Monday, December 10, 2012

What New Thing?

Monday, December 10, 2012  -- Week of 2 Advent, Year 1
Karl Barth, Pastor and Theologian, 1968
Thomas Merton, Contemplative and Writer, 1968

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 936)
Psalms 25 (morning)     //     9, 15 (evening)
Isaiah 5:8-12, 18-23    
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Luke 21:20-28

Terrible things can happen to nations and people.  There is a foreboding backdrop for each of today's readings.  Isaiah feels the threat of Assyria building toward Israel.  He chides the leaders who are more interested in joining "house to house" and adding "field to field," who spend their time immersed in their own wealth building and distracted by their entertainments.  He condemns the injustice of their lives.

Luke writes in the shadow of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.  These are terrible times that bring woe upon all.  Even the natural world is disrupted.  And Paul speaks to a community that expects the immanent coming of the Lord "like a thief in the night,"  a time of sudden destruction which they must be prepared for. 

Yet all three writers see below the threat and reinforce words of faith.  The God we follow is the God of history.  God intends to save and comfort God's people, even through and beyond great suffering and crisis.  Therefore, do not be afraid.  Be of good courage, trust God, and act with integrity even if things seem to be falling apart all around. 

Our ultimate claim is that God has entered history, taken on our life completely in Jesus, revealed the nature of human integrity, faced the fullness of darkness and death, and overcome all through resurrection.  But death is the vehicle for resurrection -- death of the individual, yes, but also all of death's other forms.  Sometimes villages die, sometimes nations.  Institutions, thought patterns, dynasties, ideas, societies die.  Ways of doing things, particular identities, understandings, and relationships all are contingent.  But what God does best is resurrection, bringing new life out of the old.

Whenever we live threatened by the shadow of death, it is always, as Jesus says in Luke, a time to "stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."  God is always doing a new thing.  Whenever we experience threat, we can raise our perspective and ask, "What new thing is God doing?"

When old ideas lose energy, when relationships wane, when institutions crumble, when things unravel, when we feel decay, when understanding fails -- stand up and raise your heads.  Look to the horizon of the impossible possibility and seek the first light of whatever new thing God is bringing.  Deal as compassionately as you can with the ravages of the sufferings, and always have one eye and one ear alert to the new creation of resurrection.


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

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

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location

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 2:25 AM, Anonymous Arthelo Palma said...

Disobedience, indeed brings trouble to God's people.


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