothin’ doing.

Keep in mind this is not the fishing we think of in Southern Ontario…..with sunshine, a beer and time to relax. These are men who must fish every day. They must get enough product to market to gain their livelihood. No fish means you don’t eat that week :(.

Dog tired, chilled by the open winds on the sea…and totally despondent…you have a strange looking dude come and ask you for passage so that he can escape the growing crowds.

Not caring very much, Simon agrees. A minute later he finds himself with literally boatloads of fish. The source of his worry is INSTANTLY taken away.

Wouldn’t that scare the crap out of you??? It’s no small wonder that Simon wants to distance himself from this person who has massive amounts of power. Powerful enough to punish him for any wrongdoing…..just as he was powerful enough to reward Simon for the sanctuary of the boat.

Jesus’ actions and words are interesting here. He doesn’t shy away from the sinner. Rather he invites him into a new ministry….to be a fisher of people. He doesn’t punish Simon’s wrong-doing but instead invites him into relationship.

Our Lord is a God who is concerned with sin yes….but we are also told that he will rejoice more over 1 sinner who repents than 1000 who enter the presence of God with a clear conscience.

More than that, Christ wants to transform us and invite us into relationship with him.

In doing so, Jesus makes it clear that the road is not easy……but he does promise that at the end we are given grace and abundance beyond our wildest dreams; fed in body, mind, and Spirit. Thanks be to God who welcomes sinners and does not shy away from those who are scared. Christus Victor! Alleluia! +

Morning Prayer: Friday in Easter Week

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Psalm: 136
Old Testament: Daniel 12:1-4;13
New Testament: Acts 4:1-12

This Jesus is
β€œthe stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.”
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12)

Well after a brief stint of computer problems, compounded by my own laziness, I am back on track with the blog :). I hope all of you have had a wonderful Easter season thus far filled with chocolate, friends, family, and liturgy that has moved you. πŸ™‚

In today’s reading from Acts, Peter gives this response to the question: from where do you get your authority?

The answer he gives harkens back to Psalm 118, which is a song which looks forward to the Messiah.

In using this as a proof-text, Peter is spreading the gospel, the new and radical message that a crucified and risen criminal was indeed the one Israel had been waiting for so long.

More than that, he insists that the miracles he and the other apostles are performing have nothing to do with them, and everything to do with the power of God.

I wonder how often we take credit for our own ministries and talents without giving credit to the source?!?

I don’t mean to say that it is wrong to have a sense of self-worth or accomplishment in what we do every day and the positive ways in which we touch the life of the world and those inside it……but at what point does the line get crossed between self-reliance and salvation, and being redeemed through God’s Grace alone?

It is a slippery line to be sure….and I hope that I continue to walk in the knowledge that I am nothing, but for God’s love that has been shown to me in Christ. +

Evening Prayer: Feast of St. Peter’s Confession

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Psalm: 118
Old Testament: Ezekiel 34:11-16
Gospel: John 21:15-22

Remember this morning how I said Peter was dense……well, the Gospel reading for tonight serves as a prime example of that πŸ˜€

In Biblical Greek there are various kinds of love.

Eros -which involves an intimate (and often physical) desire for someone.
Phileo – a love borne out of friendship.
Storge – A parental love.
Agape a benevolent love for all, out of sheer good will.

Let me outline the conversation for you that is had in tonight’s Gospel reading.

Jesus: Simon, son of John, do you Agape me?
Peter: Yes Lord, you know I Phileo you.
Jesus: Feed my lambs.

Jesus: Simon, Son of John, do you Agape me?
Peter: Yes, Lord you know that I Phileo you.
Jesus: Tend my sheep.

Jesus: Simon, son of John, do you Phileo me?
Peter: Lord you know everything, you know that I Phileo you.
Jesus: Feed my sheep.

Scholars are not 100% sure what to make of this…..and to be honest neither do I :P….but Jesus is trying to get a point across…….and Peter keeps missing the boat. It’s almost like Jesus wants Peter to respond to each question with agape….but Peter always responds……”Lord, I love you like a brother/friend”

In the end, Jesus is satisfied with his answer, and gives him a command to both tend and feed his followers.

The fact that Jesus asks the question three times is also significant. Many see the threefold repetition as an echo of Peter’s denying Jesus three times in the Passion narrative.

By responding with brotherly love each time, Peter’s former shame and apostasy is forgiven. Instead of judgement, God responds with mercy.

We too are invited into that mercy. The life of faith constantly asks us to evaluate ourselves if we love Jesus more than everything else in our lives. Based on this passage, I take comfort in the fact that I’m not expected to love with agape.

Agape is how God loves us. God’s love is universal. God’s love embraces all. πŸ˜€

Peter gives us a hint that as disciples and apostles of Christ that phileo just may be the best we can do. Friends and brothers can still fight and love each other. Can still disagree–sometimes bitterly–and not loathe one another.

We are called to love, not perfectly, but to love and to tend and feed those around us. To build them up and encourage them in developing their own gifts and talents. To accept them as they are and to realize that everyone has a story. We may not love them perfectly….but we are asked to see them as fellow human beings….who need as much understanding and compassion as we ourselves.

And so my brothers and sisters, I end this post by saying that I love you, and may the peace of Christ be with you always<3 +

Morning Prayer: Feast of St. Peter’s Confession

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Psalms: 66, 67
Old Testament: Ezekiel 3:4-11
New Testament: Acts 10:34-44

Today the Church remembers the Confession of St. Peter that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Upon hearing this Jesus declares that Simon Peter is the rock on which his church will be built.

I want to step away from the Scripture readings for a brief moment this morning and talk a little more about this Simon Peter…..this founder of our faith.

Most of my reflection material is actually borrowed from Fr. Rae Fletcher (who is my Spiritual Director and rector of Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church here in London.)

Growing up as a Roman Catholic, I had always been taught that this particular Feast Day and event in Scripture was the foundation for Papal infallibility and it wasn’t until Rae preached a sermon on Matt 14:28-33 that my view of Peter was changed.

In the course of that sermon, Fr. Rae said something that will always stick with me……I’m paraphrasing here but he essentially said…..”I love Peter…..he is the rock on which our Church is built. But rocks sink…”

Far from being the pillar of faith that Catholicism has made him out to be…..Peter is a fallen man. He is often portrayed in the Gospels as especially dense. Peter is the disciple who wishes to build tents on Mount Tabor. He is the one who refuses to have his feet washed by Jesus. He is the disciple who tries to dissuade Jesus from Jerusalem and the cross. is the one who outwardly rejects knowing Christ.

And yet……despite all his faults……this is the man whom Jesus chooses to lead the community of the faithful. πŸ˜€

In many ways Peter serves as an example for us. We too are fallen……we too are not perfect. There are times when we deny Christ…..and try to rationalize and discount his teachings to something that is easier to process and accept.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, this stumbling Apostle is able to give witness to Christ in his life and preaching. He is able to bring thousands of people to faith, and is living proof that even those who sin can be restored to Grace…..and do more things than he could ever ask or imagine. πŸ˜€ +

P.S. If you are in the London, ON area……you should definitely check out Bishop Cronyn. It is a special place with incredible music, and lots of different activities happening throughout the year. πŸ˜€

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