Morning Prayer: June 10th

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Psalm:102
Old Testament: Ezekiel 34:17-31
New Testament: Hebrews 8:1-17

As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats: Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture? When you drink of clear water, must you foul the rest with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have fouled with your feet? (Ezekiel 34:17-20)

Sheep are dumb. No, really…. They’re dumb. If left to their own devices, sheep will continue eating grass until they pull the roots right out. Without someone to shepherd and guide them, the flock would inadvertently starve itself and die off.

It is in light of this metaphor that God assures his people that he will set someone over them to be their protector. Time and time again this week, the words have repeated that They shall be my people, and I YHWH will be their God.

Over and over, God invites us into relationship with Him. The call to holiness is constant….not because of moral duty, but because of a sincere desire on behalf of the LORD to be in relationship with us….and so that we can share in his joy and divine nature.

For us…..the Good Shepherd is none other than Christ himself. He is the one who lays down his life on our behalf, and brings us back when we are lost. For all our sheepish stupidity, we have the ability to hear the voice of God in our midst. May we always heed that call and follow Jesus wherever He might lead.

Evening Prayer: Feb. 5th

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Psalms: 23, 27
Gospel: Mark 9:14-29
I couldn’t find the specific excerpt for the Patristic Reading for tonight online

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)

OK so this verse right here is why I’ve always been confused as to why people love Psalm 23. I have never had the feeling of dining on a banquet right in front of my enemies. Has anyone else struggled with this????

Sorry I would have more…but I’m really curious as to what you think about this verse. It just sounds so cheesy! :S

Evening Prayer: 11th Day of Christmas

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Psalm: 72
Gospel: John 10:10-17
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from The Five Hundred Verses of St. Maximus the Confessor

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs awayโ€”and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice

Tonight I want to cover the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It might sound odd for someone for someone with an M. Div. to say….but I have always been somewhat perplexed and challenged by this depiction of God.

For one it reinforces the idea that the Son came into the world not to condemn the world….but to save it. Pretty straightforward stuff right???

But here’s the thing…..While I can believe that…..it’s very hard for me to deal with the implications of such an idea. When I come across people I consider immoral….or whom I don’t like very much…I want to see them punished…..and I want to see them punished now! ๐Ÿ˜›

When I say punished I don’t mean I want to see them put to death…..but it certainly wouldn’t hurt my ego to see the people I don’t like be publicly embarrased at some point….or to see them fail in some aspect of their lives.

But that’s not how Grace works…..God’s way is not our way. Grace is precisely those who don’t deserve anything receiving a Gift anyway. Of wrong-doing being forgiven rather than punished….

Grace is not about justice….Grace is about pure love. ๐Ÿ˜€

On the flip side of this Grace coin…I sometimes wonder whether it is really true??? Is it a reality??? or is it some myth people have made up to excuse the bad behaviour in our lives???

I have done some pretty horrible things in my life. I have caused physical, mental, and emotional damage to strangers, friends, family….and even against those whom I love more than life itself. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I think that’s where faith comes in. Faith is different than certainty. We aren’t asked by Jesus to know that He speaks the truth..only to believe it.

Faith in our relationships–both human and divine–means that there is an element of trust involved. While I don’t know that my sins have been forgiven….I trust that it is so. For my part, I also endeavour to follow Jesus’ teachings to the best of my ability.

If Grace has been extended to me–who definitely does not deserve it–who am I to judge the next person beside me…let alone someone who has done me harm???

This trust in God’s grace through Christ is the whole hope of the Church. We act together as a community of faith to follow the Shepherd as best we can…and to be open to the fact that even those outside of the fold are cared for and loved beyond all measure. +

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