Pondering for Thursday, October 17, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 23 Year 1

AM Psalm 18:1-20; PM Psalm 18:21-50 Jer. 38:1-13; 1 Cor. 14:26-33a,37-40; Matt. 10:34-42

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40)

We Christians too often forget that we carry Jesus within us. Whether we greet old friends as Jesus did upon his return to Nazareth where they rejected him, or, as he met new people on his traveling ministry, he was loving and kind.   If we truly profess Jesus as Savior and yes, Master, then we should try as best we can to be like him.

But just as we have Jesus in us through the swallowing of his body and blood, so too Jesus comes as a spiritual Trojan Horse with God, the Creator inside him.  So that means that as Christians we have Jesus in each of us and also God who is of the same substance as Jesus himself.  It’s complicated but the long and short of it is that we are all more than we seem to be.  Each Christian contains Jesus and within that Jesus is the I AM of Creation!  Yes, in you, you who are reading this blog.

Jesus says that “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”  We have an awesome privilege and responsibility.  We are the perfect little trinity. We are who we are but in addition to who we are we also have the Lord Jesus inside us to guide us into all love and perfection.  And within the Holy Presence of Jesus inside us is The ONE who started and maintains all that is.  What does this make you think about yourself?  The spark of creation resides in you somewhere. All the mysteries of the universe are already contained in you.  Perhaps this is why Jesus says every time there is a healing done for someone, (he never says that he did it) he says to them, and to us, “Your faith has made you well.”

Through our Christian faith, Jesus manipulates the God piece in us to give us the healing we need. We then must go out into the world and be present to others so that the Jesus in us at least gets the opportunity to meet the Jesus in the other.  Thank You Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John+

Pondering for Wednesday October 16, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 23 Year 1

AM Psalm 119:1-24; PM Psalm 12, 13, 14 Jer. 37:3-21; 1 Cor. 14:13-25; Matt. 10:24-33

“Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.” (1 Corinthians 14:13)

One of my greatest experiences was to be in Greek class at Virginia Theological Seminary 14 years ago and begin learning and understanding Biblical Greek.  Written on the outside of our workbook was the Greek inscription, “Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. (In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and God was the Word.” (John 1:1)  I could feel the Holy Spirit overshadow me as I unwrapped the meaning of these ancient words. 

Even as I am typing out this post I am preparing to participate in our Wednesday afternoon Spanish Bible Study.  It is always informative to hear scripture in a different tongue. New meanings are made manifest and “adjusted” direction is often given to me.

When I was in Israel last year I got to mingle with people from all over Europe. Many of them spoke to one another in their, or the other’s, language.  I was amazed. While having fun with me a person from France told me (in English) that a person who speaks three languages is called Tri-lingual; likewise a person who speaks two languages is called Bilingual. However he said, a person who speaks only one language is called American.  Ha, ha I replied. Sadly, there is truth in it.

The more ways we can speak, or at least read, about God the more ways we can interpret the Word of God. Paul says “Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.” In the beginning was the Word, whether in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish or English or any human language, The Word of God is God from before the beginning of time. Perhaps it would do us (Americans) good to see how others speak of God and of the wonders of Jesus. When I do it I gain new insight.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John+

Pondering for Tuesday October 15, 2019

Readings for Teresa of Avila

Psalm 42:1-7 Romans 8:22-27 Matthew 5:13-16

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Today we remember Teresa of Avila. “Teresa was one of two women declared a “Doctor of the Church” in 1970 by the Roman Catholic Church, primarily because of her two mystical contemplative works, The Way of Perfection and Interior Castle. She was a close spiritual and personal friend of St. John of the Cross.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for October 15)

Like all great mystics there is a connection to other mystics of their day. For Teresa it was St. John of the Cross whose work was not discovered until after his death.  All of us who seek God need to partner with someone as mentor and protégé to better hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

“Teresa was born near Avila. Even in her childhood, she took much pleasure in the study of saints’ lives, and she used to delight in spending times of contemplation, repeating over and over, “For ever, for ever, for ever, for ever, they shall see God.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for October 15)

Teresa did join a Carmelite order but was not happy with their structure. “The easygoing life of the “mitigated” Carmelite rule distracted her from her customary prayer life, to which she returned. Taking recourse in two great penitents, Augustine of Hippo and Mary Magdalene, she became increasingly meditative. She began to receive visions—whether from God or the Devil she could not know—and struggled to reject them.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for October 15)

Her personal piety was much more structured than the cloister with which she belonged.  I often feel that way. I live a pious life with daily attention to the Daily Office of the Episcopal Church. I don’t think many clergy or laity devotes this same amount of dedication to our readings and journaling.  I am particularly pleased that Teresa patterned her pious life from a dedicated acetic like Augustine of Hippo and a Biblical personality like Mary Magdalene.  These are two people who lived totally for Christ even though several hundred years apart.  We all should find such mentors to emulate (one Biblical and one from Church history).  Christ now lives in each Christian as Teresa points out in one of her poems:

“Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
compassion on this world
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”  (Great Cloud of Witnesses for October 15)

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John+

Pondering for Monday October 14, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 23 Year 1

AM Psalm 1, 2, 3; PM Psalm 4, 7  Jer. 36:11-261 Cor. 13:(1-3)4-13;   Matt. 10:5-15

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

This verse is perhaps among the most famous words of Paul.  It is used at weddings and other occasions to bring joy to the event.  These words are the summation of the definition of the word love.

Just to show the relativity of love to the other important spiritual guides in our lives, faith and hope, Paul compares love.  Faith speaks of what we believe and in what or who we trust. It is now and where we are in this moment.  Faith is adjustable, can be taught, can be reshaped to fit new understanding.

Hope is what we are looking forward to. It is futuristic, not yet, but longed for. Hope works beyond faith as it tries to make sense of what should be.  Hope wants to love but can’t see completely, only in part.  Hope longs for improvement.

Love is complete and does not concern itself with what will be because love is now. It is unconditionally compassionate now and always looking forward only to deeper relationship. Love is not earned but freely given to all whether asked for or not. And most important, love is that quality about us that is eternal, it cannot be destroyed.  Love then, is energy!

 Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John+

Pondering for Sunday October 13, 2019

Eucharistic Readings or Sunday of Proper 23 Year C

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c Psalm 111 2 Timothy 2:8-15 Luke 17:11-19

“Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”” (Luke 17: 19)

This is an amazing healing story. But it is also an amazing salvation story.

We have lepers calling out while maintaining their distance so as not to contaminate others. This was the requirement in those days regarding self-regulating leper communities.  But these sick people are well aware of who Jesus is. As they see him they call out from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 

It seems leprosy does not discriminate.  Like other human ills, Cancer, Ebola, HIV and AIDS, leprosy is an equal opportunity inflictor.  We don’t know how many of the ten were Samaritans but we do know that at least one was. Jesus makes sure we know that and while that that destroys persons does not discriminate; neither does the salvation of God discriminate. All are welcome into the Salvation of God.

Salvation is different from healing. According to Fred B. Craddock writing for Interpretation: A Bible Comentary: Luke, he says, “We have, then, a story of ten being healed and one being saved.”  If I had a choice and could only pick one, healing of an earthly illness, or, the being saved into eternal life, I would not consider it a choice at all.  Give me that eternal salvation please.

The Samaritan went back to Jesus out of gratitude for an earthly cure.  He got more than he bargained for.  He got salvation.  He showed gratitude.  He showed thanksgiving.  It meant a lot to Jesus.

Prayers should be like the top and bottom pieces of bread of a sandwich.  That is, we pray for something like safety during an approaching storm. We come out on the other side intact. We should then go back to prayer in thanksgiving to God for answering our prayer requests.  To not do so makes us one of the ten that Jesus asks about; “Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?”   The sandwich metaphor works as it has us to remember and be thankful for what God has done for us.  This is an attitude of gratitude. Let us not just forget God when all is safe again. Let us not take God for granted.  We need to be just as earnest in our giving thanks as we were in our asking for help.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John+

Pondering for Saturday October 12, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Saturday of Proper 22 Year 1

AM Psalm 137:1-6(7-9), 144; PM Psalm 104 Jer. 35:1-19; 1 Cor. 12:27-13:3; Matt. 9:35-10:4

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.” (Matthew 9:35)

Jesus did many great acts in and around Israel. It was when he went south to Judea, and Jerusalem in particular,  that we have what we did to him.  Save the Sacrament of Holy Communion, which he did, his arrest and crucifixion are acts that we (humanity) did to him in Judea.  And sadly we get fixated on that. 

I think what we really should look deeper into is his teaching, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness that he did in the north, in Israel.

Jesus came to us from God Almighty, as God Almighty.  He came to preach peace among all people, and for that he was killed. But now you and I have the opportunity to study carefully the acts he did and the words he shared about the kingdom.  His three year ministry took place in an area half the size of New Jersey.  He walked everywhere in Israel to do this work.  What have we done to spread the word of the good news of the kingdom of heaven? You and I don’t have to worry about ending up on a cross.  All we have to do is let people know that there is a loving God who wants us all to join the heavenly realm.  This is truly good news but we keep it hidden.  Jesus walked. We have cars and public transportation.  What’s stopping us?

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John+

Pondering for Friday, October 11, 2019

Readings For Philip: Deacon and Evanelist

Psalm 67 Acts 8:26-40 Matthew 28:18-20

“As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’ (Acts 8: 26 – 27)

I love this verse.  Mostly I use Philip as my baptismal mentor.  “Have water, will baptize.”  But now I want to step into the eunuch’s shoes. 

While he was a defiled man without certain opportunities regarding human pleasure, he none the less found gratitude in being accepted into the fold of Christ.  I’m thinking that although he went to the Temple to worship, he may not have been allowed to enter given that he was disfigured. He was rejected perhaps because of things done to him without his permission. But he is fully accepted into the fold of Jesus through baptism.  Yay!  And as with Zacchaeus (Luke 19) Jesus connects us with Abraham. 

There may be things that happen to us either through our own doing or through the violence of some other person or persons but that does not exclude us from the loving arms of Jesus.  It is absolutely wonderful to come to the realization of our full potential through someone who listens to us and works with us in order that we might achieve what we never thought possible.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John+