Thursday, January 03, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/03/08


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.


Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 68; PM Psalm 136
1 Kings 19:9-18; Eph. 4:17-32; John 6:15-27

From Forward Day by Day:

John 6:15-27. [Jesus said to them] "It is I. Do not be afraid."

One of the treasures in our home is an icon that was a gift to our family. It is a depiction of the gospel lesson for this day-Jesus calming the storm with the disciples looking fearful. This icon was made by a Christian of the Orthodox tradition. He also created an icon of the Madonna and Child that rests over the baptismal font of our parish.

The icon presented to our family was given as an act of thanksgiving on the occasion of the marriage of this gentleman's son. The son is married to a woman who is deaf. Despite this physical limitation, she completed her studies and became a teacher of deaf children. This couple now has two lovely and healthy children, a beautiful home, and rewarding careers.

This gospel lesson reminds me of our beautiful icon. The icon helps me remember this family of grace, and this family enables me to recall the words of our Lord Christ, "It is I. Do not fear."

Because man is made in the image and likeness of God, there is something divine about the act of painting an icon.
-Theodore the Studite (d. 826)

Today we remember:

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Abakaliki (Niger, Nigeria)

From: Christmas CLARESHARE December 2006
Ty Mam Duw Poor Clare Colettine Community

3rd January
Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.
God had a name. You have a name. The people you love have names. Who is
your role model, to whom do you look up? Add them to your collection.

Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 10, January 3
Ten Lords A-leaping
The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

Little Is Much! (1 Kings 19:9-18)

You would think that after his experience on Mt. Carmel that Elijah would have spent the rest of his life in total optimism. The numerical odds against his success up there were astronomical. There were nine hundred pagan prophets lined up against him and even those who were expected to support him were silent. Not to worry! God heard the simple prayer of that one man and, technically, over-answered his prayer!

So, it is somewhat shocking when the curtain goes up on the next scene and we find our hero hiding. We don't know the whole story, but he is probably overwhelmed with the human side of having to constantly stand alone for God.

Truth is that the curtain in each of our lives frequently rises to expose our personal discouragement and frustration. This side of Christmas, it is good for us to be reminded that God is an expert at doing big things in small ways. The Scripture says that Elijah's encouragement came in a "gentle whisper." For the shepherds it was the "baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." We should never forget that, "little is much, when God is in it!"

- Wes Smith
McMinnville, Oregon, USA


It all seemed so big; the celebration, the glitz, the cleanup. And I, well, I still seem so small, so insignificant. Lord, let me be totally honest. Often, I simply seem useless, unneeded, extra baggage. Are You SURE You want me? I mean, I can understand us needing You, but, You want ME!!! Thank You for making me feel needed. Thank You for reestablishing my sense of worth. But, stay with me Lord. I will need You to remind me of all that again.


Speaking to the Soul:

The saving name

Daily Reading for January 3

Loving God,
whose angels proclaimed
the saving name of Mary’s child,
grant that we might live each day
in the light of your incarnate love
and guided by your Holy Spirit
find our salvation in and through
the redeeming and most precious name
of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

A prayer for the Feast of the Holy Name by Frank Topping (2001), in Daily Prayer, edited by Frank Topping and based on the classic collection compiled by Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs (Oxford, 2003).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

The way in which we go to the grocery store may tell us everything about the way in which we live a life.
— Rachel Naomi Remen quoted in My Monastery Is a Minivan by Denise Roy

To Practice This Thought: Observe how you approach one very ordinary activity. Do you notice the grace, love, joy, and wonder in it?
++++++++++ Reflections

It is God Himself who wishes to be the riches, comfort, and delightful glory of the religious.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians


If the soul is vigilant and withdraws from all distraction and
abandons its own will, then the spirit of God invades it and it
can conceive because it is free to do so.

Abba Cronius

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Vulnerable, Like a Bird

Life is precious. Not because it is unchangeable, like a diamond, but because it is vulnerable, like a little bird. To love life means to love its vulnerability, asking for care, attention, guidance, and support. Life and death are connected by vulnerability. The newborn child and the dying elder both remind us of the preciousness of our lives. Let's not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular.

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

Day Three - The Object, cont'd

Jesus calls those who would serve him to follow his example and choose for themselves the same path of renunciation and sacrifice. To those who hear and obey he promises union with God. The object of the Society of Saint Francis is to build a community of those who accept Christ as their Lord and Master and are dedicated to him in body and spirit. They surrender their lives to him and to the service of his people. The Third Order of the Society consists of those who, while following the ordinary professions of life, feel called to dedicate their lives under a definite discipline and vows. They may be female or male, married or single, ordained or lay.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

God Is There
January 3rd, 2008
Thursday’s Reflection

THE BIBLE … teaches that God can be known within terrible events: the massacre of Hebrew babies (Exod. 1:15-22); the horrors of exile (Isa. 40:1-2); the loneliness of a childless, elderly couple far from home (Gen. 15:1-6). For Christians, God is known in the sufferings of Jesus: look at the crucified Jesus and you know something about who God is in the world. But this is a mystery we take easily for granted. God may be hidden and unrecognizable, but God is there, in spite of everything, present with us, still worthy of our worship.

- Paul E. Stroble
You Gave Me a Wide Place

From p. 104 of You Gave Me a Wide Place: Holy Places in Our Lives by Paul E. Stroble. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

What is the foundation of your community life?

Foundation of Life

We became convinced in nine years of community building at New Jerusalem that you can only build on life. All else is sand. You cannot build on fear, guilt, coercion or even idealism. You cannot build on gospel passages, Church commandments or papal mandates unless they are ultimately putting you in touch with life.

You cannot build on death. Unforgiveness, repressed hurts, denied feelings, unconscious anger will eventually show themselves as unfit foundations for community. They might appear to be energy in the short run, but they will in time show themselves to be negative energy, incapable of real life. "Wisdom has built herself a house" (Proverbs 9:1, JB). And wisdom knows that you can only build on the foundation of life.

This journey into ever deeper life is the essence of faith community.

from Sojourners, "All of Life Together is a Stage"

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

A slave amidst poverty

The Lord of all comes as a slave amidst poverty. The hunter has no wish to startle his prey. Choosing for his birthplace an unknown village in a remote province, he is born of a poor maiden and accepts all that poverty implies, for he hopes by stealth to ensnare and save us.

If he had been born to high rank and amidst luxury, unbelievers would have said the world had been transformed by wealth. If he had chosen as his birthplace the great city of Rome, they would have thought the transformation had been brought about by civil power. Suppose he had been the son of an emperor. They would have said: "How useful it is to be powerful!" Imagine him the son of a senator. It would have been: "Look what can be accomplished by legislation!"

But in fact, what did he do? He chose surroundings that were poor and simple, so ordinary as to be almost unnoticed, so that people would know it was the Godhead alone that had changed the world. This was his reason for choosing his mother from among the poor of a very poor country, and for becoming poor himself.

Theodotus of Ancyra

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


"Clouds and darkness are round about Him." Psalm 97:2

A man who has not been born of the Spirit of God will tell you that the teachings of Jesus are simple. But when you are baptized with the Holy Ghost, you find "clouds and darkness are round about Him." When we come into close contact with the teachings of Jesus Christ we have our first insight into this aspect of things. The only possibility of understanding the teaching of Jesus is by the light of the Spirit of God on the inside. If we have never had the experience of taking our commonplace religious shoes off our commonplace religious feet, and getting rid of all the undue familiarity with which we approach God, it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and familiar are those who have never yet been introduced to Jesus Christ. After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing Who He is.

Jesus said: "The words that I speak unto you," not the words I have spoken, "they are spirit, and they are life." The Bible has been so many words to us - clouds and darkness - then all of a sudden the words become spirit and life because Jesus re-speaks them to us in a particular condition. That is the way God speaks to us, not by visions and dreams, but by words. When a man gets to God it is by the most simple way of words.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 3, May 4, September 3

And the Lord, seeking his laborer
in the multitude to whom He thus cries out,
says again,
"Who is the one who will have life,
and desires to see good days" (Ps. 33:13)?
And if, hearing Him, you answer,
"I am the one,"
God says to you,
"If you will have true and everlasting life,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips that they speak no guile.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek after peace and pursue it" (Ps. 33:14-15).
And when you have done these things,
My eyes shall be upon you
and My ears open to your prayers;
and before you call upon Me,
I will say to you,
'Behold, here I am'" (Ps. 33:16; Is. 65:24; 58:9).

What can be sweeter to us, dear ones,
than this voice of the Lord inviting us?
Behold, in His loving kindness
the Lord shows us the way of life.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

In Benedict's mind, apparently, the spiritual life is not a collection of asceticisms, it is a way of being in the world that is open to God and open to others. We struggle, of course, with temptations to separate the two. It is so easy to tell ourselves that we overlooked the needs of others because we were attending to the needs of God. It is so easy to go to church instead of going to a friend whose depression depresses us. It is so easy to want silence rather than the demands of the children. It is so much easier to read a book about religion than it is to listen to a husband talk about his job or a wife talk about her loneliness. It is so much easier to practice the privatized religion of prayers and penances than it is to make fools out of ourselves for the Christian religion of globalism and peace. Deep, deep spiritual traditions everywhere, however, reject those rationalizations: "Is there life after death?", a disciple once asked a Holy One. And the Holy One answered, "The great spiritual question of life is not 'Is there life after death?' The great spiritual question is, 'Is there life before death?'" Benedict obviously believes that life lived fully is life lived on two planes: attention to God and attention to the good of the other.

The godly are those, this paragraph says, who never talk destructively about another person--in anger, in spite, in
vengefulness,--and who can be counted on to bring an open heart to a closed and clawing world.

The godly know when the world they live in has them on a slippery slope away from the good, the true, and the holy and they refuse to be part of the decline. What's more striking, they set out to counter it. It is not enough, Benedict implies, simply to distance ourselves from the bad. It is not enough, for instance, to refuse to slander others; we must rebuild their reputations. It is not enough to disapprove of toxic waste; we must do something to save the globe. It is not enough to care for the poor; we must do something to stop the poverty. We must be people who bring creation to life. "Once you have done this," the Rule reminds us, "my eyes will be upon you and my ears will listen for your prayers." Once you have done these things, you will be in the presence of God.

Finally, as far as Benedict is concerned, the spiritual life depends on our being peaceful peacemakers.

Agitation drives out consciousness of God. When we're driven by agitation, consumed by fretting, we become immersed in our own agenda and it is always exaggerated. We get caught up in things which, in the final analysis, simply don't count, in things that pass away, in things that are concerned with living comfortably rather than with living well. We go to pieces over crying children and broken machines and the length of stop lights at intersections. We lose touch with the center of things.

At the same time, a kind of passive tranquillity is not the aim of Benedictine life. The call of this spirituality is to be gentle ourselves and to bring nonviolence in our wake. It is an amazing position for a sixth century document to take in a violent world. There is no Armeggedon theology here, no call to a pitched battle between good and evil in a world that subscribed to dualism and divided life into things of the spirit and things of the flesh.

In this Rule of life, violence is simply discounted. Violence doesn't work. Not political violence, not social violence, not physical violence, not even the violence that we do to ourselves in the name of religion. Wars haven't worked. Classism hasn't worked. Fanaticism hasn't worked. Benedictinism, on the other hand, simply does not have as its goal either to beat the body down or to vanquish the world. Benedictinism simply sets out to gentle a universe riddled with violence by being a peaceful voice for peace in a world that thinks that everything--international relations, child rearing and economic development, even in the spiritual life--is accomplished by force.

Benedictinism is a call to live in the world not only without weapons raised against the other but by doing good. The passage implies clearly that those who make God's creation their enemy simply do not "deserve to see the Holy One."

It is a strong passage clothed in words long dulled by repetition.

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

St. Mark 12: 38-44 (1/3) For Thursday of the 31st Week after
Pentecost (Thur of P &P)

Two Cents Worth: St. Mark 12:38-44, especially vs. 43: "So He called His
disciples to Himself and said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you that
this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the
treasury....'" Today inflation has so eroded the value of the little
penny, taking away even the poor thing's copper heart, that the majority
of people will not bend down to pick up one that has dropped on a
parking lot or sidewalk. Still, in commerce and business, despite
devaluation, one can hear people say that they hope "to get their two
cents worth." What then? Do you think the widow got her two cents worth?

St. Jerome observes that though "the widow in the Gospel...was but a
poor widow [she] was richer than all the people of Israel. She had but
a grain of mustard seed, but she put her leaven in the measures of
flour; and, tempering her confession of the Father and of the Son with
the grace of the Holy Spirit, cast her two pennies into the treasury.
All the substance that she had, all her possessions she offered in the
two testaments of her faith. Her two pennies are like the two Seraphim
which glorify the Trinity with their threefold song and are stored among
the treasures of the Church. They are like the two legs of the tongs by
which live coal is caught up to cleanse the sinner's lips." By her pure
intention she bought heaven with two small copper coins.

The whole of the matter when we give tithes and offerings, pray to the
Lord, worship at His Holy Altar, or invest time and energy in any good
work of the Kingdom of Christ, is built on the foundation of our
intention, for better or for worse. St. John Chrysostom says of the
widow that "since it was not money but rather her intention that
prevailed, that woman received everything because she demonstrated firm

However, when it comes to intent, and we examine carefully the vitality
of our intentions, how often we find that our souls function like poor
beggars, with little to offer to our All-giving Lord! Each of us has
said, "I have united myself to Christ, believe in Him as King and God,
and bow down also before Him." Only let each of us admit with the
Pilgrim: "I do not love God. For if I loved God I should be continually
thinking about Him with heartfelt joy....On the contrary, I much more
often and much more eagerly think about earthly things, and thinking
about God is labor and dryness." Our souls mostly have only two cents
worth of Godly intention.

What then? Shall we not at least give that little bit of love and
devotion that we do have to our Life-giving Savior? "Lord, I believe,
help my unbelief" (Mk. 9:24)! Let us offer our paltry love to our King
and our God and have joy in doing so, for even this one tiny mite of
imperfect love, when offered together with the mite of repentance, will
be received with "joy in heaven" (Lk. 15:7). These are the two mites
that our poor widowed souls can offer to God in hope.

Make no mistake about it: Christ sits "opposite the treasury and [sees]
how the people put money into the treasury" (Mk. 12:41). Even our shame
at our lackluster love is the beginning of repentance. It is a tiny
mite, but it is something. It represents the first waking breath within
us of the knowledge of how very greatly God loves us. Let us keep this
truth in mind, reflecting on the Giver, the Lover, the One Who became
poor for our sake, that we might be rich (2 Cor. 8:9). Though we have
no basis for pride in what we give, let us give, and pray, worship, and
invest ourselves to the degree that His love stirs up even a tiny
response in our shrunken hearts. For when the widowed soul "out of her
poverty [puts] in all that she [has], her whole livelihood" (Mk. 12:44),
God sees and blesses her with His great love. She will get infinitely
more than two cents worth.

O Lord God Almighty, Who alone art Holy, Who dost accept the sacrifice
of praise from those who call upon Thee with their whole heart: Receive
also the prayer of us sinners.


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