Monthly Archives: February 2012

Changed into his likeness

In the office readings today, we get three pictures of glory: Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.

We see Moses with his face veiled because God is too terrible for the people to see directly. We see Elijah, riding the skies in a fiery chariot, making God’s power more directly visible. And in Jesus “all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).

“If there was glory in the ministry of condemnation,” Paul writes, “much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! … Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness …” (2 Cor. 3:9, 12).

“Our Father in heaven,” we are bold to say ….

And in the Collect for today we are also bold to say: “Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and changed into his likeness from glory to glory” (BCP 217).

Changed into Jesus’ likeness! What a wonderful hope!

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Duly prepared

Today I will be leading a workshop for members of my parish’s Altar Guild, both new and experienced. We hope to be “duly prepared for the service of [God’s] sanctuary,” as we pray in the Collect for Saturdays (BCP 99).

I really love the “artifacts” of our Episcopal tradition — the altar, the vessels and vestments, the beautiful books, the ribbons (especially the ribbons), the crosses and torches and candles.

I’m also glad that they are in our churches to be used, not just admired. The most beautiful candlesticks at St. Thomas are heavy and worn. One of the men of the parish reshaped a stand so now we can use both processional crosses. The prayer books we use on Sundays keep having to be replaced.

What beautiful things aid you in your life of prayer? What holy things surround you and spur you to devotion? I’d like to know.

Gracefully limping toward forgiveness

From the Collect for 6 Epiphany: “Because in our weakness we can nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace” (BCP 216).

How it must have hurt Israel (Jacob) to look up and see Esau coming, knowing that he was in the wrong. How it must have hurt to bow himself to the ground seven times as he approached, the morning after having his hip put out of joint in a wrestling match with God.

Israel limped on to meet his fate.

But Esau ran to meet him! Esau embraced him! Esau fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. Can you imagine the tear tracks running down Israel’s dusty face?

Have you been forgiven? I have, and it is both awful and wonderful.

In the Collect for Fridays (BCP 99), we pray that “we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace.” In today’s “Brother, Give Us a Word” email from the SSJE, Geoffrey Tristram reminds us that “the Gospels are clear there is only one way to be changed and transformed. And that is to die …. and then to allow Jesus to raise us to new life in him.”

What in you needs to die today? What do you need God to wrestle out of you today, even if you means you limp from now on?

Constant Love

From the Psalm (105:8): “He has always been mindful of his covenant …”

From the OT Lesson (Gen. 32:10): Jacob said … “O Lord, I am not worthy of the least of the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant.”

From the Gospel reading (John 10:28): “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

How does your life manifest constant love, steadfast love, faithful love? The psalmist is recounting Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, “when they were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in the land” (105:12). Jacob is understandably afraid to meet his brother Esau, whom he cheated out of his birthright. Jesus is being called on the carpet for his teaching in the Temple precincts. Yet in those circumstances, each one remembers God’s constant love. Each one shapes his response because of that steadfast love. Each one acts faithfully in love.

How does your life manifest constant love?

Put on Scripture like a garment

The psalmist complains this morning about his accuser (109:17-18)

He put on cursing like a garment,*
let it soak into his body like water
and into his bones like oil;
Let it be to him like the cloak which he wraps around himself, *
and like the belt that he wears continually.

I hope that as you practice daily prayer using the Office, you will instead put on Scripture like a garment, that the living Word will soak into your body like water and into your bones like oil. Perhaps over time you will find the weekly rhythms of the canticles and the seasonal themes of the collects wrapping around you like a new garment.