Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Perspective

Psalms 78:1-39 * 78:40-72; 1 Samuel 1:21-2:11; Acts 1:15-26; Luke 20:19-26

There are people in this world who live by rules and rules only. I cannot say I am one of them, although I do appreciate structure and order and within that world I do my best to operate with a freedom of choice that allows the chaos that can inhabit that freedom bearable. To get too locked into rules and regulations blocks out imagination and creativity.

We are given a clear reminder of this with Jesus' answer to the question about paying taxes. Jesus makes it clear that we are to operate in the world in which we are situated, operate by the rules and regulations born from that world, and at the same time operate in God's world. This creates enormous tension and can lead to chaos. Having solid rules and regulations gives a sense of order and construct around that chaos. And that sense of order can lead to a rigidity in life that Jesus says needs to be kept in balance, in perspective. Keeping an open and discerning mind, allowing the creative and imaginative juices flowing, can aid in retaining that perspective: in giving unto Caesar what is Caesar's and keeping the rest for the creation of God's Kingdom among us.

Copyright 2009, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Stuck

Psalms 75, 76 * 23, 27; Ecclesiasticus 46:1-10; 2 Corinthians 13:1-14; Luke 20:1-8

I think we can fall into defensive postures too easily in this life. Particularly when we are challenged we can fall into legalisms. We see that with the scribes today, challenging Jesus and then afraid to respond to him honestly and Jesus doesn't get into a dialogue with them for that reason. These scribes are stuck and in that state of legalism and cannot see the beauty of God's creation right in front of their eyes.

Jesus is a game changer, a life changer. He radically shifts how we see and operate in the world. Today's reading reminds us not to be frightened of that but to live into that fact. This reading reminds us not to get stuck in our fear and fall back on legalism but instead to walk into the unknown with the knowledge that we are not alone on this journey.

Copyright 2009. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Saint Barnabas

MP: Psalms 15, 67; Ecclesiasticus 31:3-11; Acts 4:32-37
EP: Psalms 19, 146; Job 29:1-16; Acts 9:26-31

Saint Barnabas sold property and gave the proceeds to the apostles to distribute to those in their community who were in need and according to their need. He journeyed around the Mediterranean coast establishing churches, brought Paul into the fold, travelled with Paul and then separated from Paul over an argument. He apparently had a commanding persona as one of the accounts in Acts has him being mistaken as the Greek god Jupiter, the king of all their gods. And yet, he used these talents and gifts and wealth not for himself but for the founding of the church.

The Ecclesiasticus reading we are given for MP shows us how dangerous wealth can be, how alluring and distracting it can be for us, taking us away from the effectuation of the kingdom Jesus calls us to. Having it assigned to Barnabas provides us with a lesson about how to appropriately utilize the gifts of wealth we are given. I am always struck when reading these ancient readings how much we have not changed, deep down. How, no matter how much we advance technologically, there is this innate yearning and desire to retain wealth for ourselves. I find this a fascinating idea to pray on.

Copyright 2009, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Using What Is Given

Psalms 72 * 119:73-96; Deuteronomy 31:30-32:14; 2 Corinthians 11:21b-33; Luke 19:11-27

Jesus gives us two very huge principles to dwell on today. The reason he tells his disciples the parable of the rich nobleman and his slaves who utilize the ten pounds given them differently, is that those disciples "supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately" upon Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. We know their expectations of what that kingdom would look and be like is far different from what God's understanding of this developing kingdom really is. And Jesus is preparing his disciples and us for the fact that we can't bury or hide or not utilize those gifts given us.

So many people operate out of a place of fear: fear of losing something, fear of not succeeding, fear of making the wrong decision, that they become like the last slave who buried the pound given him for safe keeping as opposed to using it appropriately. Jesus makes clear today that the kingdom is not something that will take a shape that is expected and that we must accept and utilize those gifts given us for the effectuation of that kingdom if we are to even be able to see a glimmer of its existence. We are talking about a movement away from fear to hopeful work, away from fear to hope-filled joy at our assistance in the creation of the kingdom all around us.

Copyright 2009, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Awakening

Psalms 61, 62 * 68:1-20(21-23)24-36; Deuteronomy 30:11-20; 2Corinthians 11:1-21a; Luke 19:1-10

Have you ever felt like you were doing something that you should not be? And you continue to do it anyway? Until, until something odd happens that wakes you up to guide you in a different direction? I know many people who stay in that first state never recognizing or acknowledging those surprises that can lead us out of the malaise of what we are doing. 

Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, can be a model for us to help find our way out of those times of malaise.  He gets so excited when learning that Jesus is in his town of Jericho that he climbs a tree so he can see over the crowds, to see this person at whose name his heart beat faster. Jesus responds to that pounding heart and takes Zacchaeus under his wing.

Zacchaeus knows that even though he has not defrauded anybody, he could do more and offers half of all that he has to the poor, to which Jesus points out that this is an act of salvation, an act of being saved by one who was lost. 

We have a map out of the malaise and toward something far greater.

Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: To See Again

Psalms 56, 57, (58) * 64, 65; Deuteronomy 30:1-10; 2 Corinthians 10:1-18; Luke 18:31-43

Jesus gives another prediction of his passion to his disciples, who still aren't allowed to understand it (which confuses me some) and then we hare given the story of Jesus, on his approach to Jericho, curing a blind man. If we take this miracle story in a literal way, we can appreciate the joy of this individual whose faith saved him. If we try and understand this miracle story in a different way, we can see other things in this account. 

Why would Jesus ask a blind man who is shouting for aid, what he wants? Why, when Jesus grants the man his wish does he add "your faith has saved you"? Not your faith has granted you your sight, but has saved you. 

What do we need to see that we aren't? What are we blind to in the portion of the world we occupy? In what do we need to have more faith?

Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Prayers

Psalms 50 * (59), 60 or 8, 84; Deuteronomy 16:18-20;17:14-20; 2 Corinthians 8:1-16; Luke 18:1-8

There is an old adage, be careful what you wish for as you might just get it. I think the same holds true for prayer.

Jesus reminds his disciples today about prayer and the need for persistence in our prayer life. This is a persistence based in faithful recognition of who we are as God's beloved, who we are as Christ's body in the world. That recognition leads us to understand the kinds of things to ask for in prayer and the kinds of things for which we should not ask. For God does answer prayers, just not always in the manner or the way we want or expect. Recognizing those answers is part of that faithful persistence. 

Copyright 2009, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Steadiness

Psalms 119:49-72 * 49 (53); Deuteronomy 13:1--11; 2 Corinthians 7:2-16; Luke 17:20-37

The Pharisees ask Jesus about the coming of the kingdom of God and Jesus says that efforts will be made to mislead but that in fact "the kingdom of God is among you." Jesus then tells his disciples that efforts will be made to mis-direct them and that they must be steady in their beliefs and faith and not be misled. 

So much of life can be like this, where we have a direction, we know the journey that we are on, the path we should trod, and yet there are people that try to get us off that path, misguide us, distract us. A part of faithfulness is not allowing those, who for misguided reasons of their own, desire to deprive us of the journey we are called to fulfill. Being that rock of faithfulness, having a steadiness at our core, is what Jesus reminds us to strive for today. This is not an easy state of being to achieve or remain in, although it is eminently doable. And there is a cost that is associated with this steadiness: a realization that those we thought we could trust, sometimes we can't; those we thought loved us, sometimes don't; those we thought our friends prove themselves to be otherwise. A constant and high cost that Jesus models for us. This is part of the journey too.

Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: The Day After Pentecost

Psalms 45 * 47, 48; Deuteronomy 11:13-19; 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2; Luke 17:1-10

On this day after the settling of the Advocate on the apostles, on their becoming aware of their potential and the founding of our church, we are reminded in our Gospel reading about a reality of our existence: stumbling and forgiveness. Jesus talks about "occasions for stumbling are bound to come". This does not mean that we have to stumble, but that the opportunity will present itself to us. And if one of us should stumble, we are to give forgiveness should someone ask us. If we stumble we are the ones who are to ask for forgiveness and our community will grant it. This is a tall order for us today, for both the asking and the forgiving are difficult things for us to face up to.

To be that Body of Christ we all are, to be that community, these twinned elements of seeking forgiveness and the granting of that forgiveness are key elements to our effectuating the existence of that community. A good reading, a good reminder for this day after Pentecost.

Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.