Morning Prayer: April 11th

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Psalm: 31
Old Testament: Jeremiah 23:16-32
New Testament: Romans 9:19-33

Those who were not my people I will call “my people”,
and her who was not beloved I will call “beloved”. ’
‘And in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people”,
there they shall be called children of the living God.’ (Romans 9:25-26)

I want you to imagine for a second that you were made a promise as a child. A promise that you were special and under the watchful eye of God. Not only that, but you were convinced that if God were ever to show up in your midst, you would be the first to know.

Now imagine that you saw someone else receiving that promise. How would you feel? Jealous? Hurt? Confused?

I suspect that even in his post-conversion state, Paul was extremely uncomfortable with the idea that the Jewish people “missed the boat” when it came to accepting Jesus as the Messiah. In fact Romans 9-11 is an open reflection on what the fate of God’s chosen ones might be.

I sit here wondering if there are any parallels in Churchland….We too hold a promise of salvation and special status. Are we holding onto it too tightly?

In many Anglican churches, attendance is dropping off. More “evangelical” congregations are growing, while our parishes are struggling to pay the hydro bill.

But is our jealousy warranted? Is it even Christian?

The fact of the matter is that people outside of our building and church pews are still being led to Jesus in other denominations….they are still receiving Good News.

Granted, some of those messages might be distorted….but we also believe that the Holy Spirit is present in Christian communities everywhere. Perhaps our job is not necessarily to worry about what others are doing, but to concentrate on how we ourselves are living faithful lives…confident that we are united under one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. +

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. +

Morning Prayer: March 29th

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Psalm: 78:1-39
Old Testament: Jeremiah 7:21-34
New Testament: Romans 4:13-21

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already* as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:19-21)

One of the key things for Romans (and indeed of Christian theology is answering the question of: How do Gentiles enter into covenant with YHWH???

Paul takes a very interesting approach…..rather than saying that all should be circumcized under the Law, Paul points out that Abraham himself–the very founder of Judaism–was not subject to any formal law.

Rather, the father of all nations had to hold onto a promise….

In making this connection, Paul flips conventional ideology on its head. Abraham no longer becomes the follower of God’s prescribed will….otherwise the promise of descendants might be construed as something which Abraham might be owed.

Since the walls of following statute broken down, so is the excuse that Gentiles are to be excluded. Now everyone is asked not to do God’s will to get in..but to believe in the promises he makes.

For anyone who has had to rely on someone else’s word knows that is an extremely uncomfortable position. What if they decide to bail on the last minute???? What if the person decides to only do 30% of what they had initially said???

Faith in God is not easy….because it is based on a promise of new life and salvation. So how do we know that God is going to live up to our expectations???

For one, we can look at the examples found in Scriptures……taking examples from their lives, prayers, and actions. Another way is to look at the world around us. To look at the beauty of nature, and of the people who make a difference in the world around us. Those Spirit-filled moments are but a foreshadow of the Kingdom of God which Christ inaugurated and has invited us to enter into. +

Morning Prayer: 4th Sunday of Epiphany

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Psalms: 24, 29
Old Testament: Isaiah 51:9-16
New Testament: Hebrews 11:8-16

ll of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland……they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one (Hebrews 11: 13-14, 16a)

As I was reading the selection from Hebrews this morning, I found myself wondering what it means to walk by faith. Unlike the patriarchs…..we have seen the promise of Christ and know it to be true. 🙂

That being said, I think there are times when we too have to journey into the unknown…….when we have to make hard decisions about how to live our life.

Based on my own experience, there are definitely times when the modern world makes it hard to live a life of faith. Christianity has long since lost its privileged place in society. What was taken as a given in the past now often requires a defence, a rationale as to why I–as a person who is part of an organized religion–choose to associate myself with such a corrupt institution.

I suspect Abraham might have experienced a similar feeling when he uprooted and left his home in Ur; clinging to a hope and a prayer, proclaiming One God in the midst of a polytheistic culture.

We–like Abraham–are called to go where the Spirit leads us, even when we don’t know where the final destination will be….or what challenges we might face along the way.

The good news in all of this is that we do not walk alone. We are fed with the very Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation to give us strength and hope. :D. May you be blessed day by day as you strive to follow the LORD.+

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