Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Way

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 -- Tuesday in Easter Week

To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 958)
Psalms 103 (morning)        111, 114 (evening)
Isaiah 30:18-21
Acts 2:36-41(42-47)
John 14:15-31

For weeks we have read from the prophet Jeremiah about the terrible consequences of injustice and unfaithfulness.  During the long weeks of Lent, we heard his plaintive cry as he sought to turn a people from their greed and irreverence.  His pleading was unheeded, so we heard him speak of the exile and suffering that their behavior would bring upon their society.  We felt Jeremiah's grief as he shared in the inevitable misery that accompanies folly and injustice.  From time to time, Jeremiah would speak of the hope that emerges following darkness.

Now we are in the light of the Great Fifty Days of Easter.  We hear the prophetic words of joyful promise.  "For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.  Truly, O people..., you shall weep no more.  He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you.  Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.  And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"

How wonderfully Isaiah's words ring for the post-resurrection church.  They have seen the Teacher.  He is risen and he is walking with them to guide them in what they now call "The Way."  Soon they will receive the Holy Spirit, the Advocate and Guide, who will be the Word of God saying, "This is the way; walk in it." 

We've been reading from Acts -- Peter's sermon at Pentecost.  Today the people respond earnestly, and Peter promises them "that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  Three thousand persons were added to the followers of "The Way." 

The next verse has become the first sentence of our Prayer Book's Baptismal Covenant.  After the text speaks of the baptism of the three thousand at Pentecost, Luke summarizes his picture of the early church:  "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers."  We renew our promise to do just that at every baptism. 

Then Luke adds something that we seem to have lost.  He speaks of a characteristic of the early church that has vanished from all but monastic expressions of Christianity and a few rare movements.  "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need."  That is a verse that has inspired a number of committed communities as well as some economic expressions of Christian socialism.  It is interesting to realize that the early church's economic practices appear to be closer to a benevolent form of socialism or communism than individualistic free enterprise or capitalism.

What is the most loving form of living?  What is the most loving form of economics?  For Christians, it all comes down to love.  We have that reinforced in today's discourse from John.  Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This it the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive...  They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father."  Later in John's narrative, Jesus will give his disciples the new commandment:  "Love one another."

So we see the transition from injustice and its painful consequences to the message of Love and its communal healing Spirit.  It is now up to us to listen and respond.  We have seen our Teacher.  We have been given the Spirit.  When we turn to the right or to the left, the Spirit speaks to our intuition to say, "This is the way; walk in it."  We are those who walk in The Way of Jesus.  It is a Way that is stronger than death, full of generosity and love.

Today is a new day.  A new day to devote ourselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.  A new day to give to any as any have need.  A new day to love Jesus and to keep his commandment to love others.

Jesus tells us, "On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you...;  and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."  Let it be.  Amen.



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


At 8:49 AM, Anonymous janet said...

50 days of Easter...maybe I should keep writing haiku. 50 Easter haiku..

The way is also one of deep connection. When you see the poverty, the lack of access to healthcare, the violence and oppression that selfish greed breeds, it harms the spirit, not only the spirit of the one in the situation, but the communal spirit of us all. I can easily see why they would form a community of sharing and communion. It's a natural reaction to what they've experienced.


At 7:30 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

The most profound experiences of sharing that I've ever witnessed have always been among the poor, in this nation and abroad. I've been so humbled to see people with so little give freely to those with less. I've also been humbled by the generosity of those who are poor for guests who may be relatively wealthy.

Sometimes the oppression of selfish greed breeds revolution also.

I pray for a kinder, gentler revolution of justice in this country. But right now, it seems, the wealthy and powerful have become even more aggressive.



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