Monday, June 18, 2007

18/06/07 Monday in the week of the 3rd Sunbday 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.


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 80; PM Psalm 77, [79]
1 Samuel 1:1-20; Acts 1:1-14; Luke 20:9-19

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 80. Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven; behold and tend this vine; preserve what your right hand has planted.

Our well-tended garden was once destroyed by neighborhood children in a thoughtless act. At first we thought deer had trampled the rows of corn and tomatoes, so severe was the destruction. Yet it was children, our dear neighbors. The psalmist speaks of the children of Israel who are God's chosen people, a vine which is trampled as though by a wild boar.

It is hard to be a child and resist the spontaneous urges of youth. It is even harder to resist the influence of friends who lead one astray. Maturity comes after much nurturing by parents and friends, not by the punishment by angry parents. The vine, says the psalmist, has been planted, but it must be tended or it will not grow. There will be better behavior in the future.

One of our garden's destroyers is now eight years old, and he and I are the best of friends. He has helped me turn over the compost pile and plant hills of squash. Sometimes we hold hands going back down the hill, reaffirming our relationship with cookies in the kitchen. This is a relationship which must be tended. We both know this is true.

Today we remember:

Bernard Mizeki:
Psalm 116:1-8 or 124
Revelation 7:13-17; Luke 12:2-12

Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Osun (Ibadan, Nigeria)

Speaking to the Soul:

Mud season

Daily Reading for June 18 • Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Rhodesia, 1896

The example of Jesus, and the experience of mud season, remind me of a harsher truth: to be reborn, we first must die. The way to Jerusalem lies through mud. Dying, like mud, can take many forms, but every death, in the sense I mean, is a letting go. We let go of ambition, of pride, of ego. We let go of relationships, of perfect health, of loved ones who go before us to their own deaths. We let go of insisting that the world be a certain way. Letting go of any of these things can seem the failure of every design, the loss of every cherished hope. But in letting them go, we may also let go of fear, let go our white-knuckled grip on a life that never seems to meet our expectation, let go our anguished hold on smaller selves our spirits have outgrown. We may feel at times that we have let go of life itself, only to find ourselves in a new one, freer, roomier, more joyful than we could have imagined. All of us, young and old, soon and late, find our way to the mud, the season of our terrible and certain joy. Let us bring to it all the spirit we can muster.

From Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life by Philip Simmons (Bantam Books, 2000).
++++++++++ Reflections

Take God for your friend and walk with him - and you will learn to love.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians

Amma Syncletica said, "In the beginning there are a great many battles and a good deal of suffering for those who are advancing towards God and, afterwards, ineffable joy. It is like those who wish to light a fire. At first they are ckoked with smoke and cry, until they obtain what they seek. As it is written, "Our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:24); so we also must kindle the divine fire in ourselves through tears and hard work."

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

We Are the Glory of God

Living a spiritual life is living a life in which our spirits and the Spirit of God bear a joint witness that we belong to God as God's beloved children, (see Romans 8:16). This witness involves every aspect of our lives. Paul says: "Whatever you eat, then, or drink, and whatever else you do, do it all for the glory of God" (Romans 10:31). And we are the glory of God when we give full visibility to the freedom of the children of God.

When we live in communion with God's Spirit, we can only be witnesses, because wherever we go and whomever we meet, God's Spirit will manifest itself through us.

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

Day Eighteen - The Second Way of Service, cont'd

As well as the devotional study of Scripture, we all recognize our Christian responsibility to pursue other branches of study, both sacred and secular. In particular, some of us accept the duty of contributing, through research and writing, to a better understanding of the church's mission in the world: the application of Christian principles to the use and distribution of wealth; questions concerning justice and peace; and of all other questions concerning the life of faith.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

JESUS SAYS that the kingdom of God belongs to those who have little or nothing spiritually. Have you ever felt spiritually inadequate? Have you said, “God, there’s no way I can do this?” Then, Jesus says, you’re the kind of person who will fit right into this new community God is building! In fact, you and people like you will be running things! The entire kingdom will belong to you.

- Mary Lou Redding
The Power of a Focused Heart

From page 19 of The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes by Mary Lou Redding. Copyright © 2006 by Mary Lou Redding. Published by Upper Room Books.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Get Together by Getting Together"

The only way that I know how to get people together is to start getting people together. When they start dealing with each other, they start learning who they are. They start getting feelings and resentments. They start getting hurts. They say, Brother, why are you getting hurt right now? What’s hurting you? What need isn’t being met? What are you afraid of? OK, let’s deal with that. Don’t run from it. Unless you’ve make some commitments, unless you understand loyalty, that’s the point where you’re going to move out. That’s why there are and must be marriage vows. Who of you in the second year of marriage wouldn’t have run away? The Lord gives you that pledge, that promise to hold you in there. It’s the same way in the Church: We’ve laid our lives down for one another. I’m not free to pull back on my love commitment to my brothers and sisters. Where you see unity, trust it. Now you might think I’m going to say the converse of that: Where you see disunity, distrust it. No. Where you see disunity, lay down your life until there is unity. What else would the cross be? What else will redeem the broken world? Did you ever notice that God had to lock Noah and all the wild and creeping things in the ark? God know they would try to escape from their own salvation (see Genesis 7:16).

From The Spiritual Family and the Natural Family

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

Keep our tranquility

Let us bring together in Christ the gold of our thoughts and the silver of our speech, so that once we have been purified in the furnace of this world, the examiner of souls pleasing to him may transform us into refined gold, worthy of the stamp of his image, and we by our light reflecting actions may offer ourselves to him as precious stones. Let us make sure that our hearts are not hard like dead wood, our deeds arid like dry hay, our faith and love fickle and light like unsubstantial chaff.

To ensure that the work we have undertaken is not burnt up but rises safe and sound through our peaceful labor, let us implore the Most High to give us that peace for our building which prevailed in ancient times when the temple walls were under construction, so that no hammer or axe or any iron implement may be heard in it. For we shall become a house of prayer and peace only if preoccupation with earthly affairs does not impede us, or the tumult of the world disturb our tranquility.

Paulinus of Nola (353 - 431), bishop of Nola, was the foremost Christian Latin poet of his time and the friend of Martin of Tours, Ambrose, and Augustine. Many of his letters survive.

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


"And Peter . . . walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid." Matthew 14:29-30

The wind was actually boisterous, the waves were actually high, but Peter did not see them at first. He did not reckon with them, he simply recognized his Lord and stepped out in recognition of Him, and walked on the water. Then he began to reckon with the actual things, and down he went instantly. Why could not our Lord have enabled him to walk at the bottom of the waves as well as on the top of them? Neither could be done saving by recognition of the Lord Jesus.

We step right out on God over some things, then self-consideration enters in and down we go. If you are recognizing your Lord, you have no business with where He engineers your circumstances. The actual things are, but immediately you look at them you are overwhelmed, you cannot recognize Jesus, and the rebuke comes: "Wherefore didst thou doubt?" Let actual circumstances be what they may, keep recognizing Jesus, maintain complete reliance on Him.

If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say - "Well, I wonder if He did speak?" Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


THE time of big theories was the time of big results. In the era of sentiment and fine words, at the end of the eighteenth century, men were really robust and effective. The sentimentalists conquered Napoleon. The cynics could not catch De Wet. A hundred years ago our affairs for good or evil were wielded triumphantly by rhetoricians. Now our affairs are hopelessly muddled by strong, silent men.


Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

Chapter 14: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on the Feasts of the Saints

On the feasts of Saints and on all festivals
let the Office be performed
as we have prescribed for Sundays,
except that the Psalms, the antiphons and the lessons
belonging to that particular day are to be said.
Their number, however, shall remain as we have specified above.


The meaning of this chapter is not so much in its content as in its existence. The fact that it is here at all in a document written when the identification of saints was largely a matter of public acclamation and then far fewer than they are now says something about Benedict's ideas both about church and the meaning of prayer. Benedict's theology of prayer is as much attuned to the Communion of Saints, to our connectedness to those who have gone before us in the faith, to those who stand as sign to us that the Christian life is possible, as it is to the feasts that mark the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
We all need heroes. We all need someone in our lives who brings courage. We all need to get to know how the Christian life looks at its best, at its most difficult, at its most joyous.

The lesson is that we must keep the human dimensions of the faith very much in mind and find in models from the past proof that daily chaos can be ordered and the ordinary transfigured for us, too.

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

Monday, June 18, 2007 Apostles Fast Martyrs Leontios, Hypatios &
Theodoulos in Syria
Kellia: Deuteronomy 29:2, 9-21 Epistle: Romans 9:18-33
Gospel: St. Matthew 11:2-15

Committing and Scorning: Deuteronomy 29:2, 9-21 LXX, especially vss. 9,
18: "And ye shall take heed to do all the words of this covenant lest
there be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart has
turned aside from the Lord your God." Nearing the end of his mortal
life, the Prophet Moses assembled the People of Israel, reviewed their
national experience with them, and solemnly reminded them that they were
standing, as always, in the presence of God (vs. 10). Then the great
Prophet warned them, each and every one - men and women, young and old,
esteemed leaders and lowly workers - that all of them were facing a
momentous decision: either to enter into the "sworn covenant" under
which God had sustained them from the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
(vss. 10-12), or "to turn aside" from the Lord (vs. 18).

Beloved, like Israel we are the People of God. Therefore, let us heed
the Prophet's warning and determine that our lives never shall stand
apart from God at any point or in any manner. Each day, in each of the
countless choices we make, in the grand as well as in the seemingly
insignificant decisions of daily life, we face the same eternal and
precipitous watershed. Either we "take heed to do all the words of this
covenant" (vs. 9) into which we are pledged in Christ, or we turn our
hearts "aside from the Lord [our] God" (vs. 18). This constant
alternative stands before us - either to commit to or to scorn God and
His words.

Indeed, Orthodox Christians should strive to receive and embrace our
Lord Jesus Christ Himself within, making our hearts a pure and worthy
place for Him, "that He may appoint thee to Himself for a People"
(vs.13). Archimandrite Sophrony assures us that with Christ's coming
"the heart and mind are both completely occupied by Him only. This
visible world gives place to a reality of another, higher order...a
state difficult to describe." Therefore, Brethren, let us never scorn
the Lord and become a mere "root springing up with gall and bitterness"
(Deut. 29:18).

Let us Orthodox People with one soul choose that "He shall be thy God"
(vs. 13), each and every one refusing to "flatter himself" and walk "in
the error of [his] heart" (vs. 19). Rather, let us be a united People
and say, "The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom then shall I be
afraid" (Ps. 26:1 LXX). To explicitly reject God, disdain the Life our
gracious God offers, and refuse the light of Christ to illumine our path
is plainly foolhardy. "God shall by no means be willing to pardon"
(Deut. 29:20). Dire consequences follow.

Every choice a person makes impacts all aspects of his personal
existence, but, for those who are members of Christ's Holy Church, our
decisions also affect all other members of the Christ's Body - past,
present, and future - "those...who are here with you today before the
Lord your God, and to those who are not here with you today" (vs. 15).
The Faithful prosper when all submit to God's will (vs. 9), when, as one
People we "enter into the covenant of the Lord thy God" (vs. 12). "But
lest the sinner destroy the guiltless with him: God shall by no means be
willing to pardon him" (vss. 19,20). Rather, "the wrath of the Lord and
His jealousy shall flame out against that man; and all the curses of
this covenant shall attach themselves to him" (vs. 20).

God save us from the consequences of scorning God; for the Lord will not
pardon the self-assured in his errors. Against him God promises the
curses of covenant violation. The Lord Himself "shall blot out his name
from under heaven " (vs. 20). How terrible to have the Lord separate
that [one] for evil of all [his] children (vs. 21)! O Brethren, Christ
our God has come that we "might have life, and...might have it more
abundantly" (Jn.10:10).

Open to me the doors of repentance, O Life-giver; for my soul goeth
early to the temple of Thy holiness. Because Thou art compassionate,
purify me by the compassion of Thy mercies.



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