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. + 🙂

Morning Prayer: April 5th

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Psalm: 97, 99
Old Testament: Jeremiah 17:19-27
New Testament: Romans 7:13-25

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 8:21-25)

I recently listened to a sermon that made a very important point about Scripture. Oftentimes, we assume that we are reading and interpreting the Word of God…without realizing that sometimes, the Word reads and interprets us.

Here in Romans, Paul talks about his will to do the right thing. His mind and heart are in the right place, but the power of sin and the flesh force him to do something different.

While this could be seen as an excuse to behave badly….but I don’t think that’s what is being pointed to here. Rather, I would say that the Apostle to the Gentiles shows his incredible humanity.

There are many times in my life when I have started to do something with the best of intentions…only to fall flat on my ass. 😦

My own greed and want for attention and love always mitigates how fully I can love others. My desire to get ahead always overshadows my concern for those who are less fortunate. I am held back by sin.

We need someone to rescue us. We need someone to point us in the right direction, and we need someone to clear our vision. Save us Lord, for your mercy is great. +

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 ❤ +

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