Sunday, October 07, 2007

07/10/07 Sunday, 19th 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.


Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 118; PM Psalm 145
2 Kings 20:1-21; Acts 12:1-17; Luke 7:11-17

From Forward Day by Day:

uke 17:5-10. If you had faith the size of a mustard seed...

Mustard seeds are quite small, and this passage seems to be a celebration of the power of small things. That is a misunderstanding of the text. The gospel is about BIG things, not small ones. The gospel is about love that is great and a Spirit that is as powerful as life. Our story is about God's embrace of everywhere and everything in it. There is no gospel mandate for smallness! Today's passage is about doing incredible things with our faith, uprooting mulberry trees, and replanting them in the ocean!

I have a little trouble thinking that such landscaping (or seascaping) is of any great advantage but, of course, that is not the point. The point is that faith is enormously powerful and able to make mind-boggling differences in life. To limit faith to small things is like using nuclear energy to crack walnuts or hurricanes to wash clothes. Your faith, even if it is not what it might be, is still powerful and life-changing.

Let faith change your life and see what amazing things happen. Live as if what you hope is real--and find out that it is. Tell someone what you believe--and see the difference it makes in you and them.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Province of West Africa and the Diocese of Accra

Speaking to the Soul:

First you leap

Daily Reading for October 7 • The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

I love
the recklessness of faith.
First you leap,
and then you grow wings.

From Credo by William Sloane Coffin (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

If only I'd known that one day my differentness would be an asset, my early life would have been much easier.
— Bette Midler quoted in Lit From Within by Victoria Moran

To Practice This Thought: Give yourself an award for being different. Write an acceptance speech for it.
++++++++++ Reflections

If you would progress a long way on this road and ascend to the Mansions of your desire, the important thing is not to think much but to love much; do then, whatever most arouses your love.
St Teresa of Jesus
Interior Castle, IV.1

Reading from the Desert Christians


Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract
with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility.
Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is
self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is
the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent
is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the
Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins.
Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the
voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the
inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty
persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into
vigorous awareness.

St. John Climacus

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Jesus Living Among Us

The Eucharist is the place where Jesus becomes most present to us because he becomes not only the Christ living within us but also the Christ living among us. Just as the disciples at Emmaus who had recognised Jesus in the breaking of the bread discovered a new intimacy between themselves and found the courage to return to their friends, we who have received the Body and Blood of Jesus will find a new unity among ourselves. As we realise that Christ lives within us, we also come to realise that Christ lives among us and makes us into a body of people witnessing together to the presence of Christ in the world.

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

Day Seven - The Second Aim

To spread the spirit of love and harmony

The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Through All the Changes
October 7th, 2007
Sunday’s Reflection

CRISIS. OPPORTUNITY. CHANGE. It’s inevitable on this journey called life. In the midst of the confusion and the chaos and the opportunities of change, remember that you are not alone. God — and some faithful fellow-journeyers — are with you through all the changes.

- Helen R. Neinast and Thomas C. Ettinger
What About God? Now That You’re Off to College

From page 79 of What About God? Now That You’re Off to College by Helen R. Neinast and Thomas C. Ettinger. Copyright © 2000 by the authors. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

The Sabbath: Be-ers or Do-ers?

The biblical tradition of "personalism" begins with the Sabbath, a law that boggles our minds. We can’t relate to such emphasis on "non-doing" in a progress-oriented culture. The meaning of the Sabbath is clear in the Bible, though: "The Sabbath is a sign between myself and you, from generation to generation, to show that it is I, Yahweh, who sanctify you" (Exodus 31:13, JB).

The Sabbath puts us in a relationship of truth with God, telling us very clearly who is creating us. The Sabbath rest tells us, on a gut level, that there is more to life than what we put into it. The future is not simply determined by our accomplishing and succeeding. We discover our future by discovering the abyss-like nature of today.

This idea developed for the Hebrews in their biblical concept of working the land. There were traditions of laying a field fallow every seventh year (Leviticus 25:2), and the erasure of debts twice a century during the Jubilee Year. What an excellent foundation this would have made for an earth spirituality: "Land must not be sold in perpetuity, for the land belongs to me. And to me you are only strangers and guests" (Leviticus 25:23) [JB].

The Sabbath is God creating space. It forces the great distinction between being and having, whether we live for things or for people. God asks whether we’re be-ers or do-ers. The Sabbath calls the Jewish people to be, first of all, be-ers: people who know how to listen, wait, hope, depend, trust.

It’s amazing to me this was given up by Catholics so easily compared to other changes. Who complains about it? Middle-class Americans fought for a while about taking their hats off in church. But I’ve yet to hear a Catholic complain about being allowed to work or shop on Sunday. Our bias is not toward being: we’re hooked on accomplishment and success. So we saw no problem in changing what was once a foundational commandment.

from The Price of Peoplehood

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

Come to me, Lord

Lord Jesus, I pray that you may be moved to pity and come to me. I have gone down from Jerusalem to Jericho, descended from the heights to the depths, from health to sickness. I have fallen into the hands of the angels of darkness who have not only stripped me of my garment of spiritual grace but have also wounded me and left me half-dead. Bind up the wounds of my sins by making me believe that they can be healed, for if I despair of healing they will become worse. Apply the oil of forgiveness to them and pour in the wine of compunction. If you place me on your beast, you will be raising the poor from the dust, the needy from the rubbish heap. For it is you who have carried our sins, who have paid back what you did not take. If you lead me to the inn of your Church you will nourish me with your body and blood. If you take care of me I shall not transgress your commandments nor fall prey to the rage of wild beasts. I need your protection as long as I bear this corruptible flesh. So listen to me, Samaritan, listen to me who am stripped and wounded, weeping and groaning, as I call upon you and cry out with David: Have mercy on me, O God, in your great kindness.

Gregory the Great

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


"For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21

Sin is a fundamental relationship; it is not wrong doing, it is wrong being, deliberate and emphatic independence of God. The Christian religion bases everything on the positive, radical nature of sin. Other religions deal with sins; the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ faced in men was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the Gospel that the message of the Gospel has lost its sting and its blasting power.

The revelation of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took upon Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took upon Himself the heredity of sin which no man can touch. God made His own Son to be sin that He might make the sinner a saint. All through the Bible it is revealed that Our Lord bore the sin of the world by identification, not by sympathy. He deliberately took upon His own shoulders, and bore in His own Person, the whole massed sin of the human race - "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin," and by so doing He put the whole human race on the basis of Redemption. Jesus Christ rehabilitated the human race; He put it back to where God designed it to be, and anyone can enter into union with God on the ground of what Our Lord has done on the Cross.

A man cannot redeem himself; Redemption is God's "bit," it is absolutely finished and complete; its reference to individual men is a question of their individual action. A distinction must always be made between the revelation of Redemption and the conscious experience of salvation in a man's life.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 6, June 7, October 7
Chapter 7: On Humility

The ninth degree of humility
is that a monk restrain his tongue and keep silence,
not speaking until he is questioned.
For the Scripture shows
that "in much speaking there is no escape from sin" (Prov. 10:19)
and that "the talkative man is not stable on the earth" (Ps. 139:12).

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

When arrogance erupts anywhere, it erupts invariably in speech. Our opinions become the rule. Our ideas become the goal. Our judgments become the norm. Our word becomes the last word, the only word. To be the last one into a conversation, instead of the first, is an unheard of assault on our egos. Benedict says, over and over, listen, learn, be open to the other. That is the ground of humility. And humility is the ground of growth and graced relationships on earth. Humility is what makes the powerful accessible to the powerless. Humility is what allows poor nations a demand on rich ones. Humility is what enables the learned to learn from the wise.

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

Sunday, October 7, 2007 Tone 2
Martyrs Sergios and Bacchos in Syria
Kellia: Jeremiah 41:8-22 Epistle: 2 Corinthians
11:31-12:9 Gospel: St. Luke 7:11-16

The Eve of Jerusalem's Fall I ~ Duplicity: Jeremiah 41:8-22 LXX,
especially vs. 16: "Ye turned and profaned My name, to bring back every
one his servant, and every one his handmaid, whom ye had sent forth free
and at their own disposal, to be to you men-servants and
maid-servants." The siege of Jerusalem imposed increasing hardships on
the populace. At some point, King Zedekiah covenanted with the people
"that every one should set at liberty his servant, and every one his
handmaid...that no man of Judah should be a bondman" (vs. 9). The aim
of the decision probably was to mobilize the entire population in the
war effort. In any case, the "the princes of Judah, and the men in
power, and the priests, and the people" (vs. 19) made a solemn covenant
before God to carry out the liberation of their slaves. Ritual
sacrifice of this sort included cutting a calf in two and passing
between the parts (vs. 18). This was the most formal ceremony available
for "cutting" or making a covenant (see Gen.15:9-17).

After the liberation of the slaves, the battle for Jerusalem abruptly
lifted, because an Egyptian army was advancing toward the city. The
Babylonians immediately stopped the siege, forced Pharaoh's troops to
retreat, and then returned to the attack. It was after the Egyptian
foray that the Babylonians breached the walls and devastated Jerusalem.
The lull in fighting was simply an "eye of a hurricane." Still, for the
defenders, hope developed that "The Chaldeans will certainly depart from
us" (Jer. 44:9), even when the Lord said, "they shall not depart" (Jer.

Caught up in vain hope, the beleaguered Jews reneged on the covenant
they had just made with their slaves. They brought "back every one his
servant, and every one his handmaid, whom [they] had sent forth free"
and enslaved them again (Jer. 41:16). Before God, reversing what we
promise one another reaches deep into the primary nature of sin which is
revolt against God with all its consequences, including spiritual,
psychological, and physical death.

Beloved, beware when you make solemn agreements. No matter whether they
are vows to God or to your fellow men. Like all thoughts and actions,
agreements are made before His eyes (vs. 15). Duplicity never escapes
God's notice. The Lord Jesus says frankly "there is nothing covered
that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore
whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and
what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the
housetops" (Lk. 12:2,3). In your words, contracts, and deeds you are
accountable to God. Ultimately you will not "get away with" doing wrong.

God's laws are founded upon His nature and purposes. To violate any one
of them is unnatural, sinful, and invites disaster (Jer. 41:13,14). The
defenders of Jerusalem forgot their origins. They had been slaves in
Egypt, and God freed them. He expected them never to enslave one
another. He specifically limited servitude, even when it was elected:
"if thy brother by thee be lowered, and be sold to thee, he shall not
serve thee with the servitude of a slave. He shall be with thee as a
hireling or a sojourner, he shall work for thee till the year of
release: and he shall go out in the release" (Lev. 25:39-41). God's
actions are the model for our actions!

God relates consequences for breaking His laws: A farcical giving of
liberty was followed by liberty for the sword, pestilence, and famine
(Jer. 41:17). The divided calf that was eaten during the covenant
ritual, turned out to be a prelude for their bodies becoming food for
the birds and the beasts (vss. 18-20). They should have expected dire
results for their duplicity (vss. 21-22). Consider: God's laws are a
covering! Why ever destroy your protection?

O Master, compassionate King of all, keep us in Thy sanctification;
confirm us in the Orthodox Faith; preserve our souls in purity and
uprightness through saving fear of Thee.



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