Readings and Pondering for Monday 25 March 2019 Lent

Eucharistic Readings for the Annunciation: March 25

Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 40:1-11or 40:5-10 or Canticle 3 or 15 Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:26-38

Luke

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.  But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1:26 – 29)

My Pondering

This is one of my favorite verses as this is one of the two places in Luke’s Gospel where Mary “Ponders” about what is going on.  But there is something else going on that I am noticing.  Mary conceives of Jesus in Nazareth of Galilee.  This Nazareth is a mystical place that has gone under the biblical radar for a long time.

Nazareth is not thought of in a positive light according to Nathanael in John’s Gospel.  “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.” (John 1: 46)  Nathanael’s remark makes Nazareth seem like the Sodom and Gomorrah of his day.  There are some amazing features about this region of earth.

For one thing Lake Galilee is the lowest level fresh water lake on the planet.  What does this mean to God as God looks down on this planet that God has given us as our fragile home? Galilee is so different from Judea in that Galilee has more frequent rains with crops and live stock. Judah is barren and arid. Jesus was conceived in Nazareth of Galilee and eventually was taken back there to be raised.

The picture I took while there last year (February 2018) is the one I use at the top of this blog and is of the Galilean coastline from a boat in Lake Galilee itself. I was amazed by this view of Jesus’ three year ministry. Jesus walked and preached and healed and taught within this view a little more than 2000 years ago.  We need to look at the Holy Land with a new perspective, one of hope and surprise; God sure does. This is where Mary agreed to partner with God to change the world. She said “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 2:38)

We can learn so much by just watching what God does, and where God chooses to do a work, and who God chooses to assist in the work, like Mary, and like you.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Readings and Pondering for Sunday 24 March 2019 Lent

Eucharistic Readings for Sunday 24 March 2019 (3 Lent: Year C)

Exodus 3:1-15  Psalm 63:1-8 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Luke 13:1-9

Luke

“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” (Luke 13: 3 &5 NRSV)

My Pondering

Verses 3 and 5 say the same thing about people being killed.  One was caused by human evil and one caused by unexplained evil.  In any case, bad stuff happened that caused human loss of life.

A word or two about what it means to perish before we look into what repentance is all about.  To perish here means to cease to exist. It is not the being brought into the heavenly realm promised to those who believe and repent of sin.  To perish is the opposite of eternal life. Repentance avoids perishing.

Denial, retaliation, and minimization are sometimes the reasons we feel we don’t have to repent.

Denial of wrongs we have done or left undone does not alleviate or lessen the wrong done or undone. It still happened.  It is what God is aware of and we have to own it.  Then the process of repentance can begin.

Retaliation or eye for an eye is no excuse for evil done to another.  There is no excuse to perpetrate evil of any kind.  We are Christians, retaliation is not what we are called to do.

Minimization is the act of reducing the damage done in our own minds so that we don’t feel so bad about the harm done to others.  Minimization is the act of lying to ourselves. We must empathize with the one we have impacted and get their feelings in our head.  Only when we become the victims we created will we fully understand the damage caused.

The point of this Luke reading is repentance and to repent as early as possible.  Whether it’s human fault or natures fault, it makes no difference.  This very evening is not promised to us. Are their acts, words, and/or thoughts that we wish we had not committed?  The time to set it right is now.

The tree in the story is a metaphor for us as we are given another chance for repentance with the help of a pastor/prophet/Son of God. This holy helper (Jesus) will assist us in turning back to God.  Thanks be to God. Thank You Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Readings and Pondering for Saturday 23 March 2019 Lent

Daily Office Readings for Saturday 23 March 2019 Year One of 2 Lent

AM Psalm 75, 76; PM Psalm 23, 27Jer. 5:20-31; Rom. 3:19-31; John 7:1-13

Psalm 27

“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, do I seek. (Psalm 27:8 NRSV)

“You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.” *
Your face, Lord, will I seek. (Psalm 27:11 NIV)

My Pondering

Okay, this is a verse to ponder. Depending on the English translation, one understanding of seeking God’s face could come up in verse 8 or 11. While the NIV has a second person singular talk with God (God talking to us directly), the NRSV has the heart (or our soul) speaking to us, its host, with God being in third person singular. And I prefer the word soul rather than heart.  The heart is a blood pumping muscle while the soul is a gift from God that can’t be found by science.  This soul is constantly in conversion with God.  And then our soul talks to us about God.

The Psalmist says that the soul speaks to us about God, “Seek God’s face.”  Our souls are our connection to God.  God planted it in us. If you establish and maintain some quiet time daily and are quiet and listen intently, you can hear your soul talk to God.  It’s like hearing someone on the phone.  You can hear the one on your side of the phone but you can only guess the gist of the conversation as you try to piece it together based on what your soul is saying.  The one thing you can be sure of is that when your soul is talking to God, it is about you!

My real sadness is for people who say they don’t believe in God. This means that they also don’t believe that they even have a soul because our souls are gifts from God. To refuse to believe is the waste of a soul. I feel so sad for them.

There is another understanding for our souls and that is the spirit which is the same gift from God by another name being undetectable by doctors or scientist. St Paul speaks of this in Romans as he informs us, Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.  And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26 – 27 NRSV)

So you see, there is something about us that is connected to God.  And get this, it is in us for our own benefit.  God did this for us.  It is the continuation of Emanuel (God with us).  So listen to the Psalmist as he teaches, “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”  And you should respond,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”   Amen.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Health Pondering

I notice that in all the Gospels some of the first work that Jesus does is to heal.  Human health is very important to him. People around the Mediterranean ate non processed foods and walked everywhere.  They already lived a healthier lifestyle than we do.  Still, some got sick.  It’s bound to happen to all of us sooner or later.  So in the Galilean neighborhoods it was Dr. Jesus who traveled around healing people of both physical and Psychotic (demon possessed) diseases.  Ultimate healing however was spiritual healing. This means being saved.  This is not necessarily being saved in this world for this world, but rather being saved in, and for, the next world and eternal life.  Jesus got people through physical and mental ill health so that they could accept the invitation to have spiritual redeeming.

I think we all should have a program of healthy eating and regular walking.  It is who we are created to be, walkers, by-pedal, walkers.  And to nourish ourselves, we should eat fresh fruits and vegetables.  Being like Jesus means more than just reading about what Jesus did.  Jesus did not leave us any written material.  But we do have the history of the life of the Palestinian Jews of his day. We know something about his diet and that he was a blue collar worker in construction (maybe woodworking) and that he walked all over Israel and Judea. Why don’t we have preachers trying to get us to diet and exercise in a Christian way?  If we “follow” Jesus for miles, we may not need Dr. Jesus, except for the spiritual healing part.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Readings and Pondering for Friday 22 March 2019 Lent

Readings for March 22 James De Koven Priest and Teacher, 1879

Psalm 132:1-7Exodus 24:1-8 2 Timothy 2:10-15,19Matthew 13:47-52

“I will not allow my eyes to sleep, nor let my eyelids slumber”

 Until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Psalm 132:4-5)

My Pondering

The Psalmist speaks of his personal life rituals.  He talks about his rule of life regarding God.  I can surely identify with that.  Personally I can’t put any food in my mouth unless I first thank God in some way, even if just a small “thank you Jesus.”  James De Koven who we remember today was also a man of ritual – a man of traditions.

James De Koven was born in Middletown, Connecticut, on September 19, 1831, ordained by Bishop Kemper in 1855, and appointed professor of ecclesiastical history at Nashotah House. (From Great Cloud of Witnesses)

De Koven came to national attention at the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874, when the controversy over “ritualism” was at its height. In 1871, he asserted that the use of candles on the altar, incense, and genuflections were lawful, because they symbolized “the real, spiritual presence of Christ” which The Episcopal Church upheld, along with the Orthodox and the Lutherans. (From Great Cloud of Witnesses) 

I agree. I pray with Prayer Beads, candles, Native American flute music and Icons of Mary and the Baby Jesus.  I so understand the use of things made with our hands as tools to assist in the worship of God, things like the Bible itself and our Book of Common Prayer.  God gave us memory reason and skill so that we might more authentically honor God.

Despite calls to serve at prominent parishes in New York City, Boston, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, De Koven remained in his post at Racine College, where his students admired him as “a model of great learning, gracious manners, personal holiness, and extraordinary compassion.” (From Great Cloud of Witnesses)  

Again I too never looked past the little parish I was called to serve straight out of seminary (St Paul’s in the Pines).  I don’t know if I have any of De Koven’s other qualities.  I do know that I see life as a liturgical dance.  There is a proper way to do most things, especially things that matter such as eating, sleeping, and taking care of people we love and worship of the Almighty.  And the proper way to do these things is to pray before, during and after each is done.  We pray through them.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Pondering Explained

I am one who first and foremost attempts to think about life’s purpose very deeply.  My Christian faith coaches me in my thinking.  I have shared before my situation wherein I was taking Chemistry and Philosophy at the same time in undergraduate school and considered the sort of chicken and egg decision regarding which came first, simple atomic structure, or thought.  I came out on the side of thought.  I then realized that the Thought (God) that brought about atomic structure into being must be the Supreme Thought that brings in all things, the cosmos and our own molecular makeup, into being.

I then needed a way to capture the way I thought about this relationship between God and me.  As I remember reading in Scripture about when Mary (earthly mother of our Incarnate God) was visited by a messenger of God and how she wrestled with such an epiphany. Her experience is explained that, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” (Luke 1:26-29 NRSV)  And again after she gave birth and mortal shepherds shared with her what they experienced when they were visited by divine beings. It is said of her:  “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”  (Luke 2:19 NRSV)  So I ponder too.  Thank you Mary, Luke and the NRSV.

My Pondering is not limited to Church and Bible

Pondering is not for the faint of heart.  To ponder is to take words, thoughts and ideas into the mind and move them around like marbles over prearranged holes and see how they fit and look with their various colors – what they might look like when settled.  My God-given, prearranged holes line up for Christian spirituality, Health and Fitness, and Music.  So, like Mary, as I ponder these subjects in my heart, I grow in the three different ways that Christian Spirituality, Health and Fitness and Music develop and define me. As I continue to move forward with my “onewhoponders” page I will drift from one topic to another staying within the three-fold framework of Christian Spirituality, Health and Fitness, and Music. I invite you to develop your own direction that The Spirit is leading you. And, I also invite you to follow me on my journey as I continue to discern what the Spirit is saying to me as I ponder anew what the Almighty is doing.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

Readings and Pondering for Thursday 21 March 2019 Lent

Readings for Benedict of Nursia 540

Psalm 119:129-136Proverbs 2:1-9Philippians 2:12-16Luke 14:27-33

Philippians

 “Do all things without murmuring and arguing” (Philippians 2:14)

My Pondering

Today we remember Benedict of Nursia, considered to be the Father of Western Monasticism. Benedict’s day seems to have moved.  I remember it being in July. Having said that I can remember our studies in Seminary.  It was late one night as we were all getting ready of bed and we were thinking about theRules at Virginia Episcopal Seminary.  Some of the “thinking” was made manifest in complaining.  As we had been studying a booklet on Benedict’s Rule that morning, one of us reminded the rest of us that “there shall be no murmuring.”  We all laughed and went on to our respective rooms quietly.  The quote from Philippians above reminded me of that night.

Benedict was born at Nursia (Norcia) in Umbria, Italy, around 480 AD. He was sent to Rome for his studies, but was repelled by the dissolute life of most of the populace, and withdrew to a solitary life at Subiaco. He withdrew to a cave where, according to some reports where there was at least one other man already there, where he studied and (I might add) pondered.  He soon attracted other men to follow in his path of solitude and prayer.  This led to the order he created with vows and most famously, The Rule, that assisted in maintaining the order.

A Benedictine monk takes vows of “obedience, stability, and amendment of life.”  The Benedictine monk promises to obey the abbot, to remain in the order and to the amendment of life to that of piety, prayer and work. An average day includes about four hours to be spent in liturgical prayer, five hours in spiritual reading and study, six hours of labor, one hour for eating, and about eight hours for sleep. The Book of Psalms is to be recited in its entirety every week as a part of the Office.

I think what I really like (the take-away) is the idea that we are not to murmur, or complain about life in the vocations we have chosen.  Too many of us today fuss about every little inconvenience.  We have to learn to accept and deal with inconvenience from time to time.  I have learned that come inconvenience turns out to be unexpected opportunity.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.