Tuesday, September 11, 2007

11/09/07 Tues in the 15th 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.


Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 45; PM Psalm 47, 48
1 Kings 16:23-34; Phil. 1:12-30; Mark 16:1-8(9-20)

Spiritual Practice of the Day

You must lay your lives on the altar of social change so that wherever you are there the Kingdom of God is at hand!
— Howard Thurman quoted in A Strange Freedom edited by Walter Earl Fluker and Catherine Tumber

From Forward Day by Day:

Philippians 1:12-30. I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel.

This date will always dredge up memories for us. We remember where we were when the attacks began, and how we felt-horrified, helpless, and confused. No amount of moralizing or second-guessing can blunt such memories.

Yet Paul, without seeking to diminish the reality of remembered pain, seeks to add something to it. "Pain was not all that happened," he says of his own
vicissitudes. "The things I suffered had effects far beyond their effect on just me. The people who observed my suffering, and how it didn't diminish my commitment to the gospel, were also changed. My enemies, who caused the pain, were made to wonder about this Lord I serve, and my friends were encouraged to proclaim him more boldly."

An assault on what seems the very foundation of a person or a society is only the first chapter of a story. What happens next is equally important. Have the things our nation and its citizens have done since 2001 helped to spread peace and justice in the world, let alone the gospel? God make it so.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of New York and the Diocese of Washington (United States)

Today we remember in prayer the victims, survivors, laborers and perpetrators of September 11, 2201

God's Steadfast Love
September 11, 2007

I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand
of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love."

- Psalm 31:14-16 (NRSV)

Satyagraha and 9/11

Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, will consider the events and consequences of two events in history sharing the date of September 11th. He will give a lecture to the Christian Muslim Forum Conference in Cambridge UK. The Anglican Communion News Service reports:

Dr Williams compares "the act of nightmare violence" of September 11th 2001 and the chain of retaliation, fear and misery" it unleashed with the public meeting in Johannesburg on September 11th in 1906 (attended by people of Muslim, Hindu and Christian faiths) at which Gandhi's non-violent protest movement - the Satyagraha movement - was born.

It was a movement which put principles into action but which rejected violence; a sort of "'soul force' whose central principle was that our behaviour must witness to truth whatever the cost - and that this witness to truth can never, of its very nature, involve violence or a response to oppression that simply mirrors what has been done by the

The Archbishops says in his lecture:

The Church is, in this perspective, the trustee of a vision that is radical and universal, the vision of a social order that is without fear, oppression , the violence of exclusion and the search for scapegoats because it is one where each recognizes their dependence on all and each is seen as having an irreplaceable gift for all. The Church cannot begin to claim that it consistently lives by this; its failure is all too visible, century by century. But its credibility does not hang on its unbroken success; only on its continued willingness to be judged by what it announces and points to, the non-competitive, non-violent order of God's realm, centred upon Jesus and accessible through commitment to him. Within the volatile and plural context of a
society that has no single frame of moral or religious reference, it makes two fundamental contributions to the common imagination and moral climate. The first is that it declares that, in virtue of everyone's primordial relation to God (made in God's image), the dignity of every person is non-negotiable: each has a unique gift to give, each is owed respect and patience and the freedom to contribute what is given them.

This remains true whether we are speaking of a gravely disabled person - when we might be tempted to think they would be better off removed from human society, or of a suspected terrorist - when we might be tempted to think that torture could be justified in extracting information, or of numberless poor throughout the world - when we should be more comfortable if we were allowed to regard them as no more than collateral damage in the steady advance of prosperity for our 'developed'

He concludes: chief point is that the convergence that occurred on this day in Johannesburg in 1906 was not an illusory or opportunistic affair. Both our faiths bring to civil society a conviction that what they embody and affirm is not a marginal affair; both claim that their legitimacy rests not on the license of society but on God's gift. Yet for those very reasons, they carry in them the seeds of a non-violent and non-possessive witness. They cannot be committed to violent struggle to prevail at all costs, because that would suggest a lack of faith in the God who has called them; they cannot be committed to a policy of coercion and oppression because that would again seek to put the power of the human believer or the religious institution in the sovereign
place that only God's reality can occupy. Because both our traditions have a history scarred by terrible betrayals of this, we have to approach our civil society and its institutions with humility and repentance. But I hope that this does not mean we shall surrender what is most important - that we have a gift to offer immeasurably greater than our own words or records, the gift of a divine calling and a renewal of all that is possible form human beings.

Read it all

Other news and reflections on 9/11

Remembering 9/11 on epiScope

Spire of Hope, Belfast:

And Heads Bow in Memory of 9/11 in The New York Times

Speaking to the Soul:

Honest dialogue

Daily Reading for September 11

Of course, Christian-Muslim dialogue must go on. But I am wary of the term ‘inter-faith dialogue’. It often suggests a disconnected, middle class, rather intellectual activity which is cut off from the mass of the people, both inside and outside the faith communities. To be of practical value, dialogue must be localized, honest and courageous. It must explore common ground while recognizing that there are important differences between faith traditions. It must also be very practical. For example, it is often of critical importance that faith communities get together quickly, and the mechanisms that enable this to happen must be put in place. Sadly, the history of inter-faith dialogue suggests that the situation is often the opposite. Often the dialogue is not rooted locally but is vaguely national. It is kind and charitable but tends to blur or avoid areas of controversy. It explores common ground but only at an intellectual level. It avoids differences, and creates no ability to act together when such action becomes really important. Fortunately there are many examples to the contrary.

My main experience has been with Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These three faith traditions have a common belief in communion with God. As I have said, I believe that, in the context of inter-faith work, Christians need to develop a new and extended idea of catholicity. This involves the transcendence of birth, ethnicity, race and nationality, and the commitment to the struggle for a common humanity.

From Race by Kenneth Leech. Copyright © 2005. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.
++++++++++ Reflections

In returning to God and resting, you will be saved. In silence and trust will be your strength.
Isaiah 30.15

Reading from the Desert Christians

One day, the inhabitants of Scetis assembled together to discuss Melchizedek and they forgot to invite Abba Copres. Later on they called him and asked him about this matter. Tapping his mouth three times, he said 'Alas for you, Copres! For that which God commanded you do, you have put aside, and you are wanting to learn something which you have not been required to know about.' When they heard these words, the brothers fled to their cells.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Guarding Our Souls

The great danger of the turmoil of the end-time in which we live is losing our souls. Losing our souls means losing touch with our center, our true call in life, our mission, our spiritual task. Losing our soul means becoming so distracted by and preoccupied with all that is happening around us that we end up fragmented, confused, and erratic. Jesus is very aware of that danger. He says: "Take care not to be deceived, because many will come using my name and saying, 'I am the one' and 'The time is near at hand' Refuse to join them" (Luke 21:8).

In the midst of anxious times there are many false prophets, promising all sorts of "salvations." It is important that we be faithful disciples of Jesus, never losing touch with our true spiritual selves.

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

Day Eleven - The Third Aim, cont'd

Although we possess property and earn money to support ourselves and our families, wo show ourselves to be true followers of Christ and of Saint Francis by our readiness to live simply and to share with others. We recognize that some of our members may be called to a literal following of Saint Francis in a life of extreme simplicity. All of us, however, accept that we avoid luxury and waste, and regard our possessions as being held in trust for God.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

The Doorway to Life
September 11th, 2007
Tuesday’s Reflection

CHRIST’S WOUNDS are the doorway into our life with him, offering us both shelter and opportunity, both refuge and a new beginning. Our entire life — unhealed wounds and broken hearts and all — can enter by that door and be redeemed.

- Deborah Smith Douglas
“Wounded and Healed”

From WeavingsMarch/April 2000, page 22. Copyright © 2000 by The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

The Power at the Bottom

The spirituality behind the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions is very similar to the phenomenon of the base communities in Latin America. It is a low Church approach to evangelization and healing that is probably our only hope in a suffering world of five-and-a-half billion people. Do we really need to verify belief in atonement doctrines and the Immaculate Conception when most of Gods physical, animal and human world is on the verge of mass suicide and extinction? The Twelve-Step meetings are probably the First World answer to Third World base communities. Our suffering is psychological, relational and addictive: the suffering of people who are comfortable on the outside but oppressed and empty within. It is a crisis of meaninglessness and the false self, which had tried to find meaning in possessions, prestige and power. It doesnt work. Se we turn to ingesting and buying to fill our empty souls. The Twelve Steps walk us back out of our addictive society. Like all steps toward truth, they lead downward. Bill Wilson and his A.A. movement have shown us that the real power is not at the top but at the bottom. Those who admit they are powerless have the only power that matters in the world or in the Church. Saint Bill W., pray for us.

from Radical Grace, The Twelve Steps: An Amazing Gift of the Spirit

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


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


"If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." John 13:14

Ministering as opportunity surrounds us does not mean selecting our surroundings, it means being very selectly God's in any haphazard surroundings which He engineers for us. The characteristics we manifest in our immediate surroundings are indications of what we will be like in other surroundings.

The things that Jesus did were of the most menial and commonplace order, and this is an indication that it takes all God's power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels and dishes and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty as it ought to be done.

"I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you." Watch the kind of people God brings around you, and you will be humiliated to find that this is His way of revealing to you the kind of person you have been to Him. Now, He says, exhibit to that one exactly what I have shown to you.

"Oh," you say, "I will do all that when I get out into the foreign field." To talk in this way is like trying to produce the munitions of war in the trenches - you will be killed while you are doing it.

We have to go the "second mile" with God. Some of us get played out in the first ten yards, because God compels us to go where we cannot see the way, and we say - "I will wait till I get nearer the big crisis." If we do not do the running steadily in the little ways, we shall do nothing in the crisis.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 11, May 12, September 11
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

Therefore, when anyone receives the name of Abbess,
she ought to govern her disciples with a twofold teaching.
That is to say,
she should show them all that is good and holy
by her deeds even more than by her words,
expounding the Lord's commandments in words
to the intelligent among her disciples,
but demonstrating the divine precepts by her actions
for those of harder hearts and ruder minds.
And whatever she has taught her disciples
to be contrary to God's law,
let her indicate by her example that it is not to be done,
lest, while preaching to others, she herself be found reprobate (1 Cor. 9:27),
and lest God one day say to her in her sin,
"Why do you declare My statutes
and profess My covenant with your lips,
whereas you hate discipline
and have cast My words behind you" (Ps. 49:16-17)?
And again,
"You were looking at the speck in your brother's eye,
and did not see the beam in your own" (Matt. 7:3).


The Tao says,

"We join spokes together in a wheel
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move."

Benedict says that those who hold authority in a community are not to be above the group, they are to be the centers of it, the norm of it, the movers of it. They themselves are to mirror its values. Their job is not simply to give orders. Their job is to live out the ideals. It is an authority far removed from office elitism or pompous hierarchy or highhanded parenting.

Benedict calls a community to obedience, yes, but he does not call it to servitude. He does not call people to conformity for the sake of conformity. That's where modern concepts of blind obedience and the monastic concept of cenobitic obedience are so distinct from one another. Blind obedience demands that underlings comply with authority without thought of consequences. Cenobitic obedience insists that equals must bring a thoughtful concern for what is best for everyone before they ask anything of consequence.

Autocrats and militarists and spiritual charlatans and abusive parents and corporate moguls want the people under them to obey laws from which their exalted positions hold them exempt. Benedict says that the only authentic call for obedience comes from those who themselves demonstrate the value of the law.

The point is that what we do not live we do not have a right to require, and that for two reasons: first, because it is a hollow call to insist that others do what we do not do ourselves and secondly, because it requires for the sake of requiring something rather than for the merit of the requirement itself. To hold people under us to a law which we ourselves have no intention of respecting is to make a mockery of what we ask. Employees whom we require to work because we will not; children who are told to avoid what they see us doing with impunity; citizens who must do what they see us declaring exempt for ourselves, do learn from us. They learn that law is useless and that we are frauds and that power protects only the powerful. Benedict is saying that if the laws are good, then people will be able to see that in the lawgiver.

But Benedict is saying even more than this. Benedict is saying that the function of spiritual leadership is not to intimidate people into submission by fear or guilt. The function of spiritual leadership is to show in our own lives the beauty that oozes out of those who live the spiritual life to its fullness. The function of spiritual leadership is to enshrine what a good life can be.

The abbot and prioress are to make of themselves the light that guides and the crystal that rings true. Otherwise, why should anyone else attempt the Way at all. "Love work and hate lordship," the Hasidim teach their rabbis. It is Benedict's teaching, too.

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Euphrosynos the Cook
Kellia: Jeremiah 4:11-22 Epistle: Galatians
5:11-21 Gospel: St. Mark 7:5-16

Prophet to the Nations ~ Jeremiah's Thoughts: Jeremiah 4:11-22 LXX,
especially vs. 14: "Cleanse thine heart from wickedness, O Jerusalem,
that thou mayest be saved: how long will thy grievous thoughts be within
thee?" A stylistic feature to note in the prophetic writing is the
frequent change of "speakers." These occur abruptly, without notice
indicated in the text. Translators are able to help us identify some of
these shifts between voices by certain clues - a new sentence (as
between vss.18 and 19), punctuation (e.g., an exclamation mark, a
period, and a colon vs.13), lower case, or capital letters in pronouns
(as between vss. 16 and 17).

The great benefit of paying close attention to the change of speakers is
that the reader sees into the thought-life of the Prophet himself.
Hence, in this passage, because the scribe captured the Prophet's words
just as they flowed forth, we can look deep inside the mind of the godly
Jeremiah to appreciate the rich qualities of his personality. You can
discern how he felt and what he experienced as he was hearing the Lord
speak within his heart and mind.

Earlier, in Jeremiah 4:1-10, the Lord told Jeremiah that a time was
coming when "the lion [would go] up from his the destruction
of the nations" (Jer. 4:7). In today's reading the Lord continues to
speak of this approaching moment in history: "at that time...." (Jer.
4:11). Hence, the Lord is the first speaker: "I declare My judgments
against them." (vs. 12).

How the Prophet feels the anguish of the future that God reveals, as if
it were already happening: "Woe unto us! For we are in misery" (vs.
13)! Jeremiah speaks of his nation and people. The burden God reveals
falls on the Prophet painfully and heavily. Hence, Jeremiah cries out
to his countrymen: Cleanse thine heart from wickedness, O Jerusalem,
that thou mayest be saved (vs. 14). He knows that God's mind to permit
doom could be avoided (vs. 18).

Yet Jeremiah cannot shut out what the vision shows him: invasion and
slavery will come sooner or later unless the people repent and dislodge
their "evil thoughts" from within them (vs. 14). In rapid succession
there will be a sweep by the armies of the "lion" crossing the border
into the northernmost region of Dan (vs. 15), passing Mount Ephraim near
the city of Jerusalem (vs. 15), overwhelming the cities of Judah (vs.
16), and surrounding the capital for a final siege against the royal
city with its national shrine, the Temple of God (vs. 17). The last
phrase in this sequence reveals God as the actual speaker (vs. 17).

In the next verse, the Prophet himself speaks to his countrymen (vs.
18): Thy way and thy devices have brought these things upon thee" (vs.
18). Nonetheless, the pain for Jeremiah is very personal: "my soul is
in great commotion, my heart is torn" (vs. 19). We are allowed to share
the troubled thought-life of a deeply godly man living in a corrupt and
doomed society.

Who among us, calling himself an Orthodox Christian, does not identify
with the inner tugging and wrenching of Jeremiah? Look out on the
contemporary society in which we live! Are there not times when our
hearts are "torn" (vs. 19)? Our world, like his, is filled with "the
cry of war" (vs. 19). God speaks to this: "the land is distressed...My
tabernacle is distressed" (vs. 20). Contemporary media thrust dread and
inescapable images at us with words and pictures. We do not live apart
from the "sound of the trumpet" on any continent (vs. 21).

Jeremiah's problem is common to mankind. The issue is exactly that
which God declares: the people of our land and of all nations are
majoring in evil and minoring in good (vs. 22). Still, "foolish and
unwise" as we are, we are God's "children" (vs. 22). This is our hope.

Hear us, O God our Savior, the Hope of all the ends of the earth and of
those who are far off upon the sea, and be gracious, be gracious O
Master, upon our sins, and have mercy on us.



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