Evening Prayer: Feast of St. James (Combo Post)

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Psalm: 34, 33
Old Testament: Jeremiah 16:14-21; Jeremiah 26:1-15
Gospel(s): Mark 1:14-20; Matthew 10:16-32

     St. James Led to Martyrdom, c.1722-3 by Piazzetta, or Piazetta, Giambattista

[About the time Paul and Barnabas were sent out from Jerusalem] King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. (Acts 12:1-2)

Today we remember the first of the 12 apostles to be martyred. Tonight’s post boils down to a simple point and a single question:

Contrary to our North American bubble and sensibilities, I’m here to tell you that martyrs still exist

Would you die for Jesus?

Evening Prayer: Eve of Trinity Sunday

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Psalm: 104
Old Testament: Sirach 42:15-25
New Testament: Ephesians 3:14-21

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19-20)

Man after reading words like that, St. Paul is a tough act to follow. :P.

Apologies for not posting this morning……I was even tempted to skip tonight……but ’tis a Feast day and I think a pretty important one to cover…At least when I neglected an Ascension Day, I had a relatively good excuse with the conference going on…but no such loophole exists for me tonight lol 😛

In the Western Church, Trinity Sunday is a moveable feast that always falls on the first Sunday of Pentecost. It celebrates the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

More specifically we celebrate the doctrines of uniqueness of the Three Persons, the One substance whereof they are made…..and a handful of other statements from the Ecumenical Councils of the Early Church

For those who came to the blog hoping for a succinct definition of the Trinity….I’m afraid to say that you will be disappointed. I try and not get bogged down with the specifics of God. I will put on record though the way that I understand the Trinity at this particular point and time.

For me, it’s helpful to think of the Three Persons in light of the role that they fulfill. Just as I–a lowly mortal–can be a student, a middle-class worker, a significant other, &c. without my “Matthew Arguin-ness” being diminished in any sense; I think that’s how it works with God.

In the first instance you have:

God the Father who is the primary mover and shaker. The one whose will is both emulated and enacted by the other two Persons. It is in God the Father we have our initial identity as created beings

Then we have:

God the Son Who finds his identity as God’s eternal Word…through which all things are made. In a great act of love, that Word became incarnate of the Virgin Mary…and it is through Jesus’ death and resurrection, humanity finds its new identity as a redeemed and new creation

And finally:

God the Spirit-who is our Advocate and Guide. Who allows our hearts and minds to be illuminated by God our Creator and his Eternal Word. It is in this communion with the Spirit that we embrace our identity not only as redeemed and new creatures…..but creatures who are a work in progress. Slowly moving towards Holiness and Love.

Each of these three cannot exist without the other, and they all proceed from one Source while having various characteristics and functions.

It is not only static doctrines we rejoice over tonight……but the dynamic way that God has chosen to reveal himself to the world. 🙂 +

Morning Prayer: June 9th

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Psalm: 105:1-22
Old Testament: Ezekiel 18:1-4;19-32
New Testament: Hebrews 7:18-28

‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own. (Ezekiel 18:19-20)

It may not seem like it on first read….but this prophetic shift in Ezekiel is HUGE . When the law of YHWH was revealed at Sinai, it was made explicitly clear that sin is a generational burden.. Of course the opposite was true as well……righteousness also extended to children…but the idea was that everyone was responsible for the whole well-being of the community.

Now…God declares through Ezekiel that the old ways are gone. God has now decided that each individual is only responsible for him or herself.

In an amazing declaration, God declares that the wicked who repent will no longer have their sins remembered….that they will be washed clean indeed. Through the power of Grace and Love, there is no point where we are beyond redemption. Alleluia! Alleluia!

If you get a chance in the next little bit, why not gather with a priest and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation? It gives us a chance to confess to God our sins…those times when we have missed the mark, and to gain encouragement from a fellow brother or sister in Christ to continue striving to live fully in the Lord.

More than that, we are given absolution. reminded that Jesus came to save us, and rejoices over one sinner who returns than 100 righteous ones. I for one, place hope in that promise. 🙂

Each day, we are given the chance to embrace our hearts of flesh…..and to remember that through Christ….all sins are forgiven, and we are loved beyond all telling.

My dear readers…..my brothers and sisters…go in peace and pray for me, a sinner + ❤

Evening Prayer: Easter Monday

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Psalm: 66
Gospel: John 14:1-14
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from an Easter homily of St. Miletus of Sardis

Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know* my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him. (John 14:5-7)

In listening to the podcast over at Workingpreacher.org, the commentators made an excellent point. Unlike the synoptic tradition, John’s Christ is utterly confident. The Fourth Evangelist never sees the Cross as a tragedy, but rather as the ultimate moment of exaltation.

Christ’s death is by no means a humiliation, but rather the means by which he returns to the Father, and reclaims his place as the one who was with God from the very beginning.

More than that, he goes to prepare a place for his disciples.

I’ve spoken before about my own sense of discomfort when it comes to Christian exclusivity, but I think that the quote read in the wider context of John makes a lot more sense.

Coming to the Father through Jesus has less to do with one’s personal salvation status thanit does for seeing Christ as and for what he truly is.

If we believe that Jesus is indeed the Word who was with God and was God….there is no way that we could be led astray.

We can only be led to the foot of the cross, and the open door of the empty tomb….to the ever open arms of our Father in heaven who loves us beyond all measure.

That my friends is good news. Alleluia! +

Morning Prayer: April 6th

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Psalms: 101, 109
Old Testament: Jeremiah 18:1-11
New Testament: Romans 8:1-11

Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings (Jeremiah 18:11)

Translation???

This is most definitely a judgment oracle, but it also comes with a possible solution….to repent and turn from our ways.

One of the great things about the clay and potter analogy is that it recognizes how fragile our life really is. Our choices and life experiences mold and shape us into something that is either beautiful or warped….

I pray that as we move through these last days of Lent, we take care to examine our conscience and to ask God to help us correct the ways in which we are straying from him.

Instead of seeking to break the mold and do our own thing…..let us ask to be fashioned in the likeness of the Son of God, and to be living icons of Christ Jesus for the world. + 🙂

Evening Prayer: March 17th

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Psalms: 19, 46
Gospel: John 3:16-21
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Confessions of St. Patrick

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Well there it is…..the infamous John 3:16 has finally made an appearance in the Office this year. :)….

No doubt you have seen signs at protests, football games, and rallies that bear this verse……and yet….what does it mean?

Over the years, John 3:16 has been used for so many different purposes by the “evangelical” community. (Not to mention being a significant marketing tool for a WWE superstar)

I put evangelical in quotation marks not because I want to mock conservative right-wingers, but rather because all Christians are called to evangelize and spread the Good News of Christ.

That effort to spread the Gospel is part of the reason you see this bible verse prominently displayed at many big events. It cuts right to the heart of the message. Above all else, we are to believe that Jesus came to save us….nothing else matters.

I don’t mean that our outward physical behaviour doesn’t matter… it does…..a great deal :)…..but without faith in Christ, there is no reason to act…….there is no reason to be moral…..there is no reason to suspect that we are actually sinners in desperate need of redemption.

Without belief in Christ, all we are left with are the limits of human intelligence and benevolence. Forgive my cynicism here……but from what I have seen human intelligence and sense of compassion…..they don’t extend too far. Many times we are caught up in our needs and wants…..out of our pursuit of profit….and by a drive towards success.

John 3:16 has been used by many Christians to demonize those whom they consider unconverted heathen….oftentimes forgetting the follow-up line that Christ came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

While our God is a God of judgment, he also wills that all creation should be saved……or at least, that we should be given a choice. Our job is not to force that choice down people’s throats….but rather to invite them into relationship with the One who died and rose for all of us…..and did so out of love. +

Morning Prayer: March 15th

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Psalm: 45
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 9:4-12
New Testament: Hebrews 3:1-11

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s* house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God’s* house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm* the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. (Hebrews 3:5-6)

In a rare instance, we actually have a direct connection between the OT and NT readings for the Daily Office today. The scripture passage from Deuteronomy recounts all of the bad things Israel did while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the law…….and at the end of the Hebrews selection we have a warning not to be like those who turned their backs on God.

In the middle, we have an interesting comparison between Moses and Jesus. Both are held up as paragons of virtue, but in fundamentally different ways. Moses was a faithful servant, while Christ is a son.

This points to an important comparison that is popular not just with Paul, but with Early Church Fathers. They were always looking at the Old Testament as a sign-post for the New. For example, Eusebius sees Joshua as a forerunner of Jesus because their Hebrew name (yeshua) is the same. The living water that bursts forth from the rock is seen as a forerunner of the water that runs from Jesus’ side on the cross.

As a modern scholar of the Bible, it is hard for me to take this approach seriously……but it is part of our heritage in the Christian family. While the parallels might be weak……. two things stand out in my mind:

a) Even if they are false, some of the theological precepts that develop around them are amazing. Early Church thought should not be discounted simply because it is antiquated

b) Since the Bible is God’s Word, it is meant to be read as a whole…at least in the context of a faith community. Additionally, no individual ever has a definitive reading of Scripture. Who am I to say that the OT doesn’t point to NT? I can certainly have my own opinions….and rely on the interpretation and tradition of the Church….but it is not outside the realm of possibility that the two are compatible. +

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