Easter Day (Combo Post)

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Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! +

We have made it to the dawn and discover the tomb empty. Christ has trampled on death, and given us freedom from sin! Christus Victor!

Today the whole Church…..from North to South, East to West rejoices in new life as we celebrate this feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!

On this great day of hope, celebration and praise, let us all hear with joy the Paschal invitation of St. John Chrysostom.

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.
If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.

If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness;
for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first;
he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second.

You rich and poor together, hold high festival.
You sober and you heedless, honor the day.
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.
let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free.

He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.

It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.

For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

Evening Prayer: Holy Saturday (Easter Eve)

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Psalm: 27
New Testament: Romans 8:1-11
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon on Holy Saturday

Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us! Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia!

The Great Vigil of Easter is always my favourite liturgy of the Church year. In it, there are many signs and symbols juxtaposed in a way that helps make clear both where we are coming from….our salvation history…..and where we are going.

The service starts in the dark of night, and we read of how God created the world, saw that it was good and continually established covenants with Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, and even foretold of a future redemption through the prophets. A new relationship with God that cannot be broken.

The new Easter Fire is lit, and gradually the Church fills with light…..a light which has not been seen since Thursday night at the Holy Thursday liturgy. We give thanks for this light and then organ music and the sound of bells fills the sanctuary as we commemorate the fact that Jesus has risen from the dead! Our sins are forgiven, and more importantly, death, despair, and misery hold no more sway over us.

In this moment…..on this night……we are invited to remember who we are, and to remember that God loves us beyond everything. We are given a chance to renew our commitment made in Baptism….and are reassured that nothing can hold us back from making these promises….Not even if we have been turning against God for the whole of our lives…..On this night…..everyone is invited to be made new:

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

May each and every one of you find joy in this message, and I pray that all of our hearts will be moved to love God and love one another even more…from this time forth, until the end of the world. +

Morning Prayer: Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22nd)

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Psalm: 116
Old Testament: Zeph 3:14-20
New Testament: Mark 15:37-16:7

Well….one week later, I have finally made it back to the blogosphere :P……All thanks to a feast day and a swift kick in the ass by milady :).

Mary Magdalene is an interesting figure…originally mentioned as a person cured of many demons, she was mistaken for a prostitute by Pope Gregory I in the 6th century….and she hasn’t really been able to shake that reputation since :P.

What I find interesting is the Church’s fascination with her occupation…..all the while forgetting her most important role. She is the first witness to the resurrection…..the one who first brought the good news of salvation to those who believed.

The example we have in Mary Magdalene seems especially poignant in the 21st century.

Like her, the Church bears an unbelievable message of victory and new life. A message that even the Apostles–the closest friends of Jesus–struggled to hear the first time around. Like Mary, we too are often confused for something we are not….as over-zealous followers who just want to force ideology down peoples throats….we are given unfair and undeserved labels.

And yet, Mary–along with the other women at the tomb–proclaimed the Good News anyway…they didn’t care what other people thought :)…In an ancient world that wouldn’t even accept female testimony in court cases, these brave souls became beacons for the Light which never fades, and would illuminate the world.

May we too inherit some of their courage and together proclaim that Jesus is risen from the dead, and that as a result…the world is forever changed. Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: June 21st

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Psalm: 97, 99, 94
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 6:1-16
New Testament: Acts 5:27-42
Gospel: Luke 21:37-22:13
Patristic Reading: N/A can’t find a copy online 😦

If this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow themβ€”in that case you may even be found fighting against God!’ (Acts 5:39)

This quote from the great rabbi Gamaliel (depicted above) is probably one of the soundest pieces of advice I have ever heard in Scripture :). Having said that I often wonder how often the institutional church takes it to heart. πŸ˜›

Many parishes of different denominations are doing all kinds of weird and whacky things in terms of liturgy, service music, mission and outreach projects…all in the hope of improving their community….or in many cases, help their community to grow.

Time after time, I have heard about congregations who ran programs that did not perform well…..or that produced less bums in the pews than had been hoped for. Of old historic buildings closing their doors. It’s all very sad. But at the same time….I wonder if we ever take the time to ask this question:

What is God doing here?

Are our efforts to improve spiritual community, or as a marketing gimmick? What if there is something in the congregation that needs to die? What if the ministries currently being pursued are not life-giving, and not of our Father???

I say this not to be trite……but to point out something very important.

If we truly consider ourselves an Easter people…..than we must recognize that God is ALWAYS active….even when we don’t like what he is doing. πŸ˜‰

If we truly place our hope in the resurrection, then the closed church doors will again be open…..even if it might be in a different location and a different circumstance.

If we truly believe that Christ is the new Adam and death has no dominion over Him….then we have no cause to weep…..only a cause to rejoice! πŸ™‚ What seems to be devastating now might just be part of a bigger plan. It might just be the cross we must bear so we can meet angels who bring us tidings of greatest joy!

Simply put….if anything the Church is doing is of God, it will have only one possible outcome. It will blossom and give life abundantly. Alleluia! Alleluia! πŸ™‚ +

Evening Prayer: Saturday in Easter (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 145, 104
Old Testament: Isaiah 25:1-9
New Testament: Acts 4:13-21
Gospel: John 16:16-33
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Jerusalem Catecheses

He will swallow up death for ever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25:8-9)

During the season of Easter, we are reminded that death itself….the last enemy…..the cause of all our tears….the thing that invades like darkness has been utterly destroyed.

I sit here prepped to give a sermon about doubting Thomas at the 9:00am service tomorrow at Cronyn, and I can’t help but think that Thomas was right to be skeptical.

The whole idea that death no longer has the final word seems like a fools’ hope; an imaginary tale to assuage our guilt for sins past. Thomas had seen the torture on Good Friday and knew its horror. A whole week had passed and still he had no proof of what was real. All he had was the testimony of friends.

How many times have we heard church gossip and known to take it with a grain of salt?

One of the things which I think is missed most often is how disappointed and disillusioned the disciples would have felt after the death of their Master.

This was a man they have pinned their hopes on…..believed in his promises; only to see the government crush him without mercy. 😦

It would take a lot for me to move past that grief…..and I have a feeling it was the same for Thomas.

And yet, the focus shifts once his hands slide through the wounds in Christ’s hands, feet and side….In joy and praise, he declares “ My Lord and My God “. The doubter recognizes before all others that this indeed is the Word made Flesh who was with God when the world was created.

Thomas’ doubt is what ultimately led him to faith. πŸ™‚

His example leaves room for us not to have (or expect to have) all the answers. At the same time, we can unite our voices with his in the faith and hope that the resurrection is indeed real, and that all the chains which constrained us have now been broken! πŸ™‚

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life +

Evening Prayer: Easter Day

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Psalms: 113, 114
Old Testament: Isaiah 51:9-11
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ (Luke 24:29)

This verse from the third Gospel is a common opening sentence for Evening Prayer. In the story itself, the invitation acts as the event which allows Christ to enter the house, and be revealed in the breaking of the bread.

Similarly, in our prayer life…..this sentence actively asks the Risen Son of God to dwell with us. To be in our midst. To set our hearts on fire, to speak Truth to us πŸ™‚

The Truth revealed on this Easter Day is that God has made all things new. Indeed, he is continually renewing the face of the Earth. :). Even in the despondency and despair of the disciples, there is hope, resurrection, and new life present <3.

May the Light of Christ always shine brightly within you…may you be given the strength to overcome any and all darkness.

Christ is the Victor over sin and death….and through our baptism, are given the power to live life, and live it abundantly. To be children of the Light, and to conquer any evil that may come our way.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia! +

Morning Prayer: Easter Day

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Psalms: 148, 149, 150
Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-14
New Testament: John 1:1-18

Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! +

We have made it to the dawn and discover the tomb empty. Christ has trampled on death, and given us freedom from sin! Christus Victor!

Today the whole Church…..from North to South, East to West rejoices in new life as we celebrate this feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!

On this great day of hope, celebration and praise, let us all hear with joy the Paschal invitation of St. John Chrysostom.

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.
If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.

If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness;
for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first;
he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second.

You rich and poor together, hold high festival.
You sober and you heedless, honor the day.
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.
let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free.

He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.

It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.

For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

May God bless each and every one of you this day and forevermore. ❀ Alleluia! +

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