Thursday, February 21, 2013

Moments of Decision

Thursday, February 21, 2013 -- Week of Lent 1 (Year One)
John Henry Newman, Priest and Theologian, 1890

[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. 952)
Psalms        50 (morning)     //       [59, 60] or 19, 46 (evening)
Deuteronomy 9:23 - 10:5
Hebrews 4:1-10
John 3:16-21

"But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."  (John 3:21)

All of today's readings speak of critical moments of decision.  Significant gain and significant loss can happen depending upon our decisions at critical moments.

Moses reminds the Israelites in the wilderness that they disobeyed God because of their fear they did not enter the land they were given.  He reminds them also of their fearful disobedience when Moses first went up on the mountain for 40 days, and the first stone commandments were destroyed and the people nearly destroyed.  They got a second chance, however, and a new set of commandments.  After 40 years in the wilderness, they will have a new opportunity to enter the land.  It would have been better had they made the right decision the first time.

Hebrews is also commenting on Israel's failure and rebellion.  The author quotes Psalm 95 to describe the consequences: "They shall not enter my rest."  Hebrews reminds readers that Israel's failure to be faithful on the day of obedience meant that they did not enter God's rest.  "Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it," he exhorts.

And John sees the person of Jesus as the presentation of God's choice between light and darkness.  To believe in Jesus, John says, is light and salvation.  Not to believe in Jesus is darkness and condemnation, he exhorts.

There are crucial moments of decision which seem like historic fulcrums.  A window of decision opens.  Choosing rightly brings happy consequences.  Choosing wrongly can set negative consequences in motion for generations.

It seems to me that the most crucial decision facing our generation is our decision about the protection and conservation of the earth.  Scientists have done the best they can to show us the data and trends.  There is scientific consensus that human beings are contributing to global warming and climate change.  The consequences are enormous.  Some data indicate that there is a tipping point beyond which we will have no control to reverse cataclysmic climate change.  They tell us the time to act is now.  As Hebrews argues, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."  It is hard for me to see a more crucial or compelling decision for our lifetime.


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 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While reading this, I couldn't help but hear in the background the sonorous tones of that great old (if sexist in language) hymn, "Once to every man and nation".

It's good to be reminded once again that "New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth / They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth."

-- lesley k

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Jack Douglas said...

Fr. Lowell, I thank you for your reflection.

I have thought about this blog all day! I like the idea that we can bring ancient wisdom into the present and apply it as needed. This gives me comfort in knowing that we are all connected somehow and that time isn't even a barrier anymore.

So, I've been reflecting about the global climate scenarios--after all, I am going to college to get a Bachelors degree in Earth Science! Last Spring, I took Environmental Geology at NWACC and we had discussed global climate change for about two weeks.

There is a concern about crossing that tipping point, to where contents inside the "kettle" spills out. Have we come to that point? I'm not sure there is anyone who knows exactly where and when that point is... (we may have already reached that point, in which case, what we need to focus in on is damage control, though it doesn't seem likely that we are there yet.)

Furthermore, what complicates the issue is that we KNOW human activity has some role to play in global climate change. How much our activity affects the climate is anyone's guess because there are other non-human factors that contribute (like volcanoes). We also have what are called "carbon sinks," which is a phenomenon (like plankton) that absorbs carbon dioxide, keeping it from being trapped in our atmosphere. We know much about these sinks, who and what they are, but there are a few unknown ones out there. We know this because there is still quite a bit of carbon dioxide that is left unaccounted for.

Another thing to consider is that greenhouse gasses (GHG) are not necessarily a bad thing in of themselves. Water Vapor is our biggest GHG. Carbon dioxide is another culprit. So is methane. Without these gasses, life on earth would be very difficult, if not impossible. GHG traps heat which gives Earth a blanket effect, keeping us from plunging into another ice age. Otherwise, this planet would be really really cold. The problem is, how much is too much? How hot do we need it to go?

Finally, to call it "global warming" is right to a certain extent. We do know that overall the Earth will have warmer temperatures and drier conditions, though in some local areas, there will be more flooding (coastal areas) AND in others, such as Great Britian and Ireland, they could see another ice age, in spite of the trends. Both of these scenarios defy "global warming" because temps are getting colder, not warmer. There is a reason why both of these cases seem likely. It is because with warmer temperatures, the glaciers will continue to melt, raising the sea levels (which is why coastal areas will be flooded out) and with this rise in the sea level, the warm current that flows off the Atlantic, the "Gulf Stream" will be buried underneath the sea and will no longer be able to give the moderate, yet wet conditions that jolly England is known for!

What to do? What to do???

Just my thoughts,
Jack Douglas


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