Tuesday, November 20, 2007

20/11/07 Tues, 25th week after Pentecost, Edward of East Anglia


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.


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God of ineffable mercy, you gave grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for your Name: Bestow on us your servants the shield of faith with which we can withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 97, 99, [100]; PM Psalm 94, [95]
1 Macc. 3:25-41; Rev. 21:1-8; Matt. 17:14-21

From Forward Day by Day:

Psalm 100. Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness and come before his presence with a song.

A few weeks ago I was surprised to hear the comment, "But isn't church supposed to be solemn?" I have been thinking about it ever since. To be solemn is to be serious and dignified, cheerless and grim. Admittedly, there are occasions when solemnity is appropriate, but I think that the psalmist is on target for most occasions. We should come into the presence of the Lord with gladness and joy and singing.

I love to watch young children come forward to take communion. They gleefully skip down the aisle and rush forward with hands outstretched, excited and eager for their turn. They run forward as if to greet the person they love most in the world.

Reading scripture and hearing the sermon should challenge us to serious thought, but the singing and the communion feast should fill our hearts with joy and thanksgiving to be in the presence of our Lord. It is acceptable to laugh and sing and shout with joy. Jubilate Deo. Be joyful in the Lord!

Today we remember:

Edmund of East Anglia:
Psalm 21:1-7 or 126
1 Peter 3:14-18; Matthew 10:16-22

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Wakefield (York, England)

Speaking to the Soul:

Edmund the blessed

Daily Reading for November 20 • Edmund, King of East Anglia, 870

Edmund the Blessed, King of East Anglia, was wise and worthy, and exalted among the noble servants of the almighty God. He was humble and virtuous and remained so resolute that he would not turn to shameful vices, nor would he bend his morality in any way, but was ever-mindful of the true teaching: “If you are installed as a ruler, don't puff yourself up, but be among men just like one of them.” He was charitable to poor folks and widows, just like a father, and with benevolence he guided his people always towards righteousness, and restrained the cruel, and lived happily in the true faith.

Eventually it happened that the Danes came with a ship-army, harrying and slaying widely throughout the land, as is their custom. In the fleet were the foremost chieftans Ivar and Ubbi, united through the devil. They landed warships in Northumbria, and wasted that country and slew the people. Then Ivar went [south-]east with his ships and Halfdan remained in Northumbria gaining victory with slaughter. Ivar came rowing to East Anglia in the year in which prince Alfred—he who afterwards became the famous West Saxon king—was 21. The aforementioned Ivar suddenly invaded the country, just like a wolf, and slew the people, men and women and innocent children, and ignominiously harrassed innocent Christians. Soon afterward he sent to king Edmund a threatening message, that Edmund should submit to his alliegence, if he cared for his life. The messenger came to king Edmund and boldly announced Ivar's message: “Ivar, our king, bold and victorious on sea and on land, has dominion over many peoples, and has now come to this country with his army to take up winter-quarters with his men. He commands that you share your hidden gold-hordes and your ancestral possessions with him straightaway, and that you become his vassal-king, if you want to stay alive, since you now don't have the forces that you can resist him.”

Then king Edmund summoned a certain bishop with whom he was most intimate, and deliberated with him how he should answer the fierce Ivar. The bishop was afraid because of this emergency, and he feared for the king's life, and counselled him that he thought that Edmund should submit to what Ivar asked of him. Then the king became silent, and looked at the ground, and then said to him at last: “Alas bishop, the poor people of this country are already shamefully afflicted. I would rather die fighting so that my people might continue to possess their native land.” The bishop said: “Alas beloved king, thy people lie slain. You do not have the troops that you may fight, and the pirates come and kidnap the living. Save your life by flight, or save yourself by submitting to him.” Then said king Edmund, since he was completely brave: “This I heartily wish and desire, that I not be the only survivor after my beloved thegns are slain in their beds with their children and wives by these pirates. It was never my way to flee. I would rather die for my country if I need to. Almighty God knows that I will not ever turn from worship of Him, nor from love of His truth. If I die, I live.”

After these words he turned to the messenger who Ivar had sent him, and, undaunted, said to him: “In truth you deserve to be slain now, but I will not defile my clean hands with your vile blood, because I follow Christ who so instructed us by his example; and I happily will be slain by you if God so ordain it. Go now quickly and tell your fierce lord: ‘Never in this life will Edmund submit to Ivar the heathen war-leader, unless he submit first to the belief in the Saviour Christ which exists in this country.’” Then the messenger went quickly on his way, and met along the road the cruel Ivar with all his army hastening toward Edmund, and told the impious one how he had been answered. Ivar then arrogantly ordered that the pirates should all look at once for the king who scorned his command, and seize him immediately.

King Edmund, against whom Ivar advanced, stood inside his hall, and mindful of the Saviour, threw out his weapons. Lo! the impious one then bound Edmund and insulted him ignominiously, and beat him with rods, and afterwards led the devout king to a firm living tree, and tied him there with strong bonds, and beat him with whips. In between the whip lashes, Edmund called out with true belief in the Saviour Christ. Because of his belief, because he called to Christ to aid him, the heathens became furiously angry. They then shot spears at him, as if it was a game, until he was entirely covered with their missiles, like the bristles of a hedgehog (just like St. Sebastian was). When Ivar the impious pirate saw that the noble king would not forsake Christ, but with resolute faith called after Him, he ordered Edmund beheaded, and the heathens did so. While Edmund still called out to Christ, the heathen dragged the holy man to his death, and with one stroke struck off his head, and his soul journeyed happily to Christ. There was a man near at hand, kept hidden by God, who heard all this, and told of it afterward, just as we have told it here.

From Abbo of Fleury’s Life of St. Edmund, from the Anglo-Saxon version as it appears in Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer, ninth edition, translated by K. Cutler (Oxford University Press, 1961).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

"I celebrate myself," the poet Walt Whitman wrote. The thought is so delicious it is almost obscene. Imagine the joy that would come with celebrating the self — our achievements, our experiences, our existence. Imagine what it would be like to look into the mirror and say, as God taught us, "That's good."
— Joan Chittister in Light in the Darkness

To Practice This Thought: Try the mirror exercise — say the words and mean it!
++++++++++ Reflections

We have now, by God’s help, like good gardeners, to make these plants grow and to water them carefully so that they may produce flowers which shall send forth great fragrance to give refreshment to this Lord of ours.
St Teresa of Jesus
Life 11.6

Reading from the Desert Christians


When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you
are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as
always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter
than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and
all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God,
and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither
also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means.

St. John of Kronstadt

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Active Waiting

Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God's footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert - yes, joyful - waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.

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

Day Twenty - The Third Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries endeavor to serve others in active work. We try to find expression for each of the three aims of the Order in our lives, and whenever possible actively help others who are engaged in similar work. The chief form of service which we have to offer is to reflect the love of Christ, who, in his beauty and power, is the inspiration and joy of our lives.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Heed the Call
November 20th, 2007
Tuesday’s Reflection

THE WORK OF THE MESSIAH calls us to comfort the old, the weak, the marginalized, the oppressed, and the homeless, who may smell bad because they’re sleeping on the streets, under bridges, and on subway platforms. If we heed the call, we’re almost certain to surrender some of our own comfort. …

The work of the Messiah always has involved comforting the afflicted — and afflicting the comfortable. If we truly want to follow that Messiah, as we say we do, then our work is clearly the same.

- Jim Melchiorre
Reflections of Messiah

From p. 16 of Reflections of Messiah: Contemporary Advent Meditations Inspired by Handel by Jim Melchiorre. Copyright © 2003 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Jesus is Brother Sun, Mary is Sister Moon. The Moon receives its glory as a mirror. It has no glory except that it receives the reflection of the sun. It perfectly reflects it so that it gives us light in the darkness. That is the meaning of Mary. It is the meaning of the Church. As the poet Brother Antoninus said, "The soul is feminine to God, and hangs on impregnation, fertile influxing grace…. Annul in me my manhood."

Mary tells us about the difference between attainment and grace. Grace is everything and everywhere, as she proclaims in the Magnificat. Because God is everything to Mary, she is not afraid to boast of her own beauty and greatness.

Humanity is God's miracle by God's grace, not by our merit. Mary is the perfect yes to Jesus. Therefore she is totally fruitful and victorious, and bears Jesus to the world. Mary will always be the most orthodox image of how holiness works in humanity.

from The Great Themes of Scripture

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

The coming of the King

Do you not see how the cross symbolizes the kingdom? If you desire further proof, it lies in the fact that the cross did not leave Christ earthbound, but lifted him up and carried him back to heaven. We know this because at his glorious second coming the cross will be with him. He called it his glory to teach you how sacred it is. When the Son of Man comes, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. Such a blaze of light will there be that even the brightest stars will be eclipsed. Then the stars will fall, and the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven. So you see the power of the sign of the cross!

When a king is entering a city, his soldiers take up their standards, and, carrying them aloft across their shoulders, go before him to announce his coming. So also shall the armies of angels and archangels precede the Lord when he comes from heaven. Bearing his sign on their shoulders, they will proclaim the coming of the King.

John Chrysostom

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


"In whom we have . . . the forgiveness of sins." Ephesians 1:7

Beware of the pleasant view of the Fatherhood of God - God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That sentiment has no place whatever in the New Testament. The only ground on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ; to put forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy. The only ground on which God can forgive sin and reinstate us in His favour is through the Cross of Christ, and in no other way. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony of Calvary. It is possible to take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and our sanctification with the simplicity of faith, and to forget at what enormous cost to God it was all made ours.

Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace; it cost God the Cross of Jesus Christ before He could forgive sin and remain a holy God. Never accept a view of the Fatherhood of God if it blots out the Atonement. The revelation of God is that He cannot forgive; He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God by the Atonement. God's forgiveness is only natural in the supernatural domain.

Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is slight. Sanctification is simply the marvellous expression of the forgiveness of sins in a human life, but the thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin. Paul never got away from this. When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vice, constrained by the love of God.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 21, July 21, November 20
Chapter 42: That No One Speak After Compline

Monastics ought to be zealous for silence at all times,
but especially during the hours of the night.
For every season, therefore,
whether there be fasting or two meals,
let the program be as follows:

If it be a season when there are two meals,
then as soon as they have risen from supper
they shall all sit together,
and one of them shall read the Conferences
or the Lives of the Fathers
or something else that may edify the hearers;
not the Heptateuch or the Books of Kings, however,
because it will not be expedient for weak minds
to hear those parts of Scripture at that hour;
but they shall be read at other times.

If it be a day of fast,
then having allowed a short interval after Vespers
they shall proceed at once to the reading of the Conferences,
as prescribed above;
four or five pages being read, or as much as time permits,
so that during the delay provided by this reading
all may come together,
including those who may have been occupied
in some work assigned them.

When all, therefore, are gathered together,
let them say Compline;
and when they come out from Compline,
no one shall be allowed to say anything from that time on.
And if anyone should be found evading this rule of silence,
let her undergo severe punishment.
An exception shall be made
if the need of speaking to guests should arise
or if the Abbess should give someone an order.
But even this should be done with the utmost gravity
and the most becoming restraint.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Silence has two functions. The first effect of exterior silence is to develop a sense of interior peace. The second value of silence is that it provides the stillness that enables the ear of the heart to hear the God who is "not in the whirlwind."

The constantly blaring record player, the slammed door, the ceaseless, empty chatter in the hall, the constantly harsh voice, all break the peace of the heart and agitate the soul. Day after day, month after month of them thickens the walls of the mind until it becomes impossible to hear the talk within us that shows us our pain and opens our mind to the truths of life and the presence of God.

Silence is not enough, however. Benedict wants night to rest our spirits as well as our bodies. He wants to send us to bed with instruction on the gentle Word of God, not on the scriptural history narratives with their blood and struggles, so that the stresses of the day can be softened by the thoughts of something beyond them.

We live with noise pollution now and find silence a great burden, a frightening possibility. Muzak fills our elevators and radios are set into wrist watches and TV's blare from every room in the house from morning till night. We say we do not have the time to think but what we actually lack is the quiet to think. Yet, until we are able to have at least a little silence every day, both outside and in, both inside and out, we have no hope of coming to know either God or ourselves very well.

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 Nativity Fast Edmund, King
in England and Martyr
Kellia: 2 Kings 7:1-4, 8-16 (2 Samuel MT) Epistle: 1 Timothy
1:8-14 Gospel: St. Luke 17:26-37

David's Early Reign IV ~ Divine Promises: 2 Kings 7:1-4, 8-16,
especially vs.16: "And his house shall be made sure, and his Kingdom for
ever before Me, and his throne shall be set up for ever." Considering
all the royalty that have come and gone on earth, the many nations that
have seen the light of God's sun, and the crowns that have tumbled into
the dust, God's promises to King David are most notable when assessed
against the statistics of history. For the Faithful, the Kingdom of the
Son of David has ineffable significance because we know that the kingdom
of this world shall "become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ
and He shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 11:15). This present passage
is far more than an interesting study in Hebrew antiquities; it calls
everyone to venerate King David and worship his son, Christ our God!

The Lord promised David that his son's "house shall be made sure, and
his kingdom for ever before Me" (vs. 16). In the Septuagint, the word
is "oikos," which connotes "household," or, in the case of a king,
implies his "dynasty" - as the "house of Romanov" or the "house of
Tudor." The implication of the term promises a continuity of blood
lineage. Both St. Matthew and St. Luke, with variation in detail,
carefully place the Lord Jesus within the blood lineage of St. Joseph,
the betrothed of the Theotokos, which they trace back to King David.

Of greater significance, however, is the lineage of the Virgin Mary
since the Lord Jesus was conceived in her without earthly father. As
St. Demetrius of Rostov says, "she, being like a precious stone, was of
royal lineage, having descended from David, who placed a stone in his
sling and with it killed Goliath, which stone foreshadowed the Rock that
is Christ. And she was fashioned, as it were, from aromatic woods of
cedar and cypress, being of priestly ancestors as well, who offered God
sweet-smelling sacrifices. Her father, the holy righteous Joachim, was
the son of Barpaphira, who traced his ancestry to Nathan, the son of
David" (see 2 Kngs. 5:14).

Observe: God promised David "I will raise up thy seed after thee, even
thine own issue, and....I will set up his throne even for ever." (2
Kngs. 7:12,13 LXX). Still, in historic terms, the dynasty of David
plainly ended with the Babylonian exile, for the later Hasmonean kings
did not lay claim to Davidic ancestry. What is more, the Idumeans - in
the lineage of the Herods - terminated any royal claims of the
Hasmoneans. And to end all questions about Davidic lineage in Judah,
the Romans sharply modified any claims of the Herods. Still, the
Apostolic witness declares a Davidic bloodline for Christ Jesus. Rome
believed it settled any lingering questions about Jesus when Pontius
Pilate eliminated Him as "King of the Jews." But God thwarts men and
invites us to "extol David...the grandparent of God; for from him...did
shine forth Christ!"

Most wonderful is the final element in the Divine promise to David, for
the Lord vowed that a Son of David, enjoying an eternal
love-relationship between Himself and God His Father, would establish an
everlasting Kingdom. God specifically promised David: "My mercy I will
not take from Him" (vs. 15). The Lord Jesus, great David's greatest
Son, in His prayer to His heavenly Father, affirmed that eternal
love-relationship between Himself and His Father for all to consider: "I
have declared unto them [the Disciples] Thy Name, and will declare it,
that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in
them" (Jn. 17:26). The essence of the relationship between Jesus, our
King and God, and God the Father is and ever shall be an ineffable,
wondrous love that overflows to everyone of us in the human race.

Let us celebrate the memory of David the Prophet-king of true worship,
so that being saved from error by his teachings, and by God's true
promises to him, we may glorify Christ Who shone forth Incarnate from
the Virgin to save our souls.x

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