Monday, January 03, 2011

Blessings and Abundant Life

Monday, January 3, 2011 -- The 12 Days of Christmas, Year One
William Passavant, Prophetic Witness, 1894
To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:
http://liturgyandmusic.wordpress.com/category/holy-women-holy-men/

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 940)
Psalms 68 (morning)       72 (evening)
Genesis 12:1-7 
Hebrews 11:13-22 
John 10:7-17

"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Some have called that Jesus' Mission Statement.  Reading today in Genesis of the call of Abraham, and in Hebrews of the faith of the patriarchs, it might be said that it is God's mission and desire that we may have life, and have it abundantly.

God called Abram:  "Go from you country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you."  God invites Abram on the journey that we all must take.  We all go from dependence upon family and home into a journey of self-discovery.  The writer of the book of Hebrews describes that as a faith journey -- a pilgrimage of trust.  We trust God to lead us into the future. 

God promises blessing.  God blesses Abram and the patriarchs.  God says to Abram, "I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing...; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  The blessing that God bestows upon us is for the blessing of "all the families of the earth," "that they may have life, and have it abundantly."  God's blessing is not a blessing that is to be protected tribally, but to be exercised globally.

God tells Abram, "I will make of you a great nation."  Three great faiths trace their ancestry to Father Abraham -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  We are called to be a great nation, a people of faith, who trust and follow God into a future of blessing for all the families of the earth.  We have an opportunity to celebrate that heritage here in Fayetteville on January 19 when our friends at First United Presbyterian Church invite us to a celebration called "The Beautiful Names of God."  Leaders from the Jewish Temple and from our Islamic community will join with Christians in a meal and in prayers to recall our relationship as children of Abraham.  God's call to make a nation from Abram transcends nationalism.  It is also a call of blessing for all the families of the earth that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

In our reading from Hebrews we are invited to remember the paradoxical nature of Abraham's trust.  He trusted God's promise of blessing and offspring and left his home for an unknown place.  He also trusted God's promise of offspring when God called him to sacrifice Isaac, even when "he had been told, 'It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.'"  Abraham's trust included the paradox of obedience in sacrificing Isaac and steadfast trust in God's promise of descendants through Isaac.  Abraham is the father of faith, that deep trust in God's promise of blessing even when we cannot see a path for that blessing's fulfillment.

In the passage we have today from John's Gospel, Jesus scolds those who have monopolized the blessings of God and restricted their promises only to those who believe or practice according to their own narrow interpretation.  Jesus comes as incarnate loving compassion to announce, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  ...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." 

"I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."  Jesus shows the gate and path of life to be a life of loving compassion that is willing to sacrifice for justice and for the good of all, especially for the poor to whom he announces the Good News.  Like Abraham, his blessing is not restricted and his flock is not exclusive.  "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd."  The love of God manifested in Christ will bless all the families of the earth, that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Our new day begins.  It is full of possibility -- for trust, for blessing, for sacrifice, for abundance.  We embrace the promises that are ours as children of Abraham and followers of Jesus.  We accept the blessings that we are incorporated into God's family.  We endorse our calling to be a blessing to all the families of the earth.  We receive the gift of abundant life, and we generously seek to spread that abundance to all.  For we are Christ's Body, the inheritors of his blessing -- the blessing of one who "came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." 

Bless the whole world today, and, insofar as it is in your power, bring abundant life to all its creatures.

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 missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
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 --  Click for Divine Hours

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


2 Comments:

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous janet said...

A most ebullient reflection. My heart likes this vision. Peace, Janet

 
At 8:06 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thank you, Janet.

Peace!

 

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