Readings and Reflections for Thursday 10 January 2019: Epiphany

Daily Office Readings

AM Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23); PM Psalm 147
Isa. 65:1-9; Rev. 3:1-6; John 6:1-14

From Psalm 139: 3

“Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, but you, O Lord, know it altogether.”

Psalm 139 is another one of my favorite Psalms.  Its thrust is about how much God knows us and is acquainted with all our ways.  This first verse however kind of grabs me because it seems to suggest that God can, and does, go deeper than the word being formed in my mouth.

I am reminded that before I say it, I think it.  And God is there also. We have a prayer in the Episcopal Church that we say at the start of each service.  It is called the Collect for Purity and in part asks God to “cleanse the thoughts or our hearts by the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit….”  I remind my listeners that we, in and of ourselves, are not able to cleanse our own hearts, we just can’t do it.  We must ask for God’s assistance.

We must ask for God’s assistance to stop thinking that jokes against another race, another gender, another sex, another nationality, another religion, another political party, is funny. But first folks, we must want it.  God knows the heart.  We can’t fool God.  We must ask in all sincerity. We must prayerfully craft words that really express our deepest desires.  And then use words that speak to God honestly. And please remember, “Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, but you, O Lord, know it altogether.”

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

From a Revelation of Jesus Christ to John:

“If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Rev.3:5 – 6)

I read this as an invitation to be like those faithful ones who have gone before us who held on tightly to their Christian principles no matter what.  Then, if we do this, we too will be honored in heaven. It seems God already has our names, our Christened names and the promise is that our names will not be blotted out.  In fact, they will be reported out among the host of heaven of the new arrivals when our time comes!  I pray I have the ear to listen to what the Spirit is saying to me.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

From John 6

“After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.” (John 6:1)

There is nothing of great import here in the first verse of chapter six.  However when I read it I was reminded of my Holy Land visit in February of 2018.  We went out on a boat on the lake (so called Sea of Galilee) and it is from that boat that I took the picture posted at the top of my blogs.  It was a tranquil moment – a Holy Spirit moment.  From my vista I could see the three years of Jesus’ ministry.  We could see Nazareth, Magdala, Cana, and most important for me was Capernaum. This is also the water that Jesus was reported to have walked on.  Interestingly enough, this body of water is the lowest level of fresh water on the planet.  And this is where God decided to start the Christian ministry and story. I ponder what was God thinking and what else is special about this particular part of this biblically historic place?

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

Today we remember William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury

Psalm 73:24-29) Hebrews 12:5-14  Matthew 10:32-39

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”  (Matt. 10:32)

Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud

William Laud was Archbishop of Canterbury during a difficult time in our church’s history.  He was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645 in the days of King Charles I.  He intentionally did things that he knew would upset the Puritans, a literal sect of Christianity.  He wore vestments and used candles at the Altar which he knew was troubling for a people who took the position that if it was not in the Bible, then it should not be done.

Our early, and present church did retain liturgical customs and traditions from the Roman Catholic Church.  While Laud valued these ecclesiastical practices he left no room in his heart for working with non-Anglicans and the Puritan way of holding church.  They, the Puritans, were no better and these rivalries often lead to violent confrontations and even death, including Laud.

Perhaps one of the ways we should acknowledge Jesus before others is to be tolerant of difference. Today most mainline faiths seek ways in which we can find common ground and live together in harmony.  However, I am not so naïve as to ignore the violence and hatred that takes place in our country today.  We have had acts of violence against synagogues, mosques and even different Christian faiths like Seventh Day Adventist, and Historically Black Churches many perpetrated by people self-proclaiming to be Christians.  Where is the Jesus in that?

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.

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