Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Rest When You Can Get It

Psalms 61, 62 * 68:1-20(21-23)24-36; 2 Samuel 3:6-21; Acts 16:6-13; Mark 6:30-46

Jesus' apostles are excited when they return to Jesus today, but Jesus also recognizes that they are exhausted. He instructs them to get some rest with him, but alas that is not meant to be as their attempt to find a quiet place turns into a dinner feast for five thousand. Following that feat Jesus sends his disciples away, dismissed the crowd and went in search of a secluded mountain top to rest and pray.

Even with exhaustion haunting them, these folks still cared for those seeking that care. We have Jesus introducing the four-fold action of the Eucharist today (taking, blessing, breaking and giving) despite his exhaustion. We are amazing beings, capable of remarkable things, but there is also an absolute need for self-care: a need to find some time to refresh ourselves so that we can do the work we are called to do as followers of Christ. And there is an absolute need that we remember to pray, for that helps with our refreshment, with our rest, with our being centered and balanced and ready.

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

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Perplexed and Yet Somehow Pleased

Psalms 56, 57, (58) * 64, 65; 2 Samuel 2:1-11; Acts 15:36-16:5; Mark 6:14-29

We have Mark's version of the murder of John the Baptist today. There is a line about Herod in the middle of the story that slips by many people: When he (Herod) heard him (John), he (Herod) was greatly perplexed; and yet he (Herod) liked to listen to him (John). Herod was annoyed by John's preaching. It dug at him at a weak point in his armor. And yet he still liked to listen to him.

I think this is one of the things that brings so many of us back to church on a regular basis. We like what we hear, we like the feelings we get from what we hear, we are drawn to something that we do not quite understand. And at the same time we get annoyed because we know the world doesn't work the way we hear that it is supposed to. We get annoyed by the hypocrisy we see all around us. We get perplexed but yet many of us still persist in pursuing this kingdom Jesus is creating.

That uncomfortable feeling we hear about in Herod's story and his reaction to John's words, is something we should pay attention to in our lives. Where is that tension in our lives? Perhaps that is exactly what we are supposed to be paying attention to and on which we should be focused.

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Saint Mary Magdalene

MP: Psalm 116; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Mark 15:47-16:7
EP: Psalm 30, 149; Exodus 15:19-21; 2Corinthians 1:3-7

In Lesser Feasts and Fasts today we celebrate Saint Mary Magdalene (except in my 2006 edition they have misspelled Mary's name as Mary Magalene, sans d). She is one of my favorite mystery people in our Gospels. Who actually was she? What was her relationship with Jesus? With the other disciples? How influential was she during Jesus' life and then after in the forming of our Christian faith? Why was she pushed aside (besides for the obvious sexist/misogynist reasons) in the retelling of, and recording of, our Lord's life?

LFF's reminds us today that she was "the first messenger of the resurrection": Jesus speaks to her in her grief and she tells the news to the disciples. LFF also reminds us that in the eastern tradition she is put on a par with the disciples. Here was a great, loyal, independent, loving person: a companion on Jesus' way. Who are the companions accompanying us on our way? Those dear ones who we could not do without? Tell them today how dear they are to you.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Let Anyone With Ears

Psalms 45 * 47, 48; 1 Samuel 25:1-22; Acts 14:1-18; Mark 4:21-34

We hear Mark have Jesus use the phrase "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!" quite often in this Gospel. Let anyone. Let anyone with ears. Let anyone with ears to hear. Let anyone with ears to hear listen! Isn't that just a great turn of phrase? Besides being a fun turn of phrase to let roll off our tongues, this also says something theological. This phrase says something deeply meaningful about Jesus' ministry, about to whom God is talking. That is you and me and the person across the room from us who we just can't stand. It is the homeless person we pass everyday on our way to work. It is the avowed unbeliever. It is the deaf person who can hear in other ways than through their ears.

It is everyone and anyone who opens their ears to hear, their eyes to see, their minds to open, their hearts to feel, their souls to sing.

What a wonderful gift to begin the day with.

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

Monday, July 20, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Everyone Is Invited

Psalms 41, 52 * 44; 1 Samuel 24:1-22; Acts 13:44-52; Mark 4:1-20

Today's readings make clear that God's love for us is all encompassing and that all are invited into this loving embrace. The hard part of this good news is that we have to respond; we have to take this good news into the deepest part of ourselves and let it root there and become a central part of how we focus our lives in this world.

We celebrate four great women today in our Lesser Feasts and Fasts: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Ross Tubman. I am not going to repeat their accomplishments here - look them up and read about them, for they were remarkable women, leaders for the rights of women. They were also faithful Christians. They are examples of good soil where the seed brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold, despite the obstacles put in their way by those with authority and power in their day and age.

They understood the need to respond to Christ as the center of their lives work and that the good news of God in Christ was for everyone, not a select few determined to keep God's vision constricted and myopic. We see that narrowness of view in many places in our world and in our church as well. We can look at the United States Senators from southern states who narrowly interpret not only the Constitution but who they believe it is appropriate to sit on our nation's highest Court. We see that narrowness of sight in certain southern Bishops of TEC who, by their votes, want to restrict the House of Bishops (and in fact who can be a deacon and a priest) to their narrow vision of who can have good soil in their souls: as well as judge who can live in loving and blessed relationships and who cannot.

We are called to remember today that God's love is for everyone. To try and bind that love into a narrow and constricted vision is a willful blocking of the Holy Spirit's work that is alive and all around us, guiding us to a different world than the one we currently inhabit.

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

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Break's Over

Psalms 30, 32 * 42, 43; 1 Samuel 22:1-23; Acts 13:26-43; Mark 3:19b-35

I haven't written anything on this blog in nearly a month. I needed to take a break, take a break from a lot of things. I needed to try and figure out what is important in my life and what is not. Figure out what is substance and what is fluff, what is distraction and what are things to be focused on. Am I done with this self exploration. No. It is a lifetime's work, but I am not in such a difficult position that I cannot recognize the importance of my writing here. Selfishly, this is important to me: to my spiritual journey, to my exploration of this faith I profess, to my relationship with God. Secondarily, this blog has a purpose of exhibiting how powerful being immersed in The Daily Office can be in one's life. So....break's over.

We have been immersed in the long saga of David, Saul and Jonathan the last number of weeks, as well as grinding our way through Acts, and we have just recently started the Gospel of Mark. The theme of "break's over" appears in this portion of Samuel we have today, as well as in the selection from Mark. David is in hiding, but agrees to lead disaffected people who come to him, which really pisses off Saul. David is slowly coming to the realization that his break is over, his ability to deny his kingship is over, that he must start to act in the manner to which he has already been anointed. In Mark, Jesus identifies his family as those who do God's work, not his flesh and blood kin who are standing on the outside of the crowd surrounding Jesus. Jesus, as Mark portrays him so often, is doing his "blood and guts" statements of just laying the truth out there: my family does God's work. Anyone who does this IS my family, is a part of MY family. In other words Jesus is saying: break's over people, get on board or get out of the way.

I think we see some of that mentality emanating from the just completed General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Anaheim, California. The legislation passed shows a movement beyond a stasis period: whether it be on ordination of gay and lesbian people to all offices of the church, or the blessing of same sex marriages, or the inclusion of pension benefits for lay employees, or the development of a congregational health plan, or the myriad of other pieces of formative and astoundingly prophetic legislation passed by that governing body. All are saying clearly that "break's over", we are moving forward. We have listened, we have been bullied, we have not bullied back in return. We have chosen to follow the Holy Spirit where she is leading us. A remarkable and beautiful and inspiring thing.

Break's over. Thanks for your patience.

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