Monday, September 10, 2007

Become Who You Are

Monday, September 10, 2007 -- Week of Proper 18
(Alexander Crummell; Priest, Missionary & Educator, 1898)

"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html (go to St. Paul's Home Page www.stpaulsfay.org and click "Morning Reflection podcast")


Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 982)
Psalms 41, 52 (morning) 44 (evening)
1 Kings 13:1-10
Philippians 1:1-11
Mark 15:40-47

Today we begin one of my favorite of Paul's letters, Philippians. He speaks with warmth to the people of his first congregation on the European continent. In Acts we have the story of Paul's meeting with Lydia, a wealthy business woman who became his first convert. The house-church of Phillipi began in her home.

Note the phrase: "I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ."

There is a paradox present in Paul's letter to the Phillipians that is a characteristic part of the church's teaching today. We like to say "live into your baptism." In baptism we celebrate the sacrament that we are God's beloved children, grafted into the Body of Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the sacrament of identity and initiation. The rest of our life is the living out of the gift and truth of our baptism. You are holy, one with Christ, united to the all, divinely in-breathed. Now, live and grow, become what you are.

In this introductory section, Paul offers a prayer for our growth: "that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God."

In the church's teaching, we speak of this process of growing into our inheritance as our calling to sanctification. We are called to holiness. The practice of prayer and study, reflection and repentance, renewal and living in the loving service of God and humanity is the "good work" that leads to sanctification. Elsewhere Paul speaks of our true self. Our true self is "hid with God." At the center of our being we are eternally one with God. Fruitful living is to live from that centeredness; live as we truly are at the core of our being, live as one with Christ.

Toward the end of Graham Greene's novel "The Power and the Glory" the Whisky Priest sits in his prison cell, the gallows that will hang him on the morrow outside his widow. His has been an ambiguous life. He stayed to provide the sacrament to the people after the army arrived. He had fathered an illegitimate child and drowned much of his fear in liquor. Approaching his end, "He felt only an immense disappointment because he had to go to God empty-handed, with nothing done at all. It seemed to him at that moment that it would have been quite easy to have been a saint. It would only have needed a little self-restraint and a little courage. He felt like someone who has missed happiness by seconds at an appointed place. He knew now that there was only one thing that counted -- to be a saint."

Paul speaks to us from his prison. "I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you. ...It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in Gods grace with me... I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ..."

Lowell

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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
St
.
Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, AR

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life:
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

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