Thursday, September 06, 2007

06/09/07 Thus in the 14th week after Pentecost


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.


Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; 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 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42
1 Kings 11:1-13; James 3:13-4:12; Mark 15:12-21

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 37:1-18. But the lowly shall possess the land...

An expensively dressed man is sitting in a train compartment, briefcase beside him, reading his morning Times, when into the compartment comes a young friar-scruffy hair, scruffy brown robe, scruffy sandals-and takes the opposite seat. The businessman looks over the top of his paper to give the newcomer a thorough inspection, and then asks condescendingly, "And what are you supposed to be?" With a friendly smile the friar answers, "Polite."

In that exchange, you can hear the kingdom of God coming without a shot being fired. The friar answers both the question the man asked him-what he was supposed to be-and the one the man didn't ask because he wasn't self-aware enough to ask it: how are all of us supposed to be before God? The answer judges him, without accusing, and shows him a better way, without being preachy. It says, "No, I can't join you in your look-out-for-number-one world-but you're more than welcome in mine." It comes from that singleness of heart that James speaks of, that ability to see everything, even our own suffering, even the contempt of others, from the perspective of God's gracious providence, and invite into it anyone else who cares to come. Humility in its purest form.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of South Dakota (United States)

Speaking to the Soul:

Unlearning not to speak

Daily Reading for September 6

Although I had just finished writing a lengthy doctoral dissertation on the history of the Episcopal Church, my truest self was silent. I do not know how or where I learned it, but I had learned not to say what I really thought or truly believed or most desired. I internalized Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: women who express their deepest passions get run over by trains. The way of safety is to say what others want you to say, to repeat the words of those who hold power. And if you do that well enough you might gain a modicum of control over your own life.

Christianity is a faith of words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” God speaks creation into being, the Spirit whispers life into the world. Wisdom is God’s name and holy words impart the way of holiness and the mystery of being. Through scripture, theology, prayers, and hymns, the church proclaims God’s presence in the world.

Throughout church history, however, the words of women and children, of the poor, the sick, and enslaved, have often been silenced by words of the wealthy, learned, and powerful. And if no one listens, you learn not to speak. When such voices are lost, the Word is diminished. I could express few genuine words. I needed to find my voice. Poet Marge Piercy writes in “Unlearning Not to Speak”:

She must learn again to speak
starting with I
starting with We
starting as an infant does
with her own true hunger
and pleasure
and rage.

From Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community by Diana Butler Bass (Jossey-Bass, 2002).
++++++++++ Reflections

We must have no confidence whatever in our own strength, but trust in His mercy - and until we do this all is weakness.
St. Teresa of Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians

Abba John of the Cells told us this story: 'There was in Egypt a very rich and beautiful courtesan, to whom noble and powerful people came. Now one day she happened to be near the church and she wanted to go in. The sub- deacon, who was standing at the doors, would not allow her to enter saying, "You are not worthy to enter the house of God, for you are impure." The Bishop heard the noise of their argument and came out. Then the courtesan said to him, "He will not let me enter the church." So the Bishop said to her, "You are not allowed to enter it, for you are not pure." She was filled with compunction and said to him, "Henceforth I will not commit fornication any more." The bishop said to her, "If you bring your wealth here, I shall know that you will not commit fornication any more." She brought everything saying, "If this has happened to me below, what would I not have suffered above?" So she was converted and became a vessel of election.'

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Speaking Words of Love

Often we remain silent when we need to speak. Without words, it is hard to love well. When we say to our parents, children, lovers, or friends: "I love you very much" or "I care for you" or "I think of you often" or "You are my greatest gift," we choose to give life.

It is not always easy to express our love directly in words. But whenever we do, we discover we have offered a blessing that will be long remembered. When a son can say to his father, "Dad, I love you," and when a mother can say to her daughter, "Child, I love you," a whole new blessed place can be opened up, a space where it is good to dwell. Indeed, words have the power to create life.

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

Day Six - The First Aim, cont'd

The primary aim for us as tertiaries is therefore to make Christ known. This shapes our lives and attitudes to reflect the obedience of those whom our Lord chose to be with him and sent out as his witnesses. Like them, by word and example, we bear witness to Christ in our own immediate environment and pray and work for the fulfillment of his command to make disciples of all nations.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Gaining Hope
September 6th, 2007
Thursday’s Reflection

when they know
they are not
experiencing something alone.

- Joyce Rupp
Alive Now

From Alive Now, May/June 1998, page 35. Copyright © 1998 by The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

"Gandhi's Place"

If you want to smell the aroma of Christianity, you must copy the rose. The rose irresistibly draws people to itself, and the scent remains with them. Even so, the aroma of Christianity is subtler even than that of the rose and should, therefore, be imparted in an even quieter and more imperceptible manner, if possible. —Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi's rose is a magnificent image. The quiet and imperceptible authority of the rose comes from its beauty and lovely fragrance. It does not need to prove itself or convert you to its side. It knows it is a rose, and it knows it is beautiful.

If you have a nose and an eye for beauty, you will recognize the inherent authority of the rose. In fact, it's inner authority might well be so pressing and demanding that you might say to the rose, as did St. Francis de Sales, "Stop shouting!"

If Christianity relied on its inner authority, on the weight of its truth and on the sheer power of genuine goodness, the world would also say to Christians, "I hear you—stop shouting!" And we would not have preached a sermon or spoken a single word.

The powers of the world, which are always fighting deadlines, management goals and profit scales, do not expect to be motivated from within. They must produce, fix and accomplish, and this is one helpful part of life.

What about us? The author of life bids us share in divine freedom and authority. This will take longer, but it will also last longer, and this God seems to be building for the long haul. God waits, as only God can wait, because God knows the whole picture. Those with true authority can believe because they know that they know. And the rose can both blossom and die because she knows that she is a rose.

from Sojourners, "Authors of Life Together"

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

Slothfulness in idle words

Those given to talkativeness should be made to realize how great is their plunge from rectitude when they fall into using a flood of words. For the human mind is like water: when enclosed it raises itself to higher levels, seeking the heights from which it descended; but when released it loses itself, being uselessly dispersed through the lower levels. For all the words wasted when the censorship of silence is relaxed are like so many streams carrying the mind away from itself. The result is that it becomes incapable of returning within to knowledge of itself: it is so dissipated by talkativeness that it cannot enter the secret place of deeper thoughts. By not enclosing itself within the defenses of watchfulness, it lays itself completely open to the blows of the enemy who lies in wait for it.

Very often slothfulness in guarding against idle words proves to be our downfall, for little by little we come to utter harmful ones. At first we enjoy talking about other peoples' affairs; then through detraction we belittle the lives of those we discuss; and finally we break out into open slander. Under this provocation quarrels arise, hatred is kindled, and peace of heart is destroyed.

This is why James says: Let everyone be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and why Truth himself warns us that on the Day of Judgment people will have to render an account for every idle word they have spoken.

Gregory the Great

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


"Rivers of living water." John 7:38

A river touches places of which its source knows nothing, and Jesus says if we have received of His fulness, however small the visible measure of our lives, out of us will flow the rivers that will bless to the uttermost parts of the earth. We have nothing to do with the outflow - "This is the work of God that ye believe. . . ." God rarely allows a soul to see how great a blessing he is.

A river is victoriously persistent, it overcomes all barriers. For a while it goes steadily on its course, then it comes to an obstacle and for a while it is baulked, but it soon makes a pathway round the obstacle. Or a river will drop out of sight for miles, and presently emerge again broader and grander than ever. You can see God using some lives, but into your life an obstacle has come and you do not seem to be of any use. Keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you round the obstacle or remove it. The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never get your eyes on the obstacle or on the difficulty. The obstacle is a matter of indifference to the river which will flow steadily through you if you remember to keep right at the Source. Never allow anything to come between yourself and Jesus Christ, no emotion, or experience; nothing must keep you from the one great sovereign Source.

Think of the healing and far-flung rivers nursing themselves in our souls! God has been opening up marvellous truths to our minds, and every point He has opened up is an indication of the wider power of the river He will flow through us. If you believe in Jesus, you will find that God has nourished in you mighty torrents of blessing for others.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 6, May 7, September 6

So we have asked the Lord
who is to dwell in His tent,
and we have heard His commands
to anyone who would dwell there;
it remains for us to fulfill those duties.

Therefore we must prepare our hearts and our bodies
to do battle under the holy obedience of His commands;
and let us ask God
that He be pleased to give us the help of His grace
for anything which our nature finds hardly possible.
And if we want to escape the pains of hell
and attain life everlasting,
then, while there is still time,
while we are still in the body
and are able to fulfill all these things
by the light of this life,
we must hasten to do now
what will profit us for eternity.


There is a poignancy in this paragraph that is little associated with great spiritual documents. First, Benedict stresses again that we are not alone in our undertaking to live above the dregs of life. What is "not possible to us by nature," we must "beg for by grace," he says. This is an enterprise between two spirits, in other words, God's and our own. We will fail often, but God will not fail us and we must not stop.

"God," the elder said, "is closer to sinners than to saints." "But how can that be," the eager disciple asked.
And the elder explained: "God in heaven holds each person by a string. When we sin, we cut the string. Then God ties it up again, making a knot--bringing the sinner a little closer. Again and again sins cut the string--and with each knot God keeps drawing the sinner closer and closer."

Even our weaknesses take us to God if we let them.

It is a very liberating thought: We are not capable of what we are about to do but we are not doing it alone and we are not doing it without purpose. God is with us, holding us up so that the reign of God may be made plain in us and become hope to others. If we can become peacemakers, if we can control our need to control, if we can distinguish between our wants and our needs, then anybody can.

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

Thursday, September 6, 2007 The Miracle of the
Archangel Michael in Colossae
Kellia: Jeremiah 1:1, 4-19 Epistle: Galatians3:23-4:5
Gospel: St. Mark 6:30-45

Prophet to the Nations ~ Jeremiah's Call: Jeremiah 1:1, 4-19 LXX,
especially vs. 10:
"Behold, I have appointed thee this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to root out and to pull
down, and to destroy, and to rebuild, and to plant." This passage from
Jeremiah is a prelude to
the work of one of the four major Prophets of the Old Testament. These
initial verses describe
the commissioning of the great Prophet seven centuries before Christ.
God sets him apart as His
spokesman during an epoch marked by major realignment among the empires
and kingdoms.
Jeremiah is to speak His word "to root out and to pull down, and to
destroy, and to rebuild, and
to plant" (vs. 10). While the Divine message will be directed
principally to Prophet's own tiny
kingdom of Judah, yet his words will illumine the rule of God among all
nations, even as God
finally allows Judah (the ancient People of God) to be conquered by the
great Babylonian empire.

First, look closely at the Lord's call to Jeremiah - to a young man
late in his teens. Note
especially the opening Divine declarations: "I knew thee...I sanctified
thee...I appointed thee" (vs.
4). The Hebrew word "to know" implies intimate, personal knowledge,
insight that the Lord
alone has enabling Him to say, "before I formed thee in the belly," that
is, before conception.
Then, via the word "sanctified," God advances His call one step more:
Jeremiah is being "set
apart" or "consecrated." In Hebrew, the verb signifies "dedication
solely within the religious
sphere of life." The implication is that if he abandons prophesy, his
flight will be tantamount to
blasphemy, to using a gift from God for one's own purposes. Finally,
there is the verb
"appointed," the same word used as God "set" the sun, the moon and the
stars in their courses
(Gen 1:17), or when He "made" Moses "as God to Pharaoh" (Ex. 7:1).

Thus, Jeremiah became wholly committed to the Lord - to proclaim
whatever words God
might place in his mouth - however popular or unpopular his prophecies
might be. One can
readily imagine that the young man hesitated in the face of God's call;
but the Lord would have
none of it: "Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all to
whomsoever I shall send thee, and
according to all the words that I shall command thee, thou shalt speak"
(Jer. 1:7). Still, God's
assignment was not given unkindly or without concern for the young man:
"Be not afraid before
them: for I Am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord" (vs. 8). The
God of all promises that
Jeremiah will be equipped for the task: "I have put My words into thy
mouth" (vs. 9).

Partly in the manner of a test but mostly to reassure His Prophet,
the Lord placed three
visions before Jeremiah, all with the purpose that he should "gird up
[his] loins, and stand up,
and speak all the words that [God] shall command" with no fear of his
countrymen or of being
"alarmed before them" (vs. 17). The first vision was an almond "rod"
(vs. 11), that is, a branch
from the first tree to flower in the Spring. Here was a sign that, if
Jeremiah spoke God's words
faithfully, the Lord, for His part, would make the prophecies bear fruit
(vs. 12).

The vision of the cauldron pouring out fire from the north
summarized the message that
was to dominate Jeremiah's lifetime of preaching: judgment from God was
coming against the
iniquity of the people of Judah because they were forsaking the Lord for
idolatry, sacrificing "to
strange gods" (vs. 16). The last vision assured Jeremiah that God would
make him "a strong
city, and as a brazen wall, strong against all the kings of Judah, and
the princes thereof, and the
people of the land" (vs. 18), even if they should fight him, for the
Lord solemnly promised that
"they shall by no means prevail against thee; because I Am with thee, to
deliver thee" (vs.19).

O Christ our God Who didst sanctify Thy Holy Prophet Jeremiah before
he was
conceived that he might speak Thy words faithfully: by his intercessions
keep us from all deceit.



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