Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/16/08



Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 119:1-24; PM Psalm 12, 13, 14
Gen. 4:1-16; Heb. 2:11-18; John 1:(29-34)35-42

From Forward Day by Day:

Genesis 4:1-16. Abel for his part brought the firstlings of his flock.

Core values show where commitment lies. I hold to several core values including "offering the best." My World War II generation parents instilled in me that regardless of the circumstance, I should aim to be and do all in my capacity. In our household my wife, daughter, and I hold to this principle (though I confess it is sometimes a matter of interpretation).

Abel, son of Adam and Eve, holds to the core value to "offer the best." In his stewardship to God he gives the firstlings of his flock. He offers a tithe, which was the minimum standard for the Hebrew people. The tithe in giving to God is also the minimum standard in the Episcopal Church. However, Abel's core value is distinct from that of his brother Cain.

Cain chooses a simple "offering of the fruit of the ground." What transpires is difference of opinion, hostile emotions, harsh conflict, and fratricide.

Perhaps conflict could be resolved by discussion about core values. Could it be that differences are not so much about issues but about what is precious, virtuous, and valuable? Let us be mindful that every person is worthy in the sight of God.

Today we remember:

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the

Speaking to the Soul:

The way to God

Daily Reading for January 16

The desert fathers withdrew from ordinary society and sought the solitude of the desert. This was the first step in their ‘spirituality’. Then they placed themselves under spiritual fathers. After that, the daily life was their prayer, and it was a radically simple life: a stone hut with a roof of branches, a reed mat for a bed, a sheep-skin, a lamp, a vessel for water or oil. It was enough.

The aim of the monks’ lives was not asceticism, but God, and the way to God was charity. The gentle charity of the desert was the pivot of all their work and the test of their way of life. Charity was to be total and complete. Antony the Great said, ‘My life is with my brother’, and he himself returned to the city twice, once to relieve those dying of plague, and once to defend the faith against heresy. The old men of the desert received guests as Christ would receive them. They might live austerely themselves, but when visitors came they hid their austerity and welcomed them. A brother said, ‘Forgive me, father, for I have made you break your rule’, but the old man said, ‘My rule is to receive you with hospitality and send you on your way in peace.’

From The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers by Sister Benedicta Ward SLG (SLG Press, 1975).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Whatever comes, good or bad, don't make a move to avoid it.
— Maurine Stuart Roshi quoted in Hidden Spring by Sandy Boucher

To Practice This Thought: Meet everything that comes to you with an open heart and a welcoming spirit.
++++++++++ Reflections

Take God for your bridegroom and friend, and walk with him continually; and you will not sin and will learn to love, and the things you must do will work out prosperously for you.
St John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love, 68.

Reading from the Desert Christians


For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things,
unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our
neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with
patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to
give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to
esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who
are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to
exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new
creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye
amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new
creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are
made new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

St. Gregory the Great

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Living with Hope

Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God's promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.

All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let's live with hope.

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

Day Sixteen - The First Way of Service, cont'd

Tertiaries recognize the power of intercessory prayer for furthering the purposes of God's kingdom, and therefore seek a deepening communion with God in personal devotion, and constantly intercede for the needs of his church and his world. Those of us who have much time at their disposal give prayer a large part in their daily lives. Those of us with less time must not fail to see the importance of prayer and to guard the time we have allotted to it from interruption. Lastly, we are encouraged to avail themselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through which the burden of past sin and failure is lifted and peace and hope restored.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Wednesday’s Reflection

SHOW US the light of grace. … Illumine our souls with joyful delight when sadness tries to take over the day. Shine brightly on us today, God, until we reflect your glory as a witness to this world.

- Kwasi I. Kena
The Africana Worship Book: Year A

From p. 84 of The Africana Worship Book: Year A edited by Valerie Bridgeman Davis and Safiyah Fosua. Copyright © 2006 by Discipleship Resources. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Call to Church

Question of the day:
How is the risen Christ inviting you on the path of liberation?

Jesus taught us something about resurrection not long before his own Resurrection, when he called his friend Lazarus back from death. In John's telling of the story, Jesus comes before the tomb, the tomb symbolizing the deadness, the coldness, the hard-heartedness in all of us. He stands as the powerful warrior, the victor, the conqueror before that deadness, Jesus tells them to take away the stone, then he asks of them a further sign of faith. Do you believe that I can do it? Can you be with me as I do it? Step out. Make a bit of a fool of yourself, move away the stone. "Untie him," Jesus told them, "and let him go free" (John 11:44).

Notice what John may well be saying to the community. Though Jesus brings us to life, he needs us, the Body of Christ. He needs the community to unbind Lazarus. We now share in the power of resurrection. The eternal Christ says to the eternal Church: Unbind the suffering world and let it go free! That is the meaning of Church. It is our call, our burden, our task in human history. The risen Christ invites us on his path of liberation.

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.

ecognize your dignity, O Christian

Let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, who, by reason of his great charity with which he has loved us, has taken pity on us; and whereas we were dead in sins, has quickened us in Christ to make us a new creation in him, a new handiwork. Let us accordingly lay aside our former way of life with all its works, and claiming our joint portion in Christ's sonship, let us renounce the deeds of corrupt nature. Recognize your dignity, O Christian, and once made a sharer in the divine nature, do not by your evil conduct return to the base servitude of the past. Keep in mind of whose head and body you are a member. Never forget that you have been plucked from the power of darkness and taken up into the light and kingdom of God. By the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not through your depravity drive away so great a guest and put yourself once more in bondage to the devil, for the blood of Christ was the price of your redemption.

Leo the Great

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


"I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send?" Isaiah 6:8

When we speak of the call of God, we are apt to forget the most important feature, viz., the nature of the One Who calls. There is the call of the sea, the call of the mountains, the call of the great ice barriers, but these calls are only heard by the few. The call is the expression of the nature from which it comes, and we can only record the call if the same nature is in us. The call of God is the expression of God's nature, not of our nature. There are strands of the call of God providentially at work for us which we recognize and no one else does. It is the threading of God's voice to us in some particular matter, and it is no use consulting anyone else about it. We have to keep that profound relationship between our souls and God.

The call of God is not the echo of my nature; my affinities and personal temperament are not considered. As long as I consider my personal temperament and think about what I am fitted for, I shall never hear the call of God. But when I am brought into relationship with God, I am in the condition Isaiah was in. Isaiah's soul was so attuned to God by the tremendous crisis he had gone through that he recorded the call of God to his amazed soul. The majority of us have no ear for anything but ourselves, we cannot hear a thing God says. To be brought into the zone of the call of God is to be profoundly altered.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 16, May 17, September 16
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel

Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.

Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.

However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

An African proverb says: "You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla." Experience counts. Wisdom is simply its distillation. Abbots may be abbots and prioresses may be prioresses but the community was there long before them and the community will remain long after they have gone, as well. To ignore the counsel of a group, then, is to proceed at risk.

But Benedict knows about more than the value of experience. Benedict knows about the presence and power of God. And Benedict knows that there is a spark of the divine in all of us. The function of an abbot or prioress, of leaders and spouses everywhere, is not so much to know the Truth as it is to be able to espy it and to recognize it in the other when they hear it. Calling the community for counsel is Benedict's contribution to the Theology of the Holy Spirit.

In the monastic community, this common search for truth is pitched at a delicate balance. The abbot and prioress are clearly not dictators but the community is not a voting bloc either. They are each to speak their truth, to share the perspective from which they see a situation, to raise their questions and to open their hearts, with honesty and with trust. The prioress and abbot are to listen carefully for what they could not find in their own souls and to make a decision only when they can come to peace with it, weighing both the community's concerns and the heart they have for carrying the decision through.

"Foresight and fairness" are essentials for leaders who lead out of a sense of Benedictine spirituality. The decision is all theirs and they will answer for it in conscience and in consequences. They must not make it lightly and they must take all of its effects into consideration. The emphasis in this paragraph is clearly on results rather than on power. It is easy to gain power. It is difficult to use it without being seduced by it. The Rule of Benedict reminds us that whatever authority we hold, we hold it for the good of the entire group, not for our own sense of self.

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

St. Luke 21:5-7, 10-11, 20-24 (1/16) For Wed. of the 34th Wk after
Pentecost (Wed 29th Wk)

The Destiny of Jerusalem: St. Luke 21:5-7,10-11,20-24, especially vss.
23, 24: "For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon
this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led
away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by
Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." During the
days immediately before our Lord's arrest, He was invited to admire the
magnificence of the great temple of the Jews in Jerusalem - the third
and greatest of the national shrines erected for worship under the Old

Significantly, the Lord directed His remarks to events that would impact
the Church after His Passion and Resurrection. He graphically
prophesied how both the great building and the capital city would be
razed in war. Later, Church Fathers such as St. Cyril of Alexandria
linked these warnings to ancient Israel's rejection of the Lord as
Messiah and to the complicity of the Jewish leadership in His death:
"For He forewarned them that however worthy the temple might be
accounted by them of all admiration, yet at its season it would be
destroyed from its foundations being thrown down by the power of the
Romans, and all Jerusalem burnt with fire, and retribution exacted of
Israel for the slaughter of the Lord. For...such were the things which
it was their lot to suffer."

The years between AD 33 and the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 were marked
by the very signs that the Lord describes in today's reading. There
were national uprisings and battles between kingdoms within the greater
Roman Empire (cf. Lk. 21:10). There were earthquakes, famines and
outbreaks of plagues (cf. vs. 11). Eventually, Jerusalem was put to
siege by the crack legions of Rome under Vespasian. Finally, it was
conquered by his son Titus. Both of these generals served Rome not only
as military leaders but eventually also as Emperors (cf. vs. 20).

Ironically, when Titus and his legions approached Jerusalem, many Jewish
pilgrims ignored him and went into the city for the Passover
celebration. They were confident that the Holy City was invincible
under the hand of God. From an Orthodox Christian perspective, and as
history proved, these pilgrims were foolhardy. The Lord Jesus had
warned that it was time to flee when the armies came, for "Jerusalem
will be trampled by Gentiles..."(vss. 20-24). Anyone with a measure of
historical knowledge cannot help but read the Lord's comment in vs. 22
soberly. "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which
are written may be fulfilled."

Finally, let us sketch the history of the years from the time of the
Lord to the fall of Jerusalem under Titus. In 4 BC, the murderous Herod
the Great died. By the decision of Caesar Augustus, Herod's three
surviving sons were appointed to rule over portions of Herod's kingdom.
Archelaus (Mt. 2:22), to whom Jerusalem and Judea were assigned, proved
so inept that he was removed by the Romans in AD 6. Then a series of
Roman Procurators assumed control, one of whom was Pontius Pilate. In
AD 41, with a new Emperor in Rome, the grandson of Herod the Great,
Agrippa I, briefly assumed rule over Judea and Jerusalem but died
horribly in AD 44 (see Acts 12:23). Agrippa's reign, however, stirred
up Jewish nationalism, which was further inflamed by a series of
political blunders by the Roman Procurators. Finally, in AD 66, the
Procurator Florus raided the Temple treasury, and full-scale rebellion
broke out. The revolt ended in AD 70 with the Temple's utter
destruction and slavery for Jerusalem's survivors.

We Christians, the new Israel, have lived through two millennia and
might well wonder whether "the days of vengeance" are completed for
Jerusalem, living in an epoch when the city again is in hands of a
Jewish government, and again is torn by civil, religious, and ethnic
unrest, and again has massive international armies hovering nearby.
What will be the next chapter?

Salvation is of the Lord, and Thy blessing is upon Thy people. (Ps. 3:8 LXX)


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