Thursday, November 22, 2007

22/11/07 Thur, 25th week after Pentecost, Thanksgiving


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.

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; 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 105:1-22; PM Psalm 105:23-45
1 Macc. 4:1-25; Rev. 21:22-22:5; Matt. 18:1-9

From Forward Day by Day:

Matthew 6:25-33. [Jesus said,] "Therefore I tell you, do not worry."

I worry. My mother worried. I suspect that my father also worried. I come from a long line of worriers. My parents survived the Great Depression, but the memory of that era continued to haunt them.

The world is often a frightening place. When I am worried and afraid, I long for the peace of God and I pray to God, but I do not always feel the nearness of the Lord. However, I know that feelings aren't facts--and the fact is that God is always near.

I find it difficult to concentrate on thanking God when I am worrying. But when I can divert my attention and give thanks for my blessings, I slowly calm down. I think it is a matter of practice. If we offer thanks daily it becomes easier to offer thanks when we are anxious.

On this day of Thanksgiving let us offer thanks for our many blessings. And let us practice doing so every day.

When we have a spirit of thanksgiving we can hold all things lightly. We receive; we do not grab. And when it is time to let go, we do so freely. We are not owners, only stewards.
--Richard Foster

Today we remember:

Thanksgiving Day:
AM: Psalm 147; Deut. 26:1-11; John 6:26-35
PM: Psalm 145; Joel 2:21-27; 1 Thess. 5:12-24

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Warri (Bendel, Nigeria)

Speaking to the Soul:

Thanks for small things

Daily Reading for November 22 • Thanksgiving Day

Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts he has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith and difficulty; if on the contrary we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

From Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (SCM Press, 1963).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

All art that really draws us to look at it deeply is spiritual. Art accepts all the sadness, and transforms it implicitly affirming that beauty is essentially the presence of God.
— Sister Wendy Beckett in The Mystical Now

To Practice This Thought: Intentionally look for the presence of God in the next painting, sculpture, movie, play, poem, or dance you see.
++++++++++ Reflections

What is there to desire but to walk along the straight path of the law of God and of the Church, and to live only in true and obscure faith, in certain hope, and in the fullness of love. Rejoice, therefore, and have confidence in God.
St John of the Cross
Letter 19

Reading from the Desert Christians


Our holy fathers have renounced all other spiritual work and
concentrated wholly on this one doing, that is, on guarding the
heart, convinced that, through this practice, they would easily
attain every other virtue, whereas without it not a single virtue
can be firmly established.

St. Symeon the New Theologian

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

The Challenge of Aging

Waiting patiently in expectation does not necessarily get easier as we become older. On the contrary, as we grow in age we are tempted to settle down in a routine way of living and say: "Well, I have seen it all. ... There is nothing new under the sun. ... I am just going to take it easy and take the days as they come." But in this way our lives lose their creative tension. We no longer expect something really new to happen. We become cynical or self-satisfied or simply bored.

The challenge of aging is waiting with an ever-greater patience and an ever- stronger expectation. It is living with an eager hope. It is trusting that through Christ "we have been admitted into God's favour ... and look forward exultantly to God's glory" (Romans 5:2).

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

Day Twenty Two - The First Note -


We always keep before us the example of Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and who, on the last night of his life, humbly washed his disciples' feet. We likewise seek to serve one another with humility.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Giving Thanks
November 22nd, 2007
Thursday’s Reflection

OUR FIRST RESPONSE IS GRATITUDE. We thank God for such generous and nourishing gifts. Giving thanks opens our eyes to our connections to others. We see that we cannot thank God for the food we have and then turn our backs on people who are hungry. We cannot praise God for the bounty of the land and sea and close our eyes to the ways we abuse and pollute the soil and water. … Giving thanks to God is more than saying grace at the table; it is living lives that reflect God’s justice and love.

- Susan Briehl, Mary Emily Briehl Wells, and Magdalena Briehl Wells
Way to Live

From pp. 68-69 of Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens, edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. Copyright © 2002 by the editors. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Mother Teresa's Authority

Jesus summoned them and said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to become great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42–45, NAB) Why is it that Mother Teresa could stand up before crowds of thousands and simply repeat for the most part simple New Testament phrases? She was not complicated. Yet people sat on the edge of their chairs listening to her. She didn't say anything new: "Jesus loves you," she assured you. "We're sons and daughters of God and we have to love Jesus poor." Yet people walked out renewed, transformed and converted.

She was not a priest. She was not well educated. Her authority came from her lifestyle. Her life had been given over and she stood on her life. There was a truth in her like a magnet. That's the power the saints have. And that's why Paul would teach that the Church is built on the authority of the apostles and the prophets, the evangelists and healers, the teachers, lovers and helpers, all together making unity in the work of service. Servanthood is the true basis of authority in the Church, much more than title or ordination.

from The Spiritual Family and the Natural Family

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

The power of God and the justice of the eternal king

The saints are described as singing the song of Moses because they resemble Moses both in their singing and in the subject matter of their song. But while they too praise the Lord with joy and thanksgiving to the accompaniment of harps, their song consists of one short verse only. This single verse contains nonetheless two all-important themes: the power of God and the justice of the eternal king. Great and marvelous are your deeds is a proclamation of God's power. Just and true are your ways is an acknowledgement of his justice. Of the two it is surely more meritorious to confess the second than the first. If we fear and praise God as the most powerful of spirits because we witness his marvelous deeds, our confession is certainly not lacking in merit. But if we can discern the divine justice underlying these same deeds and strenuously uphold it in the face of every denial, we shall gain a far greater blessing. And the same is true even when discernment fails us: we are blessed indeed if we still bow down in loving adoration of God's justice, worshiping him in the words the apostle Paul teaches each one of us to say: O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments, how unfathomable his designs!

Rupert of Deutz

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


"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow concerns of life are not ordained of God; they are as much of God as the profound. It is not your devotion to God that makes you refuse to be shallow, but your wish to impress other people with the fact that you are not shallow, which is a sure sign that you are a spiritual prig. Be careful of the production of contempt in yourself, it always comes along this line, and causes you to go about as a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than you are. Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a Baby.

To be shallow is not a sign of being wicked, nor is shallowness a sign that there are no deeps: the ocean has a shore. The shallow amenities of life, eating and drinking, walking and talking, are all ordained by God. These are the things in which Our Lord lived. He lived in them as the Son of God, and He said that "the disciple is not above his Master."

Our safeguard is in the shallow things. We have to live the surface common-sense life in a common-sense way; when the deeper things come, God gives them to us apart from the shallow concerns. Never show the deeps to anyone but God. We are so abominably serious, so desperately interested in our own characters, that we refuse to behave like Christians in the shallow concerns of life.

Determinedly take no one seriously but God, and the first person you find you have to leave severely alone as being the greatest fraud you have ever known, is yourself.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

March 23, July 23, November 22
Chapter 43: On Those Who Come Late to the Work of God or to Table

Anyone who does not come to table before the verse,
so that all together may say the verse and the oration
and all sit down to table at the same time --
anyone who
through his own carelessness or bad habit
does not come on time
shall be corrected for this up to the second time.
If then he does not amend,
he shall not be allowed to share in the common table,
but shall be separated from the company of all
and made to eat alone,
and his portion of wine shall be taken away from him,
until he has made satisfaction and has amended.
And let him suffer a like penalty who is not present
at the verse said after the meal.

And let no one presume
to take any food or drink
before or after the appointed time.
But if anyone is offered something by the superior
and refuses to take it,
then when the time comes
that he desires what he formerly refused
or something else,
let him receive nothing whatever
until he has made proper satisfaction.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

In a world of fast food drive-in restaurants, multiple family schedules and three-car garages, the family meal has taken a decided second place in the spiritual and social formation of the culture. In Benedictine spirituality, however, the sacramental value of a meal in which the human concern we promise daily at the altar is demonstrated in the dining room where we prepare and serve and clean up after one another. The Rule is at least as firm on presence at meals at it is about presence at prayer. No one is to be late. No one is to eat before or after meals, or on her own, or on the run because monastic spirituality doesn't revolve around food, either having it or not having it. Monastic spirituality revolves around becoming a contributing part of a people of faith, living with them, learning with them, bearing their burdens, sharing their lives. The meal becomes the sanctifying center that reminds us, day in and day out, that unless we go on building the community around us, participating in it and bearing its burdens then the words family and humanity become a sham, no matter how good our work at the office, no matter how important our work in the world around us.

The Sufi tell a story. To a group of disciples whose hearts were set on a pilgrimage, the elder said:" Take this bitter gourd along. Make sure you dip it into all the holy rivers and bring it into all the holy shrines." When the disciples returned, the bitter gourd was cooked and served. "Strange," said the elder slyly after they had tasted it, "the holy water and the shrines have failed to sweeten it." All the prayer in the world, Benedict knows, is fruitless and futile if it does not translate into a life of human community made richer and sweeter by the efforts of us all. Both community and prayer, therefore, are essential elements of Benedictine spirituality and we may not neglect either.

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

Thursday, November 22, 2007 Nativity Fast Thanksgiving USA
Hieromartyr Sisinios
Kellia: 2 Kings (2 Samuel) 9:1-13 LXX Epistle: 1 Timothy 3:1-13
Gospel: St. Luke 18:31-34

Love Remembers: 2 Kings 9:1-13 LXX, especially vs. 1: "And David said,
Is there yet any one left in the house of Saul, that I may deal kindly
with him for Jonathan's sake?" In his Divine Liturgy, St. Basil reviews
the love that God has demonstrated for man His creature: He fashioned us
from the dust of the earth, honored us with His own image, set us in the
paradise of plenty, promised us life-eternal, and even when we
disobeyed, did not turn Himself away forever from us, nor "forget the
work of [His] hands," but "didst speak unto us through [His] Son
Himself." We say confidently that "love remembers," because we know
that "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in
him" (1 Jn. 4:16); and, as God remembers us in love, so those who abide
in God also remember with continuing love.

There was a long-standing bond of respect and love between David and
Jonathan, the son of King Saul. As King Saul's attitude toward David
deteriorated into murderous plots, the bond of love between Jonathan and
David deepened into true, mutual commitment (1 Kngs. 20). Learning of
King Saul's and Jonathan's death in battle (1 Kngs. 31), David poured
out his love in a lamentation: "I am grieved for thee, my brother
Jonathan; thou wast very lovely to me; thy love to me was wonderful
beyond the love of women" (2 Kngs. 1:26). During the next few years,
David was much absorbed with care for his own small tribal kingdom of
Judah, and then for the entire nation of Israel; but at the right time,
love remembered (2 Kngs. 9:1).

To see how true love remembers, observe David's questioning concerning
the house of Saul. It may not be described as light, momentary recall
or as sad reminiscence of times past, but as an up-welling from the
essence of love. The King's courtiers knew he was not simply musing but
inquiring seriously - with intent - "that I may deal kindly with him for
Jonathan's sake" (vs. 1). Genuine love remembers as God remembers, with
a primal simplicity.

Do take note here of what St. Gregory of Sinai says about human
remembering: "Adam's disobedience has not only deformed into a weapon of
evil the soul's simple memory of what is good; it has also corrupted all
its powers and quenched its natural appetite for virtue. The memory is
restored above all by constant mindfulness of God consolidated through
prayer, for this spiritually elevates the memory from a natural to a
supra-natural state." How much David's concern for the house of Saul
reveals the God-centered state of his own memory! He acts not out of
guilt or obligation, but out of that love that remembers as God
remembers - to do good.

Supra-natural remembering, or mindfulness, pursues knowledge of the
welfare of another because it loves as God does, without interruption or
fluctuation. David learns from Ziba that Jonathan has a son,
Mephibosheth, "lame of his feet," and living "in the house of Machir,
the son of Ammiel of Lo-debar" (vss. 3,4). As God's love extends over
the whole span of time, always remembering His beloved, the benighted
race of man, so David's love continues from Jonathan to Mephibosheth.
Thus, the King sets about showering this son of the household of Saul
with regal prerogatives and privileges. Love remembers.

Consider the implication of David's mindful love and what it asks of you
as one who knows the love of God in Christ Jesus. Our Lord is
Love-Who-Remembers always, with memory eternal. God has not forgotten
you, and never will. He invites you to "deal mercifully" and "restore"
as He is doing with you, to open your table to others as He has done
with you, giving "the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may
eat of it and not die" (Jn. 8:50).

Let me draw near to the mystical table, and with pure soul receive the
Bread, and see Thee wash the feet of the disciples; and let me do as I
have seen, subjecting myself in love.

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