Friday, January 22, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Spirit and Truth

Psalms 31 * 35; Genesis 11:27-12:8; Hebrews 7:1-17; John 4:16-26

Two weeks ago today a medical condition was discovered and my 82 year old mother had the first of two operations to relieve pressure on her brain from a long-bleeding vein. She had a second brain operation the following Monday (11 days ago) to staunch a second bleeding incident. She remained in ICU for a little over a week and is now in a Rehab clinic regaining her strength and balance, getting her ready for independent living, which will hopefully re-start a week from now. The rapid pace of her recuperation is, I think, mirrored by the annoyance she expresses at being at this Rehab place and not home.

The neurosurgeon told me that if she survived the operations, which thankfully she has, her recovery would be very quick, which it is proving to be. In fact, he said, she will feel much better and more clear thinking quicker than her body will regain strength from being in bed for over a week. A true blessing of spirit and truth. A challenge to manage: expectations and desires and the reality of what she can and cannot yet do.

Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that all those who follow him must learn to worship God and understand God as spirit and truth. I saw God's hand at work in: the skill of the neurosurgeon, his OR teams and the ICU staff. I saw God's hand at work in the world by the care provided to me by my mother's friends and family.

No matter what comes our way, God is next to us, with us, supporting us, guiding us. There is spirit and truth all around us.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: The Epiphany

Psalms 46, 97 * 96, 100; Isaiah 49:1-7; John 21:2-27; Matthew 12:14-21

The word epiphany derives from a Greek word that means manifestation. We celebrate the discovery of the Incarnation of God in the infant Jesus today, with that infant being found by three travelers termed "wise". The word epiphany has come to be defined as having a moment of revelation - a clearness of thought - a deep understanding of something that had been hidden. I like to think of "epiphany" as being an "aha" moment: a time when woolheadedness is replaced with clear thinking and understanding.

These moments don't come all that often in life. We need to cherish them when they do, recognize them when they occur, and incorporate those understandings into our way of being in the world. We can re-live and re-appreciate those aha moments if we manage to accomplish that incorporation. Perhaps we might be called "wise" then.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: A New Chance

MP: Psalms 2, 110:1-5(6-7); Jonah 2:2-9; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 11:17-27,38-44
Eve of Epiphany: Psalm 29, 98; Isaiah 66:18-23; Romans 15:7-13

Friends have a way of telling us hard truths, of giving us second and third and fourth chances. True friends that is, not those who are not invested in us as we are in them. If we are blessed with having these kind of friends in our lives, we can be gifted with insights into ourselves and the world around us that we might not be able to see or understand without their presence and honesty in our lives.

In our MP Gospel reading we have Jesus raising Lazarus from his tomb, four days after he had been placed there. Jesus shouts into the tomb, after the stone is rolled away, Lazarus, come out! and when the he does come out bound in strips of cloth Jesus says, Unbind him, and let him go.

We are told by the Gospel writer John that Lazarus (and his sisters Martha and Mary) were not only followers of Jesus but also his friends. What a gift to be given a chance to live again. Perhaps that is one of the things we are asked to think about from this Gospel reading, a chance to be resurrected into a new life with our friends. Or, similarly, who in our lives needs to be shaken up, told to come out, to be unbound, to allow them to go free. Are we open to hearing those commands from our friends? Do we have the courage, strength and love to say something to someone who needs to alter the trajectory they are on? A new chance is always worth the effort.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Gifts and Costs

Psalms 85, 87 * 89:1-29; Joshua 3:14-4:7; Ephesians 5:1-20; John 9:1-12,35-38

I heard a sermon recently on the passage in Matthew concerning The Holy Innocents: those children two years and younger who were killed by Herod because of his fear of the King of Jews having been born. The sermon was an interesting reflection on darkness and evil in the world, the preacher saying the reason for their existence being inexplicable but ever-present, yet he was there to testify to the light that shines in that ever-present darkness. That light, of course, being Jesus. Perhaps a bit of a dark sermon in the Season of Christmas.

I thought of that sermon today as I read our lectionary selection from the Gospel of John, where Jesus heals the individual who was blind from birth. Jesus heals him and then the man is questioned (tried really), his parents are questioned (also tried - the part that is omitted from our reading) and then the newly sighted man is cast out. Jesus finds him and the man worships Jesus. There is a cost to this gift Jesus gives this formerly blind man.

I must confess to wanting to be poly-anna at times - wanting to think the best about people's intentions, seeing only the good in the world. Today's reading from John (and the sermon on The Holy Innocents) are an appropriate reminder of the need to recognize there is the other side of the coin to take into account. Not to dwell in that darkness or be consumed by people's wrongful intentions, but to balance the joy of Christ's gifts to us with the knowledge that there will always be more work to do. Always.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Trusting Who We Are

Psalms 34 *33; 1 Kings 19:1-8; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:1-14

We are gifted such wonderful readings today. In First Kings we have Jezebel threatening Elijah, and Elijah becomes fearful and running away. He drops off his servant in Beersheba and continues on his journey. But he gives up hope and lies down, only to be provided sustenance and strength by God so he can continue his journey to God's mountain.

The selection from the letter to the Ephesians is that call by the author to live into who God has created us to be and to utilize the individualized gifts we are all given for the completion of the Body of Christ of which we are all apart.

And in the selection from John we have Jesus feeding the masses with five barley loaves and two fish with enough left over to fill 12 baskets.

On this second day of the New Year we have these three readings that provide assurance: of God's involvement in our lives, of God's love for us even when we think we should give up, of God's grace in giving us gifts to effectuate the building of the Body of Christ, and of our continued sustenance and satiated appetite even when we do not trust that the seeming impossible can be accomplished.

We are reminded today that we can trust in who we are and that the gifts God has given us are enough.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Daily Office Reflection: Holy Name & Happy New Year

Psalm 103 * 148; Isaiah 62:1-5,10-12; Revelation 19:11-16; Matthew 1:18-25

Lesser Feasts and Fasts tells us that prior to the '79 BCP this day was not known as Holy Name but as the Feast of the Circumcision. Luke tells us this ritual was performed on Jesus eight days after his birth, pursuant to Jewish custom and tradition. The church shifted away from that bloody and gruesome (and painful) image in '79 moving to a day where we reflect on the Holy Name given to Jesus on this day.

All three of our readings have to do namings: how Jerusalem is referred to will be changed; the names John uses to describe the images in his revelation, and the importance of Jesus' name being given him by Joseph in Matthew's Gospel. What we call something is important.

Names have meaning. It is a proven psychological principle that things we are called, names associated with us, can have lasting impact. When a child is called "fatso" or "ugly-zit-face", as much as those names may be untrue, they can still take root and help shape a person's self-image. Similarly, what we pray as Episcopalians is what we believe. By identifying ourselves as members of this peculiar community of Christians, we are not only saying something to others about who we are and what we believe, but we are all in the act of becoming that thing. It is important what we call ourselves.

On this first day of a new calendar year, as we think about and recognize Jesus' Holy Name, we are also asked to think about what name we want to be called this year. Who am I becoming, we can ask ourselves, and then actually embody that image we project. That authenticity will bring us to a very Happy New Year.

Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.