Sunday, June 17, 2007

17/05/07 Feast of the Ascension


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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.


Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 93, 96; PM Psalm 34
Ecclus. 46:11-20; Rev. 15:1-8; Matt. 18:1-14

From Forward Day by Day:

Galatians 2:11-21. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

There's a man we secretly call "banana man" who visits the nearby nursing home every Monday morning. He brings a large bunch of bananas that he trims with his pocket knife so he can separate the fruit from the main stem and hand his gift to each of the residents. Although many have no appetite, the bananas are treasured and are displayed on the arms of recliners or in walker baskets. He presents his gift in a eucharistic gesture to those who are withdrawn as well as those who are responsive. His familiarity has become part of the trust that comes when one does not justify his actions but gives freely as God himself would give his own unmerited favor.

Paul wrote to the church at Galatia as his Magna Carta to the freedom God gives us. Works alone will not do the trick, he says. God gives through grace and seeks only one thing--our love. That love cannot be earned. Banana man knows his weekly visit is no more and no less than love. He knows about God's grace. "Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!"

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Osaka (Japan)

Speaking to the Soul:

Right practice

Daily Reading for June 17 • The Third Sunday after Pentecost

I am not suggesting that anyone learn more about world religions in order to subvert them. Sacred truth is a very deep well into which human beings have been lowering leaky buckets for millennia. The more we learn about what other traditions have fetched up, the more we learn about our own. It is helpful, for instance, since Jesus was a Jew, to know that Judaism has no doctrine of original sin, and that salvation is conceived of as life lived in obedience to Torah. Heaven and hell have never been very lively concepts for most Jews, who find the Christian focus on the world to come more than a little irrelevant. The point of human life on earth, as any son or daughter of Torah can tell you, is to assist God in the redeeming of this world now.

It is also helpful to know that most eastern religions have very little to say about God at all. The Buddha taught that theological speculation is about as useful as wondering what kind of arrow has struck you in the chest. You may measure it if you want to. You may develop theories about where it came from, who shot it, and what kind of wood it is made from, but all in all your time would be better spent deciding how you are going to remove it from your body. The focus is not on orthodoxy—right belief—but on orthopraxis—right practice—which strikes me as a refreshing alternative to the heresy trials that have plagued my own denomination in recent years. Sin, in Buddhist teaching, is ignorance about the true nature of reality, and salvation is a matter of removing the arrow, or waking up.

From Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation by Barbara Brown Taylor (Cowley Publications, 2000).
++++++++++ Reflections

Well and good if all things change, Lord God, provided we are rooted in you.
St John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love, 34.

Reading from the Desert Christians


Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Witnesses of Love

How do we know that we are infinitely loved by God when our immediate surroundings keep telling us that we'd better prove our right to exist?

The knowledge of being loved in an unconditional way, before the world presents us with its conditions, cannot come from books, lectures, television programs, or workshops. This spiritual knowledge comes from people who witness to God's love for us through their words and deeds. These people can be close to us but they can also live far away or may even have lived long ago. Their witness announces the truth of God's love and calls us to act in accordance with it.

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

Day Seventeen - The Second Way of Service - Study

"And this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3) True knowledge is knowledge of God. Tertiaries therefore give priority to devotional study of scripture as one of the chief means of attaining that knowledge of God which leads to eternal life.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

AT YOUR WORD, O Lord, the worlds were created, and by your word new life is given. Open now my ears that I may hear your special word spoken to me today. Amen.

- Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck
A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People

From page 78 of A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck. Copyright © 1990 by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Live In This Moment"

Allow the Lord, by his love and grace, to let you live in this moment. Right now. This moment is as perfect as it can be. And God’s call, the needs of the world, will make itself very apparent. Just respond to the need that presents itself right in front of you, today, tomorrow. I think many parents become very good and holy people because children literally demand love. You can’t legislate the times in which they can make demands on you. They literally pull life and death out of you and call you forth into a now that you would never have chosen or recognized as Christ.

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.

The believer and the unbeliever

When I hear that Christ was crucified I am filled with amazement at his love for us, but to the unbeliever this shows weakness. When I hear that Christ became a servant I am astonished at his solicitude for us, but to the unbeliever this is a disgrace. When I hear that Christ died I marvel at his power, since he was not conquered by death, but instead put an end to death. The unbeliever, however, sees Christ's death as a sign of helplessness.

The unbeliever regards the resurrection as pure fiction, but I accept the proven facts and venerate God's saving plan. In baptism the unbeliever sees only water, but I perceive not only what meets the eye, but also the purification of the soul by the Holy Spirit. The unbeliever thinks only the body is cleansed, but I believe that the soul also is made pure and holy, and I am reminded of the tomb, the resurrection, our sanctification, justification, redemption, adoption, and inheritance, of the kingdom of heaven and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I judge outward appearances not by what I see but by the eyes of the mind. When the body of Christ is mentioned, the words have one meaning for me, another for the unbeliever.

John Chrysostom

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


"Judge not, that ye be not judged." Matthew 7:1

Jesus says regarding judging - Don't. The average Christian is the most penetratingly critical individual. Criticism is a part of the ordinary faculty of man; but in the spiritual domain nothing is accomplished by criticism. The effect of criticism is a dividing up of the powers of the one criticized; the Holy Ghost is the only One in the true position to criticize, He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding. It is impossible to enter into communion with God when you are in a critical temper; it makes you hard and vindictive and cruel, and leaves you with the flattering unction that you are a superior person. Jesus says, as a disciple cultivate the uncritical temper. It is not done once and for all. Beware of anything that puts you in the superior person's place.

There is no getting away from the penetration of Jesus. If I see the mote in your eye, it means I have a beam in my own. Every wrong thing that I see in you, God locates in me. Every time I judge, I condemn myself (see Romans 2:17-20). Stop having a measuring rod for other people. There is always one fact more in every man's case about which we know nothing. The first thing God does is to give us a spiritual spring-cleaning; there is no possibility of pride left in a man after that. I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 13: How the Morning Office Is to Be Said on Weekdays

The Morning and Evening Offices
should never be allowed to pass
without the Superior saying the Lord's Prayer
in its place at the end
so that all may hear it,
on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up.
Thus those who hear it,
being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer
when they say, "Forgive us as we forgive,"
may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.

But at the other Offices
let the last part only of that prayer be said aloud,
so that all may answer, "But deliver us from evil.


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

Sunday, June 17, 2007 Fish, Wine, & Oil Tone
2 Martyrs of Persia
Kellia: Deuteronomy 28:1-14 Epistle: Romans 5:1-10
Gospel: St. Matthew 6:22-33

Blessings: Deuteronomy 28:1-14 LXX, especially vss. 1, 2: "And it shall
come to pass, if thou wilt indeed hear the voice of the Lord thy God, to
observe and do all these commands, which I charge thee this day, that
the Lord thy God shall set thee on high above all the nations of the
earth; and all these blessings shall come upon thee, and shall find
thee. If thou wilt indeed hear the voice of the Lord thy God." An
Orthodox Christian will recognize the blessings that Moses promises in
this passage. For what the great Prophet called blessings are the very
things for which we pray: "this city, and for every city and land,
healthful seasons, abundance of the fruits of the earth, peaceful time,
travelers, the sick, the suffering, captives, and deliverance from all
tribulation, wrath, danger and necessity."

God graciously blesses His servants, but He gives all good things
contingent upon our obedience. Thus, He is the sole Source of all
blessings that can be known, received, and enjoyed in the many aspects
of our lives. Hence, regularly, as each year begins, the Church
entreats our all-bountiful Lord and God to "Bless the crown of the new
year by Thy goodness. Bestow Thy good things from above upon all Thy
people, as also health, salvation and good furtherance in all things.
Deliver Thy holy Church, this city and all cities and countrysides from
every evil assault, and vouchsafe unto them peace and tranquility."

In light of these prayers, look carefully through all the words of the
Prophet Moses to see how he states the message repetitively. It is
common in all of Holy Scripture, returning us to the point at which we
began: God's blessings are contingent upon our obedience. Moses repeats
verbatim, in the first two verses quoted above, "if you will hear the
voice of the Lord your God." Then, in the closing verses of the
passage, he ends with the same message: "The Lord thy God [will] make
thee the head, and not the tail...if thou wilt hearken to the voice of
the Lord thy God, in all things that I charge thee...[and] not turn the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to
serve them." (vss. 13,14). And to not allow our remembrance to grow
cold, even in the middle verses Moses reiterates the same warning. We
are established only "if [we] keep the commandments of the Lord [our]
God, and walk in His ways" (vs. 9).

Next, in very colorful language, the Great Prophet speaks of the host of
ways in which we may discern God as the true and only Source of all
blessings. He sets His Church "high above all the nations" (vs. 1).
His blessings "come upon" us and "overtake" us (vs. 2). The Lord is the
Victor Who defeats our enemies (vs. 7). The Lord commands "the blessing
upon" us, as well as directly Himself providing all that we receive (vs.
8). When we are established as His holy People, it is the Lord Who
keeps the promise He swore to us (vs. 9). Who makes us "abound"? The
Lord does (vs. 11). Who opens His good treasure, the heaven, "to give
rain to thy land in season...[and] bless all the works of thy hands"?
The Lord does (vs. 12).

Yes, it is true, the Lord blesses the good and the evil, the just and
the unjust (Mt. 5:45). However, He particularly blesses those who obey
His commandments. Look at all the aspects of life in which He does
this: He blesses the Church to lead nations and peoples (Deut.
28:1,13). He blesses us in urban and rural life (vs. 3). He gives
fertility upon which our lives depend - to our bodies, our soil, our
livestock, the natural world (vss. 3,11), and in our economy (vs. 12).
When enemies assault, He rescues, despite even terrible repression (vs.
7), for the Church remains His Holy People (vs. 9) called by His Name
(vs. 10).

Thou art a merciful God and lovest mankind, and unto Thee we ascribe
glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever,
and unto ages of ages. Amen.



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