Sunday, September 30, 2007

30/09/07 18th Sun 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.

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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 66, 67; PM Psalm 19, 46
2 Kings 17:1-18; Acts 9:36-43; Luke 5:1-11

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 16:19-31. If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.

The hardness of human hearts is as baffling to the mind as it is offensive to the soul. The gist of this week's hard saying is: Can we overlook the poor in the midst of abundance?

The rich man in the parable wants his brothers on earth to be warned so they do not suffer his fate--torment in hell. Abraham reminds him they have
Moses and the prophets to listen to. The rich man knows that his brothers will not listen. "No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." Even in hell the rich man thinks Abraham and Lazarus are nothing more than servants to do his bidding. That is why Abraham's
last word back to him is so powerful: "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

Signs and wonders do not a Christian make. Faithfulness to God does. That includes acknowledging we are responsible for one another, even the
least among us. To pretend they are not here or not worthy of our attention is to become the lost rich man in the parable.

Today we remember:

Every Sunday in the Episcopal Church we celebrate the Resurrection.

Behold His Resurrection

“Why come to this place seeking the living among the dead?
He is not here...He is Risen!”-The heavenly messengers said.
Hallelujah...He’s Alive!...Alive forevermore!
He arose, just as He said He would, and opened glory’s door.
Without His resurrection...There’d be no salvation, no justification;
There’d be no purification, no sanctification.
Without His resurrection...There’d be no redemption story;
There’d be no Hope of Glory.
Praise God...our King is alive and well-
He’s conquered all...sin, death, and hell.
Take the message everywhere...Go and tell:
Resurrected...He’s The WAY for all who relent,
Believing in Him, as they bow and repent.
Resurrected...He’s The TRUTH for all who seek-
Having ears to hear what God would speak.
Resurrected...He’s The LIFE for the spiritually dead-
Quickened and cleansed by the blood He shed.
Praise the Name of JESUS...Praise Him forevermore-
He’s Alive within His people,
And He’s Heaven’s only door.

Hallelujah...He’s Alive!

author Connie Campbell Bratcher


Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of St. David's (Wales)

Speaking to the Soul:

Service in creating

Daily Reading for September 30 • The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Lord, shall we not bring these gifts to Your Service?
Shall we not bring to Your service all our powers
For life, for dignity, grace and order,
And intellectual pleasures of the senses?
The Lord who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service
Which is already His service in creating.

From The Rock by T. S. Eliot, in Collected Poems 1909-1962 (Faber and Faber).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

You have not lived a perfect day unless you've done something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
— Ruth Smeltzer quoted in What Jesus Meant by Erik Kolbell

To Practice This Thought: Do a kindness for someone without expecting anything in return.
++++++++++ Reflections

Enter within yourself and work in the presence of your Spouse Who is ever present loving you.

St John of the Cross
Spiritual Canticle, 1.8

Reading from the Desert Christians

The Hard Sayings of Arsenius the Hermit

Among the Desert Fathers, Arsenius (360-449) is a model of the austere hermit and renouncer of the world. He was born to an extreme of privilege in Rome, of a wealthy senatorial family. Emperor Theodosius appointed him tutor of the princely sons Arcadius and Honorius. As an ancient source puts it, Arsenius was daily "surrounded by thousands of slaves with gold girdles, wearing collars of gold and garments of silk."

But Arsenius heeded the voice within him that warned him to flee from society in order to be saved. At the age of 34, he secretly quit the palace, sailed for Egypt, and joined the monks at Scetes, near Alexandria, where he remained for 40 years. After its destruction in 434, Arsenius became a hermit, moving deeper into the desert, to mountainous Troe, where he remained until his death at the age of 90.

Arsenius was described by a disciple as

angelic in appearance, like Jacob. His body was graceful and slender, his long beard reached to his waist. ... Tall of stature, he was bent with old age.

Despite his education, he refused to discuss theology and seldom wrote letters.

When he came to church occasionally he would sit behind a pillar so that no one would see his face and so that he would not be distracted by others

This was not arrogance but humility, for he was asked once why he consulted with an Egyptian peasant about his thoughts when his Greek and Latin education was so thorough. "For all my education, I know not even the alphabet of this peasant." "We get nothing from our secular education," he elaborated on another occasion, "but these Egyptian peasants acquire the virtues by hard work."

Arsenius was renowned for his austerity in food, clothing, sleep, prayer, and solitude. He would receive a basket of bread as a gift and when his donors visited the following year he had not finished the basket. When given fruit, he politely tried one but never at the whole fruit.

Arsenius considered sleep a kind of luxury, preferring to be awake at night in contemplative vigil "When nature compelled him to go to sleep, he would say to sleep, 'Come here, wicked servant.' Then seated, he would snatch a little sleep and soon wake up again." "Abba Arsenius used to say that one hour's sleep is enough for a monk if he is a good fighter."

But his relations with others gave Arsenius his reputation as a hermit of unwavering austerity. For he refused to entertain nearly everyone and only reluctantly those who might legitimately claim his attention. When Archbishop Theophilus came to introduce himself and to hear a wise word from the famous hermit, he was met with silence until Arsenius said, "Will you do what I tell you?" The archbishop nodded his assent. Arsenius went on, "If you hear that Arsenius is at some place, don't go there."

From that time on, the archbishop apparently sent messengers to see if Arsenius would accept a visit, but Arsenius replied, "If I accept you then I must accept everyone."

Even fellow-monks he often refused to see. Once a group of monks were on their way to gather flax and thought to stop to see Arsenius. They sent one of their number ahead to alert the old man. But upon inquiring, Arsenius realized that the brothers were not coming on his account but because his dwelling was conveniently on the way, so Arsenius refused to see them.

A couple of sayings reflect the logic of Arsenius's solitude. When asked why he refused the company of others he responded: "I cannot live with God and with men,. The thousands and ten thousands of the heavenly hosts have but one will, which men have many."

Once a monk came to see him. Arsenius opened the door expecting his disciple. So he fell face to the ground, refusing to get up until the visitor left. Another time, a monk visited, and Arsenius kept silent until the monk left.

The most famous incident of this sort involved a female visitor from Rome. The young woman of wealth and senatorial rank inquired of Archbishop Theophilus whether Arsenius would see her. On her behalf, Theophilus went to the old man, who refused to receive her. But the young woman was not dissuaded. She had her donkey saddled and set out herself, telling Theophilus that she had not traveled all this way to see a man - there were plenty of these in Rome - but rather a prophet. When she reached his cell, Arsenius happened to be outside.

Seeing him she threw herself at his feet. Outraged, he lifted her up again, and said, looking steadily at her, "If you must see my face, here it is, look." She was covered with shame and did not look at his face. Then the old man said to her, "Have you not heard tell of my way of life? It ought to be respected. How dare you make such a journey? Do you not realize that you are a woman and cannot go just anywhere? Or is it so that on returning to Rome you can say to other women: I have seen Arsenius? Then they will turn the sea into a thoroughfare with women coming to see me."

But she promised to tell no one and said, "Pray for me and remember me always." But Arsenius answered: "I pray God remove all memory of you from my heart." She quit the place, returned to the town and fell ill with fever. When Archbishop Theophilus heard of her illness, he came to see her and asked what had happened. She repeated what Arsenius had told her, adding that now she was dying of grief. Theophilus told her that those were the old man's way, that saints avoid women as temptation, but that he knew Arsenius would pray for her soul. At this she recovered and went back to Rome joyfully reconciled.

In his social relations, Arsenius fuels the image of hermit as cantankerous and blunt. But his eremiticism must be consistent and thorough-going if it is to yield fruit. Theophilus understood this single-mindedness and came to respect it. In fact, Arsenius frequently offered counsel to others. To one brother, he said, "Strive with all your might to bring your interior activity into accord with God, and you will overcome exterior passions. This self-discipline was thorough. When a brother told him that he could not fast or work and opined that visiting the sick was an equivalent good work, Arsenius responded firmly, "Go, eat, sleep, do no work, only do not leave your cell."

As he was dying, Arsenius forbade his disciples to distribute his remains, disappointing the relic-hunters of his day. They told him that they did not know how to bury anyone, and Arsenius rebuked them. "Don't you know how to tie a rope to my feet and drag me to the mountain?" He left his disciples all of his possessions: a tunic, a hair-shirt, and palm-leaf scandals.

URL of this page:

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Eucharist, the Sacrament of Communion

Baptism opens the door to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sacrament through which Jesus enters into an intimate, permanent communion with us. It is the sacrament of the table. It is the sacrament of food and drink. It is the sacrament of daily nurture. While baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event, the Eucharist can be a monthly, weekly, or even daily occurrence. Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a constant memory of his life and death. Not a memory that simply makes us think of him but a memory that makes us members of his body. That is why Jesus on the evening before he died took bread saying, "This is my Body," and took the cup saying, "This is my Blood." By eating the Body and drinking the Blood of Christ, we become one with him.

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

A Holy Moment
September 30th, 2007
Sunday’s Reflection

THY WILL BE DONE. In relation to our ordinary, workaday lives, these may be the most revolutionary words we will ever say. Saying them can change our orientation to life: we put our little boats into a great stream and drop our oars. The prospect of relinquishing our lives to God’s will can be terrifying, as it may have been at first for Jesus on that night of prayer in the garden. But this fear comprises part of a holy moment; it is endured and transcended so that God’s will may be done.

- Sarah Parsons
A Clearing Season

From page 83 of A Clearing Season by Sarah Parsons. Copyright © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Jesus Subverts All Domination

As men, the twelve apostles were the entitled ones in their society. Jesus helped them to shed their entitlement, their sense of false empowerment. He undercut every attempt at the domination of one group over another. When his own disciples tried to take the high road of power or control, Jesus took the low road to teach them his new "way."

Jesus undercuts their idea of the in-group against the out-group (Mark 9:38-40). He undercuts the domination of one over another (9:33-35), of adults over children (9:36-37; 10:13-16) and of the rich over the poor (10:17-30).

In Mark 10:1-12, he undercuts the domination of men over women: "The Pharisees came to him and they asked him, 'Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?' And he answered and said unto them, 'What did Moses say?' 'Moses suffered to write a bill of divorce, and to put her away.'"

This is not so much a teaching on the indissolubility of the marriage bond as it is a teaching on domination of men over women. Jesus refuses it. The divorce laws of his day were mainly laws to protect men by allowing them to keep moving freely ahead and to abandon women without penalty. Jesus refuses to buy into that. He says, "From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female"—he sees them as brothers and sisters, as equals—"and so the two shall be one flesh." They shall not be two but one, preaching a world of equality, not of domination. This becomes clear in the final parallelism of verses 11-12: "He said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'"

Why did we never see this? Partly because we didn't understand how women were oppressed in Jesus' time and partly because males have been doing most of the Bible interpretation, I suppose. You never read the gospel very well from the high road.

from Kingdom Spirituality Is Global Spirituality

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

Reading the holy scriptures

In the Acts of the Apostles there is a holy eunuch, or rather, man (as holy scripture names him), who was reading Isaiah, and when Philip asked him: Do you really understand what you are reading? He answered: How can I without a teacher? To speak of myself for a moment, I am neither holier nor more zealous than that eunuch, who came to the temple from Ethiopia, that is, from the ends of the earth, setting out from the royal palace. He loved the law and divine knowledge so much that even while sitting in his chariot he read the sacred writings. And yet all the time that he was holding the book, ruminating on the Lord's words, reading them fluently and out loud, he did not know who he was unwittingly revering in the book. Then Philip came and showed him Jesus, who lay enclosed in the text in secret. The marvelous power of a teacher! In that same hour the eunuch believed, was baptized, was faithful and holy, and turned from a pupil into a master.

I have touched briefly on these matters, to make you understand that you cannot enter upon the holy scriptures without someone to go before you and show you the way.

Jerome of Jerusalem

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


"Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake." Colossians 1:24

We make calls out of our own spiritual consecration, but when we get right with God He brushes all these aside, and rivets us with a pain that is terrific to one thing we never dreamed of, and for one radiant flashing moment we see what He is after, and we say - "Here am I, send me."

This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

I wonder what kind of finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you, and you have been like a marble and escaped? You are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you, the wine would have been remarkably bitter. To be a sacramental personality means that the elements of the natural life are presenced by God as they are broken providentially in His service. We have to be adjusted into God before we can be broken bread in His hands. Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.

G. K. Chesterton Day by Day


WHEN a man really tells the truth, the first truth he tells is that he himself is a liar.

'What's Wrong with the World.'

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 30, May 31, September 30
Chapter 7: On Humility

The second degree of humility
is that a person love not his own will
nor take pleasure in satisfying his desires,
but model his actions on the saying of the Lord,
"I have come not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).
It is written also,
"Self-will has its punishment,
but constraint wins a crown."


The first rung of the ladder of the spiritual life is to recognize that God is God, that nothing else can be permitted to consume us or satisfy us, that we must reach out for God before we can even begin to live the God-life. We must come to understand that we are not our own destinies.

The second rung of the spiritual life follows naturally: If God is my center and my end, then I must accept the will of God, knowing that in it lies the fullness of life for me, however obscure. The question, of course, is how do we recognize the Will of God? How do we tell the will of God from our own? How do we know when to resist the tide and confront the opposition and when to embrace the pain and accept the bitterness because "God wills it for us." The answer lies in the fact that the Jesus who said "I have come not to do my own will but the will of the One who sent me" is also the Jesus who prayed in Gethsemane, "Let this chalice pass from me:" The will of God for us is what remains of a situation after we try without stint and pray without ceasing to change it.

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

Sunday, September 30, 2007 Tone 1
Hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia
Kellia: Jeremiah 20:7-13 Epistle: 2 Corinthians
9:6-11 Gospel: St. Luke 6:31-36

Signs For Awakening VIII ~ Deception, Ridicule, and Faith: Jeremiah
20:7-13 LXX, especially vss. 9, 10: "The Name of the Lord...was a
burning fire flaming in my bones, and I am utterly weakened on all
sides, and cannot bear up. For I have heard the reproach of many
gathering round, saying...let us conspire together against him." In the
present passage, Jeremiah portrays the wide range of experiences that
resulted from dedicating his life to the Lord. His descriptions supply
priceless insights into what the service of God is like, and every
disciple should study them closely to be aware of what may come as a
result of being united to Christ.

The Prophet accuses the Lord of having "deceived" him (vs. 20:7).
In the Hebrew texts parallel to the LXX, the word deceived is a verb
used to speak of a virgin being seduced. In your relationship with the
Lord, you may find more is demanded of you as a disciple than you
initially understood. Perhaps you feel you were lured into the Faith by
the fascination of Christ Himself.

Jeremiah reveals that he struggled against being a Prophet, but "Thou
hast been strong" (vs. 7). Like Jacob, if you wrestle with God, He will
win but He will also bless you.

Jeremiah's comment that God is strong is followed, as we might expect,
by the remark that God "prevailed" (vs. 7). Struggling with God is both
losing and winning, for the Lord is stronger than you are, but He is
compassionate and full of mercy and does not abandon His own.

Jeremiah 15:10-11 gives some inkling of the price the Prophet paid for
declaring God's message. He became "a man of strife and contention."
Here he speaks of being mocked continually as "a laughing-stock" (Jer.
20:7). The faithless will often laugh at your faith.

Worse for Jeremiah was the constant reproach for honestly believing in
the word of God (vs. 8). It is one thing to be laughed at for your
faith. It is another to be reproached and upbraided.

The burden of the public and private reactions against Jeremiah prompted
him to try to quit the role of Prophet: "I will by no means name the
Name of the Lord" (vs. 9). When you honestly live the True Faith, it
may well burn and weaken your resolve to be faithful (vs. 9).

It is one thing when you live the Faith and are isolated by mocking,
reproach, and laughing, by friends who do not want any part of your
religion (vs. 10). But it may also have a sinister side: former friends
may conspire against you as they did Jeremiah. There may come a time
when they will even watch your every move to "be avenged on" you (vs. 10).

The public and private resistance to Jeremiah's constant proclamation of
impending doom for his country turned into surveillance (vs. 10).
People began watching "his intentions, if perhaps he shall be deceived,
and we shall prevail against him" (vs. 10). Constant scrutiny with
purpose to defame your witness might infect you with strong feeling of
paranoia and caution.

Under pressure to stop warning of doom from God, Jeremiah continually
spoke as God directed him. Inundated with mocking, laughter, criticism,
surveillance, and hostility, he still knew that "the Lord was with me as
a mighty man of war: therefore they persecuted me, but could not
perceive anything against me; they were greatly confounded" (vs. 11).
Obey the Lord!

Jeremiah was not perfect in desiring revenge. Only Christ is perfect
man and a forgiving God. He understands the desire to "see Thy
vengeance upon them" (vs. 12). Leave all to Him!

Notice that Jeremiah is calling to you, "Sing ye to the Lord" (vs. 13).
Indeed, praise God!

The Prophet preferred to "sing praise to [God]: for [He] rescued the
soul of the poor from the hand of evil-doers" (vs. 13). Our good God
wants the same for you, so trust Him.

O glorious Prophet, Jeremiah, thou knowest our tribulations and failings
before God. Intercede with the merciful Lord that He grant us a good
confession and true faith.



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