Thursday, January 24, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/24/08


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.


Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Gracious God, we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much beloved daughter, to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion: By the grace of your Spirit inspire us to follow her example, serving your people with patience and happiness all our days, and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42
Gen. 11:1-9; Heb. 6:13-20; John 4:1-15

From Forward Day by Day:

Genesis 11:1-9. Let us make a name for ourselves.

The movie Babel deals with violence, disaster, and tragedy. It also addresses the need for greater human understanding. The pain felt around the world is starkly portrayed, but there is yet a ray of hope. In order to comprehend, listening is required.

The movie is not quite like the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel. Human pride permeates the biblical account. It is about myopic competition and egotistical priorities. These faults lead to a cracking of human unity. Lack of understanding ensues because no one listens. Communication falls apart. Division creeps in. Instead of a tower, walls are built that separate people.

Today the Anglican communion celebrates one brave soul who did not give up when faced with walls, Florence Li Tim-Oi. In 1944, she was ordained the first woman priest in our part of the body of Christ. There were afflictions and struggles, but Florence remained faithful in breaking down barriers. Let us bless the Lord for servants who overcome by understanding, listening, and affirming all the people of God.

Today we remember:

Ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi
Psalm 116:1-2
Galatians 3:23-28; Luke 10:1-9

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Missionary Diocese of Angola (South Africa)

Speaking to the Soul:

Ministry transformed

Daily Reading for January 24 • Ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi, First Woman Priest in the Anglican Communion, 1944

The first woman priest in the Anglican Communion was not an American. In a curious parallel to the seating of Elizabeth Dyer in the House of Deputies in 1946, the upheaval of wartime had also made possible the 1944 ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi by Ronald O. Hall, the bishop of Hong Kong, to provide priestly ministrations to Chinese Americans under the Japanese occupation. When word of the ordination reached England, Bishop Hall was roundly denounced and Li Tim-Oi agreed to suspend her sacramental ministry to protect Hall from punitive action. Her subsequent disappearance throughout the years China was closed to the West made it easy for the Anglican Communion to resist dealing with the implications of her ordination, but Li Tim-Oi’s ordination reminds us that the issue was by no means an American invention of the 1960s. In fact, women’s ordination to the priesthood had been urged by women’s rights activists on both sides of the Atlantic since the turn of the century, and was first alluded to in a Lambeth Conference report of 1920. . . .

On February 11, 1989, before a jubilant crowd of eight thousand people in the Hynes Auditorium in Boston, Barbara Clementine Harris was consecrated suffragan bishop of the most populous diocese in the American church. . . . Everything about the service testified to the fact that the old order was changing. The preacher was Harris’s mentor, Paul Washington, rector of the Church of the Advocate which had hosted the Philadelphia ordinations fifteen years earlier. Joining Bishop Harris around the altar to concelebrate the Eucharist were Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first Anglican woman ordained to the priesthood in 1944, and Carter Heyward, one of the Philadelphia Eleven. . . . A woman had become a bishop, and the episcopacy had been transformed: no longer a male preserve, it had become an image of human leadership within a community of diverse men and women united in Christ’s service.

From New Wine: The Story of Women Transforming Leadership and Power in the Episcopal Church by Pamela W. Darling (Cowley Publications, 1994).


Spiritual Practice of the Day

Great dreams contain inexhaustible truths, and orient us, like runes, toward our futures. One hesitates to try to explain them; one wants to dance them, act them out in living gestures. The more we put ourselves into a great dream, the more we get back. Great dreams are wells that never run dry.
— Michael Grosso in Soulmaker

To Practice This Thought: Follow through on something started in one of your night dreams — call someone you met in the dream or visit a place seen there.
++++++++++ Reflections

The spirit of God, insofar as it is hidden in the veins of the soul, is like soft refreshing water which satisfies the thirst of the spirit.
St John of the Cross
Living Flame, 3.8

Reading from the Desert Christians


The evil one cannot comprehend the joy we receive from the
spiritual life; for this reason he is jealous of us, he envies us
and sets traps for us, and we become grieved and fall. We must
struggle, because without struggles we do not obtain virtues.

Elder Ieronymos of Aegina

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Community, a Quality of the Heart

The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naivete. However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not "How can we make community?" but "How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?"

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

Day Twenty Four - The First Note, cont'd

The faults that we see in others are the subject of prayer rather than of criticism. We take care to cast out the beam from our own eye before offering to remove the speck from another's. We are ready to accept the lowest place when asked, and to volunteer to take it. Nevertheless, when asked to undertake work of which we feel unworthy or incapable, we do not shrink from it on the grounds of humility, but confidently attempt it through the power that is made perfect in weakness.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Offering Our Gifts
January 24th, 2008
Thursday’s Reflection

WORK IS ONE ASPECT of a full human life, but it is not a whole life. We need to think about work, not in isolation but as part of a whole way to live. … For most of us, our work will not be written on our tombstones or remembered by friends after we are gone. But work is important. Work is a way of offering our gifts to others and to God.

- Nancy Pineda-Madrid and Angela Fernández
Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens

From p. 124 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


Question of the day:
What conversion are you being invited into right now?

I hope that we will have the courage to stop rewarding and confirming peoples egos and calling morality ministry and Church. I hope that we will have lower expectations of leadership and the institution and therefore less need to rebel against it or unnecessarily depend upon it. After all, as the poet Rilke put it, “There is no place on earth that isn’t looking for you. You must change your life.” The Church cannot make that happen. It can only announce its possibility and offer its Risen Life as leaven and salt. I always wonder why such a glorious power and privilege is not enough! It is more than I ever hoped for or will ever do! Many people are upset with the Church because they expected too much from it.

More than anything else I hope that we will be a people who have entered into mercy and allow others to enter. I once saw God’s mercy as patient, benevolent tolerance, a form of forgiveness. Now it has become an understanding, a loving allowing, a willing “breaking of the rules” by the One who made the rule, a wink and a smile, a firm and joyful taking of the hand—while we clutch at our sins and gaze at God in desire and disbelief.

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.

Our neighbors are like our Maker

To have a Christian love for our neighbors is to love God in them, or them in God; it is to cherish God alone for his own sake, and his creatures for love of him. When we look upon our neighbors, created in the image and likeness of God, should we not say to each other: "Look at these people he has made—are they not like their Maker?" Should we not be drawn irresistibly toward them, embrace them, and be moved to tears for love of them? Should we not call down upon them a hundred thousand blessings? And why? For love of them? No indeed, since we cannot be sure whether, of themselves, they are worthy of love or hate. Then why? For love of God, who created them in his own image and likeness, and so capable of sharing in his goodness, grace, and glory; for love of God, I say, unto whom they exist, from whom they exist, through whom they exist, in whom they exist, for whom they exist, and whom they resemble in a very special manner.

This is why divine love not only repeatedly commands us to love our neighbors, but also itself produces this love and pours it out into our hearts, since they bear its own image and likeness; for just as we are the image of God, so our holy love for one another is the true image of our heavenly love for God.

Francis de Sales

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


"I have appeared unto thee for this purpose." Acts 26:16

The vision Paul had on the road to Damascus was no passing emotion, but a vision that had very clear and emphatic directions for him, and he says, "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." Our Lord said, in effect, to Paul - Your whole life is to be overmastered by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine. "I have chosen him."

When we are born again we all have visions, if we are spiritual at all, of what Jesus wants us to be, and the great thing is to learn not to be disobedient to the vision, not to say that it cannot be attained. It is not sufficient to know that God has redeemed the world, and to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did effectual in me; I must have the basis of a personal relationship to Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim, he was brought into a vivid, personal, overmastering relationship to Jesus Christ. Verse 16 is immensely commanding - "to make thee a minister and a witness." There is nothing there apart from the personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ's, he saw nothing else, he lived for nothing else. "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 24, May 25, September 24
Chapter 6: On the Spirit of Silence

Let us do what the Prophet says:
"I said, 'I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue.
I have set a guard to my mouth.'
I was mute and was humbled,
and kept silence even from good things" (Ps. 38:2-3).
Here the Prophet shows
that if the spirit of silence ought to lead us at times
to refrain even from good speech,
so much the more ought the punishment for sin
make us avoid evil words.

Therefore, since the spirit of silence is so important,
permission to speak should rarely be granted
even to perfect disciples,
even though it be for good, holy edifying conversation;
for it is written,
"In much speaking you will not escape sin" (Prov. 10:19),
and in another place,
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21).

For speaking and teaching belong to the mistress;
the disciple's part is to be silent and to listen.
And for that reason
if anything has to be asked of the Superior,
it should be asked
with all the humility and submission inspired by reverence.

But as for coarse jests and idle words
or words that move to laughter,
these we condemn everywhere with a perpetual ban,
and for such conversation
we do not permit a disciple to open her mouth.

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

The Heights of Humility: St. Mark 9:33-41, especially vss. 35, 36: "And
He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, 'If any one desires
to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.' Then He took
a little child and set him in the midst of them." Earlier in his
Gospel, St. Mark records the Lord Jesus' stringent requirements for
being united to Him - taking up your cross and following Him (8:34-38).
In the present passage, the Lord reveals other dimensions of taking up
the cross through self-denial and service to others. St. Theophylact of
Ochrid shows how the Lord connects the question of being honored by
Christ and simultaneously humbling yourself: "The Lord does not forbid
us to desire to become His favorites, for He wants us to desire
advancement in the spiritual life. But He does not want us to grasp for
honors and privileges, but rather to reach the heights by humility."1
In this vein, God forbid we belittle anyone of low estate, education,
position, or language! Especially, let us defer to those who simply
serve the Lord with little deeds of kindness and love.

Observe how the Savior develops His teaching concerning humility.
First, He states the attitude required: "to be first, he shall be last
of all and servant of all" (Mk. 9:35). Then, He dramatizes this by
setting a child among us (vs. 36). Tradition identifies this child as
St. Ignatius of Antioch, who, years later, went into the Arena with
lions joyfully embracing death in his humility. Thus, that child, grown
and become Bishop, would die for Christ just as Christ died for us all.

Without question, our Lord chose to be "last of all and servant of all"
(vs. 35) as His life in the flesh manifests. In His birth He "made
Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant" (Phil. 2:7),
entering human society as a member of the lowest class, taking His first
breath in a cave used to shelter livestock, fleeing as a refugee,
growing up unknown in a carpenter's shop, accepting "a baptism of
repentance for the remission of sins" (Mk. 1:4,9) - thus making Himself
"Who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). His associates were
the outcasts of society: "many tax collectors and sinners also sat
together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they
followed Him" (Mk. 2:15). In the end, He was executed with common
criminals, "one on His right and the other on His left" (Mk. 15:27).

Observe how Gregory the Great reveals Christ's use of the humility of
the Cross to benefit us in attaining humility: "since it is competent
for Divine Power not only to make good things out of nothing, but also
to refashion them from the evils that the devil had committed, the
humility of God appeared among men as a remedy against this wound
inflicted by the proud devil, so that those who had fallen through
imitation of their haughty enemy might rise by the example of their
humbled Creator."2 Bear your every cross as did the Lord - whether you
afflict your body by abstinence, meet your neighbor's need with
compassion, or suffer wrongs on behalf of others.

As for being last of all, St. Gregory warns those who hold position of
honor and distinction in the Body of Christ: "there are many in the
Church who scorn to be little ones and they do not cease to be great in
their own sight in place of humility....they claim their heavenly
country - and yet they do not love it."3 It is as Archimandrite
Sophrony Sakharov declares: "God...set no limits for any of us on the
spiritual plane....We are called to eternal life in the Kingdom of our
Father Which is in heaven;"4 yet, as the Lord states, "entry into the
Kingdom inevitably entails suffering. Many decline the Father's gift of
love precisely because the utmost effort is required...." Do not fear
the life in Christ, which you have accepted. Be a little child of your
Father, and, at the same time, establish yourself with the prodigal son:
" no longer worthy to be called your son" (Lk. 15:21). Thus, if
God wills, let Him raise you however He will to the heights by humility.

O Christ God, Thou hast dwelt in a cave, and a manger did receive Thee:
Glory to Thy condescension, O Thou only Lover of mankind Who hast
revealed to us the heights of humility.


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