Friday, April 01, 2011

The Fatherhood of God

Friday, April 1, 2011 -- Week of 3 Lent, Year One
Frederick Denison Maurice, Priest, 1872
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. 954)
Psalms 95* & 88 (morning)        91, 92 (evening)
Jeremiah 10:1-8, 14-20
Romans 6:1-11
John 8:33-47
                             * for the Invitatory
"Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love me, for I did not come on my own, but he sent me.'"

Jesus is in a sustained argument with the religious authorities.  They object to Jesus' healing on the sabbath.  The Bible is clear, they tell Jesus.  The consecreation of the sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments.  You are breaking the Holy Law of God, they tell Jesus.

Jesus points beyond the letter of the law and its traditional interpretation.  He declares that he acts in accordance with the very nature of God, who is always love in action, and who does not cease to act in love on the sabbath.  One who has God as Father should recognize and embrace an act of love as being an act that comes from God.  Jesus declares that this is the truth.  The truth is from God.

Wherever love is, there is God.  Wherever truth is, there is God. 

Jesus' critics became hung up on their religious traditions and teachings, and it blocked them from seeing Jesus' acts of radical love.  In tomorrow's reading they will call him the worst words they can come up with -- "You are a Samaritan and have a demon."  But just a few chapters ago, we read of Jesus' encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well.  It was a graceful encounter that led to friendship and reunion with a community of Samaritans who could see and accept in Jesus the divine qualities of love and truth.

Today is the commemoration of Frederick Denison Maurice, a nineteenth century priest and theologian.  Part of what Maurice is remembered for is his declaration of the universal Fatherhood of God which creates a universal "Brotherhood of Man."  He emphasized that every human being is created as a child of God.  As Genesis declares, humanity is created in the image and likeness of God.  Because we are all God's children, we are all of deep value to God, and therefore should be of profound value to one another. 

Maurice believed that every human being, and every expression of religious belief, shares some portion of the truth.  He saw in his own Anglican tradition as the fullest expression of theological and spiritual truth, but recognized that every other tradition also reveals and shares a portion of divine truth because we all share the same source, the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.  Maurice is remembered as an early proponent of the ecumenical movement. 

Whenever we recognize the presence of love, we are seeing the revelation of the very presence and activity of God.  Whenever anyone expresses something that has a sliver of truth in it, that one speaks from the source of universal truth, which is God.  When an atheist acts in love, we see that as an expression of the God that the atheist does not acknowledge.  When someone from another faith or theology speaks a word that is true, we see that as an expression of God who is absolute truth. 

Therefore, we are all in this together as children of the one God, expressions of divine love and truth.  No one has a monopoly on love or on truth.  Every human being shares in the Fatherhood of God and therefore every human being carries within themselves some portion of divine love and truth.  It is important for us to honor that wherever we encounter it.  F. D. Maurice encouraged a movement of reconciliation based on our common source as children of God.

One of the ancient Church Fathers has a teaching that helps convey this theme.  St. Clement of Alexandria, who died around 215, said, "God in His very self is love, and for love's sake He became visible to us. And while the unspeakable part of Him is Father, the part that has sympathy with us is Mother. By his loving, the Father became a woman's nature, a great proof of which is He whom He begat from Himself; and the fruit that is born of love is love." 

Lowell

__________________

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

7 Comments:

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Michael ArkAnglican said...

We are all in this together as I've said many times.
This is an extremely true paragraph.
"Maurice believed that every human being, and every expression of religious belief, shares some portion of the truth. He saw in his own Anglican tradition as the fullest expression of theological and spiritual truth, but recognized that every other tradition also reveals and shares a portion of divine truth because we all share the same source, the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. Maurice is remembered as an early proponent of the ecumenical movement."
We all are from the same source. We all have some truth in us because of that.
We should all seek and serve Christ Jesus in every being, respecting their dignity and all our diversity, not just tolerating.
We all have some of the truth. Some have more than others. Some have much more.
We're not all wise all the time.
Clear as mud?

 
At 7:52 PM, Anonymous janet l graige said...

Lent Twenty-one

Christ's perfect freedom
Freedom to love & to serve
No chains on goodness

Peace,
Janet

 
At 8:00 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for the comments, Mark.

And yes, there are to be no chains on goodness.

Lowell

 
At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, so Allah giving virgins to a suicide bomber (that is their expression of belief) is essentially the same truth as Mother Theresa helping starving people. That is extremely true? Come one, does anyone REALLY believe that nonsense.

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

No one says that rewarding suicide bombers is in any way good or true. Every religion has its truth and its blindness.

 
At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just going by the quote. Is said "Maurice believed that every human being, and every expression of religious belief, shares some portion of the truth." EVERY EXPRESSION OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF. Words matter.

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger Lowell said...

OH, I see now. Yes. I wasn't precise enough. My thought as I used the word "expression" was as a synonym to something like tradition -- Buddhism is an expression of religious belief, Hinduism, etc. I didn't mean every individual expression of any religious belief is necessarily true. Sorry for the confusion.

It might be better put -- every enduring religion contains some expression of truth.

 

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