Pondering for Monday, April 12, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Monday of the 2nd Week of Easter: Year 1:

Morning, Psalms 1, 2 and 3; Evening, Psalms 4 and 7
Daniel 1:1 to 211st John 1:1 to 10John 17:1 to 11

“I lie down and go to sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” (Psalm 3:5)

I often find the words of the Psalms a way to expand beyond the locked in narratives of the Bible.  This phrase in Psalm 3 for example, captures my nightly reflection of the day just past.  What was I thankful for?  How was I challenged?  What would I change going forward? 

I am also, like the Psalmist, so thankful that God sustains me day in and day out. I pray that my thoughts, words and actions are pleasing to God. These blogs are begun at night, the night before they are to be published for the next day. My thoughts first go into my personal journal. From the journal I decide what I want to share with the world.  I read and reflect on all the readings for the next day and pray in the Spirit. It is in such prayer that thoughts come to me. These I ponder and print.

I encourage everyone who listens to me (or reads me), to have some time of reflection.  I find that a review of the day just past, is the best time to do this.  Also, spiritual reading motivates the goodness within us as our soul strives to get closer to God. Such a practice really does wake us the next day in thanksgiving to God.

For me, it is so wonderful to review the thoughts and prayers from last night and then share them with you. It is my hope that these words of mine will enhance the life of all who may read this blog. Just as I have been changed in good ways by reading the work of the saints who have gone before me, so too maybe my words may help others to be a better, and more loving people.  

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Sunday, April 11, 2021

Part 1 of 2

Daily Office Readings of Sunday of the 2nd Week of Easter: Year 1

Morning, Psalms 146 and 147; Evening,  Psalms 111, 112 and 113
Isaiah  43:8 to 131st Peter 2:2 to 10John 14:1 to 7:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”  (John 14:1)

Many monotheistic faiths believe in One, all Creating God. However, we Christians also believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the on-earth, manifestation of the same One-God. We are where God is if we have Christ within us. Our lord Jesus preached God as the loving and compassionate God. God never has to arrive, only make the God’s-self known to us. God is always with us although not seen by mortal eyes. This is further pondered in part 2 of today.

Part 2 of 2

Eucharistic Readings for the 2nd Sunday of Easter: Year B

“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”” (John 20:19)

The only word I question in this translation of the Bible is the word “came.”  It is mentioned twice that on the First day of the week, as well as a week later, the doors were shut and locked. So how does the Raised Jesus (back in the flesh), get in?  I argue that Jesus was already among them, only not in a human discernible way. A review of the Gospel of Luke will inform us that when the Risen Jesus was at table with the travelers on the road to Emmaus they realized who he is. “Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight,” (Luke 24:31). It’s funny, their eyes were opened and they lost sight of him.   Our Lord Jesus is God’s presence among us, seen or unseen. 

Maybe we can’t hear the words “Peace be with you,” unless we can see who it’s coming from. But none the less, our Lord Jesus is still saying to us, “Peace be with you,” seen or unseen. Let us accept peace no matter what. Let us not let our hearts be troubled. Jesus tells Thomas (and us), that we are blessed if we have not physically seen, yet we believe.  Remember, our Lord Jesus, along with the heavenly hosts, are always with us, even though we can’t see them. We should live our lives with the understanding of the very public heavenly view that we are in. Heaven sees everything. Locked doors or secrete posts are not hidden or blocked from divine eyes. The quicker we accept the peace of Christ, the less our hearts will be troubled.  Peace be with you.

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Saturday, April 10, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Saturday of Easter Week: Year 1

Morning, Psalm 145; Evening, Psalm 104
Isaiah 25:1 to 9; Acts 4:13 to 31; or 2nd Corinthians 4:16 to 5:10John 16:16 to 33:

“It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.  This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  (Isaiah 25:9)

Not long after I was called to St Paul’s in the Pines Episcopal parish in Fayetteville North Carolina, the parish sponsored our youth on a summer excursion to Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is basically a fun filled water park. On one of the rides, our boys were in one floating raft, and our girls were in another.  As both groups floated along, the boys became rambunctious  and toppled their float over. The protocol for such an event was to stand straight up (the water only being a couple of feet deep), and walk calmly to the sidewall and await park safety personnel to escort you to the ride’s end. 

In his excitement, and perhaps embarrassment, young Ian Martin, was telling me about the incident. While he wanted to give me all the details of how the girls started it, he begin by saying that “While we were waiting to be saved …..”  I fixated on his words. “While we were waiting to be saved.”  I ponder that that’s why we are here on earth. We are all waiting to be saved. We are currently in our next stage of development, awaiting that heavenly court to come by and pick us up and escort us to that heavenly realm from whence no traveler returns, save our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you Isaiah for your prophetic words.  “This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  This fragile earth our island home is as temporary as are we.  We are not meant to be here for all eternity. We are waiting to be saved.  Every day, all we have to do is wait. What does it mean to be waiting for salvation?  For young Ian it meant standing against that wall awaiting his escorts and not worrying about how to explain what happened. It’s probably the same for you and me in life today.

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Friday, April 9, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Friday of Easter Week: Year 1

Morning, Psalm 136; Evening,  Psalm 118
Daniel 12:1 to 4 and 13Acts 4:1 to 12 or 1st Corinthians 15:51 to 58John 16:1 to 15

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever;” (Daniel 12: 2 and 3).

Here is some evidence perhaps, that there was some belief in an afterlife in the Hebrew Testament. It talks about those who “sleep” in the dust of the earth shall awake! Yes, I like hearing that.  However, there is a caution also. Some will rise to everlasting life and some will rise to shame and everlasting contempt. 

Paul alludes to this belief among the Pharisees as he defends himself in the Acts of the Apostles saying, “I have a hope in God—a hope that they themselves also accept—that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous;” (Acts 24:15). I believe every human soul will awake from the dead.  I don’t believe every soul will be received into eternal life. Nor do I believe that a loving God will keep any of us in an eternal state of hell. Such an unrighteous one, I believe, would just cease to exist.

My beloved in the Lord, whether we sleep in the dust of the earth until the earth’s last day, or we are walking around when our Lord comes to us as we are still in this mortal life, we must be found living the best, most loving life we can live.

And now, the Book of Daniel leaves us with another sentence relevant for us today, the beginning of a Holy Sabbath; “But you, go your way, and rest; you shall rise for your reward at the end of the days’; (Daniel 12:13).

For this evening and tomorrow day my friends; Shabbat Shalom

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Thursday, April 8, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Easter Week: Year 1

Morning,  Psalms 146 and 147; Evening, Psalms 148 and 149
Ezekiel  37:1 to 14Acts 3:11 to 26 or 1st  Corinthians 15:41 to 50John 15:12 to 27:

“You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, “And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Acts 3:25)

Most of today’s readings are very instructional. I highly encourage everyone to read and savor all of the readings for today.  It was hard for me to select a verse to spring from for today.  All of the readings are just that meaningful. The Acts 3 reading however is assigned for both the Daily Office reading and our Eucharistic readings. It is a very inclusive message from God. I believe that while God called the descendants of Abraham to become Israelites, the Israelites were commissioned to spread the news about the love that God has for all the people of the earth regardless of their lineage. The message is, “And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Psalm 8 is assigned in our Eucharistic reading for today. There are words in this Psalm that causes me to ponder. It says, When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,  What is man that you should be mindful of him, the son of man that you should seek him out?  (Psalm 8: 4 and 5).  Our Creating God loves humanity so much that God’s self deemed us worthy enough to come among us as one of us in our Lord Jesus. And according to the Gospel of Luke, the Resurrected Jesus opened our minds  in order that we might better understand the scriptures. “Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,  that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,” (Luke 24: 44 and 45). Still today, such understanding of scripture only comes with prayer and the company of other believers with open hearts and minds. Then our Lord Jesus will open us even further.

 Peter tells the amazed witnesses of the healing that they should not be so surprised. He says, ‘And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets,”  (Acts 3:17 to 21).  It seems then that there is a correlation between ignorance, awareness, repentance and forgiveness.  Acts that we have done from ignorance may be forgiven. God is so good and merciful. Thank You Lord Jesus.

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Easter Week: Year 1

Morning, Psalms 97 and 99; Evening, Psalm 115:         
Micah 7:7 to 15Acts 3:1 to 10 or 1st Corinthians 15:(29)30 to 41John 15:1 to 11

“But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7)

So for the second day we read from yet another prophet the instruction to wait for the Lord our God.  I don’t think we (in particular, Americans), wait very well.  I don’t think we like the perceived “nothingness” of it. As I listen to the news on the television or even the commercials, there is a non-stop barrage of noise coming at me. There is no break. It is sometimes hard to fully digest what was just said or offered, and to discern where one subject stopped, and the next began.

We don’t wait for each other in conversation either. Listening coaches will tell us not to be thinking about a “one-up” response while pretending to be listing to the speaker. Deep down, we don’t want to listen. Unfortunately, this practice of not listening will be made manifest in our diminishing relationship with God.

We have developed the bad habit of “noise now.”  If who we are pretending to listen to is not making noise, we will fill the gap with our own generated noise. We have been doing this with neighbors for so long the practice has unfortunately influenced our prayers. But Isaiah yesterday, and Micah today, instruct us to “wait” for the Lord. At the heart of waiting is patience. Patience is developed in the bosom where there should be care and concern for the speaker, be that speaker your child, your spouse, your parent, your brother or sister, your neighbor, or your God.

The care and concern in the bosom of patience is also the stuff of love. Waiting therefore, is indicative of the capacity we have to love God, and to love our fellow human beings, (in that order).  To be able to wait is the demonstrated control we have to resist the non-stop barrage of noise.  Remember that it is from nothingness that God created all that is.  Let’s have small breaks between topics. Let’s wait with loving care for one another when in conversation. This loving care helps us to wait for one another, and more importantly, to wait for God. Two prophets can’t be wrong. Let us heed their words.  

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Easter Week: Year 1

 Morning Psalm, 103; Evening Psalms 111 and 114
Isaiah 30:18 to 21; Acts 2:26 to 41; or 1st  Corinthians 15:12 to 28John 14:15 to 31 

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30: 18)

This sounds like a two-way waiting proposal – an invitation to be patient, for us, created in the waiting Patience of God, to be like God in our own patience. The Lord waits to be gracious to us. the prophet Isaiah says. And then he adds that we are blessed if we wait on the Lord.

Is it easier to wait for the Lord if we know that the Lord is also waiting for us?  Which begs the question, what is it about us that the Lord is waiting for?  Is the Lord waiting for us to be good and pardoning of one another?  Is the Lord waiting for us to acknowledge that God is God alone? The patience and power of God will bring us to tears.

Isaiah says, “He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you” (Isaiah 30:19). I have a saying that “God’s ears, hears tears.”  Probably not correct grammar but the point is that God is always attentive when tears roll down cheeks. Such tears make no detectable sound that the human ear can hear. But even through the modern, clanging, busy world of today, God can, and does hear, and respond, to our tears that sound like rushing waters over our face to God. Crying is prayer. And God is all around us, always listening.

“And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30: 21)  These directional words may come through unsuspecting people. God uses unsuspecting people to do the work for you that needs to be done. Therefore, we must be ever vigilant in order not to miss the word behind us, directing us about which way to go.  At some point we sinners become the unsuspecting saints of God. God knows what it is like to be one of us through God’s own experience in Christ Jesus.  We are all called to help one another, with, or without, our awareness. But I appeal to you to let us do this loving work willingly. This is about helping God to help us.  Thank You Lord Jesus.

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Monday, April 5, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Monday of Easter Week: Year 1

Morning Psalms 93 and 98; Evening Psalm, 66;
Jonah 2:1 to 9Acts 2:14 and 22 to 32or 1st Corinthians 15:1 to 11John 14:1 to 14  

“Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne.  Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, “He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.”  This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.” (Acts 2: 29 to 32)

This Acts passage is assigned for both our Daily Office reading and is a part of our Eucharistic devotion for this Monday in Easter Week. It must be important. Cephas, or Simon Peter, has come a long way since his days as a fisherman. He is now instructing Israelites on matters of theology and Hebrew history.

 According to Peter, God kept the promise made to David concerning a human born in the house of David that would be our Messiah, the Christ. Peter quotes from one of David’s Psalms concerning the future descendent in saying, “For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit,” (Psalm 16:10), attributed to David.

We know from scripture that David was a shepherd, a musician, a writer of Psalms, a warrior- giant slayer, a king, and now, a prophet, according to Peter. David, like Peter, is a part of our Christian history. Maybe this is why this passage is in both our Daily Office Reading as well as our Monday Eucharistic Reading.  Perhaps the Church, if not God also, wants us to remember that the house and line of David is important in our Christian heritage.

As we listen to Saint Peter, we must remember that we are all “Fellow Israelites.”  We may not have David’s tomb among us but we do have an empty tomb from which a descendent of David was raised, Jesus, our Messiah, our Christ.

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Sunday, April 4, 2021

Eucharistic Readings for the Principle Service on Easter Day:

Acts 10:34 to 43Psalm 118:1 and 2 and 14 to 241st Corinthians 15:1 to 11John 20:1 to 18 or Mark 16:1 to 8:

“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.” (John: 20: 11 and 12)

The life story of Mary Magdalene is amazing. We learn from the Gospel of Luke that she was possessed by seven demons which Jesus drove out of her. Doing this, Jesus gave her back to herself. This man that has been crucified, died and was buried, the restorer of her life has been taken away – taken away from her before she has had time not only to attempt to repay him for all he has done for her, but now, even in his death, his body has been taken away before she can give his body the proper anointing as is the custom of her people. She feels sad that she failed him in this way. So, yes, she is crying because of her great sadness.

My beloved of the Lord, we have this in common with Mary Magdalene. We owe who we are to our Lord Jesus. But this is only true if we are living lives of dedication to our Lord Jesus as did Mary.  This life of dedication begins at our baptism.  And we are aided by those who say that they will do all in their power to assist us in our walk in Christ (with God’s help of course).

Can you only imagine how elated she must have been when the supposed gardener called her by her name, and in a voice she was all too familiar with?  “Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher)” (John 20:16).  She then gives the shortest, but most powerful sermon ever recorded; her words changed our planet forever. I can see Mary running back to the doubting apostles yet again, and running out of the pages of the Gospel to us today, perhaps barefoot and in the rain, with tears now of great joy streaming down her cheeks, and preaching her sermon,  Alleluia; He Is Risen!

HAPPY EASTER EVERYBODY!

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

Pondering for Saturday, April 3, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Holy Saturday: Year 1

Morning Psalms, 95 and 88; Evening Psalm, 27
 Job 19:21 to 27; Hebrews 4:1 to 16Romans 8:1 to 11;

“So then, a Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.  Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.” (Hebrews 4:9 to 11)

First, I want to apologize for not inviting all of you into a Holy Sabbath as is my custom on Fridays. I got so caught up in my Good Friday service and preparation for Easter Baptisms that I completely forgot what day it was. I’ll do better. Now, having said that and looking over the readings for today, Holy Saturday, the idea of Sabbath stayed with me.

I don’t want to confuse worship with Sabbath. We Christians worship on the First Day of the Week, Sunday. And for many, worship is work.  However, in entering God’s rest we should cease from all our labors as God did from his, according to our text above. For me, this means a time of simple contemplation. Also, the words above make it very clear that “a Sabbath rest still remains [in effect] for the people of God.”

Today is the Sabbath Rest of God, it is a gift to us whether we are Jewish, Christian, or any walk of human life who believes in God. Frankly, even if we don’t believe in God, God believes in us. God gifts humanity with the Sabbath. It is holy. It is precious. It should not be ignored. This is how we are trained to enter into that Holy Rest of God for eternal life. The Sabbath is a part of Creation.

It is understood that some of us must stay focused on life’s important responsibilities, even during the Sabbath. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, duties like first responders, health care providers, police, the military and so forth. But a plan should be in place where such individuals could have at least every other Sabbath rest. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience.

I will try very hard not to forget to invite us into a Holy Sabbath every Friday from now on.

Let us live to love, more than we just love to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John