Sunday Reflection

Christ’s desire for Israel was that they might have known Him in an intimate relationship as their Messiah. Several days before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He expressed that desire when He said after being confronted by some Pharisees, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often had I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 

Again several days later as He begins the descent of His triumphal entry from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, upon seeing the city Christ wept over it saying, “How I wish today that of all people, you, would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and your peace is hidden from your eyes.” Sad that the children of Israel would miss out on the joy and blessing of knowing and doing what the Messiah desired, and how sad that many of us miss the joy and blessing that can be ours by knowing and doing what Christ desires. 

What is Christ’s desire for you and me? Jerry Flury – SermonCentral 

submitted by Aw.

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Sunday Reflection

In the wilderness Jesus did not engage with the devil’s temptations. He simply quoted the Word of God in scripture. God’s Word has power, even over the demons.

Jesus’ experience teaches us that there is nothing wrong with being tempted. It’s how we react to the temptation that matters. A short prayer or a quote from God’s Word will help us let it go. For example: ‘Lead me not into temptation’ or ‘I must forgive, not once but seventy times.

‘Know yourself!’ is an ancient piece of Greek wisdom. Do I know myself and my temptations? Am I a perfectionist, or lazy? Do I desire to get noticed and praised? Am I hoarding the gifts and talents God has given me instead of putting them at the service of others? Do I focus on the best in people, or get myself angry over their flaws? Do I love only those who love me? Have I a closed mind so that I miss out on the surprises and graces of each new situation? Do I judge others rather than try—as Ignatius suggests– to put a good interpretation on what they say or do? And so on. Where am I ignoring the grace God is offering me?

Jesus knows me better than I know myself: he loves me as I am. But he also works, often through others, to help me become aware of the ways I can spoil things. He wants to make me more compassionate and easier to get along with. I ask him, in the words of the liturgy, to help me grow in love.  

In the wilderness Jesus did not engage with the devil’s temptations. He simply quoted the Word of God in scripture. God’s Word has power, even over the demons.

Jesus’ experience teaches us that there is nothing wrong with being tempted. It’s how we react to the temptation that matters. A short prayer or a quote from God’s Word will help us let it go. For example: ‘Lead me not into temptation’ or ‘I must forgive, not once but seventy times.

‘Know yourself!’ is an ancient piece of Greek wisdom. Do I know myself and my temptations? Am I a perfectionist, or lazy? Do I desire to get noticed and praised? Am I hoarding the gifts and talents God has given me instead of putting them at the service of others? Do I focus on the best in people, or get myself angry over their flaws? Do I love only those who love me? Have I a closed mind so that I miss out on the surprises and graces of each new situation? Do I judge others rather than try—as Ignatius suggests– to put a good interpretation on what they say or do? And so on. Where am I ignoring the grace God is offering me?

Jesus knows me better than I know myself: he loves me as I am. But he also works, often through others, to help me become aware of the ways I can spoil things. He wants to make me more compassionate and easier to get along with. I ask him, in the words of the liturgy, to help me grow in love.  
Taken from Sacred Space, submitted by Aw.


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Sunday Reflection

Sunday’s Reflection: The transfiguration of Jesus follows immediately on the scene where Peter confesses Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah – Luke 9:20. That scene ends with Jesus’ teaching on the coming glory of God’s kingdom to be experienced by the disciples (9:26-27). The transfiguration scene provides a dramatic confirmation of Peter’s confession and a foretaste of the glory to be experienced when God’s kingdom is fully present.

One of the significant details of the story that is unique to Luke’s account of the transfiguration is that it occurs in the context of prayer. It is clearly a point that Luke wants us to note.

Moses and Elijah are commonly interpreted as embodying “the Law and the Prophets,” which is no doubt a significant point. 

Yet this is not the only significance of Moses and Elijah. That Jesus was the “prophet like Moses” predicted by Moses himself is emphasized throughout Luke and Acts (seen most clearly in Acts 3:22-23, interpreting Deuteronomy 18:15). And Elijah’s appearance was associated with the coming of the day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5). Their appearance thus points to Jesus fulfilling specific prophecies associated with them as well as the more general notion of Jesus as the fulfillment of all of scripture.

We bear witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus. Echoing the Exodus narrative, Jesus’ identity as the Messiah is affirmed in his remarkable physical transformation on a mountaintop. Jesus’ transformed appearance is thus not merely because he is experiencing God’s glory (like Moses) but rather because he is the very source of divine glory. The point is made explicit when the three disciples are said to see Jesus’ glory in verse 32.

Have you ever had an encounter that was so dazzling that you felt like a different person afterward? 

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Sunday Reflection

Each of the four Gospels tells of the call of the first disciples. Luke’s account is distinctive. This is the only account of the call stories to mention the great catch of fish. The crowds are pressing in on Jesus, excited to see the young prophet, and hoping to hear “the word of God” (v. 1). Jesus’ preaching is all about the kingdom of God. Teachers sit to teach. The boat becomes his pulpit—a solution to the press of the crowd (v. 1b).


Jesus said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ These words constitute a test for Simon. Simon’s common sense tells him that there is no reason to try again. But nevertheless addresses Jesus as Master (Greek: epistata), a title used in the Gospels for Jesus only in Luke and used only by the disciples. These abundance miracles have two common characteristics: (1) they meet human needs and (2) they demonstrate God’s power. The outcome of this particular miracle is that the disciples “left everything, and followed him” (v. 11).
  
This is an epiphany story—a moment of sudden insight. God calls whom God calls—and God often gets the best mileage out of the least likely candidates. We have largely lost our sense of wonder and fear in God’s presence. Discipleship, then, means shifting one’s concerns from the things of this world to the things of God.

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Sunday Reflection

Luke’s account continues Jesus’ remarks and records the hostile response of the congregation. This story is a paradigm (a Greek verb meaning “to show,” “example” or “pattern”) for Jesus’ ministry and for the ministry of the church.

Jesus’ preaching begins with the word “Today.” The waiting is over. The time has come. The Jewish people have waited centuries for the messiah. This story should be instructive to us. We know that Jesus is the Son of God, more than just the son of Joseph. He comes to fulfill the purpose of God, not to be restricted either by the demands of his own townspeople or the narrowing of his mission. Prophets are seldom popular, because God sends them to say unpopular things. They tell of judgment and call people to make changes that they don’t want to make.

The stories are from 1 Kings 17 and 2 Kings 5:1-14. The Jewish people must not consider their relationship with God to be an exclusive franchise. Jesus reinforced that message by beginning his work in Capernaum (see Matthew 4:13), a place where many Gentiles live. They cannot expect exclusive privileges just because they are Jewish.

Jewish people think of Isaiah 61 as a promise to Israel. They think that the day of God’s vengeance is a promising judgment on Israel’s enemies. However, Jesus reminds them of a low point in their history, when God brought famine on Israel as a judgment but saved a Gentile widow. Jesus also reminds them of God’s mercy on Gentile Naaman. His message is the opposite of the one that they expect to hear, and they are furious.

When a person responds faithfully to God’s call, God will not allow an intruder to defeat that call. God’s servants have been imprisoned, stoned, beaten, and even martyred— but they have not been stopped.

In what ways do we respond to the challenges of mission and ministry today? How might this renew or revitalize our church community?

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Sunday Reflection

In our Gospel reading of John 2: 1-11 – Jesus performs his first miracle by turning water into wine.  It was a sign of his divine sonship.  We might understand that Jesus and his family were invited to a wedding because they knew those who were getting married.  Jesus’ mother probably was helping out when she found out from the servants that the wine had run out.  Being the mother of Jesus, she witnessed the miracle of birth of John the Baptist, the miracle of her Son being born not from Joseph, but by heavenly divine, so also thought that Jesus would somehow find a way to solve the problem of running out of wine.  This was a major social faux pas. “To fail in providing adequately for the guests would involve social disgrace.  In the closely knit communities of Jesus’ day such an error would never be forgotten, and would haunt the newly married couple all their lives.”  Mary had a special relationship with her son and out of respect told the servants to do whatever Jesus asked them to do.  We know from the story that Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water.  The servants under the direction of Jesus were in a unique place of blessing for this miracle. Jesus wanted the cooperation of men in this miracle. He could have filled the pots Himself, or just as easily created the liquid in the pots. But He knew that if the servants shared in the work, then they also shared in the blessing. The servants were especially blessed because they obeyed without question.  We note that the wine produced was of superior quality, and that this was a blessing to the wedding patrons as well as a blessing to us, as His blessings are always better than those we receive from an earthly standpoint. The old ways are challenged by the coming of Jesus. Jesus did not come to tidy up the old system or put a bandage on the Law of Moses. Jesus provides new wine that vastly surpasses anything that contemporary Judaism could afford, and renders obsolete the stone jars of purification. The Messiah, God’s greatest blessing, had arrived. Jesus came with a new way and a new system. Jesus came to change people, offering radical change, pouring out abundant grace.  (Procured from several Internet sources) Aw.

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Sunday reflection

2021 Advent Resource: “The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus Centered Life” is an intentional commitment to a set of practices. It’s a commitment to follow Jesus: TurnLearnPrayWorshipBlessGoRest. This curriculum provides a pattern for understanding how we can live the Way of Love as individuals, as families and friends, as community, and out in the world. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/way-of-love/

A special gift of the Anglican tradition to the Christian world is the annual festival of Scripture lessons and Christmas carols, both for Advent and Christmas, which originated in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, UK. Many congregations across Canada will be using various versions of these original services but it is also important that we gain some perspective of the origins. This set of festivals is one of the many benefits of ecumenical and inter-church sharing.

I am grateful that—even in almost two years of COVID-19—the blessings of anticipation and celebration of Christ’s coming remain the same. 

I would like to end by sharing with you a quote from the Primate’s Christmas message, Advent yearning for God’s kingdom to come, however, is met with the paradox of the birth of Christ. He comes not in power but in the vulnerability and weakness of a baby. His coming is not in triumph but hidden amongst the stories of Elizabeth and Mary and Joseph, ordinary people of faith in God.

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2021 Advent Resources

2021 Advent Resource: “The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus Centered Life” is an intentional commitment to a set of practices. It’s a commitment to follow Jesus: TurnLearnPrayWorshipBlessGoRest. This curriculum provides a pattern for understanding how we can live the Way of Love as individuals, as families and friends, as community, and out in the world. 

Websitehttps://www.episcopalchurch.org/way-of-love/

TURN: Pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus. As Jesus was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. – Mark 2:14. 

For Reflection and Discernment: 

• What practices help you to turn again and again to Jesus Christ and the Way of Love?

• How will (or do) you incorporate these practices into your rhythm of life?

• Who will be your companion as you turn toward Jesus Christ?

Prayer: Ever living God, whose will it is that all should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Sunday Reflection

Remembering: On this day, and all days, our greatest act of remembrance to those who faced the horrors of war is to seek the ways of peace in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Peace is ours to cherish, to demand, to live and to create every day. We can create it in simple ways. We can reach out to our neighbours; make people who are unfamiliar, familiar. We can try to better understand one another. We can take the ideas we understand the least, or the perspectives we find the most difficult to adopt, and we can approach those perspectives in an open and respectful way. We may not always agree but when we disagree, it is with a family member, not the enemy.
Today in our worship service, let us continue to commit ourselves in prayer and deeds to work for reconciliation between the nations and all people that everyone may live together in freedom, justice and peace.”
Our passage from Mark 13:2 though tells us that “all will be thrown down.” However, the gospel is an appropriate exemplification that humanity and all of creation can rebuild relationships of love, peace and hope in the name of Jesus Christ. We look forward to that day when the kingdom of this world will be ordered by God’s peaceable reign. I would like to conclude with the Hymn, For the Healing of the Nations – C.P. 576 v. 1. 

For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord, for a just and equal sharing of the things that earth affords.To a life of love in action help us rise and pledge our word.

Prayer: “Almighty God, our minds and hearts are with those who gather to witness Canada’s Soldiers who have given their lives for freedom and peace. Hear our prayer as we gratefully and enthusiastically join in the wave of remembrance sweeping across our nation.
In unity with all Canadians, of every race, gender, and creed we offer up prayers of thanksgiving for all those who made selfless sacrifices for God and country so that we and future generations might live in peace.
Bring your comfort and relief to those who mourn. Enable those who were wounded in body, mind, or spirit to live more peaceful and satisfying lives. Endow us all with a new resolve to hasten that day when war shall be no more, and Your will alone is done on all the earth. In Your Holy Name we pray. Amen.

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Sunday Reflection

Sunday’s Reflection: Our Gospel lesson consists of two complementary stories tied together by the mention of widows. The stories contrast the pride and greed of the scribes with the humility and generosity of a widow.

Widows are especially vulnerable in a patriarchal society. Scribes act both as lawyers and theologians, assisting people with financial as well as spiritual affairs. 

Jesus does not condemn the large gifts of wealthy people but says that this woman’s offering is even larger. He bases his calculation, not on what she gives, but on what she has left. He knows how tempting it would be for her to think, “This little bit won’t matter, so I will let the rich people fill the coffers.” Jesus admires her faith in God and her sacrificial gift.  Jesus measures the widow’s gift, based not on the amount that she gave, but on the amount that she kept back for her own use—nothing. Jesus shows them the meaning of true greatness. This widow is the great one in their midst.

This is not an example story in the sense that Jesus tells us to go and do likewise. He does not demand that we drop every penny in the offering tray. However, we should listen carefully to ascertain Christ’s specific call to us about stewardship. It is clearly not satisfactory to give God a bit of what is left over after we have paid the bills. Christ expects us to put God first, not last. A tithe is the clearest Biblical standard for stewardship — and God calls particular people to give much more. But, most importantly, we are to do our giving quietly, without fanfare.

Prayer: Gracious and generous God, Creator and Giver of all that is good, we thank you for our many blessings. We acknowledge that all that we have is from you. We offer you thanks and praise for the beauty of the earth, our work, our family, our loved ones, and all the gifts we have been given. Blessed by your grace, may we show gratitude by sharing what we have been given. We seek to be your faithful stewards. Amen

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