Monday, January 21, 2008

New Beginnings

Monday, January 21, 2008 -- Week of 2 Epiphany, Year 2
(Agnes, Martyr at Rome, 305)

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 945)
Psalms 25 (morning) 9, 15 (evening)
Genesis 8:6-22
Hebrews 4:14 - 5:6
John 2:23 - 3:15

Wherever you go, there you are.

I don't know if all of us fantasize about things in the past. I sure have. ...If I could go back to that time, knowing what I know now, how different I would be; how much better I could handle things. If we could just start over with a clean slate, maybe we would know better and would not make the same mistakes.

The first six chapters of Genesis dramatize a spiraling downward circle of human corruption and failure that reaches a point where God repents of the whole experiment and decides to start over. He chooses Noah and a remnant of all earthly creation, and then lets the watery chaos return to destroy the earth. (For detailed Bible study it is interesting to learn how two different versions of the flood story have been woven together into our present form.)

Then God's wind blows over the earth and there is a new beginning. But you feel the winsome pathos at the end. When God smells the sacrifice that Noah offers,"the Lord said in his heart, 'I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth...'" God promises not to disrupt the basic order of days and seasons and the agricultural cycle.

Reaching out destructively rarely works. One of the things we remember on this holiday of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the wisdom that he and Gandhi and others have bequeathed us for a nonviolent alternative in the confrontation with evil and human corruption.

For Christians, Jesus will become God's new answer to the problem of human evil. Rather than summoning legions of angels to conquer with force, Jesus responds to evil and threat only with love and forgiveness. It is a radical and subversive tactic. The writer to Hebrews today celebrates how Jesus has become our high priest whose offering takes away sin and restores us to relationship with God and one another.

In John's Gospel Jesus invites a leading Pharisee to come out of the dark and tentative place and to be born anew, by water and wind/Spirit. (The same word in Greek means wind and spirit.) The perpetually new way that God is breathing life over creation is the wind that "blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes," Jesus tells Nicodemus.

So in this new creation of the Spirit, inaugurated by Jesus, the past is restored by our great high priest, and God is continually renewing the face of the earth. Today as the sun comes up, God's wind blows over the earth and there is a new beginning. I can start again, knowing what I know now. Wherever you go, there you are.

Lowell

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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
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


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

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

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

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

2 Comments:

At 9:06 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

Thanks again for your time and dedication to start each day with a new comment on the daily readings. It helps us listen to that spiritual wind blowing through the www.

 
At 11:31 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for your note, UP. Every once in a while I meet people who tell me these reflections are helpful. That means a lot.

Lowell

 

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