Wednesday, May 30, 2007

30/05/07 Wednesday after Pentecost


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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.


Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

or this

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 38; PM Psalm 119:25-48
Deut. 4:25-31; 2 Cor. 1:23-2:17; Luke 15:1-2,11-32

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 15:1-2, 11-32. Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.

Sometimes I would like to be the "prodigal daughter." I envision the coming home moment of the younger son and imagine the pain of the past washed away. Reconciliation and return are the sweet fruit of returning from the land of self-centered grief.

My own life actually is more that of the elder son. Slogging away as the responsible one, it sometimes seemed as if those around me were having all the fun and freedom. I failed to see the despair of the younger brother, the search for identity, the transformation required for his return. But most of all I failed to see the constant generosity of the father in the story or the rich blessings of my own life.

The father was not just generous to the returning son, but to the elder as well who just couldn't see that the father's love and care were part of his everyday life. Opening our eyes to the ever-present gifts of life, to the blessings of each day is sometimes a challenge. But when we meet it, our hearts are open to the constant love which surrounds us

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Offa (Prov. of Ibadan, Nigeria)
++++++++++ Reflections

Take God for your bridegroom and friend, and walk with him continually; and you will not sin and will learn to love, and the things you must do will work out prosperously for you.
St John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love, 68.

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba Isidore said, "If you fast regularly, do not be inflated with pride; if you think highly of yourself because of it, then you had better eat meat. It is better for a man to eat meat than to be inflated with pride and glorify himself."

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Pirqe Aboth)

Whatsoever the Holy One, blessed is He, created in his world, he created not but for his glory, for it is said, Every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him (Is. xliii. 7); and it saith, The Lord shall reign for ever and ever (Ex. xv. 18).

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)
Jesus Is a Peacemaker

Jesus, the Blessed Child of the Father, is a peacemaker. His peace doesn't mean only absence of war. It is not simply harmony or equilibrium. His peace is the fullness of well-being, gratuitously given by God. Jesus says, "Peace I leave to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you" (John 14:27).

Peace is Shalom --- well-being of mind, heart, and body, individually and communally. It can exist in the midst of a war-torn world, even in the midst of unresolved problems and increasing human conflicts. Jesus made that peace by giving his life for his brothers and sisters. This is no easy peace, but it is everlasting and it comes from God. Are we willing to give our lives in the service of peace?

Weekly Reflection
On the Journey Towards Becoming More Gentle
written by RITA O'CONNOR
Gentle is not the first word people use when they describe me. I'm not even sure it is the tenth word. I work as a supply teacher, and my class control methods on more than one occasion have prompted the students to salute me. I do know I'm on the journey toward gentleness.

I've learned that being gentle means being aware of the other person. I am gentle with babies: holding them close and speaking to them sweetly. I am gentle with toddlers, keeping a distance and asking, "May I help you with that?" I was gentle with each of my parents in their last illnesses. Sick people, at least these two, abhor loud noises and "fuss." So with them I was a softer-spoken, slower-moving person.

Somehow for me gentleness links to reverence. Some years ago a family friend began to speak of the day she found her husband, who had died by suicide. I listened. Not asking a question, not making a comment. I can recall other moments of reverent listening as well.

I move fast and talk fast and loud, so if you look up gentle in a dictionary you won't find my picture. But. I'm on the journey.

RITA O'CONNOR is a single, middle aged teacher living in Richmond Hill, Ontario. She is a staunch Roman Catholic and attends a United Church. She has been an assistant at L'Arche Daybreak and remains a friend of the community.

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

Day Thirty - The Three Notes

The humility, love and joy which mark the lives of Tertiaries are all God given graces. They can never be obtained by human effort. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Christ is to work miracles through people who are willing to be emptied of self and to surrender to him. We then become channels of grace through whom his mighty work is done.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT thing I can say about the Holy Spirit? Power? Tongues? Gifts? No. Fellowship! Yes, fellowship is the deepest work of God’s Spirit. The Spirit of God is drawing us all of the time into a common life with one another. That is the central work of God’s Spirit — creating community.

- Trevor Hudson and Stephen D. Bryant
The Way of Transforming Discipleship

From page 71 of The Way of Transforming Discipleship by Trevor Hudson and Stephen D. Bryant. Copyright © 2005 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Don’t Save Your Soul"

We prostituted Christianity when we told our people they had to “save their souls.” That attitude often affirmed the ego “spiritually,” which is very dangerous and deceptive. We called it the journey into holiness, but it was often disguised and denied self-interest. Saving one’s soul and falling in love with God are two very different journeys. Because we told our people to save their souls, they got into spiritual consumerism, gathering sacraments, holy works, ascetical practices-all affirming the false self. Now we’ve got these big Christian egos walking around, who are very self-protective, satisfied and conservative in the wrong way. Conversion is not on their agenda. Every preacher or teacher knows what I’m talking about. An unhealthy conservatism is incapable of exodus, of risk, of passion, and, therefore, perhaps incapable of living God.

from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

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

A love from human partiality

Love unites us to God; it cancels innumerable sins, has no limits to its endurance, bears everything patiently. Love is neither servile nor arrogant. It does not provoke schisms or form cliques, but always acts in harmony with others. By it all God's chosen ones have been sanctified; without it, it is impossible to please him. Out of love the Lord took us to himself; because he loved us and it was God's will, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his life's blood for us—he gave his body for our body, his soul for our soul.

See then, beloved, what a great and wonderful thing love is, and how inexpressible its perfection. Who are worthy to possess it unless God makes them so? To God therefore we must turn, begging of his mercy that there may be found in us a love free from human partiality and beyond reproach. Every generation from Adam's time to ours has passed away; but those who by God's grace were made perfect in love have a dwelling now among the saints, and when at last the kingdom of Christ appears, they will be revealed.

Happy are we, beloved, if love enables us to live in harmony and in the observance of God's commandments, for then it will also gain for us the remission of our sins.

Clement of Rome

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

"YES - BUT . . . !"

"Lord, I will follow Thee; but . . ." Luke 9:61

Supposing God tells you to do something which is an enormous test to your common sense, what are you going to do? Hang back? If you get into the habit of doing a thing in the physical domain, you will do it every time until you break the habit determinedly; and the same is true spiritually. Again and again you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants, and every time you will turn back when it comes to the point, until you abandon resolutely. "Yes, but - supposing I do obey God in this matter, what about . . . ?" "Yes, I will obey God if He will let me use my common sense, but don't ask me to take a step in the dark." Jesus Christ demands of the man who trusts Him the same reckless sporting spirit that the natural man exhibits. If a man is going to do anything worth while, there are times when he has to risk everything on his leap, and in the spiritual domain Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what He says, and immediately you do, you find that what He says fits on as solidly as common sense. At the bar of common sense Jesus Christ's statements may seem mad; but bring them to the bar of faith, and you begin to find with awestruck spirit that they are the words of God. Trust entirely in God, and when He brings you to the venture, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis, only one out of a crowd is daring enough to bank his faith in the character of God.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


JOAN of Arc was not stuck at the Cross Roads either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path and went down it like a thunderbolt. Yet Joan, when I come to think of her, had in her all that was true either in Tolstoy or Nietzsche -- all that was even tolerable in eitber of them. I thought of all that is noble in Tolstoy: the pleasure in plain things, especially in plain pity, the actualities of the earth, the reverence for the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that, and with this great addition: that she endured poverty while she admired it, whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that and, again, with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche for all we know was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other. Yet she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 7: On Humility

We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires,
for death lies close by the gate of pleasure.
Hence the Scripture gives this command:
"Go not after your concupiscences" (Eccles. 18:30).

So therefore,
since the eyes of the Lord observe the good and the evil (Prov. 15:3)
and the Lord is always looking down from heaven
on the children of earth
"to see if there be anyone who understands and seeks God" (Ps. 13:2),
and since our deeds are daily,
day and night,
reported to the Lord by the Angels assigned to us,
we must constantly beware, brethren,
as the Prophet says in the Psalm,
lest at any time God see us falling into evil ways
and becoming unprofitable (Ps. 13:3);
and lest, having spared us for the present
because in His kindness He awaits our reformation,
He say to us in the future,
"These things you did, and I held My peace" (Ps. 49:21).


The God-life, Benedict is telling us, is a never-ending, unremitting, totally absorbing enterprise. God is intent on it; so must we be. The Hebrew poet, Moses Ibn Ezra, writes: "Those who persist in knocking will succeed in entering." Benedict thinks no less. It is not perfection that leads us to God; it is perseverance.


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

Isaac, Founder of the Dalmaton Monastery in Constantinople
Kellia: Deuteronomy 8:1-10 Epistle: Romans 1:18-27
Gospel: St. Matthew 5:20-26

Expect Only Good From God: Deuteronomy 8:1-10, especially vs. 3: “And He
afflicted thee and straitened thee with hunger, and fed thee with manna,
which thy fathers knew not; that He might teach thee that man shall not
live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of
God shall man live.” Dionysios the Areopagite, reflecting on the nature
of God, says, “'Tis the whole Being of the Supernal Godhead (saith the
Scripture) that the Absolute Goodness hath defined and revealed. For in
what other sense may we take the words of Holy Writ when it tells us how
the Godhead spake concerning Himself, and said: ‘Why asketh thou Me
concerning the good? None is good save One, that is, God [Mk. 10:18].’”
Let us then expect only the good from God; at the same time, let us also
understand that it is He Who defines the good even as He gives what is
the best for us.

In this passage from Deuteronomy, the Prophet Moses reveals four things
the People of God may expect from the Lord: 1) He will humble us, 2) He
will test us, 3) He will discipline us, and 4) He will bring us “into a
good land” (vs. 7). Moses further reminds us that God gives us these
good things with a desire to evoke right thinking and wholesome actions
from us.

The successful man of the world may object to the Prophet’s proposal
that humbling is one of God’s good gifts to His Beloved. Yes, there is a
painful, bitter side to being humbled, but notice what Moses reveals as
God’s purpose in humbling us: “to know what was in [our] heart” (vs. 2).
So that God might know? Not at all, for the Lord already knows what is
in a man’s heart (Jn. 2:25). Rather, the Lord humbles us that we might
discover what is in our heart, that we might face whether we are
inclined to keep His commandments, and that, with this knowledge, we
might cleanse everything from our heart that is not worthy of us or our

God tests us also, Moses says (Deut. 8:2), and the Prophet closely
associates God’s testing of His People with His humbling of us. God does
test and humble us, not only that we should discern what is going on in
our hearts, but also to learn that “man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God shall man live”
(vs. 3).

God tested ancient Israel by leading them into a desert largely devoid
of resources for food and shelter. In the stark barrenness of Sinai, the
Lord provided an unexpected food, called manna, a source of nourishment
they had not experienced before. Furthermore, He took care that their
clothing did not wear out (vss. 3,4).

Testing and humbling are Divinely provided educational experiences that
rouse our hearts to utter dependence on God and heighten the acuity of
our spiritual ears so that we become attentive to the word of God in
every situation, in every temptation (Mt. 4:3,4), and in all choices and
decisions (1 Kngs. 3:9).

We may also expect discipline from the Lord that we may grow in the
capacity to walk in His ways and fear Him (Deut. 8:6). Even when
discipline is experienced as punishment, so long as it is received from
the hand of the Lord, not in bitterness or anger toward Him, it can
guide us through the “narrow gate” and onto that “difficult...way which
leads to life” (Mt. 7:13).

Finally, God’s humbling, testing, and disciplining have the great value
of awakening us to the truth that He is bringing [us] into a “good land”
(Deut. 8:7). For ancient Israel, Moses spelled out the evidence of the
goodness of the Promised Land, that they might remember (as we also
should) “to bless the Lord [our] God for the good land He has given
[us]” (vs. 10). In Christ, we expect a “good land” that is “not of this
world,” but a Kingdom rich in life, both now and ever.

“Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name: Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Mt. 6:9-10).



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