Saturday, May 19, 2007

19/05/07 Saturday in the week of the 6th Sunday in Easter


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Blessed are those for whom Easter is...
not a hunt, but a find;
not a greeting, but a proclamation;
not outward fashions, but inward grace;
not a day, but an eternity.


O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 87, 90; PM Psalm 136
Ezek. 3:4-17; Heb. 5:7-14; Luke 9:37-50

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 9:37-50. An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest.

I am always struck by the petty jealousies and missteps of the disciples, at their inability to understand what Jesus is doing or saying. I am grateful to "overhear" Jesus' response and sometimes his scoldings as these disciples seek to follow Jesus and end up getting it wrong.

The comfort comes in the realization that if those who were beside him at the beginning sometimes got it wrong, then I can forgive my own misunderstandings. When I catch myself hoping to be the best loved or the most important, I remember the disciples' rivalry and Jesus' response. He took a child, a nobody, one without power, who had no reason to hope for greatness, and proclaimed the little one to be important. He welcomes the nobody, the outcast. It is the powerless one who wins the heart of Jesus. And it is the welcome and hospitality of our own hearts to these beloved of God which is the measure of any greatness that might be ours. The disciples struggled to live that out. They challenge us to do the same.

Today we remember:

Dunstan of Canterbury:
Psalm 57:6-11 or 33:1-5,20-21
Ecclesiasticus 44:1-7; Matthew 24:42-47

O God of truth and beauty, who richly endowed your bishop Dunstan with skill in music and the working of metals, and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal: Teach us, we pray, to see in you the source of all our talents, and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship and the advancement of true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Almighty God, who raised up Dunstan to be a true shepherd of the flock, a restorer of monastic life and a faithful counsellor to those in authority: give to all pastors the same gifts of your Holy Spirit that they may be true servants of Christ and all his people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of the Northern Territory (Queensland, Australia)
++++++++++ Reflections

It is very important for us to realise that God does not lead us all by the same road…
St Teresa of Jesus
Way, 17.2

Reading from the Desert Christians

Amma Syncletica said, "We ought to govern our souls with discretion and to remain in the community, neither following our own will nor seeking our own good. We are like exiles: we have been separated from the things of this world and have given ourselves in one faith to the one Father. We need nothing of what we have left behind. There we had reputation and plenty to eat; here we have little to eat and little of everything else."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth) R. Jehudah ben Thema said, Be bold as a leopard, and swift as an eagle, and fleet as a hart, and strong as a lion, to do the will of thy Father which is in Heaven.


Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Unfinished Business of Forgiveness

What makes us cling to life even when it is time to "move on"? Is it our unfinished business? Sometimes we cling to life because we have not yet been able to say: "I forgive you, and I ask for your forgiveness." When we have forgiven those who have hurt us and asked forgiveness from those we have hurt, a new freedom emerges. It is the freedom to move on.

When Jesus was dying he prayed for those who had nailed him to the cross: "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). That prayer set him free to say, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46).

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

Day Nineteen - The Third Way of Service - Work

Jesus took on himself the form of a servant. He came not to be served, but to serve. He went about doing good: healing the sick, preaching good news to the poor, and binding up the broken hearted.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

AN ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL element of Christian community that is seldom discussed is a willingness to offer to others one’s true self rather than one’s contrived self. The greatest gift we can give to another is the authentic self.

- Rueben P. Job and Marjorie J. Thompson
Embracing the Journey

From page 59 of Companions in Christ, Embracing the Journey, Participant’s Book, Vol. 1, by Rueben P. Job and Marjorie J. Thompson. Copyright © 2001 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Leaven and Salt"

I hope that we will have the courage to stop rewarding and confirming people’s egos and calling morality, ministry and Church. I hope that we will have lower expectations of leadership and the institution and therefore less need to rebel against it or unnecessarily depend upon it. After all, as the poet Rilke put it, “There is no place on earth that isn’t looking for you. You must change your life.” The Church cannot make that happen. It can only announce its possibility and offer its Risen Life as leaven and salt. I always wonder why such a glorious power and privilege is not enough! It is more than I ever hoped for or will ever do! Many people are upset with the Church because they expected too much from it. More than anything else I hope that we will be a people who have entered into mercy and allow others to enter. I once saw God’s mercy as patient, benevolent tolerance, a form of forgiveness. Now it has become an understanding, a loving allowing, a willing “breaking of the rules” by the One who made the rule, a wink and a smile, a firm and joyful taking of the hand – while we clutch at our sins and gaze at God in desire and disbelief.

from “A Church Unashamed to Be Leaven and Salt”

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

Don't forget the presence of Christ

When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind; when your anger is roused, you are being tossed by the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperiled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune—shipwreck. Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence. Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him. Now what was your desire? You wanted to get your own back. You have forgotten that when Christ was being crucified he said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Christ, the sleeper in your heart, had no desire for vengeance in his. Rouse him, then, call him to mind.

Augustine of Hippo

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Romans 8:35

God does not keep a man immune from trouble; He says - "I will be with him in trouble." It does not matter what actual troubles in the most extreme form get hold of a man's life, not one of them can separate him from his relationship to God. We are "more than conquerors in all these things." Paul is not talking of imaginary things, but of things that are desperately actual; and he says we are super-victors in the midst of them, not by our ingenuity, or by our courage, or by anything other than the fact that not one of them affects our relationship to God in Jesus Christ. Rightly or wrongly, we are where we are, exactly in the condition we are in. I am sorry for the Christian who has not something in his circumstances he wishes was not there.

"Shall tribulation . . . ?" Tribulation is never a noble thing; but let tribulation be what it may - exhausting, galling, fatiguing, it is not able to separate us from the love of God. Never let cares or tribulations separate you from the fact that God loves you.

"Shall anguish . . . ?" - can God's love hold when everything says that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

"Shall famine . . . ?" - can we not only believe in the love of God but be more than conquerors, even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver and Paul is deluded, or some extraordinary thing happens to a man who holds on to the love of God when the odds are all against God's character. Logic is silenced in the face of every one of these things. Only one thing can account for it - the love of God in Christ Jesus. "Out of the wreck I rise" every time.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


LIFT up your heads: in life, in death,
God knoweth his head was high;
Quit we the coward's broken breath
Who watched a strong man die.

Oh, young ones of a darker day,
In Art's wan colours clad,
Whose very love and hate are grey --
Whose very sin is sad,

Pass on; one agony long drawn
Was merrier than your mirth,
When hand-in-hand came death and dawn
And spring was on the earth.

'To Them that Mourn.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 4: What Are the Instruments of Good Works

1. In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength.
2. Then, one's neighbor as oneself.
3. Then not to murder.
4. Not to commit adultery.
5. Not to steal.
6. Not to covet.
7. Not to bear false witness.
8. To honor all (1 Peter 2:17).
9. And not to do to another what one would not have done to oneself.
10. To deny oneself in order to follow Christ.
11. To chastise the body.
12. Not to become attached to pleasures.
13. To love fasting.
14. To relieve the poor.
15. To clothe the naked.
16. To visit the sick.
17. To bury the dead.
18. To help in trouble.
19. To console the sorrowing.
20. To become a stranger to the world's ways.
21. To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.


At first glance, of course, this opening paragraph on the instruments of the spiritual art seems to be a relatively standard and basic reference to a biblical description of the holy life. And that seems sound. The trouble is that it also seems strange.

The surprise is that Benedict does not call us first to prayer or sacrifice or devotions or asceticisms. This is, after all, a contemplative lifestyle. It is at the same time, however, a communal lifestyle for "that most valiant kind of monastic heart," who sets out to find the holy in the human. The call to contemplation here is the call not simply to see Christ in the other but to treat the other as Christ. Benedict calls us first to justice: love God, love the other, do no harm to anyone.

Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ (Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23); discipline your body (1 Cor 9:27);" do not pamper yourself, but love fasting. You must relieve the lot of the poor, "clothe the naked, visit the sick (Mt 25: 36)," and bury the dead. Go to help the troubled and console the sorrowing.

First, Benedict instructs the monastic to keep the commandments. Then, in this next paragraph, the Rule requires the keeping of the corporal works of mercy. Benedictine monasticism is, apparently, not an escape from life. This spirituality is life lived with an eye on those for whom life is a terrible burden. "Do not pamper yourself," the Rule insists. "Relieve the lot of the poor."

The monastic heart is not just to be a good heart. The monastic heart is to be good for something. It is to be engaged in the great Christian enterprise of acting for others in the place of God.


Dynamis is a daily Bible meditation based upon the lectionary of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Sat., May 19, 2007 Afterfeast of Ascension
Grand Prince Dimitry Donskoy of Moscow
2nd Vespers Holy Fathers: Deuteronomy 1:8-11,
Apostle: Acts 20:7-12 Gospel: St. John 14:10-21

Judge Righteously: Deuteronomy 1:8-11, 15-17 LXX, especially vs. 16:
"And I charged your judges at that time, Hear the cases between your
brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the
stranger that is with him." We speak of a Judeo-Christian tradition,
for the concept illumines the great consistency of God's revelation to
His People over the course of history. Thus, the command of the Holy
Prophet Moses quoted above has applied in the courts of ancient Israel,
the Councils of the Church, and the judicial proceedings of Orthodox
Christian nations. In fact, the Prophet's charge lays down what God
expects of any finding called just.

Whatever travesties men may make of right judgment - to distort it to
their personal favor, to conform decisions to popular ideological
inventions, or to bend findings to benefit the powerful or wealthy - God
sees and condemns all such as aberrations. The fact is that, from a
Judeo-Christian perspective, all courts in all lands are themselves
judged under this Mosaic command, for the great Seer gave to God's
People truth for all peoples at all times in all places.

Therefore, we should not at all be surprised to find the Teaching of the
Twelve Apostles charging the Faithful: "Do not cause division, but make
peace between disputants. Judge justly. Do not show partiality in
reproving transgressions. Do not be of two minds whether or not
something should be." Nor should we be surprised, as we celebrate the
Feast of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, to see that
their deliberations exactly fit the Prophet's charge.

First of all, great Moses enlarged the command to judge righteously by
stating the truth both negatively and positively, as well as by
applying it specifically: "You shall not be partial in judgment, you
shall hear the small and the great alike" (vs. 17). This rule the First
Ecumenical Council followed in the case of hearing the Priest Arius of

As a Priest serving the large and wealthy parish of Baucalis in
Alexandria, Arius' views concerning the Person of Christ drew much
interest and support. In an open discussion of his views in the
Clericus of Alexandria, he and his Bishop could openly disagree. Local
Councils were called in support of both sides. Then the matter was
taken to the first of the Ecumenical or general Councils of the Church
sponsored by the Emperor Constantine at Nicaea. Arius was given his day
in court, until finally his views were roundly condemned by the majority
of the assembled Holy Fathers. They strove to act impartially in
resolving what began as a matter between a Priest and his Bishop, the
small and the great in the Church being given equal hearing.

Likewise, despite strong support from many throughout the Church for
Arius' views, including the popular Bishops of three influential
dioceses (Nicomedia, Nicaea, and Chalcedon), the Holy Fathers of the
First Council did "not shrink from before the person of a man, for the
judgment is God's" (vs. 17). They sought to be faithful to the truth of
Divine revelation as they had received it, for the very life-giving and
saving truth of God was at stake. For this reason, only after no other
phrases of Holy Scripture could be found did they utilize the
non-Biblical word homousion, of one essence, to express the relation of
God the Father and God the Son.

Nicaea itself was the final court of appeal, for numerous Councils had
been held in the East and West, as well as within the jurisdiction of
the See of Alexandria. When the "matter [was] too hard" (vs. 17) for
the regional Councils to settle definitively, appeal was necessary, as
Moses charged, to "wise and understanding and prudent men" (vs. 15) of
the tribes. Appeal was made to him as the higher authority (vs. 17).
In the Church it required an Ecumenical Council.

Ye have given all, O thrice-blessed Fathers, to know the Trinity
clearly, He being the Cause of the creation of the world, for ye have
appeared as champions of the Orthodox word.

Almost Daily eMo

A Time and a Place for Everything

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 16:25

Well, I suppose the other prisoners were listening, whether they wanted to or not. If Paul and Silas were singing and praying at midnight, for heaven's sake, it would be hard to block it out. If one wanted to, say, sleep.

As amazing a man as St. Paul was -- who could fault his devotion to his cause? -- there were times when he had a tin ear for other people's needs and concerns, and this sounds like one of them. There is a time and a place for everything. Your message of love, peace and righteousness may be the gospel truth, and you may be its most sincere bearer in the history of Christendom, but that doesn't absolve you of the responsibility for sensitivity to the reality of the one who will hear you.

Evangelism, after all, is not just about the evangelist. Preaching is not about the preacher, even if it makes good use of a story from the preacher's own life. The most autobiographical of essays isn't really about the writer, in the end. Rather, all these communicative acts are about the one to whom they are communicated. They stand or fall in accordance with how they are received, not how they are transmitted.

Odd -- we must find a way to get out of the way, even of our own story, before it can do anyone else any good. Unless it can connect with the story of the one to whom we tell it, it is a narcissistic look-at-me project that will edify no one.

I witnessed to her for more than two hours, more than one budding evangelist has told me proudly. Oh, the poor thing, I say to myself, thinking of his captive audience. The fact that someone is looking at you and nodding doesn't necessarily mean she's absorbing your message hungrily -- impaled on her own politeness, she may just be unable to get a word in edgewise.

So, leader, enjoy yourself, and do not hesitate to show yourself, as an evangelist, as a singer or a lector or a leader of prayer, as a sister or a brother. But never let your worship of God in community be solely a matter of your own enjoyment or your own struggles. In the moment that occurs, you have ceased to lead.


And here is the ERD meditation:

Waters of Death, Water of Life

Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
Revelation 22:17

Flooding? In Kansas?

Even a creek can become deadly very quickly if conditions go wrong -- and they did last week. Almost the entire town of Greenburg was leveled by a tornado. 10 people died, and the storm triggered flooding throughout the state.

As daunting a thing as finding immediate help in the midst of such a horror is, it isn't as big a challenge as securing help for the long-term rebuilding of a devastated community. Episcopal Relief and Development's newly formed Long Term Recovery Committee will work with the two Episcopal Dioceses involved, Kansas and Western Kansas, to provide information and help for disaster victims during the recovery process and important aid for communities that do not qualify for assistance from the federal government.

The water of life can become the chaotic waters of death a matter of seconds. It can take years to recover from a few terrible moments. But Jesus used the image of the water of life to mean many things besides drinking water: for us, it is also the unending love of God, coursing like a mighty river through the joys and sorrows of human history, never destructive, always life-giving -- sanctifying and healing everything in its path.

To learn more about ERD, or to make a donation, visit or telephone 1-80-334-7626, ext 5129.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Crafton -


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