Pondering for Monday, April 6, 2020 (Corrected for 6 April)

Daily Office Readings for Monday of Holy Week: Year 2

Psalm 51:1-18(19-20); Psalm 69:1-23 Lam. 1:1-2,6-12; 2 Cor. 1:1-7; Mark 11:12-25

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 4)

When I read these biblical passages I always try to seek out the timeless messages, those passages that are still relevant for us today.  Paul identifies God as “Father of mercies and the God of all consolation.” He goes on to say that as God consoles us, we then are able to console others. This consolation that God blesses us with is truly a blessing.  And just like God told Abram, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2 – 3)  So I see this divine consolation as God’s blessing that comes upon us and then we are to console others.

Consoling, that is, the blessing of the other, is so important today.  We need to be spiritually present with our neighbors.  Perhaps being spiritually present is another way we can be with people during this time of physical separation. A phone call, a text message, an email, any form of spiritual consolation we can do means a lot to someone suffering from loss of work, fearing sickness, stuck in their home and are at their wits end.  Our neighbors need us and we need them, now more than ever.

God has blessed you with the blessing of consolation.  Some of it is for you, be blessed and wear it like a new suit. But some of what God has given you is for you to give to someone else. See who God puts in your path or on your mind today and give them that consolation that God gave you for them.

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, April 5, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Monday of Holy Week: Year 2

Psalm 51:1-18(19-20); Psalm 69:1-23 Lam. 1:1-2,6-12; 2 Cor. 1:1-7; Mark 11:12-25

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (2 Corinthians 1: 3 – 4)

When I read these biblical passages I always try to seek out the timeless message, those passages that are still relevant for us today.  Paul identifies God as “Father of mercies and the God of all consolation.” He goes on to say that as God consoles us, we then are able to console others. This consolation that God blesses us with is truly a blessing.  And just like God told Abram, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2 – 3)  So I see this divine consolation as God’s blessing that comes upon us and then we are to console others.

Consoling, that is, the blessing of the other, is so important today.  We need to be spiritually present with our neighbors.  Perhaps being spiritually present is another way we can be with people during this time of physical separation. A phone call, a text message, an email, any form of spiritual consolation we can do means a lot to someone suffering from loss of work, fearing sickness, stuck in their home and are at their wits end.  Our neighbors need us and we need them, now more than ever.

God has blessed you with the blessing of consolation.  Some of it is for you, be blessed and wear it like a new suit. But some of what God has given you is for you to give to someone else. See who God puts in your path or on your mind today and give them that consolation that God gave you for them.

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, April 5, 2020

Eucahristic Readings for Palm Sunday: Year A

Matthew 21:1-11  Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29  The Liturgy of the Word  Isaiah 50:4-9a  Psalm 31:9-16

 Philippians 2:5-11  Matthew 26:14- 27:66

“Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” (Matthew 26:23)

What a shift from four days ago.  As Jesus entered Jerusalem four days ago people were hailing him King of kings and Lord of lords.  And now, at one of Christianity’s most important sacraments, Holy Communion, at the table, our Lord Jesus says, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.”  And Judas will do this dirty deed with a kiss later after supper and after our Lord Jesus attends prayer three times. 

We truly are a fickle breed.  Too many of us tend to go the way of the loudest rhetoric.  There is not enough personal thinking and praying happening in our lives. Again, I go back to Blaise Pascal’s quote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” 

All of us have personal responsibility for how we go forward.  Most of the time in the Bible, when a crowd makes a decision, it’s the wrong decision, like melting down our gold and making a golden calf to worship.  I have a poster of an old monk walking alone and the caption reads, “It is better to walk alone, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction” by Diane Grant. We each should carefully think about each next step we take.  Be hesitant about loud rhetoric. Listen to the Spirit of God and celebrate the coming of the King of Kings and Lord of lords.

Today is Palm Sunday (Celebratory) and Passion Sunday (Grief).  Should we be both? If not, which one are you?

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, April 4th 2020

Daily Office Readings for Saturday after the 5th Sunday of Lent: Year 2

Psalm 137:1-6(7-9), 144; PM Psalm 42, 43 Exod. 10:21-11:8; 2 Cor. 4:13-18; Mark 10:46-52

“So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.” (Mark 10:50)

This is the healing story of blind Bartimaeus son of Timaeus who asks for his sight again.  What is often kind of glossed over is Bartimaeus throwing off his cloak.  Think about it, if you are blind you become well aware of keeping up with things so that you can put your hands on it again. I have my sight and still, I lose things all the time, my keys, my phone, my glasses, many things.

Bartimaeus, knowing he has the opportunity to stand (or kneel) before our Lord Jesus, throws off his cloak.  He lets go of his “security blanket” knowing that being before Jesus will make all things new.

The same is true for us today. The only way we can put our whole trust in our Lord Jesus is to let go of false security.  Our Lord Jesus asks us today, What is it that we want Him to do for us?  What say yee? 

A couple of notes for today:

1. Today we remember the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  As I have already remembered him in my January 15th Pondering blog on his birthday, I will let that be.

2. In my readings of the Christian mystics and ponderings, I have come up with three words that I want to guide my life: they are Humility, Moderation and Execution.  I may say more about these 3 words as I progress. I just want to mention them now while they are on my mind.

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, April 3rd 2020

Daily Office Readings for Friday after the 5th Sunday of Lent: Year 2

Psalm 95 [for the Invitatory] 22; Psalm 141, 143:1-11(12) Exod. 9:13-35; 2 Cor. 4:1-12; Mark 10:32-45

“They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.” (Mark 10:32)

Here we have our Lord Jesus leading the pack to his own torture and death.  He is very much aware of his imminent pain and suffering and yet he leads the way. The brothers James and John are going to request places of honor in the kingdom of Jesus.  Jesus informs them that those places are determined by God Almighty.  The rest of his group becomes angry when they find out what James and John were up to.  Jesus gives them the lesson about the upside down world of honor in the kingdom of heaven.  He explains that it is those who serve others who are the most honored in the kingdom. 

Our Lord Jesus tells them (and us) that the worldly demand of harsh leadership which demands to be pleased no matter the costs is not who we are.  We are to lead in loving ways.  We are to lead by caring for those whom we lead.  We then, are to be emulators of the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus himself.

If we all really treated others with respect and dignity two wonderful things might happen.  First, more people would get the help and or service they need. Second, by helping others we teach the lesson of loving others as ourselves. Such service is work of love; it is the loving work of the Holy Spirit.

This continues to be a very trying time.  It is our normal time of Lent for the Church. And on top of our normal penitential time, we have the onslaught of Covid 19. Covid 19 brings with it real devastating outcomes. It is the sickness itself; it is the loss of income for many due to isolation; and it is the depression of being cooped up in our homes all the time.

Our Lord Jesus was leading the way to a much worse destination. And he is out front ahead of the pack, setting the example.  As Christians, and as his followers, we too need to lead the way in the sufferings of enduring the sickness if it befalls us, helping those in need if we can; and dealing with our closed-in living with prayer spiritual studies.  In our exhortation into Lent (page 316 of our Book of Common Prayer) it says that this is a time for us to prepare to come back to the Church. The thought of that pleases me so much.

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, April 2, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Thursday after the 5th Sunday of Lent: Year 2

Psalm 131, 132, [133]; PM Psalm 140, 142 Exod. 7:25-8:19; 2 Cor. 3:7-18; Mark 10:17-31

“The magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, but they could not. There were gnats on both humans and animals.” (Exodus 8:18)

The magicians of Pharaoh were able to replicate the staff – to- snake even though Moses’ snake destroyed those of  Pharaoh’s magicians; and they could also produce the frogs as God did.  But when God raised up the finer creatures of creation, the gnats, the magicians were lacking. All of creation comes from God. No exception.

To my knowledge, no other creature on earth has been reasoned with by God, only human beings.  Through Moses God has asked Pharaoh several time to release human beings, but he would not. So God showed Pharaoh that the God of Moses is God of all beings, human and non-human.

This same God lives today and still helps us, through us.  We, human beings, need the help of God today to assist us with a living virus that threatens us. Viruses are microscopic parasites. They lack the capacity to thrive and reproduce outside of a host body but when in a host all they do is replicate, over and over again until it destroys the host itself if not eradicated. But they still come under the power of the Supreme Creator of all life. And it is to such a One whom we must go to for relief.

While we are physically disconnected from one another, we are prayerfully connected with one another and with God. Moses spoke with God for the relief of his people even though it was not something he wanted to do from the beginning. I ponder that it may not have been just Pharaoh who Moses feared; he may have feared having a continued close relationship with God whom he just met and who was pushing him way out of his comfort zone. We know deep down in our hearts that a continued prayerful relationship with God will push us past our comfort zone as well. Unlike our Lord Jesus we have never been physically connected with God although God intercedes on our physical behalf as is often requested in our prayers for ourselves and others. And as we should be doing now as we are attacked by this Covid virus. 

Our God is not a God of convenience.  He is not “use now and forget.”  We are in this prayer relationship with God forever as we should have been all along. My preaching is not so much just a job.  It is a calling from my spiritual burning bush. What I am called to say is not always pleasant but none the less, needs to be said. The Spirit of God is an eternal and good Spirit and moves among us always.

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, April 1, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Wednesday after the 5th Sunday of Lent: Year 2

Psalm 119:145-176; PM Psalm 128, 129, 130 Exod. 7:8-24; 2 Cor. 2:14-3:6; Mark 10:1-16

Psalm 130: 4 – 5

“I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him;
in his word is my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.”

These verses capture our state of being right now.  We are waiting.  We are waiting for this Covid 19 to subside. Our hope and faith and trust are in the Lord.  And we pray that God Almighty intervenes with healing and health for all, soon and very soon.

God’s Word is that He loves us, that we are created in His Image. Our very souls wait for the Lord’s action.  Our souls already know the Lord our God and our souls speak to us (if we would but listen) informing us to put all our hope in the Lord.

In the old days the watchmen were those who stayed vigilant while everybody else slept. They served as alarms if danger comes near but also they watched for the first signs of the new day. They watched for the sun. Our souls too watch for the Lord.  But the Psalmist informs us that our souls watch even more intently.  Our souls watch for the coming of the Son. Amen

Today (1 April) we remember Frederick Denison Maurice Priest, 1872

“Maurice was born in 1805 into the family of a Unitarian minister whose life was marked by intense religious controversy. Maurice studied civil law at Cambridge, but refused the degree in 1827, because, as a Dissenter, he could not subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. After several personal crises, however, he became an Anglican and was ordained in 1834. Soon afterwards he was appointed Professor of English Literature and History at King’s College, London, and, in 1846, to the chair of Theology.” And after some failures in his life, and “after the death of the Christian Socialist Movement in 1854, Maurice founded the Working Men’s College, and resumed teaching at Queen’s College, London. Maurice awakened Anglicanism to the need for concern with the problems of society. In later years, he was honored even by former opponents. He was rector of two parishes, and was professor of Moral Theology at Cambridge from 1866 until his death.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for April 1)  For me Maurice was a principled man and priest.

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