Thu, 28 June 2012
(2Kgs.25:1-12; Ps.137:1-6; Mt.8:1-4)
“Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard,
led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city.”
And so the exile is complete. Not a soul remains in the holy city. And their captors “burned the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem.” Not a stone is left standing one upon another. Not even the government appointed by the king of Babylon could remain. And they even “tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem.”
Now she is utterly exposed. Now she who was his precious pearl is cast out and trampled underfoot. And so our psalmist can but lament, “By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion.” And so his songs of joy are silenced in this “foreign land.” But in his lament today do we not find a kind of hope? Does not his abiding love for the holy city of God bring expectation of a better day? Listen to his faith: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten! May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.” Even as we hear of the utter destruction of the temple and the city of God, we are given a sense of the faith that will build it up again.
And on the day we hear of the completion of the exile of Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon, we hear of the healing of one who is completely ostracized by society. The leper comes begging for a cure, seeking to join his fellow men upon the land, and the Lord answers him: “Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him and said, ‘I do will it. Be cured.’” Should this not give us hope in all our travails? Does this not signal not only the return of the exiles in seventy years, but our utter redemption and return to the Lord in the coming of the Person of Jesus? For upon heeding the Lord’s instruction to “show [himself] to the priest and offer the gift prescribed,” the leper will be welcomed into the Church and society – his exile will be ended.
We all stand exiled by sin. We are all utterly bereft of the blessing of the Lord. But there is hope. We are told that even in this exile to Babylon “some of the country’s poor” remained to till the land. And has not Jesus just come from the mountain where He has taught His disciples, “Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land”? If we humble ourselves before Him as has the leper, if we remain meek in His sight as have the poor of the land, the blessing of the Lord shall come to us and never leave. For He indeed wills it so. He indeed desires our return from exile. Do we have a heart to come to Him? Do we remember where we have been?
O LORD, it is your will that we be whole
and living in peace;
keep us poor in spirit
that we might not be removed from your sight.
YHWH, save us from our sin this day, even as you healed the leper; bring us back from our exile to dwell again in the holy City of Jerusalem. Are we not temples of your Spirit? Let us remember and return to them.
O LORD, come down from the mountain to walk amongst us, for we are in need of your presence. We live as though far from you in a land of darkness and exile. Is there yet hope for our beaten souls? May we yet be cured of our disease? Only if you are here with us, and we recognize you and call upon your love.
Why should your children remain apart from you? O LORD, why can we not sing of your glory? You are just and we deserve our punishment, but let us call upon your mercy this day. Then you will reach out to us; then you will speak your Word over us. Then your will shall indeed be known – that we be saved from the evil of this day.
Sat, 18 February 2012
(Is.43:18-19,21-22,24b-25; Ps.41:2-5,13-14; 2Cor.1:18-22; Mk.2:1-12
“It is I, I, who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses;
your sins I remember no more.”
What a wonderful promise the Lord makes to us today, and proves His word true in Jesus His Son.
Yes, the Lord “has regard for the lowly and the poor,” and so He looks with pity on the paralytic lowered through the roof for healing. Jesus “help[s] him on his sickbed” and “take[s] away all his ailment,” both spiritual and physical, first granting him forgiveness of sins, then calling him to “rise, pick up [his] mat, and go home.” And so indeed his sins are gone, remembered no more, and so he is made whole… and so the home to which he returns is more than the one with walls and a roof – he returns to his eternal home in the arms of the Lord.
How the Lord indeed reveals that He is “doing something new!” For do not all the people exclaim, “We have never seen anything like this” at the healing of the paralytic? And is it not right that they should glorify God in such a manner? What could be more remarkable than the teaching and healing and forgiving presence of Jesus in our midst? How could God fulfill His promises in a greater way? It could not be. “God is faithful,” indeed, and “the Son of God, Jesus Christ” is He who is the Father’s “yes” to all His promises. What can we do but rejoice in such grace?
“O Lord, have pity on me; heal me, though I have sinned against you.” “In the desert [you] make a way, in the wasteland, rivers”; to the desert and wasteland of my sinful soul bring your cleansing waters. As you took pity on the paralytic, as you called him to rise from the unyielding pull of his mat, so call me to lift myself up from the mire of sin into which I have fallen. Let your promise be fulfilled in me: wipe out my offenses and remember my sins no more, that I might walk resolutely to my home in heaven and there “stand before you forever.” I give you my “yes” of faith this day.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "I Used To Be So Weak" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, you now work something new in our sight –
our very salvation;
forgive us all our sins.
O LORD, let us not fail to call upon you, let us not fail to come to you with all our ills, that you might readily heal us because of our faith. We shall be raised from our sickbeds if we but believe in the power upon your Son. Yes, the Spirit is with Him, and shall be with us if we but give ourselves over to you.
Let us not remain dead in our sin, O LORD, doubting your goodness and your grace; let us put our faith in the One you have sent, and we will be blessed, and we will come to the home you prepare for us through the ministry of your only Son… and we will praise you forever.
Fri, 17 February 2012
(Jas.3:1-10; Ps.12:2-5,7-8; Mk.9:2-13)
“He hardly knew what to say,
for they were all overcome with awe.”
O brothers and sisters, how like Peter we should be in the presence of God and among one another. So conscious of the Lord’s wondrous being in our midst should we ever remain. Then we would not sin with our tongue, but listen to His holy word instead. For our tongues are indeed “like a fire [that] is enkindled by hell,” but His words are “like tried silver, freed from dross, sevenfold refined.”
In our first reading today, James presents clearly with strong analogy the dangers of the tongue. Though “a small member” it serves to guide the rest of our bodies like the bit in the mouth of a horse or the rudder of a ship.
And how difficult to control it is! “The tongue defiles the entire body” so easily. “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” which so soon infects our members. How shall we find the means to control it? Only by obedience to the Lord and silence in His presence.
“A cloud came, overshadowing them, and out of the cloud a voice: ‘This is my Son, my beloved. Listen to Him.’” O the voice of God and the words of His Son! O how our ears and our hearts must be attuned to this Word, to this voice speaking to us! This is He; you are not He. Listen – do not speak. Know what “the Scriptures say of Him.” He is the One. Only His words matter.
Notice, too, what Elijah and Moses do when they appear with the Lord: “the two were in conversation with Jesus.” What holy speech this can only have been! And do we dare speak as they converse? And does not God converse with His Son and with His creation at all times? Does He not call to us in all sounds? And do we listen – are our ears open to His voice? Or are we too busy cursing men, men “made in the likeness of God”? Certainly, “this ought not to be, my brothers.”
“May the Lord destroy all smooth lips, every boastful tongue, those who say, ‘We are heroes with our tongues; our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?’” Only “if a person is without fault in speech [is he] a man in the fullest sense.” Let your tongue be controlled and so your whole body. Let your thoughts be pure, then so will your actions be. But if you speak falsehood, you are inclined to damnation.
Be silent before the wonder of God. Let His Word steer your ship.
O LORD, as a child let us come to you,
in trusting prayer,
and you will hear and answer us.
YHWH, how powerful prayer is! For it unites us to you and to your great power; it makes us as your children. Let our prayer be sincere, that we might find your gentle embrace.
There is nothing we need fear, dear LORD, if we but turn to you. If we ask, you will give, and cure us indeed of every ill. And so, let us pray for one another in your NAME, desire the salvation of all souls by your grace, and the blessing of your Son’s Cross will reign here on earth and bring us soon to Heaven. Let your will be done and your kingdom come.
Let us pray especially for your priests and the special power you give them to forgive men’s sins and make your presence known among us. In your sacraments we take our refuge, LORD; let them always be celebrated in accord with your Word.
Let our prayer come like incense before you, O LORD; may it be acceptable in your sight. Let it always come from an innocent heart.