Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Daily Meditation 02/13/09


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 blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 119:49-72; PM Psalm 49, [53]
Gen. 37:25-36; 1 Cor. 2:1-13; Mark 1:29-45

From Forward Day by Day:

Mark 1:29-45.,i. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.

This gem of an encounter between Jesus and Simon's mother-in-law is so small, and tucked so quietly between the more public healings Jesus performed that Sabbath day (the man with the withered hand in the morning, and the many sick and demon-possessed who crowded around Simon's house at sundown) that it would be easy to miss it.

But the whole dynamic of the gospel is in those two verses: "Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever....Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up; the fever left her, and she began to serve them."

Call and response, healing and ministry, all in a moment of time, all at the very beginning of Mark's Gospel.

So it began, and so it goes. Jesus comes; he touches, lifts, and heals us; we rise to serve him.

Paul called this the "secret and hidden wisdom of God," opaque to "the rulers of this age but revealed to us through the Spirit." This mystery lies just under the surface, between the lines of ordinary life: the love of God poured out to make whole what is broken, to raise to new life what has died.

Today we remember:

AM Psalm 119:49-72; PM Psalm 49, [53]
Gen. 37:25-36; 1 Cor. 2:1-13; Mark 1:29-45

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

40 Ideas for Lent: A Lenten calendar


Make something in your ordinary life a prayer time. Try saying the Lord's Prayer while the kettle boils. Or pray for someone while you're waiting at the photocopier, or when you're pulling weights at the gym. Try using prayers that are familiar to you, but in a place where you don't normally pray.

Idea by: Lizwc

"Christ has no body now on earth but yours. Yours are the only hands with which he can do his work." – Teresa of Avila

A Celtic lenten Calendar

The Earth is Alive with the Glory of God

1. All Creation is alive with the presence of God. "Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Celtic Christianity is its affinity with nature. (Iona is an absolutely stunning island, where the line between God and the world is what MacLeod called 'tissue thin'.) The Celts enthusiastically affirmed the psalmist's declaration, 'The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims (God's) handiwork' (Psalm 19:1). The Celts believed that all creation is alive with God's presence. Because God's Spirit dwells in all living things, everything is inherently good... Every moment, every location could therefore become a time and place for encountering God.

For a Celtic Lent: "Celebrate the wonder of creation. Plant a flower and watch it grow. Take time each day to sense the changes taking place, even those changes you cannot see. Do what is necessary to nurture its growth. Marvel at the wonder of Creation and give thanks to God for the gift of life.

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

St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Trallians

Speaking to the Soul:

You must not kneel here

Daily Reading for February 13 • Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818

I thought I would stop in Philadelphia a week or two. I preached at different places in the city. My labour was much blessed. I soon saw a large field open in seeking and instructing my African brethren, who had been a long forgotten people and few of them attended public worship. I preached in the commons, in Southwark, Northern Liberties, and wherever I could find an opening. I frequently preached twice a day, at 5 o’clock in the morning and in the evening, and it was not uncommon for me to preach from four to five times a day. I established prayer meetings; I raised a society in 1786 of forty-two members. I saw the necessity of erecting a place of worship for the coloured people. I proposed it to the most respectable people of colour in this city; but here I met with opposition. I had but three coloured brethren that united with me in erecting a place of worship--the Rev. Absalom Jones, William White, and Dorus Ginnings. These united with me as soon as it became public and known by the elder who was stationed in the city. . . .

We felt ourselves much cramped; but my dear Lord was with us, and we believed, if it was his will, the work would go on, and that we would be able to succeed in building the house of the Lord. We established prayer meetings and meetings of exhortation, and the Lord blessed our endeavours, and many souls were awakened; but the elder soon forbid us holding any such meetings; but we viewed the forlorn state of our coloured brethren, and that they were destitute of a place of worship. They were considered as a nuisance.

A number of us usually attended St. George’s Church in Fourth Street; and when the coloured people began to get numerous in attending the church, they moved us from the seats we usually sat on, and placed us around the wall, and on Sabbath morning we went to church and the sexton stood at the door, and told us to go in the gallery. He told us to go, and we would see where to sit. We expected to take the seats over the ones we formerly occupied below, not knowing any better. We took those seats. Meeting had begun, and they were nearly done singing, and just as we got to the seats, the elder said, “let us pray.” We had not been long upon our knees before I heard considerable scuffling and low talking. I raised my head up and saw one of the trustees, H-- M--, having hold of the Rev. Absalom Jones, pulling him up off of his knees, and saying, “You must get up--you must not kneel here.” Mr. Jones replied, “wait until prayer is over.” Mr. H-- M-- said “no, you must get up now, or I will call for aid and I force you away.” Mr. Jones said, “wait until prayer is over, and I will get up and trouble you no more.” With that he beckoned to one of the other trustees, Mr. L-- S-- to come to his assistance. He came, and went to William White to pull him up. By this time prayer was over, and we all went out of the church in a body, and they were no more plagued with us in the church. This raised a great excitement and inquiry among the citizens, in so much that I believe they were ashamed of their conduct. But my dear Lord was with us, and we were filled with fresh vigour to get a house erected to worship God in. . . .

We then hired a store room, and held worship by ourselves. Here we were pursued with threats of being disowned, and read publicly out of meeting if we did continue worship in the place we had hired; but we believed the Lord would be our friend. We got subscription papers out to raise money to build the house of the Lord. By this time we had waited on Dr. Rush and Mr. Robert Ralston, and told them of our distressing situation. We considered it a blessing that the Lord had put it into our hearts to wait upon those gentlemen. They pitied our situation, and subscribed largely towards the church, and were very friendly towards us, and advised us how to go on. We appointed Mr. Ralston our treasurer. Dr. Rush did much for us in public by his influence. I hope the name of Dr. Benjamin Rush and Mr. Robert Ralston will never be forgotten among us. They were the two first gentlemen who espoused the cause of the oppressed, and aided us in building the house of the Lord for the poor Africans to worship in. Here was the beginning and rise of the first African church in America.

From The Life, Experience, and Gospel Labours of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen (Martin & Boden, Printers, 1833).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

My friend has a kaleidoscope she sometimes uses in her counseling practice. She invites her client to look through the kaleidoscope to catch a new perspective. God's Spirit within us is like this kaleidoscope; we need to be attentive to it so we can be transformed with new eyes.
— Celeste Snowber Schroeder in In the Womb of God

To Practice This Thought: Shift your way of seeing the world.
++++++++++ Reflections

A novice was grieving about her numerous distractions during prayer: "I too, have many," replied St. Therese of the Child Jesus, "but I accept all for love of the good God, even the most extravagant thoughts that come into my head."
St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Reading from the Desert Christians


My poor soul! Sigh, pray and strive to take upon you the blessed
yoke of Christ, and you will live on earth in a heavenly manner.
Lord, grant that I may carry the light and goodly yoke, and I
shall be always at rest, peaceful, glad and joyous; and I shall
taste on earth of crumbs which fall from the celestial feast, like
a dog that feeds upon the crumbs which fall from the master's

St. Tikhon of Voronezh

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Celebrating Being Alive

Birthdays are so important. On our birthdays we celebrate being alive. On our birthdays people can say to us, "Thank you for being!" Birthday presents are signs of our families' and friends' joy that we are part of their lives. Little children often look forward to their birthdays for months. Their birthdays are their big days, when they are the center of attention and all their friends come to celebrate.

We should never forget our birthdays or the birthdays of those who are close to us. Birthdays keep us childlike. They remind us that what is important is not what we do or accomplish, not what we have or who we know, but that we are, here and now. On birthdays let us be grateful for the gift of life.

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

Day Thirteen - The Three Ways of Service

Tertiaries desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, whom we serve in the three ways of Prayer, Study, and Work. In the life of the Order as a whole these three ways must each find full and balanced expression, but it is not to be expected that all members devote themselves equally to each of them. Each individual's service varies according to his/her abilities and circumstances, yet the member's personal rule of life includes each of the three ways.

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Abundant Life
February 13th, 2008
Wednesday’s Reflection

JESUS OFFERS abundant life, which is far more than just a positive attitude — forcing ourselves to feel happy and outgoing for Jesus when inside we’re miserable and insecure. Abundant life is also different in the same way that a bland inner peace is different from “the peace of God, which surpasses [is more abundant than] all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). … God gives us abundant “roomy” grace, love, and safety instead of narrow places of distress (for example, Ps. 4:1). Imagine that you’ve entered a bright clearing or pasture after you’ve walked a treacherous path, or you enter a bright, expansive ballroom from a narrow hallway. Jesus gives you life — more life than you need, “extra” life, generous life that overflows, “wide” life. Such life includes the eternal life that overcomes the pain and sorrow of physical death. But Jesus’ abundant life also precedes the grave: you have God’s life right now, helping, guiding, instructing, convicting, and invigorating you, filling you with joy.

- Paul E. Stroble
You Gave Me a Wide Place: Holy Places in Our Lives

From p. 66 of You Gave Me a Wide Place 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


Question of the day:
What in us hampers real transformation?

If we are to see as God sees, we must first become mirrors. We must become no-thing so that we can receive some-thing. That is probably the only way that love is ever going to happen. To love demands a complete transformation of consciousness, a transformation that has been the goal of all religious founders, saints, mystics and gurus since we began to talk about love. And the transformation of consciousness is this: We must be liberated from ourselves.

We really need to be saved from the tyranny of our own judgments, opinions and feelings about everything, the "undisciplined squads of emotions" that T.S. Eliot criticizes in his poetry. We must stop believing our false subjectivity that chooses to objectify everybody and everything else in the world—including God and our own soul.

from "Image and Likeness: The Restoration of the Divine Image."

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

The poor save the rich

In God's plan the poor serve the advantage of the rich, for the rich are saved by the poor when no other door to salvation is open to them. The rich do not fast, they do not toil, they are not persecuted, they do not endure harsh conditions, and they do not pray, being ensnared by their interests. The Lord therefore takes thought: What else is there? What is left for you? Give alms, and, behold, everything is clean for you; and the wise man says: The rich and the poor have met; the Lord is Creator of them both. He created the rich for the sake of the poor, and the poor for the sake of the rich. To the rich he has given riches that they might feed the poor, and for this reason too he often multiplies and increases their wealth. To the poor he has given neediness, sores, and hardships, that they might move the hearts of the rich and so the rich might be saved.

Love the poor, therefore, you who are rich, for they are your brothers and sisters, your redeemers, your helpers, since theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Give what is temporal that you may receive what is eternal.

Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A.

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


"Speak; for Thy servant heareth." 1 Samuel 3:10

Because I have listened definitely to one thing from God, it does not follow that I will listen to everything He says. The way in which I show God that I neither love nor respect Him is by the obtuseness of my heart and mind towards what He says. If I love my friend, I intuitively detect what he wants, and Jesus says, "Ye are My friends." Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord's this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not consciously have disobeyed it; but most of us show such disrespect to God that we do not even hear what He says, He might never have spoken.

The destiny of my spiritual life is such identification with Jesus Christ that I always hear God, and I know that God always hears me (John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God, by the devotion of hearing all the time. A lily, or a tree, or a servant of God, may convey God's message to me. What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear Him. The child attitude is always, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." If I have not cultivated this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God's voice at certain times; at other times I am taken up with things - things which I say I must do, and I become deaf to Him, I am not living the life of a child. Have I heard God's voice to-day?

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

February 13, June 14, October 14
Chapter 11: How the Night Office Is to Be Said on Sundays

On Sunday
the hour of rising for the Night Office should be earlier.
In that Office let the measure already prescribed be kept,
namely the singing of six Psalms and a verse.
Then let all be seated on the benches in their proper order
while the lessons and their responsories are read from the book,
as we said above.
These shall be four in number,
with the chanter saying the "Glory be to the Father"
in the fourth responsory only,
and all rising reverently as soon as he begins it.

After these lessons
let six more Psalms with antiphons follow in order, as before,
and a verse;
and then let four more lessons be read with their responsories
in the same way as the former.

After these let there be three canticles
from the book of the Prophets,
as the Abbot shall appoint,
and let these canticles be chanted with "Alleluia."
Then when the verse has been said
and the Abbot has given the blessing,
let four more lessons be read,
from the New Testament,
in the manner prescribed above.

After the fourth responsory
let the Abbot begin the hymn "We praise You, O God."
When this is finished
the Abbot shall read the lesson from the book of the Gospels,
while all stand in reverence and awe.
At the end let all answer "Amen,"
and let the Abbot proceed at once
to the hymn "To You be praise."
After the blessing has been given,
let them begin the Morning Office.

This order for the Night Office on Sunday
shall be observed the year around,
both summer and winter;
unless it should happen (which God forbid)
that the brethren be late in rising,
in which case the lessons or the responsories
will have to be shortened somewhat.
Let every precaution be taken, however,
against such an occurrence;
but if it does happen,
then the one through whose neglect it has come about
should make due satisfaction to God in the oratory.

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

St. Mark 12:28-37 (2/13) Gospel for Wednesday, Week of the
Publican & the Pharisee

First of All Commandments: St. Mark 12:28-37, especially vss. 29, 30:
"...Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall
love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all
your mind, and with all your strength." The Lord Jesus once answered a
scribe (Mk. 12:28) by reciting the "Shema," the six words of Deuteronomy
6:4, following it with Deut. 6:5, and adding the Divine Commandment from
Leviticus 19:18, as being "like it" (Mk. 12:31). The scribe appreciated
the Lord's answer: "Well said, Teacher, You have spoken the truth, for
there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with
all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with
all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than
all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices" (vss. 32,33).

The Rabbis point out that the six words of the "Shema" are "the
best-known words in Judaism's liturgy, the 'watchword' of Israel's
faith." "Shema" is a transliteration of the Hebrew word, "Hear," from
the six words. Devout Jews see the principles in this command "as rays
shining forth from the 'Shema,' as from a diamond set into a crown of
faith and proven true and enduring in human history."1 Christ calls it
"the first of all the commandments"(vs. 29), so let us turn our
attention to it as to sacred truth to be embraced and lived.

Seeing that this "first of all the commandments" enjoins upon us the
task "to go forward to the perfection of love and to learn to know Him
Who is truly beloved," St. Basil the Great warns, "it is not the
privilege of any chance person" to attain this goal, but belongs only to
"him who has already 'put off the old man, which is being corrupted
through its deceptive lusts, and has put on the new man' (Eph. 4:22,24),
which is being renewed that it may be recognized as an image of the
Creator."2 The "Shema" is not theory, but a way to live.

Let us understand that we committed ourselves to this work of "learning
to know Him Who is truly beloved" when we chose to be "buried with [the
Lord Jesus] through Baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised
from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). God is very frank with us: He is ready to
transform all who are Baptized into the Mystery of Christ and offers to
each the opportunity to "be a partaker of [His] Resurrection" so long as
each one preserves "the gift of Thy Holy Spirit," and increases "the
measure of grace committed unto him."3 Such is not the privilege of any
chance person, but of those who take the Lord's yoke upon themselves to
labor (Mt. 11:29).
St. Basil emphasizes this very truth but with a caution: "as much love
as you shall have squandered on lower objects, that much will
necessarily be lacking to you from the whole." In other words, "he who
loves money and is aroused by the corruptible beauty of the body and
esteems exceedingly this little glory here, since he has expended the
power of loving on what is not proper, he is quite blind in regard to
the contemplation of Him Who is truly beloved." The Lord insists that
we "shall love [Him] with all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, with all
[our] mind, and with all [our] strength" (Mk. 12:30; Deut. 6:5).

Fickle as we are, how can we possibly do this? We cannot love when
ordered to do so. Understanding this, St. Basil encourages us: "we did
not learn to love God as a result of outside instruction. In the very
nature of every human being has been sown the seed of the ability to
love. Welcome this seed, cultivate it carefully, nourish it
attentively, and foster its growth by going to the school of God's
commandments with the help of His grace."4

May my prayer draw near to Thee, O Lord. Grant me Thy holy seed, that I
might bring Thee a harvest of sheaves abundant in good fruits and say,
"Glory to Thee Who givest me life."


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