Evening Prayer: June 9th

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Psalm: 105:23-45
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from A Commentary on John’s Gospel by St. Cyril of Alexandria

Whenever the Lectionary asks us to reflect on the Good Samaritan…..I always find it difficult to comprehend the radical nature of this parable. As a Canadian who finds himself in a post-Charter context and surrounded by a fairly liberal circle of family and friends…..the issue of race or ethnicity has never been a source of conflict in my life…at least not overtly.

That’s not to say that racism is gone, or the biases that surround different nationalities don’t exist…but it’s something that I don’t personally understand.

A couple of years ago, I heard a sermon by one of the youth at St. Christopher’s in a way that touched me and blew my mind all at the same time :P.

I wish I still had access to the MP3 so I could share it; but essentially, she challenged my assumption of who the Good Samaritan is.

Normally when we think of this story, we think of someone who is in need of being rescued….someone on the margins of society we are called to help be a voice for.

Or perhaps–on the metaphorical level–we picture the God as the one picking us up…. binding our wounds, our emotional hurts and our sins with healing and love.

But what if….in this age of atheism, consumerism, and moral apathy….the robber suffering on the road…..half beaten to death….what if that person was God???

What if….instead of God saving us, we needed to save God???

I leave you tonight with that question. Feel free to leave some thoughts in the comments section below.

As always, I continue to pray with and for you as we joyfully anticipate the Feast of Pentecost. +

Evening Prayer: March 21st (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 56, 57, 64, 65
Old Testament: Jeremiah 1:11-19
New Testament: Romans 1:1-15
Gospel: John 4:27-42
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from The Catecheses of St. John Chrysostom

Whether you see him as the Great Compromiser (left) or the Great Reformer (right) Thomas Cranmer developed the theological framework for the Anglican movement under Henry VIII

So today we have the tail end of John 4, or the story with the woman at the well. (For those of you who attend St. Jude’s, you’ll likely hear me repeat some of these reflections on Sunday during the sermon…so I apologize in advance 🙂 )

Like all the Gospel writers, the author of John has a very specific agenda.

For Matthew, the goal was to get his audience to see Jesus through the lens of Jewish covenant. For Mark, the emphasis is placed on Jesus who is the atonement sacrifice for sin. Luke is preoccupied with situating Jesus in a Gentile context. For the fourth evangelist, the fundamental thing at stake is: belief.

Now let me be clear. By the term belief I don’t mean adhering to an idea simply because it’s the right thing. Instead, belief consists in recognizing exactly who Jesus really is, and uncovering His true identity.

You see….everything for John comes back to that all important first sentence of his written account:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

The whole narrative of the 4th Gospel comprises a series of events where two things happen:

a) God’s glory is revealed through this Incarnate Word and
b) the people who are in the story (with a few key exceptions) just. don’t. get. it. lol….I can picture Jesus’ reaction to some of the conversations he had with the disciples already. I think it might have involved one or two of these:

The amazing thing about the Samaritan woman at the well is that she is one of the people who actually gets it and is open to the idea that this Jesus person might actually be the long awaited Messiah. The funny thing is…..she is not supposed to be the one who figures it out.

From a Jewish perspective, the Samaritans are the bad guys…..who are worshipping on the wrong mountain, and have things all backwards.

If anyone should be able to recognize God’s appearance on Earth it should be the Jewish people…and yet they are the ones who are confused most by Jesus’ teachings, and most eager to label him a heretic.

In a strange twist of fate, it is the hated outcast who understands what is going on, the foreigner who is allowed to drink from the waters of salvation. She is so sure, and her testimony is so convincing that by the end of the passage the people of her village declare:

It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world. (John 4:42)

It is truly an amazing story, and I think it is one that has important implications for us; especially during Lent. During this time of prayer and repentance, we are asked not to rely on the testimony of others, but rather to evaluate what we hear and see in our personal experience of life. True faith…one that touches the heart, and affects the way we live must come from a conviction that says “I believe, not only because it is right, but I believe because it is what I have seen, and heard, and known in my heart to be true.” 🙂

May all of you who seek after the LORD find Him, and together with the Samaritan woman, ask ourselves: “Could this Jesus really be who I think he is???” +

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