Morning Prayer: June 23rd

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Psalm: 105:1-22
Old Testament: 1 Sam 8:1-22
New Testament: Acts 6:15-7:15

β€˜Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you (1 Sam 8:7b-8)

Disaster. In many ways here we have the beginning of the end for Israel. Despite Samuel’s warning that a king will cause the people to become vassals and slaves, they are insistent in getting their own way.

Initially, Saul is picked…which leads to civil war. Then David is chosen…….which goes well for a while, but eventually crumbles. While David’s son Solomon shows early signs of promise, he becomes corrupt and turns Israel away from YHWH and straight into the arms of Baal.

But what do we do with this story in 2011??? Other than saying “HAHAHA! silly Israelites”???

One place to start is to look at the deeper context. Israel is not just asking for a leader…..they are asking for a leader other than YHWH and his chosen prophets.

Their request for new leadership is not so much a “reasonable request” by poor nomads who are surrounded by monarchies…..it is an echo of their complaining in the desert..

Instead of complaining about miserable manna, they are now complaining about the way God chooses to govern them.

“What kind of God would give us a measly judge??? Don’t we deserve a king???? What has YHWH done for us lately anyhoo???”

Call me crazy…but I don’t think that sentiment is completely foreign to our own time. Even in my own experience, I question the way God works all the time….and a lot of time, I wish things could be different.

What causes those kinds of emotions, though? I think that more often than not, it stems from the fact that we forget God is our King. That he is the one in charge of our lives.

We forget the promises of Christ that we–like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field–will be provided for, loved, and protected. We want to be masters of our own destiny.

As we pray each day, let us remember that our God is indeed a great God and king above all others. O come let us worship +

Morning Prayer: June 22nd

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Psalms: 101, 109:1-4;20-30
Old Testament: 1 Sam 7:2-17
New Testament: Acts 6:1-15

[the Israelites said to Samuel] β€˜Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, and pray that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines. (1 Sam 7:8b)

As someone who feels called to the priesthood, I definitely feel a tug on the heart-strings when I read this passage. Whatever else I am called to do……whether it be youth work, mission and outreach, figuring out church finances……I am called first and foremost to pray for the people I serve.

It took me a while to grasp that. For a long, long time I viewed prayer as a way to give God my grocery list of needs and wants. Now that I’ve become a bit more mature (not much though :P) I’ve learned that prayer is much much more.

When we come to God…..we bring not only ourselves, but we unite our voices with whole Christian community.

The early Church was insistent that we never pray alone. From the solitary hermit in the deserts of Egypt to the busy family of 5 praying before meals….it is all part and parcel of the same package.

Like Samuel, we are asked not only to pray for ourselves…..but for our friends and families.

To add to the craziness…..Jesus turns things on their head and says we must pray for our enemies…for those we hate……for those who insult us…..and for those whom we struggle to love. πŸ˜›

As much as I hate saying the Daily Office sometimes, I am thankful that it forces me to carve out time for others. It forces me to speak aloud to the Trinity when I would much rather just get my tasks done for the day.

Above all though, I am thankful that I have been called to a vocation which allows me to work on my prayer-life–and even more than that–to be supported by my brothers and sisters in Christ as I move forward into ministry……some of which I hope will be officially ordained and recognized by the Church. πŸ™‚ +

Evening Prayer: June 17th (Combo Post)

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Psalms: 88, 91, 92
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 3:1-21
New Testament: Acts 2:37-47
Gospel: Luke 21:5-19
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer by St. Cyprian

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. (1 Sam 3:1)

Since it’s still fresh in my mind from the conference, I find myself drawn again to the story of Eli and Samuel.

This post is less a reflection and more an open discussion for the readers…..My query is this: Are we living in a time when the Word of the Lord is rare????

Having gone through seminary (and living the last four years in the Churchland bubble), I tend to always take the perspective that God is revealing Himself to the world on a regular basis….but I’m curious as to what others think.

Is it possible we are living in a time when visions are limited and revelations few????

I would love to hear your own thoughts and reflections on this question :). Leave a comment below and maybe we can figure out together what kind of age we are living in right now. πŸ™‚

Pax Christi +

Reflections on an Incredible Week

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Note to the reader: Normally, I’m not a fan of putting a tonne of text in a single blog post, but trust me when I tell you that it was almost impossible to encapsulate my experience within my self-imposed 350 word limit. Hope you enjoy the final product below. πŸ™‚

So……this has nothing to do with the Daily Office……or the overall aim for this project..but this week, I found myself challenged, moved, and stretched in all kinds of profound ways. Simply put: it was too good a time not to share with my friends in the blogosphere. πŸ™‚

I do feel somewhat guilty for not being able to post on Ascension Day (I try not to miss major Feast Days), and yet–at the same time–being unplugged from the virtual world seemed oddly appropriate :).

It allowed me to really connect with folks at the Common Ground Youth Ministry Forum It was nice not to be caught up in emails, blog-posts and the procrastination time-sink that is Facebook ;).

Don’t get me wrong, I love all three of those tools, and use them regularly, but this week had a real authenticity to it that I haven’t experienced in quite a while.

For those who don’t know, Common Ground was an Ecumenical Conference betwixt the Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Church. All told there were some 130+ delegates from across Canada gathering to worship, learn, and ponder how the Spirit is moving in the Church, and being transformed by the youth of our respective communities.

This conference was nothing short of amazing!

I can honestly say that I got something out of every single workshop….and while there’s no way I can say that I met every delegate or got to know them very well, I was (and still am) astounded at how open, honest, and vulnerable everyone seemed to be.

As ready as we all were to share our woes, concerns, and challenges when it came to youth ministry…..those narratives were small potatoes when compared to the plethora of stories about resurrection and new life…..even in the midst of some pretty dark circumstances and personal life-experiences.

Overall I am left with two lasting images and impressions from the Common Ground I and some new-found friends and colleagues stand on:

Eli and Samuel

The story of Eli and Samuel was something that our first keynote speakerused to draw us into the conference. For me it set the tone for the entire experience.

His basic point was that all those in leadership positions–especially when connected with youth–are to act as guides and God-bearers to those we minister to.

No one can be brought to God on their own. Rather, they are usually brought into the Divine Presence by someone who acts as their mentor; by someone whom they know and trust. Leaders like Eli knew that he had to encourage Samuel to listen to the voice of the LORD and not to dismiss it out of hand. Eli did this even at the peril of his own line dying out.

We too as youth leaders are asked to lead others, even if it might lead to us having less authority or control in the Church…we must always leave room for new prophets to speak truth, and to make the radical vision of God’s love known to all.

The second image that sticks with me is the Transfig:

Not gonna lie….when my alarm went off at 6am this morning so that I could be in time for a youth-service….I was somewhat loath to leave….which seems like the most contradictory thing in the universe.

After 5 straight days dedicated to outward-looking ministry, and to strong themes of spreading the Gospel and not hogging our own baptism and keeping it to ourselves….I wanted to stay in the nice warm, positive, team building cocoon of the Lamplighter Inn.

By the time we started the youth service at Weldon Park in Arva though, I found myself caught up in the infectious joy, praise and sense of fun that only younger generations can bring :).

Beyond all of that though, I found myself inspired and outright astonished by the talent, dedication, and passion lived out by the kids I am honoured to work with πŸ™‚

It really brought home to me the importance of coming back down from the mountain…of weathering the storms of doubt, exhaustion, and pessimism….because maybe……just maybe….the world can surprise us too. +

Evening Prayer: Eve of the Lord’s Presentation

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Psalms: 113, 122
Old Testament: 1 Sam 1:20-28
New Testament: Romans 8:14-21

Ever wonder why John the Baptist, the Prophets and Jesus are all depicted with shoulder-length hair and a beard in Christian art????

Part of the reason for that is a conscious effort on the part of artists to highlight the connection of these individuals to God.

The order of Nazirites are first introduced here in the book of Samuel. Nazirites are essentially first-born (male) children who are dedicated exclusively to the service of God. This is an echo of Torah law which requires that the first (healthy male) animal of any flock or herd is dedicated in sacrifice to the LORD.

According to tradition and custom, they could not shave, cut their hair or drink intoxicants.

Hannah has brought her son to the Temple not strictly out of duty….but out of a sincere thanks to the LORD. Prior to this point she had been barren, and desired more than anything to have a child with her husband.

In her prayer earlier in this chapter, she promises that if this wish is granted, she will dedicate the baby as a nazarite in the Temple.

Samuel goes on to do great things. He protects the nation of Israel from invasion, and anoints Saul (and then David) as the first monarchs of the United Israelite kingdom.

As we enter into this feast of the Dedication of Jesus, we are called to remember our own seal of baptism. To remember that we have been sealed with the sign of the cross, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and that we have been marked as Christ’s own forever.

Both our redemption and our call to ministry is no doubt challenging….but it is also filled with joy. For as St. Paul says:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8: 18-21)

May you be filled with all the joy and peace that comes from believing and be strengthened in your own ministries each and every day ❀ +

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