Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Daily Meditation, 01/09/08 Wed in the week of EPIPHANY 1


Ambvon Prayer on the Feast Holy Theophany

Ineffable is Thy love towards us,
and boundless is the sea of Thy good will,
O Lord our God;
For it was pleasing unto Thee
for Thine Only-begotten Son to be born of a chaste woman,
and to become man;
and to be like unto us in all things, save sin:
and to be baptized as a man for our sake by John,
though needing no baptism:
so that, in sanctifying the element of water,
He might grant us rebirth by water and the Spirit.
And in these things discerning Thee to be God eternal,
we worship Thee,
Who hast from the heavens proclaimed Him that was baptized to be Thy Son.
We glorify Thy Holy Spirit,
Who descended upon Him and revealed Him to John:
for Thou hast sealed us,
and endowed us with the grace of Baptism;
Thou hast made us communicants of Thy Christ:
of Whom deprive not us sinners,
but by His Grace support us against every force of evil;
and strengthen the Orthodox Christians against every assault,
and lead us all into Thy Kingdom:
that in us may be glorified Thine all-holy Name,
and that of Thine Only-begotten Son,
together with the most Holy Spirit, now and ever,
and unto ages of ages. Amen.
From an ancient Amvbon prayer


O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Collect

God of all creation, you call us in Christ to make disciples of all nations and to proclaim your mercy and love: Grant that we, after the example of your servant Julia Chester Emery, may have vision and courage in proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our light and our salvation, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 121, 122, 123; PM Psalm 131, 132
Isa. 45:14-19; Col. 1:24-2:7; John 8:12-19

From Forward Day by Day:


Today we remember:

Julia Chester Emery
Psalm 67 or 96:1-7
Romans 12:6-13; Mark 10:42-45 John 8:12-19. I am the light of the world.

It is winter in the northern hemisphere. The sun setting in late afternoon makes for longer nights. These are the moments of this season when the cold and darkness seem never to end.

This time of the year has a mystical quality. Those living where the snow falls often know that gentle snow encourages everyone to slow down. Snow brings a divine quiet upon the earth. Snow on the ground reflects light in the utter darkness of this season. Snow on a tree radiates crystal sparkles before one's eyes. Perhaps it is nature's way of saying the light of the world shall not be overcome.

Jesus teaches his followers that he is light to their eyes. This light guides, directs, and ultimately gives life in Christ. The light of Christ has come into the entire cosmos. The light permits us to see beyond darkness, gain perspective in a fog, and have vision for the future.

In all seasons may the light encourage and energize our being. May the light of Christ be shown through our life and labor. May the light of the world bring warmth and comfort to all.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Agra (North India)

Speaking to the Soul:

Julia Chester Emery

Daily Reading for January 9 • Julia Chester Emery, 1922

Julia Chester Emery is not the kind of person one expects to meet in a calendar of religious commemorations, in part because of the nature of her accomplishments. Her story does not involve extraordinary feats of courage, neither was she tortured or executed for reason of her faith. She was only twenty-four years old when she assumed the only ecclesiastical post she would ever hold, secretary of the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Episcopal Church. In that office Julia Emery served for forty years, a faithful lay woman.

By the time Julia Emery left her post in 1916, she had helped organize branches of the Woman’s Auxiliary in nearly two-thirds of the eighty-five hundred parishes of the Episcopal Church. Moreover, the Auxiliary itself dispensed many dollars in financial aid to missions and raised the awareness of the larger church to the important work of outreach.

Julia Emery reminds us that the most difficult and demanding work of mission is the most mundane, the work of administration and education. Increasingly, missionary work involves not exotic travel or rare courage; far less does it involve a zeal for conversion to one’s own ideals or methods. Instead, modern mission demands just those qualities Julia Emery devoted to service—gifts for educating, organizing, and administering.

We remember Julia Emery for raising funds, organizing volunteers, administering institutions, and educating lay members of the church. Apparently, her only training for this ministry was a willingness to try it, for she possessed no special education or preparation. Her only authority was collegial, for being a lay woman, she had neither the office nor the perquisites of ordained status to buttress her leadership. Julia Emery reminds us that we all possess the resources we need to be effective missionaries, except perhaps the two most important qualities exemplified in her—a willingness to try and the commitment to stick with it, even for a lifetime.

From Brightest and Best: A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts by Sam Portaro (Cowley, 2001).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

Our duty is not to see through one another, but to see one another.
— Leonard Sweet in A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Cafe

To Practice This Thought: Give up trying to judge others; let them lean on you instead.
++++++++++ Reflections

Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine are the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me.
St John of the Cross

Reading from the Desert Christians


Observe your thoughts, and beware of what you have in your heart
and your spirit, knowing that the demons put ideas into you so as
to corrupt your soul by making it think of that which is not
right, in order to turn your spirit from the consideration of your
sins and of God.

Abba Elias

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Stepping over Our Wounds

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on. The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there. Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or the "discarded one." Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them. It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on.

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

Day Nine - The Second Aim, cont'd

As Tertiaries, we are prepared not only to speak out for social justice and international peace, but to put these principles into practice in our own lives, cheerfully facing any scorn or persecution to which this may lead.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

The Divine Embrace
January 9th, 2008
Wednesday’s Reflection

IF WE SEEK FAITH, we will know the divine embrace that enables us to embrace one another. Amid much brokenness around us and among us, this embrace is no small sign.

- Stephen V. Doughty
Discovering Community: A Meditation on Community in Christ

From Discovering Community: A Meditation on Community in Christ by Stephen V. Doughty. Copyright © 1999 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection


Question of the day:
How is one present to reality?

Somewhere each day we have to fall in love with someone, something, some moment, event, phrase. Somehow each day we must allow the softening of the heart. Otherwise our hearts will move inevitably toward hardness. We will move toward cynicism, bitterness, fear and despair. That's where most of the world is trapped and doesn't even know it.

The world's been in love with death so long that it calls death life. It tries to conjure up life by making itself falsely excited, by creating parties where there's no reason to celebrate.

We have to create and discover the parties of the heart, the place where we know we can enjoy, the place where we can give of ourselves. If you're not involved in giving your thoughts, your emotions, "for-giving," you will be involved only in taking. Yet the only way to experience joy is to give yourself to reality. Joy comes after you go that extra mile and offer yourself first-thing every day.

Ask the Lord to give you the grace to fall in love. Then you'll see rightly, because only when we are in love do we understand. Only when we've given ourselves to reality can we, in fact, receive reality. That is the endless mystery of the Trinity that is expressed in every facet of this world: Perfect giving equals perfect receiving.

from The Passion of God and the Passion Within

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

Our second birth

We know, and our knowledge is true, that we who were defiled by our first birth have been cleansed by our second birth; we who were enslaved by our first birth have been freed by our second birth; we who became children of earth at our first birth became children of heaven at our second birth; we who were fleshly because of the corruption inherent in our first birth have become spiritual by virtue of our second birth. The first made us children of wrath; the second, children of grace. Therefore let everyone know that any attack on the reverence due to holy baptism is an insult to God himself who told us: No one who is not born again of water and spirit can enter the kingdom of heaven.

Sound instruction therefore give us the grace to understand the nature and purpose of saving baptism. As the apostle puts it: If we have died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with Christ; for the object of our dying and being buried with Christ is to enable us to rise again and live with him.

Fulbert of Chartres

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


"And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless." 1 Thess 5:23

"Your whole spirit. . ." The great mystical work of the Holy Spirit is in the dim regions of our personality which we cannot get at. Read the 139th Psalm; the Psalmist implies - "Thou art the God of the early mornings, the God of the late at nights, the God of the mountain peaks, and the God of the sea; but, my God, my soul has further horizons than the early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature - Thou Who art the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot trace, dreams I cannot get at - my God, search me out."

Do we believe that God can garrison the imagination far beyond where we can go? "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin" - if that means in conscious experience only, may God have mercy on us. The man who has been made obtuse by sin will say he is not conscious of sin. Cleansing from sin is to the very heights and depths of our spirit if we will keep in the light as God is in the light, and the very Spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ will feed the life of our spirits. It is only when we are garrisoned by God with the stupendous sanctity of the Holy Spirit, that spirit, soul and body are preserved in unspotted integrity, undeserving of censure in God's sight, until Jesus comes.

We do not allow our minds to dwell as they should on these great massive truths of God.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 9, May 10, September 9
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be

An Abbess who is worthy to be over a monastery
should always remember what she is called,
and live up to the name of Superior.
For she is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery,
being called by a name of His,
which is taken from the words of the Apostle:
"You have received a Spirit of adoption ...,
by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba -- Father'" (Rom. 8:15)!

Therefore the Abbess ought not to teach or ordain or command
anything which is against the Lord's precepts;
on the contrary,
her commands and her teaching
should be a leaven of divine justice
kneaded into the minds of her disciples.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

The social revolution of the Rule starts in this paragraph on authority. This will be a different kind of life than the sixth century Roman ever saw. The head of the monastery will not be a chief or a queen or a feudal lord. The superior of a monastery of Benedictines will be a Christ figure, simple, unassuming, immersed in God, loving of the marginal, doer of the gospel, beacon to the strong.

Once you begin to understand that, you begin to understand the whole new type of authority that the Rule models for a world gone wild with power. You begin to understand that it is not the laws of the mighty that will govern this group. It is the law of God that will preempt all other considerations.

Like Christ, this leader does not lead with brute force. This leader understands the leavening process. This leader, called appropriately abbot or abbess or prioress, is a spiritual parent, a catalyst for the spiritual and psychological growth of the individual monastic, not a border guard or a warden. This leader is not a parent who terrorizes a child into submission; this leader believes in the best and gives people the opportunities to make the mistakes that lead to growth.

The prioress and abbot provide an environment that confronts the monastic with the presence of God, that shows them the Way. After that it is up to the monastic to let the practices of the community and the rhythm of the prayer life work their way until the piercing good of God rises in them like yeast in bread.

"If you meet the Buddha on the road," the Zen master teaches the disciple, "kill him." Don't let any human being become the measure of your life, the Zen implies. Eliminate whatever you would be tempted to idolize, no matter how worthy the object. The role of the spiritual leader, in other words, is not to make martinets out of people; it is to lead them to spiritual adulthood where they themselves make the kind of choices that give life depth and quality. Like the teacher of Zen, Benedict does not make the superior of the monastery the ultimate norm of life. Pleasing the abbot is not what monastic life is all about. Becoming what the abbess or prioress thinks you should be is not the goal of monasticism. Following the leader is not the end for which we're made; finding God is. Benedict makes the superior of his monasteries a lover of people, a leader who can persuade a person to the heights, show them the mountain and let them go.

In our own culture, becoming someone important, climbing the corporate and ecclesiastical ladder has so often meant pleasing the person at the top rather than doing what conscience demands or the situation requires. That kind of leadership is for its own sake. It makes the guru, rather than the gospel, the norm of life. That kind of obedience puts the business before the soul. That kind of authority is not monastic and it is not spiritual. That kind of authority so often leads to the satisfaction of the system more than to the development of the person and the coming of the reign of God. That kind of authority breeds Watergate and My Lai in the face of a tradition that holds up for public emulation Joan of Arc and Thomas More whose obedience was always to a much higher law than the institutions of the country.

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

St. Luke 20:1-8 (1/9) For Wednesday of the 33rd Week after
Pentecost (Wed 28th Week)

Rights vs. Repentance: St. Luke 20:1-8, especially vss. 5, 6: "And they
reasoned among themselves, saying, 'If we say, "From heaven," He will
say, "Why then did you not believe him?" But if we say, "From men," all
the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a
prophet.'" The Evangelist Mark records two imperatives that the Lord
Jesus' places before all mankind: "Repent, and believe in the gospel"
(Mk. 1:15). Christ's authoritative call to repent and believe in His
message aroused the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders: "by what
authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this
authority?" (Lk. 20:2). These national leaders were confident that they
were the "authorities," being members of the ruling Council of the
People of Israel and God's designated officials (Nu. 11:16-17 LXX).
Here was a Galilean peasant speaking for God in the Lord's sacred Temple
on His own authority (Lk. 19:47).

Notice that the Lord did not attempt to convince these leaders of His
Divine nature and anointing as Messiah, a ground for authority beyond
all adequacy in any sense. Rather, He returned to His basic message of
repentance and obedience to the Gospel by posing a question to His
interrogators: "The baptism of John - was it from heaven or from men?"
(Lk. 20:4).

St. John called all men to repent and to confirm their repentance by a
cleansing Baptism. Thus it is in one's heart that the Lord Jesus'
question must be settled: was John's authority from God, or was it from
himself or some other human authority? Behind the question lies one's
openness to repentance. Do you see? The Lord Jesus sought to open the
hearts of His interrogators (and all of us) to repentance as preached by
St. John and Himself. God's appointed leaders in the Temple, most of
all, should have acknowledged St. John as a Prophet and heeded his call
to repent; but, sadly, they were closed even to this elementary step
toward salvation. Because they would not repent, neither could they
hear the Gospel nor believe in Christ and His message.

The Temple authorities created a false polarization of rights versus
repentance. Woe to anyone so preoccupied with rights and self esteem
that he is not open to God's call to "repent and believe in the
Gospel." The call to repent is the call to life, when issued by Life
Himself. There is no conflict over the right to call others to repent,
so long as the appeal comes from the God Who spoke through John and was
Incarnate in Jesus. The reasoning of the authorities exposed their
uncertainty concerning John (vs. 5), and likely their unwillingness to
believe that John spoke for the God Who is God. If they could not
acknowledge John's call as valid, how then could they answer the Lord
Jesus? However, each of us must answer the Lord's question.

St. Peter of Damaskos exhorts you and me to answer the call of St. John
and the Lord: "It is always possible to make a new start by means of
repentance. 'You fell,' it is written, 'now arise' (see Prov. 24:16).
And if you fall again, then rise again, without despairing at all of
your salvation, no matter what happens." While you breathe air in this
life you have the choice to renew your Baptism into Christ through
repentance, and the need to repent is urgent for everyone, for without
repentance no one can be saved. Do not delay, as St. Peter exhorts. Why?

"Repentance is the first healing medicine. The heart has to repent and
come to its natural condition. If a life of sin has led it to an
unnatural state, a life of repentance will bring it back to its right
state, will give it life," as we are taught by Metropolitan Hierotheos.
Orthodoxy is well described as a life of repentance. Hence, St. John of
San Francisco says, "to ascend spiritually, it is necessary first of all
to free oneself from the weight of sin. It is taken from us through
repentance, provided that we banish from ourselves all enmity."

Pardon and forgive our transgressions, O Merciful Savior, and grant that
we may complete the remaining time of our life in peace and repentance.

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