Evening Prayer: Eve of the Transfiguration of the Lord

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Psalm: 84
Old Testament: 1 Kings 19:1-12
New Testament: 2 Cor 3:1-9;18

The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, ‘Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.’ He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:7-8)

When most people read this passage from Kings, the focus is usually on the fact that God is present in the silence. That is all well and good…and an important excerpt for understanding God…but I find myself drawn to the angel’s words.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I place a big emphasis on santification and theosis in my writing and preaching.

But where do we get the strength to be transformed? Who gives us the insights to change our lives inside out and upside down? The angel reminds us tonight that all of these things come from God Himself.

Nothing we ever do comes strictly from our own efforts….but with the help and love of the One who made us so that:

All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18a)

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast on which we see Christ as He truly is….I pray that God will remove the scales from our eyes…..to lift the veils of our own bias and ignorance…of our laziness and apathy….so that we can travel up the mountain to be see God’s glory in all creation; and make our way back down to bring that vision and life to those who are in darkness and lost in despair.

Praise to the Holy Trinity who gives us everything we need :). Amen, Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: 4th Sunday of Epiphany

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Psalm: 8, 84
Gospel: John 7:14-31
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,*
and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas. (Psalm 84:6-8)

I honestly can’t read this Scripture passage without this song going on in my head:

As stewards of creation and as the only species with the ability to manipulate our environment at will, human beings are given a gift beyond even the angels. To become sons and daughters of God.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, I know I have used that language of adoption as children almost ad nauseum.

The reason for that is because I tend to follow the strain of theology which says that our whole life is a journey towards imitation of God, of living into our true nature, which is ultimately reflections of Jesus Christ himself.

This emphasis on theosis (or of gradually being made holy) is much more popular in Eastern Orthodox theology. For them, the choice to follow Jesus is a personal commitment to becoming continually better.

In the Western church–especially in light of the Protestant Reformation–the focus of attention shifted to the idea of total depravity and the attitude that (no matter what) there is nothing we can ever do right…and we are utterly dependent on God.

While dependence on God is still very much a part of Orthodoxy, it is never at the expense of free will. After all, the very fact that Christ has come into the world and gave us new life through the Cross and empty tomb means that we are not simply a redeemed people……but entirely new creatures ….free to choose to follow God, or to turn our back on Him.

I pray that as we journey forward with Christ, we use our free will not to forge blades and bring our brother down….but to build bridges and ladders that foster reconciliation….and an ever-forward movement to the one we call Our Father ❤ +

Morning Prayer: Mon. of Advent 3

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Psalm(s): 41 , 52
Old Testament: Isaiah 8:16-9:1
New Testament: 2 Peter 1:1-11

What does it mean to be called and chosen in Christ? Is it simply a means to have our sin removed and to gain entry into heaven? Is it the simple confession that Jesus is your personal Lord and Saviour? Are we really the only faith that can lead to eternal salvation?

St. Peter gives us a pretty good indication this morning of what a follower of Jesus is called to be:

….make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

In baptism, we become not only members of a faith community but partakers in the divine nature of God.

As good Protestants, we don’t often think of ourselves as partaking in the divine nature. We concentrate instead on our own sinfulness, and the absolute deprivation of the flesh.

Very rarely do we think we have the potential to become true saints.

For Peter, Paul, and the other New Testament writers however, increasing in holiness was one of the main foci of their letters and Gospel accounts.

The early Christian movement inherited from its Jewish roots the notions of Divine election and the call from God to be holy as He is holy. .

The Christian was called to put away the old self, and to dawn the new. To cast away sin and to put on Christ.

This transformation, this theosis is an ongoing process that lasts for our entire lives.

It is a collaborative activity between the Holy Spirit and the individual will.

I spoke a few days ago about God’s love for human choice, and the same holds true here. The Holy Spirit can move us all He want….but unless we give our assent to that movement, we will not be transformed completely.

I hate using the “spiritual journey” catchphrase for this blog, because it was thrown around so much in seminary and CPE…..but theosis is exactly that. A journey and movement towards God. An eagerness to see Him face to face, and not to be afraid of the promise in baptism that we have been cleasned of our old selves, and marked as Christ’s own forever. +

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