Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Opening Verse
You are the light of the world.
A Reading from Matthew 18:6-9
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes! “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.
Jesus now addresses the disciples directly about their personal responsibility for their own actions. Lest they deceive themselves into thinking that all sinful behavior is the result of others causing them to sin, Jesus declares that they must take responsibility for their own tendencies to cause themselves to sin. Similar to the hyperbole in the SM (5:29-30), Jesus indicates that cutting off one’s hand or foot or plucking out one’s eye in this life (18:8-9) is no comparison to the eternal judgment destined for allowing the passions of one’s own life to lead one into sin. Jesus is not advocating physical self-mutilation, but through dramatic figures of speech he indicates the rigorous self-discipline needed for committed disciples.”

“ ‘Little ones’ does not only mean children, but those who humble themselves like children as Jesus described. It is a wicked thing to sin, and it is a far greater evil to lead others into sin."
What kind of excuses have I been making towards resilient sin issues in my life? How has this affected others?
What kind of drastic measures am I called to take to deal with sins in my life? What should be my motivation?
O God, source of our light, you are ever with us to reveal the way of truth and justice. Be with us this day as we face the reality of our sinful imperfections. May we restrain our tendency to ignore or take advantage of the weak and, by our example,, to cause others to stumble. Rather, may we servants to those who need us the most. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our way, our truth, our life. Amen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 29, 2009

The artwork is Cutout by Matisse

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

A Reading from 1 John 2:18-25
Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.

John's primary point is that if we get Jesus wrong, then we shall surely misconstrue the God who saves us; and if our understanding of God is corrupted, then the way we live will inevitably be deformed. The old saw, "It doesn't matter what you believe, so long as you're sincere" is an idea far more naive and dangerous than we imagine. It is also more cowardly because what often passes as 'tolerance' is really indifference. First John compels us to consider that some beliefs we may hold about Jesus are intolerably divergent from God's norm, that some activities in which we may engage are inescapably at odds with the One in whom we have experienced forgiveness and received new life.

Compassionate God, touch our hearts this morning with your mercy and love. Help us to be a source of love and light to those who are suffering this day. May all who die today experience the joy of being in your presence. Grant this through the intercession of all who suffered persecution for the sake of justice. Amen

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Give heed to my words, O God, and listen to my morning prayer.

A Reading from I Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
For the Christians to whom the author of 1 Peter writes, it is quite clear that Christian faith represented a conscious and difficult decision to move away from their old lives and from the predominant culture in which they lived. Today "born again" Christianity can sometimes refer to a particular spiritual experience without radical social or ethical implications. For Christians of Peter's time, however, it was clear that being born again not only meant adding joy to one's life, but also leaving behind one's congenial relationship with neighbors and community. Being born again hurt.
The New Interpreter's Bible Volume XII, page 254
Holy God, you continue to bless us with your gifts of creation. We give thanks to you for your kindness to your people and take delight in the gifts we share to bring about the fullness of your life in our world. All praise to you, Blessed Trinity, living in us and among us through all generations. Amen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The cheetah is the fastest land animal, reaching 70-75 miles per hour in short bursts. It can accelerate from 0 to 68 miles per hour in 3 seconds, which is faster than most competition cars. Unfortunately, the cheetah is listed by the international community as a "vulnerable species." Some biologist believe that, because of diminishing populations, the cheetah may be too inbred to survive as a species.

God of the sparrow God of the whale,
God of the swirling stars
How does the creature say Awe
How does the creature say Praise

God of the neighbor God of the foe
God of the pruning hook
How does the creature say Love
How does the creature say Peace

God of the ages near at hand
God of the loving heart
How do your children say Joy
How do your children say Home

Read 1 Kings 13:11-25

Let us be aware of the source of all being
that is common to us all
and to all living creatures.
Let us be filled with the presence of the great compassion
towards ourselves and towards all living beings.
Realizing that we are all nourished
from the same source of life,
may we so live that others may not be deprived
of air, food, water, shelter, or the chance to live.

The God who creates the cheetah
and provides for its needs,
the Spirit who breathes life into us
and animates our living,
the Word who is recreating all life
each moment, each day,
guide you, feed you,
protect and inspire you
this day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

This view of Abell 3627 shows a tail that was created as a galaxy and is now plunging into a cluster of stars, shedding material and forming stars behind it. Astronomers estimate that star Abell 3627 was formed within the last 10 million years.

Material for this week's daily prayer is taken from Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God's Creation, Sam Hamilton Poore, 2008 (Upper Room Books).

Many and great, O God are your works,
Maker of earth and sky.
Your hands set the heavens with stars,
Your fingers spread the mountains and plains.
Lo, at your word the waters were formed;
Deep seas obey your voice.

This hymn from the Native American tradition was written by Joseph Renville (1779-1846). It references Psalm 8, Genesis 1 and 2. It is in The United Methodist Hymnal.

Read James 4:8-17

The ecological teaching of the Bible is simply inescapable. God made the world because God wanted it made. God thinks the world is good, and God loves it. It is God's world; God has never relinquished title to it. And God has never revoked the conditions, bearing on God's gift to us of the use of it, that oblige us to take excellent care of it. If God loves the world, then how might any person of faith be excused for not loving it or justified in destroying it.
Wendell Berry, What Are People For? p98

God of unchangeable power,
when you fashioned the world
the morning stars sang together,
and the host of heaven shouted for joy;
open our eyes to the wonders of creation
and teach us to use all things for good,
to the honor of your glorious name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May you greet the goodness of God
in everyone you meet
in every place you go
this day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friday, September 18-20

Thomas Merton (d. 1968) was a member of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, commonly referred to as Trappists. He spent his monastic life at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. Merton was a prolific writer - an autobiography, works on spirituality, poetry, letters and his journal. He was finally able to answer a strongly held call to the eremitic life (a hermit). He died accidentally in Asia while seeking to engage monastics of other faith traditions.

Opening Prayer
Blessed are you, God, who sends redemption,
for this day of our salvation.
Today we remember the sacrifice of your love
poured out by Jesus on the cross.
In Christ, you did not shrink from the terror of human dying,
but embraced the ancient fear, which dimmed our eyes
from the light of your hope.
You breathe your spirit this day
into our human hearts
so that all creation may thrill at the wonders of your love.
All praise and honor be yours
through Christ and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever. Amen.

Read Romans 11:25-32

Monastic Wisdom on Hospitality

We cannot be too busy, too professional, too removed from the world of the poor to receive the poor and sustain the poor. To practice hospitality in our world, it may be necessary to evaluate all the laws and all the promotions and all the invitation lists of corporate and political society from the point of view of the people who never make the lists. Then hospitality demand that we work to change things.

Closing Prayer

God of the living, the shades of ignorance and fear are dispelled by the bright dawn, radiating from the woundsof the crucified Christ. Strengthen us in the Spirit, that, as Jesus did not shrink from our humanity, we may not shrink from your invitation to hoilness. We ask this through Christ our salvation. Amen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today's art features St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 - 1153), known primarily for his reform of the Cistercian monastic order. Bernard was also commissioned by the pope to preach the Second Crusade. A Doctor of the Church, Bernard was the first Cistercian monk to be placed on the Calendar of Saints.
Opening Prayer
Blessed are you, God of all radiance,
for you crowned Jesus with glory and splendor
and gave Christ eternal light for a mantle.
In Christ you have destroyed the sting of death.
You grace us with your splendor
and make us yearn for the coming of your reign.
The power of your Spirit
is roused in our midst,
and you bid us to tasks of love
for the good of all humankind.
As daylight breaks upon us,
all glory and honor be yours
through Christ and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever. Amen.
Read Psalm 54
Monastic Wisdom on Prayer
Benedict says that the Lord's Prayer is to be recited aloud twice daily. To fail to forgive is to be trapped in the past, caught up in resentment and bitterness, staying with wounds that remain open and raw -- everything that will prevent new life and new growth. It is not only damaging to the individual , but destructive of community as well. I am choosing death rather than life, and Benedict, who is trying to lead us all the time forward into freedom and fullness of life, wants to rescue me.
Closing Prayer
God of all the universe, we give you praise at every moment of our lives. Dispel from our hearts the darkness of sin and despair. May your light ever guide our days. We ask this through Christ, the compassionate one. Amen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today's artwork features St. Benedict of Nursia (480-547), considered to be the founder of western monasticism. Searching for a place away from city life, he first spent three years of solitude at Subiaco. Later, moving to Monte Casino, Benedict wrote his Rule for monastics living in community. The Rule of Benedict still orders the life in most western monasteries and has wisdom for holy living by non-monastics.

Opening Prayer
God of the dawn and the dusk,
we adore and worship you
as daylight floods the earth.
You have given us Jesus
as the true teacher of righteousness
and the light of all nations.
We give you praise and thanks
for showering your radiance upon us
and calling us to enter the narrow gate
by deeds of justice and peace.
All glory and adoration be yours
through Christ and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever. Amen.

Read John 7:25-36

Monastic Wisdom on Humility
If I accept myself as ordinary, weak, frail, in other words, totally human and totally dependent upon God, then I am stripped of any sense of being in some way set apart, different, superior. It is then that the genuine, real self may begin to emerge. Esther de Waal

Closing Prayer

God, you called the Creation from the darkness of chaos. Hear our prayer this day and protect us from every evil. Make us witnesses to your glory. We ask this through Christ our hope. Amen

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Today's artwork features St. Athanasius (293 - 373), Patriarch of Alexandria and Doctor of the Church. In spite of his eccesial responsibilities and involvement in doctrinal disputes, Athanasius maintained contact with the hermits and monks of the Egyptian desert.

Opening Prayer
God of tender mercy,
we praise and thank you for this day of our salvation.
We come before you at this morning hour,
eager to sing of the wonders of your love.
In Christ Jesus,
you have redeemed us from the darkness of death
and brought us into your marvelous light.
Now all creation gives you praise.
Cause of our joy,
we celebrate the wonders of your love
as we accept your will for us this day.
All praise and honor be yours
through Christ and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever. Amen.

Monastic Wisdom on Reverence
In a society that depends on reputation to such a degree that people build themselves up by tearing other people down, the chapter on mutual obedience turns the world awry. Monastic spirituality says that we are to honor one another. We are to listen to one another. We are to reach across boundaries and differences in this fragmented world and see in our differences distinctions of great merit that can mend a competitive, uncaring, and foolish world.

Closing Prayer
Courteous God, hear our morning prayer. May the light of your glory scatter the darkness of sin and death. May your radiance among us herald the coming of your peace to all the world. We ask this through Christ, light of the world. Amen.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Today's artwork is St. Anthony the Great, by Piero di Cosimo, 1480. Sometimes called the Father of Monasticism, Anthony was one of the first to live a solitary life in the desert, completely cut off from civilization.

This week's reflections will be taken from Essential Monastic Wisdom, by Hugh Feiss. The prayers are from Prayers for Dawn and Dusk, Edward F. Gabriele.

Opening Prayer
God of all creation,
the heavens proclaim your glory
and the skies, your wonders.
Jesus is the radiant dawn,
the Word, which is our rule of life,
truth, compassion, and perfect justice.
As daylight breaks,
we give you praise for the gift of Christ,
who is forever in our midst,
leading us from sunrise to sunset
to offer you a perfect sacrifice of praise.
All honor and glory be yours,
through Christ and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever. Amen.

Read 1 Kings 13:1-10

Monastic Wisdom on Silence and Speech
Silence is a cornerstone of Benedictine life and spiritual development, but the goal of monastic silence is not non-talking. The goal of monastic silence and monastic speech is respect for others, a sense of place, a spirit of peace. Silence for its own selfish, insulating sake, silence that is passive-aggressive, silence that is insensitive to the present needs of the other is not Benedictine silence.
Sister Joan Chittister

Closing Prayer
Hear our prayer, merciful God, and grant that the vision of your reign may ever be in our minds and hearts. As we begin our daily labor, may your truth be found in our words and deeds. We ask this through Christ our steadfast companion. Amen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Today's artwork is entitled Celtic Marriage

The opening and closing prayers this week are from Sound of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter by J. Philip Newell.

Opening Prayer
In the light of the high heavens
and the infinity of dawnings in space,
in the darkness of ocean depths
and the sea's ceaseless waves,
in the glistening of a creature's eyes
and the dark life-blood that ever flows,
in every emanation of creation's life
and the warmth that moves my body,
in the inner universe of the soul
and its everlasting foundations
your glory glows, O God.
In every shining of the world's inwardness
and the warmth that moves my everliving soul
your glory glows.

A Reading from Romans 2:12-16
All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.

Closing Prayer

That your glory rises in the morning sun

and sparkles off flowing waters,

that the glory of the everlasting world

shines in this world

growing from the ground

and issuing forth in every creature,

that glory can be handled, seen and known

in the matter of earth and human relationships

and the most ordinary matters of daily life,

assure me again this day, O God,

assure me again this day.

Have a safe weekend, set aside Sabbath moments, and we will meet here again on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thursday, September 4, 2009

Today's artwork is a Celtic mandala

This week's opening and closing prayers are from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter by J. Philip Newell

Opening Prayer
With you is the source of life, O God.
You are the beginning of all that is.
From your life the fire of the rising sun streams forth.
You are the life-flow of creation's rivers,
the sap of blood in our veins,
earth's fecundity,
the fruiting of the trees,
creatures' birthing,
the conception of new thought,
desire's origin.
All these are of you, O God,
and I am of you.
You are the morning's freshness.

A Reading from Romans 2:1-11
Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

Closing Prayer
In the gift of this new day,
in the gift of the present moment,
in the gift of time and eternity intertwined
let me be thankful
let me be attentive
let me be opened to what has never happened before,
in the gift of this new day,
in the gift of the present moment,
in the gift of time and eternity intertwined.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wednesday, Mark 2, 2009

Today's artwork is entitled Dignity

This week's opening and closing prayers are from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter by J. Philip Newell

Opening Prayer
In the silence before time began,
in the quiet of the womb,
in the stillness of early morning
is your beauty.
At the heart of all creation,
at the birth of every creature,
at the centre of each moment
is your splendour.
Rekindle in me the sparks of your beauty
that I may be part of the splendour of this moment.
Rekindle in me the sparks of your beauty
that I may be part of the blazing splendour
that burns from the heart of this moment.

A Reading from Mark 7:9-23
Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God)— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Closing Prayer
That in the elements of earth, sea, and sky
I may see your beauty,
that in wild animals, birdsong and silence
I may hear your beauty,
that in the body of another and the interminglings of relationship
I may touch your beauty,
that in the moisture of the earth and in its flowering and fruiting
I may smell your beauty,
that in the flowing waters of springs and streams
I may taste your beauty,
these things I look for this day, O God,
these things I look for.