Pondering for Monday, January 27, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Monday in the Week of the Third Sunday after the Epiphany: Year 2

Psalm 41, 52; Psalm 44 Gen. 14:(1-7)8-24; Heb. 8:1-13; John 4:43-54

“The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my little boy dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way.” (John 4:49 – 50)

Intercessory prayer is so important.  In fact, prayer on behalf of others may be the most prayed prayers.  But like the official above, when we pray for someone, we must believe and go, go believing our Lord Jesus has done, or is doing, what is best.

I’m not so sure I like the follow up in this passage because the official father is trying to prove to himself that it was in fact Jesus that did the healing.  “As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, ‘Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.’ The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he himself believed, along with his whole household.”  (John 4: 51 – 53)

Prayer is not fact based.  It is hope however.  We must hope and pray for people we love and for anyone whom we realize is in dire straits.  Prayer to our Lord Jesus works.  We sincerely ask for help or healing or comfort for others and our Lord Jesus will hear our plea, and will respond.  Remember, God’s ears hears tears.  Never, never, never give up, and don’t try to make sense of the Lord’s work but rather just be thankful for it. Thank You Lord Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Sunday, January 26, 2020

Eucharistic Readings for the Third Sunday After the Epiphany: Year A

Isaiah 9:1-4  Psalm 27:1, 5-13  1 Corinthians 1:10-18  Matthew 4:12-23

“As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers” (Matthew 4:18)

Capernaum is the first place of choice for our Lord Jesus.  He was born in Bethlehem, Taken to Egypt, brought back to Bethlehem, Later taken to Nazareth, , and then taken to Jerusalem at least a couple of times to the Temple in Jerusalem, invited to a wedding in Cana, all according to accounts from the Gospel according to Luke and John.

To Capernaum, he goes of his own free will and accord.  And there he enlists two pairs of brothers. With Andrew and Peter, and John and James, our Lord Jesus lays the foundation of brotherly love.  Later when he sends them out 2X2, all will have experienced what it means to be brothers.  

I am a member of the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew.  This order was founded to bring men to, or back to, the Church.  We pray at each meeting: “Almighty God, you gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCP 185 & the Brotherhood pamphlet)

The Brotherhood of Saint Andrew is an organization devoted to Prayer, Study and Service.  We open with structure, conduct business and then do Bible Study.  It is great. We try hard to engage young men to come and be a brother among us because this is what Andrew did according to the Gospel of St John. (John 1:40 – 42)  While it may seem that this contradicts the Matthew enlisting above, it doesn’t have to.  The walk on the beach could have happened a day or two later.  This is both- and, not either- or.

My point is that Jesus started his plan of evangelism with blood brothers in order to make us all siblings with our Lord Jesus through the grafting of his body and blood into us all. I believe all Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Thank You Lord Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Saturday, January 25, 2020

Eucharistic Readings for the Conversion of Saint Paul.                                                                                              

Psalm 67; Acts 26:9-21;Galatians 1:11-24Acts 26:9-21;; Matthew 10:16-22

“And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death.”  (Acts 26:10)

At this writing our country is going through a trying time of impeachment testimony for and against the President of the United States and the seriousness of where elected leader’s loyalty lies. Many have received what they understand is their authority from their chief priest.  The opposing side feels that the majority of the other side are misguided and that they only hold a code they believe is more sacred to the sanctity of the American constitution. It’s a mess.

Like Paul, perhaps each and every one of us must ask where we think we will be on such issues five or ten years down the road.  Do we just want our team to win? No matter the costs. That’s sad.

Saul to Paul was a conversion.  Conversion is not a condemnation to hell.  It is a growth moment.  We don’t need tribes, or chief priests or even priests like me to demand fake loyalties for personal interests.  We only need our prayers and conscience awareness. We need to put ourselves in a place where we will be able to explain to our grandchildren exactly what we were thinking in our decisions and why, and be proud of it. We need to hear the Spirit of our loving God in Christ Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Friday, January 24, 2020

Readings for Florence Li Tim-Oi for the January 24

Psalm 10:1-9 Galatians 3:23-28  Luke 10:1-9

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Paul spoke from the heart of God in his proclamation that “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”  But this message seems to be difficult for us to receive.  Such is the case with regard to the full utilization of women to do the work God has given them to do.  Today we look at Florence Li Tim-Oi as reported in our “Great Cloud of Witnesses for January 24 (GCW)

“Named by her father “much beloved daughter,” Li Tim-Oi was born in Hong Kong in 1907. When she was baptized as a student, she chose the name of Florence in honor of Florence Nightingale. Florence studied at Union Theological College in Guangzhou (Canton). In 1938, upon graduation, she served in a lay capacity, first in Kowloon and then in nearby Macao.” In May 1941 Florence was ordained deaconess. Some months later, Hong Kong fell to Japanese invaders, and priests could not travel to Macao to celebrate the Eucharist. Despite this setback, Florence continued her ministry. Her work came to the attention of Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong, who decided that “God’s work would reap better results if she had the proper title” of priest.  On January 25, 1944, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Bishop Hall ordained her priest, the first woman so ordained in the Anglican Communion. When World War II came to an end, Florence Li Tim-Oi’s ordination was the subject of much controversy. She made the personal decision not to exercise her priesthood until it was acknowledged by the wider Anglican Communion. Undeterred, she continued to minister with great faithfulness, and in 1947 was appointed rector of St. Barnabas Church in Hepu where, on Bishop Hall’s instructions, she was still to be called priest.” (GCW)

I’m going to stop here but there is much more to the Florence Li Tim-Oi story that you should read about.  What I want to shout about is the fact that the Right Reverend Ronald Hall heard God and saw beyond male and female.  He saw Christian communities who were going without Holy Communion.  They needed a priest.  Florence was educated and dedicated and present.  Bishop Hall did what was right in the sight of God if not humanity.   With God it seems it is always the “what” before the “who.”  Too often we want to raise up who was sent without acknowledging the vision of those who followed God’s dream.  We did the same thing in acknowledging Absalom Jones with way too little regard for Bishop White who ordained Jones, the first African American priest. Both Bishops Hall and White were English descendents. We tend not to acknowledge that important fact. But more important than that is their following what the Spirit of God was telling them. Li Tim-Oi went through more suffering before finally ending up in Canada.  Her story is a great story.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Thursday, January 23, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Thursday in the Week of the Second Sunday after the Epiphany: Year 2

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

“A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) (John 4:7 – 9)

Many of Jesus’ teaching actions as well as miracle stories take place with people outside of the Israeli people.  In this particular case the woman at the well is not only a Samaritan, she is also a woman who may not be liked in her own community. 

It seems Jesus had to be free of his cohorts in order to have this exchange.  They might have interfered.  We’ve seen where the apostles wanted to send hungry people home rather than feed them; keep children away from Jesus, stop a blind man that needed our Lord Jesus, and other such instances where the apostles tried to “protect” Jesus.  Jesus, nor we, need protection from people just because they are different from us.  That is, they are not the same sex, orientation, nationality, language, so called race, religious affiliation or political stripe. But like Jesus, we might have to get away from our regular crowd of influencers in order to be honest with others, and with ourselves.

When we hear a stranger ask him or herself how it is that we will be with them given that we are so different? We know then that we’ve made it.  Thank You Lord Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Wednesday in the Week of the Second Sunday after the Epiphany: Year 2

Psalm 38; Psalm 119:25-48 Gen. 9:18-29; Heb. 6:1-12; John 3:22-36

“They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him”” (John 3:26)

We should all learn from John.  John did the best job he could do with no illusions about keeping his position as a baptizing servant of God as a permanent position.  He told the people plainly that “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

I have held positions of some responsibility in my life. I find the greatest reward for such work are not ribbons or medals but to meet my replacement and wish him or her God speed. All life is temporary.  And within our temporary lives are temporary assignments. I don’t think it is healthy or prudent for the position holder or the people under his or her charge to hold such a relationship too long.

So we should take a page from John’s play book and announce in advance that the time is surely coming when leadership will evolve.  Stepping out of the limelight can be its own reward.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Tuesday in the Week of the Second Sunday after the Epiphany: Year 2

Psalm 26, 28; Psalm 36, 39 Gen. 9:1-17; Heb. 5:7-14; John 3:16-21

“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.”  (Genesis 9: 9 – 10)

I have learned that some of the other faiths also have a flood story. That this Bible story is historically accurate is not so much my concern.  But the lesson here is that we (humans) are the caretakers of the earth and all of its diverse creatures, is what I believe God wants us to know.

This message of caretaker is one that shows up frequently in the Bible as well as in my blog. While we are not God, we have a lot of power in terms of regulating habitats and protecting various species of life, both plant and animal. 

Our spirituality should go beyond how we relate to each other.  It must be seen by God how we relate to this beautiful planet.  This goes beyond the negligent damage we cause with pollution and reckless harvesting of resources.  Yes we need to clean up our act, but more than that, we need to monitor habitats and the eco-systems around the planet to ensure both people and wildlife are in balance with a safe and healthy world.

Here is the truth that goes beyond the flood fact: God is establishing a covenant with us and our descendants after us, and with every living creature that is with us, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with us.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John