Pondering for Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 27 Year 1

AM Psalm 78:1-39; PM Psalm 78:40-72 Neh. 9:26-38; Rev. 18:9-20; Matt. 15:21-28

“He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.” (Matthew 15:26 – 28)

Faith, what we believe, can cause us to do strange things.  This Gentile woman with a sick daughter comes to Jesus who first refuses to helper her, and then, captivated by her faith, fulfills her request.

I can remember a similar experience in my beginning of church life in 1979.  A Marine friend took me to his church, St Anne’s Episcopal Church, Memphis, Tennessee. I then felt that I needed to be a part of that church.  I was the only person of color attending Sunday services.  Loose talk was accidently shared with me that maybe I wasn’t welcome there by everybody.  I talked with the priest and he said that if I was not welcomed, neither was he.  The priest felt my faith and included me as part of the communion.  I was baptized there on the Easter Vigil of 1980.  This dog was fed from the Master’s Table.  Thank You Jesus

We must follow our faith even when it is uncomfortable to do so.  Learning the Book of Common Prayer was much more challenging than trying to make the congregation like me. (smile)  Seriously, you must have faith, and follow it no matter what the obstacle or resistance there may be.  It matters not whether you are a modern day Gentile (an outsider), your so-called race, your disability, your so-called social status or anything.  Faith and perseverance will get you food from the Table.

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 Monday, November 11, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 27 Year 1

AM Psalm 80; PM Psalm 77, [79] Neh. 9:1-15(16-25); Rev. 18:1-8; Matt. 15:1-20

“For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’”  (Matthew 15: 19 – 20)

I think we have two kinds of defilement here.  One is the toxic metaphorical heart.  The other is the possible biological toxicity caused by germs ingested. Let’s deal with food and unwashed hands first.

I am so guilty of this.  I often will randomly eat something, (candy or nuts especially) without washing my hands.  To my credit however, I will always mumble a short “Thank You Jesus” before putting it in my mouth.  I am not saying that not washing the hands is the right thing to do, probably not the best practice.  It’s just me, the not always washing my hands part. I’m still a work in progress.

About the toxic heart and for what comes out of it I like to use our computer program language, “GIGO.”  That is, garbage in, garbage out. When we put garbage in our hearts, certainly that is what will come out. It has nothing to do with the food eaten with unwashed hands.  It has everything to do with greed, envy, jealousy, lust, and hate.  We need to have a change of heart if that’s what’s festering in our hearts. So again it’s time for our Collect for purity: “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”  (BCP 355)

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, November 10, 2019

Eucharistic Readings for Sunday of Proper 27 Year C

Job 19:23-27a Psalm 17:1-9 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 Luke 20:27-38

“But [Jesus said], “those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage,  and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:35 – 36)

I have been married most of my life.  I don’t know what it would it would be like to not be partnered with someone.  I was never “given” in marriage like children are is some places but married of my own free will and accord. So to hear Jesus say that that kind of relationship is over in the next life will be different in the “age to come.”  He said, “Those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.”  Okay, so, I still want it.

In at least two movies I have heard some hero who was about to give his life for the sake of others, say to those he was rallying for a finally fight that he was leading, “Do you want to live forever?”  As I watch the movie I silently respond, “Yes.”  So when I hear Jesus say, “They can no longer die,” it appeals to me very much. Eternal life is what I am looking forward to.  Yes Jesus, I want to be like an angel. And I know that this outcome is not based on my effort nor worth, but rather on your judgment of my heart.  Therefore, I pray you Lord Jesus, “Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that I may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your Holy Name through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”

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, November 9, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Saturday of Proper 26 Year 1

AM Psalm 75, 76; PM Psalm 23, 27 Ezra 9:1-15; Rev. 17:1-14; Matt. 14:22-36

“You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.” Your face, Lord, will I seek.” (Psalm 27: 8 or 11 depending on the Bible)

There are many variations of this verse and it appears not always in the same place within the Psalm.  What appeals to me is the God-connection our soul or heart has with God.  There is something within us that begs to connect, or reconnect with God.

Too many of us choose not to listen to the yearning within us that will connect with God. But the opportunity is within us, all of us. Often the connection to God cannot be explained with words. As Paul says there are sighs too deep for words. It has been said and I believe it, that we humans are a spiritual species.  Yes, we walk around in primate bodies but we have a special connection with the Creator  of all things.

Our greatest quest is to seek the presence of the Holy One, to “Seek His Face.”  I ask people that I companion with spiritually to meditate.  And, as they do so, I ask them to journal.  Few people, it seems, want to put their feelings and thoughts, and prayers in writing.  They don’t want to do it even on a pin-locked laptop. 

God is knocking on the door of our souls, every human soul on earth.  It matters not whether you believe there is a God, God knows that you exist.  God’s existence is not based on whether or not people believe in God.  God just is, and God is good.   And God is seeking you out.  God speaks in your heart and says, “Seek my face.” Will you RSVP?

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, November 8, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Friday of Proper 26 Year 1

AM Psalm 69:1-23(24-30)31-38; PM Psalm 73  Ezra 7:27-28, 8:21-36; Rev. 15:1-8; Matt. 14:13-21

Psalm 73:16 & 17

16 When I tried to understand these things, *
it was too hard for me;
17 Until I entered the sanctuary of God *
and discerned the end of the wicked.

We should really want you to feel the love of Jesus as it is intended to be. We can’t understand some things.  We just have to trust, trust in the love of God and the mystery of the sacraments.  

I was never one who went to church. I did attend a Catholic school when I was young and that experience made a lasting impression on me.  I was absolutely convinced that the Sisters and the Priest talked directly to God Almighty, and God to them, about me. 

Years later, and at a very difficult time in my life I asked to see a priest. My friend and co-worker said he would take me to see his priest. I reminded him that he was not Catholic.  He said you don’t have to be Catholic to be a priest.  And now, here I am myself, an Episcopal priest. Yes, God has a sense of humor.

When I entered the Sanctuary of St Anne’s Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee way back then, life changed for me.  The smells, the beauty of the place, the very presence of prayer and worship filled my soul.  I knew right then that church, this church,  was the element that was missing in my life.  So I committed myself to Church and have been a faithful attendant ever since.  So, the Psalmist was right when he said, “When I tried to understand these things, it was too hard for me; until I entered the sanctuary of God.

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, November 7, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 26 Year 1

AM Psalm [70], 71; PM Psalm 74 Ezra 7:(1-10)11-26; Rev. 14:1-13; Matt. 14:1-12

Psalm 71:17 & 18:

17.  O God, you have taught me since I was young, *
and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.


18.  And now that I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, *
till I make known your strength to this generation
and your power to all who are to come.

When I tell the story of my life to others I often say that I grew up “un-churched.”  And while that is true, I did attend a Catholic School.  However, there has always been a sense of God in, or around my life. And I don’t think I always share that very important piece.  So Like the Psalmist, “O God, you have taught me since I was young.”  I have gotten through some tight spots in my life and now in the relative comfort of my senior years I look back and see that the presence of God was always there, near me, blessing me.

As an old man now and an Episcopal Priest I feel the need to tell the story of, not just God in my life, but God acting in the world.  My adult mantra is, “I can never see where God is or what God is doing, but I can always see where God was and what God has done.”  Finally I’m getting a sense that God is very present always and for me to see God “in the act” I need to just settle down and be still.

Now I want God to bless me with the opportunity to make known the wonderful presence of God in all our lives every day. So I quote the Psalmist again, “And now that I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, till I make known your strength to this generation and your power to all who are to come.” 

All of us should share with others the many ways in which God has acted in our lives.  People today really need to hear this Good News. Who knows, maybe the time will come when God will let us see what God is doing while it is actually happening. Such an event would be walking through the Red Sea, Again.

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, November 6, 2019

Readings for William Temple Archbishop of Canterbury, 1944

Psalm 119: 97-104 Ephesians 3:7-12  John 1:9-18

“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”  (John 1: 9 – 13)

I think William Temple accepted, and received, Jesus as the true light and was thus made a child of God.

“Temple was born October 15, 1881, and baptized three weeks later, on November 6, in Exeter Cathedral. His father, Dr. Frederick Temple, Bishop of Exeter and then of London, became Archbishop of Canterbury when William was fifteen. Growing up at the heart of the Church of England, William’s love for it was deep and lifelong.”  (Great Cloud of Witnesses for November 6)  He didn’t have to find the church, the church pretty much made him.  While I sometimes wish I had a “from birth experience with the church”, I am glad and thankful that I found the church even though I was not brought up that way.

“At the age of two, he had the first attack of the gout that would be with him throughout life and eventually kill him. His eyesight was bad, and a cataract, present from infancy, left him completely blind in the right eye when he was 40. However, he was an avid reader, with a near-photographic memory, and once he had read a book, it was his. He was a passionate lover of the music of Bach. In literature, his special enthusiasms were poetry (Browning and Shelley), drama (the Greeks and Shakespeare), and a few novels, especially The Brothers Karamazov. He believed that theological ideas were often explored most effectively by writers who were not explicitly writing theology.” One of his more well-known quotes is this: “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.” (James Kiefer for November 6)  I think if we don’t take away anything else from Temple we should remember his quote.  I put it this way: The Church is in the world for the world, not for itself. This view helps us to resist the urge to become cathedrals, but rather, missionary stations.

“Though he was never subject to poverty himself, he developed a passion for social justice which shaped his words and his actions. He owed this passion to a profound belief in the Incarnation. He wrote that in Jesus Christ God took flesh and dwelt among us, and, as a consequence, “the personality of every man and woman is sacred.””  (Great Cloud of Witnesses for November 6)  William Temple did more with one good eye and one good foot than many of us do with both eyes and both feet (me very much included).

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+