Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Thinking Big

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"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 (Book of Common Prayer, p 943)
Psalms 117, 118 (morning) 112, 113 (evening)
Exodus 17:1-7
Colossians 1:15-23
John 7:37-52

Yesterday we saw God feed Israel with manna in the desert and saw Jesus as the bread of life. Today we read of God giving water from the desert rock and we hear Jesus' invitation to the thirsty to come and drink his living water of the Spirit.

In the middle of the readings we have a lyrical hymn to the cosmic Christ. In something like a two-verse song form, (Col. 1:15-18a and 18b-20) we rejoice over Jesus who is the agent of creation and Jesus the agent of redemption. The source of all that is makes peace with us, moving us from estrangement and alienation into redemption and friendship. It is a rich passage.

Jesus invites everyone into such a living relationship with God that "Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water." He is picking up treasured images from the sacred stories: the water from the desert rock (Exodus), the water that springs to life in the desert (Isaiah), and the waters that will flow from Jerusalem (Zechariah, which is read on the last day of the Festival of Booths where this story is set).

But there is mixed reception to the word and the gift Christ offers. Some respond positively -- this is the prophet; no, this is the Messiah. But others, especially the authorities, are not so impressed. They throw the Book at Jesus. They indict him because he does not fulfill literally the messianic expectation. He's from the wrong place. He's from Galilee. The Bible doesn't say that the Messiah will come from Galilee. The Messiah comes from Bethlehem. They want the impostor arrested.

One official urges restraint. Nicodemus is the voice of openness. "We don't judge until we give people a hearing. That is our tradition, isn't it?" He gets shouted down by the literalists. "Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee."

There is a consistent drama in John's gospel between the revelation that is given to people if they can only open their eyes and ears, and the blindness and deafness of those who insist remaining on a literal level. Nicodemus himself was victim to such a conversation about being born again, being born anew.

How ironic it is that modern Christians today will use the words of the Gospel of John literally in the same way that John complains of. One of the favorite literal "proof texts" follows Jesus' proclamation "I am the way and the truth and the life." The passage goes on to say, "No one can come to the Father except through me." Literalists will take this verse and bash it over anyone who sees salvation and grace present in a non-Christian source. "Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee!" Even though we have abundant passages about the universality of God's presence and grace.

John demands that we think big. Think creatively. Think symbolically.

The hymn to the Cosmic Christ reminds us that Christ is the firstborn of all creation. In Christ all things hold together. Through him God was pleased to be reconciled to all things, whether on earth or in heaven. The gospel is proclaimed to every creature under heaven. So, if you can't see Christ in the Dalai Lama or Ghandi or in the goodness, truth and beauty of other non-Christians, it is not Christ who is absent, but it is your eyes that are blind.

Lowell
_________________________________________________
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

Discussion Blog: To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or
click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.


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.

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

3 Comments:

At 8:48 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

I have no "Meribah" with that.

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Clever, UP. For "Meribah" means "Quarrel." Nice one.

Lowell

 
At 3:41 AM, Anonymous Prophecy said...

This is a great post, I liked your blog and added your feed.

Laws of attractions

 

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