Thursday, February 07, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/07/08



O God, who before the passion of your only­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 37:1-18; PM Psalm 37:19-42
Hab. 3:1-10(11-15)16-18; Phil. 3:12-21; John 17:1-8

From Forward Day by Day:

Philippians 3:12-21. Christ Jesus has made me his own.

It takes thousands of years of erosion, rain, and sun for volcanic ash to become the fertile soil of fruitful vineyards. Such conversion is no less wonderful for being slow--but the slowness makes the miracle hard to see.

In our own lives, it can be almost impossible to discern the process of our own conversion. It is hard to believe sometimes that our interior winter will
ever see another spring.

Maybe this is why the church in her wisdom has set aside a whole season for the Lenten journey toward Easter. Maybe this is why Psalm 37 urges us
to "wait patiently for the Lord."

Paul had long experience with the need for patience, and admitted that he was still far from his own resurrection. But he was able to "press on" because in the midst of all the dusty not-yets of his life he knew he already belonged eternally to God.

We have washed the Ash Wednesday smudges from our foreheads now, but in our baptism we were sealed as Christ's own forever. Jesus has made us his own. May that promise help us patiently await our own redemption.

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Diocese of Arochukwu/Ohafia (Nigeria)

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar

Today, choose someone in your church or community and give or do something tangible for them at least once a week during Lent. Don't tell them, just plan it, and then put it into action.

Idea by: Gloriamarie

"Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can." – John Wesley

A Celtic lenten Calendar

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
Read Excerpts from the Church Fathers during Lent

Epistle to Diognetus: 1-6

Speaking to the Soul:

Clearing a space for prayer

Daily Reading for February 7

If prayer is something important to us, then much more of our time will be directed to trying to bring about possible conditions for prayer than to actually doing it. I have several times compared the act of prayer with the act of writing, and here once again the comparison holds true. As a writer I seem to devote an awful lot of effort and time to clearing a space in which to write. I means turning down invitations to things like coffee mornings and conferences. It means trying to persuade my friends not to telephone me in the mornings. It means finding someone to do the housework that I can’t get done.

It means, on a more seductive level, refusing jobs, and friendships, and good works, and hobbies, that simply would not leave enough time and energy over.

Prayer seems to me to work in much the same way. We want the space in which to deepen our awareness of ourselves and of God by one method or another; but, much as we want it, we can still be tempted into activities which exhaust us and leave us as unsatisfied as ever. These may not necessarily be what people used to call ‘frivolous’ activities—frivolity can often feed us in unexpected ways. In fact for many Christians now it often seems to be the sheer weight of earnest and worthy duties which makes self-discovery no more than a wistful hope.

Perhaps if, collectively, we had a bit more spiritual insight, we should know that there are occasions in people’s lives when a kind of moratorium on works, even good works, is what is needed most, and that this is as much a proof of their love for mankind as feeding the hungry.

From Christian Uncertainties by Monica Furlong (Cowley Publications, 1982).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Every time you pick up a piece of trash along the road, say to yourself, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the house of the Lord."
— Edward Hays in Psalms for Zero Gravity

To Practice This Thought: Be a good housekeeper.
++++++++++ Reflections

Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
Isaiah 40.31

Reading from the Desert Christians


It is better to eat meat and drink wine and not to eat the flesh
of one's brethren through slander.

Abba Hyperechius

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Dressed in Gentleness

Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.

Gentle is the one who does "not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick" (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let's dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us.

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

Day Seven - The Second Aim

To spread the spirit of love and harmony

The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Gentled by God
February 7th, 2008
Thursday’s Reflection

ONE CHALLENGE OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE is learning how to place our powers continually under God’s control. And we all do have powers — intelligence, skills, energy, for example. We have tongues (I struggle daily with allowing God to direct how I use that power in my life) and emotions such as anger that we can use either to lash out at people or to confront and change unjust systems. Our behavior depends on whether we allow God to direct us. Meekness includes acknowledging our powers while placing them at God’s disposal. Meekness is strength under God’s control; it is being “gentled” by God, to God’s purposes. It is seeing ourselves rightly — not as more than we are (that’s arrogance) nor as less (that’s false humility).

- Mary Lou Redding
The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes

From p. 42 of The Power of a Focused Heart by Mary Lou Redding. Copyright © 2006 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Path of Descent

Are you in or out of control?

After the need to be successful and the need to think well of the self, the third human addiction is the need for control or power. So the devil tells Jesus to bow down before the systems of this world: “All of them you can have” (Matthew 4:8). Just buy them. Believe in them. Jesus refuses to bow down before the little kingdoms of this world, the corporations and the nation-states, the security systems, the idols of militarism. The price of this love of power is to “fall at Satan’s feet and worship him!” (Matthew 4:9). That’s a very heavy judgment on “all the kingdoms of the world.” In all these systems, self-interest has to dominate. For Kingdom people, self-interest cannot dominate.

Simply put, the third temptation is the need to be in control, to be aligned with power and money. The three temptations that Jesus faces, in a certain sense, all become one: the addictive system, the great lie, the untouchable mythology, “the sin of the world” (John 1:29) that must be unmasked and dethroned. And I know nothing strong enough to break the mythology—not ideology, not liberalism, not conservatism—except the upside-down gospel of Jesus. You must refound your life on a new foundation, the foundation of your experienced union with God.

Jesus tells Satan, “ ‘You must worship the Lord your God, and serve God alone.’ And then the devil left him” (Matthew 4:10-11). When you have faced these three “biggies,” Satan doesn’t have a chance.

from Radical Grace Daily Meditations

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

Come, Lord, and help me find you

Come, Lord my God, come and instruct my heart where and how to search for you, where and how to find you. Where shall I look for you, Lord, if you are absent and not here? And if you are everywhere, why are you not visible to me? But of course, your dwelling is in light inaccessible. Then where is this light inaccessible, and how can I approach it? Who will guide me and conduct me into it so that I may see you? And then, by what signs, by what visible form shall I know you? I have never seen you, I do not know what you look like, Lord my God. What is this exile of yours to do in a far-off land, O most high God, what is he to do? Banished far from your presence and distressed by his love for you, what shall your servant do? With burning desire he strives to see you, and your face is very far from him. He longs to come to you, and your dwelling is inaccessible. He wishes to find you and has no idea where you live. He wants to search for you and he does not know your face.

O Lord, you are my Lord and my God, and I have never seen you. You have made me and remade me and bestowed on me all the good that I possess, and still I do not know you. In a word, I was created to see you, and I have not yet done what I was created to do.

Anselm of Canterbury

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


"But we trusted . . . and beside all this, to-day is the third day . . ." Luke 24:21

Every fact that the disciples stated was right; but the inferences they drew from those facts were wrong. Anything that savours of dejection spiritually is always wrong. If depression and oppression visit me, I am to blame; God is not, nor is anyone else. Dejection springs from one of two sources - I have either satisfied a lust or I have not. Lust means - I must have it at once. Spiritual lust makes me demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Who gives the answer. What have I been trusting God would do? And to-day - the immediate present - is the third day, and He has not done it; therefore I imagine I am justified in being dejected and in blaming God. Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer. It is impossible to be well physically and to be dejected. Dejection is a sign of sickness, and the same thing is true spiritually. Dejection spiritually is wrong, and we are always to blame for it.

We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God's power (the fact that we are dejected proves that we do), and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 7, June 8, October 8
Chapter 7: On Humility

The tenth degree of humility
is that he be not ready and quick to laugh,
for it is written,
"The fool lifts up his voice in laughter" (Eccles. 21:23).

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

St. Mark 11:27-33 (2/7) For Thursday of the 37th Week after
Pentecost (Thur, 32nd Week)

The Baptism of John: St. Mark 11:27-33, especially vs. 30: "The baptism
of John - was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me." While
historically the Lord's question was addressed to the representatives of
the Sanhedrin, the First Century high tribunal of the Jewish nation, He
also expects those of us who count ourselves among His Disciples to
answer His question. We are accustomed to the icon of St. John adjacent
to the icon of the Lord, to celebrating St. John's Feast days, and to
hearing his name mentioned in the prayers and hymns of the Church.
Thus, we might fail even to consider the question, or we say, "From
God," unthinkingly. Nevertheless, we ought to speak confidently for
three reasons: because of the nature of John's baptism, because of what
we know of John, and because God Himself revealed that his
"baptism...was...from heaven" (vs. 30).

The baptism John practiced was solidly in the Tradition of God's People
from ancient times. The deliverance of Noah and his family from the
waters of the great flood (Gen. 6-9), the passage of Israel through the
Red Sea with the attendant destruction of the hosts of Pharao (Ex.14),
and the entrance of the Twelve tribes into the Holy Land reveal three
elements that are manifest in John's baptism: cleansing and renewal,
repentance, and association with Divine Judgment (Jos. 1-4).

These three elements continue in the Orthodox rite of Holy Baptism
received from the Lord Jesus Himself (Mt. 28:19). As Father Alexander
Schmemann says: "Baptism is defined being the removal of original the sacrament of the passage from an old into
a new life, and finally as an epiphany of the Kingdom of God."1 These
elements are evident in the Priest's Prayer that Christ will "show this
water to be the water of redemption, the water of sanctification, the
purification of flesh and spirit, the loosing of bonds, the remission of
sins, the illumination of the soul, the laver of regeneration, the
renewal of the spirit, the gift of adoption to sonship, the garment of
incorruption, the fountain of life."2

Even more significant is the fact that the Baptizer John was attested by
many witnesses as a man called by God: "Now his father, Zacharias was
filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying...And you, child,
will be called the prophet of the Highest" (Lk. 1:67,76). The people of
the ancient Covenant "counted John to have been a prophet indeed" (Mk.
11:32). Even John's enemies acknowledge that "he was a just and holy
man" (Mk. 6:20). In addition, the Forerunner himself confirmed these
views (Jn. 1:19-27).

Most important of all, God the Holy Trinity revealed that John's Baptism
came from heaven. The God-inspired Evangelists declare that the
Forerunner "was a man sent from God" (Jn. 1:6). God Himself directed
John to go into the region around the Jordan and preach "a baptism of
repentance for the remission of sins" (Lk. 3:3). God the Father spoke
openly to John at the Lord Jesus' baptism: "This is My beloved Son in
Whom I Am well pleased" (Mt. 3:17).

Earlier, the Angel Gabriel prophesied that St. John would "be filled
with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Lk. 1:15), which was
confirmed even while he was a babe in the womb, for he leaped at the
sound of the voice of the Theotokos as she carried God Incarnate (Lk.
1:44). John himself declared that in his flesh he did not know Christ,
but that "He Who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon Whom
you see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, this is He Who
baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this
is the Son of God" (Jn. 1:33-34).

Let us not hesitate to reply, "Yes, John's baptism was from heaven, not
from men."

O wise Forerunner, John, thou didst behold the ineffable glory of the
Father from on high, and the Son in the waters, and the Spirit
descending on Him: pray Him to save our souls.


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