WEDNESDAY THE FOURTH OF JANUARY 2017
Breathtaking and awe-inspiring God, instil in us the courage to open our eyes in your presence and to dare to contemplate your overwhelming power and glory. May our fear of you be turned into joyfulness by the incarnation of your son, our brother, the world's salvation, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The commandment of the Lord is pure
and gives light to the eyes.
The heavens are telling the glory of God
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
One day pours out its song to another
and one night unfolds knowledge to another.
They have neither speech nor language
and their voices are not heard,
yet their sound has gone out into all lands
and their words to the ends of the world.
In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun,
that comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber
and rejoices as a champion to run his course.
It goes forth from the end of the heavens
and runs to the very end again,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure
and gives wisdom to the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure
and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever;
the judgements of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold,
sweeter also than honey,
dripping from the honeycomb.
By them also is your servant taught
and in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can tell how often they offend?
O cleanse me from my secret faults!
Keep your servant also from presumptuous sins
lest they get dominion over me;
so shall I be undefiled,
and innocent of great offence.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The commandment of the Lord is pure
and gives light to the eyes.
Christ, the sun of righteousness,
rise in our hearts this day,
enfold us in the brightness of your love
and bear us at the last to heaven's horizon;
for your love's sake.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Donald Miller is a spiritual writer I enjoy. His book “Blue Like Jazz” was a bestseller here in the States. Today’s meditation comes from his book “Searching for God Knows What.”
Here we are a few days into the New Year. Christmas is past, and it seems a good day to ask what we think of God. Was the Incarnation a winning gambit for God? To paraphrase the great preface for Christmas, “As we behold the God made visible, are we drawn to love the God we cannot see?”
"I realise it isn’t a big deal to fear God these days, but I do. By that I don’t mean I have just a deep respect for him, or a healthy appreciation for him; I actually get a general sense of terror. It isn’t because I think he is a bad guy, because I don’t. The sense of terror comes more from the idea that he is so incredibly other, has claimed he has created a kind of afterlife for people, who doesn’t exactly live in a space. A God who is that different, that other, can tell you over and over again that he loves you, and you are still going to be quite a bit afraid, just because of what it feels like when you think about his nature.
“Everybody who met God in the Bible was afraid of him. People were afraid of even the angels, so the angels always had to calm people down just to have a conversation. It makes you wonder if the first thousand years in heaven will have us running around screaming like we would during an earthquake, the whole time God is saying to us, 'Calm down, calm down, it’s just me.'
"If you ask me, the way to tell if a person knows God for real, I mean knows the real God , is that they will fear him. They wouldn’t go around making absurd political assertions. I wonder what it sounded like to God when Jerry Falwell went on television and said the reason the twin towers were hit by those planes was because there were homosexuals in the building. And they wouldn’t be making absurd statements about how God wants you to be rich and how if you just send in some money to the ministry God will bless you. It seems like, if you really knew the God who understands the physics of our existence, you would operate a little more cautiously, a little more compassionately, a little less like you are the centre of the universe.”
Back in 1917 Rudolph Otto described this experience as the “mysterium tremendam et fascinans,” the experience of the presence of God which causes both fear and fascination. Should we be in proper fear of God, or has Jesus made fear unnecessary?
Scripture. In the "Book of Revelation," chapter fourteen, verses six and seven, we read:
"Then I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.
"He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’"
... for peace in the world.
... for the people of Myanmar on this their national day.
... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:
In every age the Church has to perform a double duty; it has to adapt itself to the prevailing habits of mind and currents of thought in such a way as most effectively to commend the Gospel with which it is entrusted; but it has also and above all things to take care that what it commends is indeed the Gospel and not some substitute.
In our own time the chief tendencies of thought are determined by the fact that the intellectual activity of many decades has been mainly directed to the understanding of physical nature. The development of natural science is no doubt in a quite real sense a revelation of God to our time. The faculties which make it possible are God's gift; the world which we have come to understand so far more fully than our forefathers is God's world. As men pursue scientific study they are really increasing their knowledge of what God has done or is doing and of the processes by which he works. Religion neither has nor can have any quarrel with science.
But every form of study has its limitations. There are spheres to which it does not apply and facts which it cannot explain. But in the day of its victories, its limitations are liable to be overlooked. So it comes about that today men's minds are possessed by the achievements of natural science.
There is a whole army of men and women ready to work for the betterment of mankind under the leadership of Christ, but not prepared to stultify their intellects by supposing that there is some inviolable sanctity about particular forms of worship, or that God has on certain occasions interrupted the unvarying order which he has himself imposed upon the world by acts of the kind called miracles.
How can these things matter? Why not abandon all insistence on them, and call all men of good-will to stand together, working and even fighting for the kingdom of God that Christ proclaimed?
So men call to us; and we recognise at once the influence of a state of mind fashioned by occupation with the problems and the methods of natural science. We have to meet the challenge, first by asking whether its contention is true and then, if it seems to be true either not at all or only in part, by trying to confront it with the fuller truth in such a way that this may be commended.
The mind that is engrossed by natural science, as the public mind of the last half century has tended to be, is always disposed to be impatient of insistence on the supernatural. It seeks and publishes the truth to be found in nature and its processes, and tends to think that this is all the truth there is. There it hopes to find God; in some measure it does find him and it becomes impatient of the requirement to seek him elsewhere.
A wise man once said that men are nearly always right in what they assert and wrong in what they deny. It is true that the physical world is God's world. If that were not true, the divine Word could never have become flesh; the water of baptism or the bread and the wine of the Eucharist could never be more than conventional symbols of spiritual realities. It is because the physical world is God's world that its matter can become the real embodiment of His very Life in the Incarnation, the real vehicles of his spiritual energy in the sacraments.
Most holy God, the earth is filled with your glory, and before you angels and saints bow down in awe. Enlarge our vision to see your power at work in our world, and by your grace make us heralds of your son, Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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