Thursday, June 02, 2011

Two Phrases

Thursday, June 2. 2011 -- Week of 6 Easter, Year One
Ascension Day
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. 962)
Psalms 8, 47 (morning)      24, 36 (evening)
Ezekiel 1:1-14, 24-28b
Hebrews 2:5-18
Matthew 28:16-20

REMINDER:  We have a joint Eucharistic celebration of the Ascension with our Lutheran neighbors tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Rolling Hills at Old Missouri Road).  The offering will go to Peace Lutheran Church in Joplin, MO, which was destroyed by the recent tornado.

A phrase from the Hebrews reading jumped out at me this morning.  "Here am I and the children whom God has given me."

Reading this as I do on Ascension Day, I had an image of the crucified and risen Jesus appearing before the Father and announcing, "Here am I and and the children whom God has given me."  All of the words about Jesus being in us and our being in Jesus come to mind. I recall Paul's reflection about the first Adam and the second Adam -- "as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."  I see Jesus' arms outstreached to signify his gathering of the whole human race -- the children whom God has made -- now the children whom the Father has given to the Son, redeemed in the journey through incarnation, death and resurrection, now presented to the Father -- the children whom God has given the Son.

This passage from the New Testament book of Hebrews appears to be a quotation from the older Hebrew scripture.  My annotations don't cite the reference.  The closest I can find is Isaiah 8:17-18, when the prophet has been rejected and closes his testimony, saying, "I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.  See, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion."  The New Testament writer seems to be saying, "The wait is over.  The Messiah has come."  Jesus, and the children whom God has given him -- the whole human race -- are now delivered from their travail, and presented to God.

In some sense, we now live as amphibians.  Christ has ascended into the spiritual realm, taking us into the fullness of the divine presence of God.  We also live incarnate, as earthly, material human beings.  In Christ, in us, the spiritual and material are united.  Christ has assumed our created existence with all of its touchy realness and deathly limitations.  In him, God is one with us in our creatureliness.  Christ has raised our created existence into the uncreated, into the infinite spiritual reality with its mysterious power and boundless limitlessness.

Jesus is the first fruits, it is said.  The pioneer of our journey.  He leads the way and has reached a destination which is the fullness of life.  He is also with us, helping, enouraging, inbreathing us along our way. 

Another verse jumped out.  It brings back memories.  It is the last phrase from Matthew's gospel.  "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."  I am carried back in memory to a time when that verse rang in my consciousness with such wonderful comfort.  I hear the language of the King James Version, ""Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."  It was when I was watching a Billy Graham Crusade on a black-and-white TV that I felt this word as an active and real promise.  I sensed Jesus' presence.  In the bewildering and lonely world of growing up, it was deeply comforting.  It still is.

I embrace the story that, in Jesus, God has come to us completely, filling our fleshly being with God's intimate being; living through all the wonder and terror that is our earthly existence, even unto death; dying and rising, taking all humanity into the fullness of divine presence; being with us here and now in the Spirit, to indwell and breathe us into being, to help and guide us into abundant life.  I feel both parts of my own nature -- physical and spiritual; finite and infinite; distinct and united; limited and unbounded; one and all.

Jesus carries me into the infinite love of God, crying, "Here am I and the children whom God has given me."  Jesus enters me within the finite wonder of the coming day, reminding me, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."



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 -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location -- --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to, 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

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 10:05 AM, Anonymous janet said...


It is still comforting to hear Jesus' very personal words, Lo I am with you alway.. because we are still children in the sense of living into this mystery of Love and Grace and it is good to have that promise, even as we approach older physical ages. Isn't that the glee and joy you notice with spiritual masters, their spirits are so child-like with wonder and fun. I'm not catching your reference to OT, so I'll look at this closer when I am out of the chaotic world of work place fun!



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