Morning Prayer: Feast of All Hallows (Nov. 1st)

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Psalm: 111, 112
Old Testament: 2 Esdras 2:42-47
New Testament: Hebrews 11:32-12:2

Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honour and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant. (Psalm 111:2-5)

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend on FB about reading the Bible. She is genuinely interested in reading it, but–like all of us–has a hard time with some of the more miraculous stories, and the depiction of God as a vindictive deity.

I promised her that I would post on this blog about how the Bible might be read in a different way. A way that focuses on relationship rather than by myth, theology or narrative…so here’s my best shot at it. 😉

Like the psalmist says this morning, all of God’s works are known….and like all great acts of history, those deeds tend to be recorded. 🙂

The central themes of the Old Testament are many…..but they tend to revolve around two important aspects…creation and covenant.

In Genesis, God creates the world…..and it is not just good but very good. He also establishes a covenant with humanity that he will make them prosper…and that He will constantly be at their side.

But human beings–made in the image of an all-creative Father–also have an innate desire to be independent…..which causes them to sin….and to turn away from their one true companion; the God who made them.

At the risk of being overly simplistic, the rest of the Bible focuses in on how that broken relationship is lived out, and repaired…..that intimate bond between Father and children is built up, broken, and established again in a constant cycle. A cycle that ultimately ends with God and humanity coming out in joy and praise to take care of the earth and each other.

At its core, the Bible is a multi-faceted library of documents. I would go even so far as to say that it is an ongoing and eternal conversation.

As the reader flips through the pages of text, they are exposed to a multitude of voices……some divine, some human. Some sentiments of anger, hatred, and frustration…..met in turn with compassion, forgiveness, and Grace.

Despite what the reformers would have us think, Holy Scripture does not interpret itself …Adhering to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy will only leave with a pounding headache and a broken heart.

As a piece of literature, inspired by God and touched by the human hand…..it is a mixture of perfection and inadequacy….a living encounter between the Creator who wants his presence to be known…..and a world that struggles to listen for it’s Maker’s voice.

On this Feast of All Saints, one thing to keep in mind that we too are saints…by virtue of being baptized 🙂

Whenever we open the Bible we join with the thousands who have come before us in trying to discern God’s will and true hope for us. We add our 2 cents (or 5 cents or 25 cents) to the conversation.

In the struggle to understand what God is saying to us and what we are saying to one another, Christianity is changed from a hollow, inanimate religion into a living, breathing, challenging Body of faith

Sure, this Body is weak and wounded at times….but is also glorious and triumphant when we get the message of Jesus right ;)….a message that we as Gentile North American inheritors of the Gospel have come to know through the written translation of the Bible.

Thanks be to God for the gift of his word on paper….but more importantly for the Word made Flesh that speaks from within those pages. Alleluia! +

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. 😛

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. 😛

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. +

Evening Prayer: 1st Sunday of Lent (Combo post)

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Psalms: 63, 98, 103
Old Testament: Deut 8:1-10
New Testament: 1 Cor 1:17-31
Gospel: Mark 2:18-22
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a commentary on the Psalms by St. Augustine

[The LORD] humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:3)

I’ll tell you what else you don’t live off alone….beer coupled with jagar shots :S…..Needless to say I was hurtin’ this morning. Coupled with daylight savings time, I didn’t even make it out to church today 😛

But anyways enough about my drunken adventures….today’s lection from Deuteronomy provides us with the original text which Christ uses in answering the first temptation.

Food is an important part of our lives, and we cannot survive without it for very long….but it is not the only thing which provides sustenance. Just as we need material bread to live….we also need to feed our souls with the bread of the Word.

That’s why the fasting portion of Lent was such a central focus. It wasn’t necessarily the sacrifice of hunger that was the focus, but rather on the thing that took its place…..namely contemplating our relationship with God.

In contemplating this relationship…..the road will not always be easy….when we give God our full attention….there is the possibility that a lot of feelings can be drudged up. Remembering not only those times when we felt blessed by God…..but also those times in which we felt angry with him……lost in the dark night of the soul.

Both parts of this journey (angst and joy) are essential to bring us closer to Christ….since at its core, it involves being honest with our own spiritual struggles.

As you experience these emotions in all of their variety, may you embrace them fully….it is only by continuing to walk that we will make it through the desert and find ourselves in the promised land of prosperity, peace, and wholeness. +

Evening Prayer: March 5th

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Psalms: 110, 116, 117
Gospel: Matt 7:22-29
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon of St. Zeno of Verona

I remember this Gospel passage as the one used for my sister’s wedding; kind of appropriate given the stuff that I’ve been reflecting on about trust and relationship in the last few posts.

Rocks are an important image in the Bible. In the Psalms, God is often referred to as the rock and refuge of Israel and the oppressed. In the Exodus story, God makes water to flow from a rock in the desert, so that his people to not die of thirst. Jesus calls Peter the rock on which he will build his Church.

Rocks are solid and intractable. Yet they also come in a variety of shapes, colours, compositions, weight, etc.

No two rocks are the same….each has been uniquely formed by tectonic force……bearing the stamp of the stress and pressure they have been under.

We are kind of like that too. Each experience in our life….whether it be stressful, joyful, or otherwise exerts certain pressures on us. They change the way we are shaped.

Sometimes it’s for the worse, but sometimes for the better…but we are nonetheless different from how we were before. I hope that as we move forward in our lives…..we continue to be shaped by our experiences. With any luck, the end result will be that the people around us will encounter someone who is changed by their joy and delight, rather than twisted and warped by frustration, hate, and disappointment. +

Morning Prayer: 7th Sunday after Epiphany

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Psalm: 118
Old Testament: Isaiah 66:7-14
New Testament: 1 John 3:4-10

The Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:14)

I might be getting bogged down in semantics here……but I find myself struck by the wording here. For the Psalmist, it is not simply that God is the author of his salvation, but rather the LORD has become his salvation.

In many ways, I think this wording is significant. In order for something to become anything new….there has to be a growth, or a change of some sort; a change in relationship and form.

That’s kind of the way faith works, non? At one level, we learn the Gospel story and Christian doctrines as ideas, and as explanations for how we are supposed to interact with the world.

There is always the potential that one could remain at this stage indefinitely. Where Christian principles can simply be a way of life, a moral teaching, but nothing unique.

Yet there is also the potential that it could become something more. It could blossom not only as a way of life and philosophy..but something that truly touches our hearts and our emotions. Something happens when we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and come to know him as someone who saves us daily, and accepts us for who we are.

These conversion experiences can vary in intensity, form, and individual meaning. The transition from intellectual assent to heartfelt repentance and faith is something which the Psalmist tries to express this morning.

Of that moment when salvation becomes not only a possibility, but a concrete reality. 😀 I pray that each of us may come to know Christ more deeply and that God becomes something new and wonderful for us as we draw nearer to Him.

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