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A Homily on the Feast of Gregory Of Nazianzus


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I had the opportunity to preach a homily on the feast of Gregory Of Nazianzus a few weeks back. I’ve been wanting to share it but haven’t really had the margin to do much other than finish seminary, which is done!!! I thought I would post this, I hope to post more in the days to come from my time at seminary; things I’ve learned, papers I’ve written, and ways I’ve grown in my faith.

Homily: The Feast of Greg Naz. I don’t preach often or very well from a manuscript (not my usual way) so if you listen and read, you’ll notice some differences.

Here’s the audio. It’s about 8 minutes.
I hope you enjoy!

 

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Learning to Prayer


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My time at Nashotah House has begun!

This week is orientation. All week, all the time! It’s a lot, but there is a lot that goes on at this place. Most notably, every day starts with morning prayer at 8 am, then bells ring at 12:30 pm for mid-day prayer, and then we gather again for evening prayer at 4:30 pm.

Everything revolves around this rhythm of prayer. Our life, our community and our learning all are rooted and sustained by this practice of prayer.

If nothing else is formative at Nashotah House, I know beyond a doubt this will be (even though I am quite sure many other things will be as well).

I thought I would share a prayer all the students and faculty pray every day at evening prayer.

11891237_10153607230635956_4106079202307804684_nA Prayer for Nashotah House

Bless, O Lord, this House, set apart to the glory of your great name and the benefit of your Holy Church; and grant that your Name may be worshipped here in truth and purity to all generations. Give your grace and wisdom to all the authorities, that they may exercise holy discipline, and be themselves patterns of holiness, simplicity, and self-denial.

Bless all who may be trained here; take from them all pride, vanity, and self-conceit, and give them true humility and self-abasement.
Enlighten their minds, subdue their wills, purify their hearts, and so penetrate them with your Spirit and fill them with your love, that they may go forth animated with earnest zeal for your glory; and may your ever living Word so dwell within their hearts, that they may speak with that resistless energy of love which shall melt the hearts of sinners to the love of you.

Open, O Lord, the hearts and hands of your people, that they may be ready to give and glad to distribute to our necessities. Bless the founders and benefactors of this House, and recompense them with the riches of your everlasting kingdom,
for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Know that Andrea and I are also praying for you—our friends and supporters. This will be a challenging chapter of our story, but one we are excited about because we know it will shape and mold our family for the ministry God has before us. And we know we have a great team of friends who are praying for us and supporting us every step of the way! Thank you!
Grace and peace
Erik

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Today’s prayer…


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Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 11.45.29 AMPray as you go was good today.

But what really has stuck with me was the meditative song that accompanied the prayer.

Here are the lyrics…

“The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.”

I’ve sung this song before, I can’t remember the setting but it’s a great little prayer and thought to guide your day.

The scripture reflection was on Matthew 10:7-15

“The kingdom of heaven has come near.”

This missional participation God is inviting us into. A great prayer and reflection for the day. Check it out.

(Here is a link to today Pray As You Go meditation)

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Prayer : why would I read other peoples prayers…


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Prayer is a constant learning curve in my life. I most times feel pretty inept at praying and despite my many hours of practicing over the past 10 – 20 years, I still pretty much feel like a novice. This is why I am often reading or at least flipping through some book on prayer, how to pray, or creative prayer practices. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of Ignatius inspired resources like these OR these OR this, uber helpful!

I picked up this very small book by Ronald Rolheiser on prayer a month or so ago. I finally starting reading it and wow! it’s really good! It’s pretty basic and accessible but really really good. It doesn’t dumb anything down or speak in juvenile language. I’m about halfway done and already think it will be the kind of book I get lots of copies of and hand out to people in my church some day. Rolheiser is a Catholic guy, a priest to be precise but so far in the book he is writing to a wide audience with very little Catholic specific verbiage. (His book Holy Longing is also really great and to say it’s worth the read would be an understatement!)

I wanted to share this little bit from his book. I often get the question, “why would you read other peoples prayers? Shouldn’t prayer just be from the heart? Simply you talking with God.” And of course that is part of prayer but I always try and speak to the experience of having a hard time praying and why there are times when having a prayer to read or a prayer book to guide you has really helped me to come to the father in ways that I often feel incapable of on my own. Rolheiser, in talking about Lauds (morning prayers) and Vespers (evenings prayers) says some real great things about these written prayers. I think they can have a wider reaching purpose then he suggests but they at least live into what Rolheiser is talking about, maybe more but not less. It’s very good! Here is a bit from this section, pick up the book to read the rest.

Prayer; Our Deepest Longing — I decided to picture it instead of type. Much faster!
ENJOY!

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To Be Doubted and Rejected…


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How did Jesus feel when he was rejected and shunned? In all the little moments of his life and ministry, when people wouldn’t listen to him or forced him out of  a town or figured he was a heretic or crazy or drunk or worse. How, in his normal, everyday life, did he react when people didn’t believe in him, doubted him and thought him to be lacking in wisdom and understanding and in obedience to the God of Torah? In the stillness of his heart and mind, what did he feel and think, and how did his spirit react to all of these situations, rejections and doubts?

We construct these false selves to avoid the very rejection and doubt of others that Jesus experienced on a regular basis. We make elaborate facebook profiles and strategic instgram lives so that we might present our best (and often false selves) so that people might accept us, “like” us and believe in us. And then there is your resume… don’t get me started.

The layers to which Jesus experienced this might be a bit deeper, but let’s be honest, we want people to believe in us as well. We want to be thought of as “enough” and as capable and cool and worth listening to and being friends with. Much of our living energy is spent attempting to earn acceptance or prove our worth or maybe even prove to ourselves that we don’t need to prove anything or earn acceptance from anybody, but let’s be honest.

Does Jesus’ call to take up our cross and die have anything to do with this?

The example Jesus set and the life the Spirit enables is one of confidence and safety. Jesus always felt safe in the Father’s care and kingdom in which he had his primary residence. 

That same acceptance, confidence and safety is offered to us if we will find our primary identity (let me use a word we won’t misinterpret and run wild with), if we will find our primary life and citizenship in the Kingdom of God. This is exactly how Jesus could be a centered and whole self despite rejection. This is how he could live calm in the midst of chaos and how he would let some folks nail him to a tree, not only without retaliating but with words like “forgive them, they don’t have a clue” on his lips.

Jesus, I’m not there. My inner life is often tossed about when I experience rejection or when a person doubts my ability and my good enough-ness, but I desire to follow you to the place of peace and confidence that exists only in your kingdom. Help me to reside so fully in this place of your rule and reign that my moments in this present evil age and corrupt old creation are moments of prophetic presence and new creation living, bringing and invitation sharing. May my life be lived praying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and also being used by you to be an answer, if only in part, to that very prayer you’ve taught me to pray and enabled me to live.

Amen.

These are the thoughts I had today in morning prayer. The text of the morning was Acts 22:30 — 23:11. This is Paul’s experience with some of the ideas above, his thoughts of rejection and persecution. I would wonder how Paul dealt with it as well, but as is true for Paul and also true for us, the ultimate example for living is Jesus.

I was led in morning prayer on this day by Pray As You GO, a great resource for your commute to work or for the few moments you have before your day gets going. The song they sang was “We live in the shelter of the almighty.” Fitting for these thoughts, for sure.

Grace and Peace

(PS :: The image above is a depiction of a story from Mark 10, the familiar story of The Rich Young Ruler. This was one of the many stories that came to my mind when I thought of little, everyday ways in which Jesus was rejected and thought of as not enough or doubted as sufficient. There are dozens of others… What story comes to your mind?)

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The Feast of St. Luke


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Today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist.

I initially was drawn to the gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) because they were called “evangelists” and early in my ministry that is the title i went by as well. My understanding and appreciation has become more educated and textured since those days but it hasn’t waned.  After all i do have a tattoo of a symbol of the four evangelists on the inside of my arm. And the stained glass window tattoo i have also contains this imagery.

And today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. So primarily i just wanted to post a few icons of St. Luke that i found and encourage you to read a bit of his telling of the life and ministry of Jesus. Wikipedia says that St. Luke is the saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, students and butchers. It also funny what different saints are the saints of. Us protestants don’t think much about that but it’s pretty interesting and sometimes pretty funny! Butchers? HA!

Here are a couple icon to ponder and let guide you as you pray today.

And a collect / prayer to use today…
Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”

 

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Daily office // Weekly Bible Reading


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MONDAY JANUARY 23RD
Psalm 41, 52 | Gen. 14:1-24 | Psalm 44 | Heb. 8:1-13 | John 4:43-54

TUESDAY JANUARY 24TH
Psalm 45 | Gen. 15:1-11,17-21 | Psalm 47, 48 | Heb. 9:1-14 | John 5:1-18

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 25TH
Psalm 119:49-72 | Gen. 16:1-14 | Psalm 49, [53] | Heb. 9:15-28 | John 5:19-29

THURSDAY JANUARY 26TH
Psalm 50 | Gen. 16:15-17:14 | Psalm 59, 60 or 119 | Heb. 10:1-10 | John 5:30-47

FRIDAY JANUARY 27TH
Psalm 40, 54 | Gen. 17:15-27 | Psalm 51 | Heb. 10:11-25 | John 6:1-15

SATURDAY JANUARY 28TH
Psalm 55 | Gen. 18:1-16 | Psalm 138, 139 | Heb. 10:26-39 | John 6:16-27

SUNDAY: JANUARY 29TH
Psalm 111 | Deuteronomy 18:15-20 | 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 | Mark 1:21-28

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