Sat, 28 January 2017
(Jer.1:4-5,17-19; Ps.71:1-6,15,17; 1Cor.12:31-13:13; Lk.4:21-30)
“I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
When God calls Jeremiah to prophesy “against Judah’s kings and princes, against its priests and people,” He tells him to “gird [his] loins” and commands: “Be not crushed on their account.” For though his people “will fight against” him, they shall “not prevail over” him. The Lord makes Jeremiah “a fruitful city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass” able to stand against attacks of any in “the whole land”; He preserves His prophet’s life despite any danger or threat.
In our gospel Jesus is likewise protected by God from any harm His people would inflict upon Him. Here in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus is called to prophesy against the faithlessness of the people; and though before He spoke His harsh word of truth they had “all spoke[n] highly of Him,” now “filled with fury” they drive Him “out of the town, and lead Him to the brow of the hill… to hurl Him down headlong.” But the deliverance promised Jeremiah and sung of so beautifully by our psalmist is with the Lord’s only Son as it had been with His prophet, and “Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.” Though they would not accept the deliverance He brings, He is delivered from them.
“O my God, [you] rescue me from the hand of the wicked”; you indeed are “my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety.” O Lord, “let me never be put to shame,” but “in your justice rescue me, and deliver me.” For you are “my rock and my fortress,” “my hope” who never fails to save. May I walk through all the difficulties of this world, all the darkness of sin and temptation and suffering, with you at my side, therefore with nothing to fear. Make me strong as your prophet, as your Son, for my life is in your Hand.
Brothers and sisters, soon all persecution will pass away with all the imperfect trappings of this desolate earth, and only God’s love will remain. Let us be as He who “endures all things”; let us be of love. And nothing of this world shall touch us as we pass through its midst, shielded by the Word of God, guarded by His eminent love.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Speaking of God" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, blessed are the lowly ones,
for they shall be with you in Heaven.
YHWH, make us your lowly servants that we might be blessed as your Son, blessed to be called your children. For you look upon the lowly and the poor with mercy; those who are bowed down you raise up. Help us always to be humble before you and make our boast only in your love.
Your Son has come to call the weak of this world, those who are despised for their humility, those who seem certain to be cast aside for their lack of wealth and power in this life. But to shame the wise, to break the pride of those who are rich in their own eyes, you have chosen, O LORD, to bless the meek of the land with all graces – even your kingdom you give to us.
And so, what care we for the persecution we must suffer for the sake of your Name? We thirst only for your presence and so do not mourn the passing of this vain world but only that we cannot come more quickly to your side. O let our heart be clean as your only Son’s, that we might look upon you, O LORD our God!
Fri, 27 January 2017
(Heb.11:1-2,8-19; Lk.1:68-75; Mk.4:35-41)
“Why are you so terrified?
Why are you lacking in faith?”
“Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see,” our brother Paul would have us know, and realize. We all hope for something; there is ever something we all long to see. The eyes are set in the front of the human head and always he is looking at what is before him, straining to see what is ahead. And what is it we hope to see further along this road we tread? What is our hope for the future – what is set indelibly in our hearts, calling us forward to tomorrow? Are we as Abraham, who was “looking forward to the city with foundations,” to the city of God, and so was able to uproot himself from his city here on earth, “not knowing where he was going,” and dwell in tents? Have we the same hope as he?
If we have his hope, we should have his faith as well, and more. For what upon this earth is worthy of greater assurance than the coming of the kingdom of God? Is there any firmer promise in which to believe? And if Abraham and all the “men of old” were able to live by faith and so find God’s approval and His blessing, how much more should we be ready, how much greater confidence should we have, we upon whom the light which they only “saluted… from afar” has dawned? To our eyes has been brought what they were kept from seeing; and so our faith should go beyond hope – it should be most real, utterly unshakable by the vicissitudes of this world. For He is here, He who was “promised through the mouths of His holy ones, the prophets of ancient times.”
Brothers and sisters, it is time to “cross over to the farther shore” with our Lord. What Moses could only view from afar is now present to us in the flesh of Christ: heaven is in our midst, and nothing should we fear… no room for doubt should we make. In the words of our gospel we witness the disciples coming gradually to see Him who has entered their boat, who has power over all. And their fear shall leave them soon, even as awe overtakes them. And we must be the same, and more. For upon us the Spirit has already come, completing the Trinity’s presence among us. Nothing more is there to look forward to than our life in heaven, and nothing for our crossing do we lack. Sure indeed should we now be. And so, “rid of fear and delivered from the enemy” by Him who is all-powerful, “we should serve Him devoutly, and through all our days, be holy in His sight.” Let faith find its fulfillment now in the lives we lead in His name. Cast all fear away, and love.
O LORD, you are able to raise us even from the dead –
let us put our faith in you.
YHWH, will Jesus not lead us to the farther shore, to the kingdom where you dwell? Will not He who holds the wind and the waves in His hands and commands them by a word of His mouth, will He not save us from all that would keep us from you? But are our hearts set on the Promised Land of Heaven as was Abraham’s and all the prophets’ of old? Are we so willing to give up all the things of this world to find your eternal City?
O LORD, have we the faith that you are able to raise from the dead, that even death and sin and all the wiles of the devil and the trappings of this earth are in your power to command? If so, then why should our hope ever be dimmed; why should we be afraid?
Save us, LORD, from our faithlessness! Let us serve you in holiness all our days, our hearts set on the land to which Jesus would take us.
Sat, 21 January 2017
(Is.8:23-9:3; Ps.27:1,4,13-14; 1Cor.1:10-13,17; Mt.4:12-23)
“Light has arisen.”
“Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.” Yes, “a light has shone”; Jesus has come. No longer do we walk in darkness. So we should proclaim with David: “The Lord is my light and my salvation”; we should long to dwell in the Temple He has built, “gaz[ing] on the loveliness of the Lord.” Here in His House we “see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living.” Here in His Church we come to the paradise He has come to establish in this land of darkness.
The light dawns as Jesus calls His disciples to His side. Here are the beginnings of His Church, the coming of light to this earth. The Lord calls Peter and Andrew, and James and John, and they respond, and they follow the light. And the light goes forth as He goes “around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.” Do you see how the light grows? Do you know the light reflected in the disciples’ eyes, which shall take root and become known to all the world? Here indeed is the Church begun, the holy House of God – the New Jerusalem. And nothing shall disturb its growth; nothing shall dim or block the light that has come.
Yet what division is upon the Church Christ has founded here on the shores of Galilee. How has it come to be that we are so disobedient to Paul’s instruction “that there be no divisions among [us], but that [we] be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.” How many more rivalries have we than the Corinthians. Not only do those separated from the Church declare their peculiar allegiance to various people or nations, saying, “I belong to Luther,” or “I belong to Calvin,” or “I belong to England” – and now there are some 360 different denominations, one for every day of the year, it seems – but within the Catholic Church deep divisions arise between “liberal” or “conservative” theologians, thus bringing darkness upon God’s people. The Church remains, and nothing shall overcome it, but what a poor sign it is to the world as the devil has his day in its division.
The Lord has come bringing “abundant joy and great rejoicing” for those who remain in His light. The unbroken flame rises up from these first apostles Jesus called on this one morning by the Sea of Galilee. The net extends from their hands and draws in all who truly seek to dwell in the presence of God.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Mirror of Knowledge" (2nd part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may the Gospel be proclaimed
in strength this day
in your Son’s holy Name.
YHWH, your light has dawned upon this dark world; in Jesus your Son our salvation has come, and now we may dwell in your House with Him. Beginning on the shores of Galilee, your Word goes forth, calling all men to your kingdom. May we repent of our sin that we might enter there.
Today your Son calls the first apostles from their boats to dry land that they might be fishers of men. And so He works through His apostles even to this day. A great light shines upon those who walked in darkness – we who were sinners now come to your Temple, LORD, there, we pray, to remain all our days.
Let there be no division in your Church, dear God, but let us be united in the flesh of your Son and preach His Gospel with one voice (His own) to the ends of this dark earth. O let your holy light now shine through all He calls to be His disciples! The yoke of sin that has enslaved us be smashed, we pray, that we shall no longer be afraid, that we shall no longer walk in darkness.
Thu, 19 January 2017
(Heb.8:6-13; Ps.85:8,10-14; Mk.3:13-19)
“I will be their God
and they shall be my people.”
“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land”; for absolute oneness do we find with our Lord and God through the ministry of His only Son. For the Lord has said of His new covenant, “All shall know me, from least to greatest,” promising: “I will place my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts.” There shall be no separation from His presence for those who believe; His “kindness and truth shall meet” in us as they have in Jesus. Alleluia!
But yet does the time move toward perfection. Though the new covenant be fulfilled in Jesus, it is still being fulfilled in the world and among those who dwell in the world. We know this because the Lord says of the covenant to come, through His prophet Jeremiah: “They shall not teach their fellow citizens or their brothers, saying, ‘Know the Lord’” – there being no need any longer to teach the perfected – and also, “Their sins I will remember no more,” meaning that sin will no longer exist. But Jesus upon commissioning the twelve apostles sends them out “to preach the good news” and “to have authority to expel demons,” and to this day there is need, and great need, for instruction in the Word of God and healing by the expulsion of sin in Holy Confession. This ministry still in place, we know we have yet to reach perfection; we know we have yet to find absolute oneness with Christ and His sacrifice… and so, perfect union with the Father yet awaits us.
“He appointed the twelve as follows: Simon to whom He gave the name Peter; James, son of Zebedee; and John, the brother of James (He gave these two the name Boanerges, or ‘sons of thunder’); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon of the Zealot party, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” Upon these the new covenant is founded. By their ministry it shall grow, taking root in the world and bearing much fruit. And though Matthias must take the place of the traitorous Judas, there is no breaking the line that comes from these foundation stones: all of the coming kingdom is traced to them and from them, for they are anointed by the Son and by them God will make all His children.
Brothers and sisters, “the Lord Himself will give His benefits; our land shall yield its increase.” In His Church as in His arms make your home, for His blessings are upon us and shall be fulfilled.
O LORD, let us be companions of your Son
that we might be made one with you.
YHWH, as your Son is joined to you and the apostles to Him, so let us be joined to them that we might be joined to Jesus and you, and your promise might be fulfilled and your NAME be written on our hearts. O let it be so, that all shall know you, that we shall be your people.
O LORD, let truth spring out of the earth as your justice looks down from Heaven. Let the union of Heaven and earth accomplished in your Son be accomplished in us as we join ourselves to Him. O let us walk in the way of His steps that we might find salvation!
LORD, forgive us our sins, remember them no more – cast all evil from us. May the priests who stand in your Son’s place absolve us of all wrongdoing as we come on our knees before them. Your power be upon us for good; by your Word let us be taught, till we are entirely one with you, living in your New Covenant, living in the flesh of Christ, as His holy Body.
Sat, 14 January 2017
(Is.49:3,5-6; Ps.40:2,4,7-10; 1Cor.1:1-3; Jn.1:29-34)
“I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord,
and my God is now my strength!”
John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is “the Son of God,” the One upon whom he has seen “the Spirit come down and remain.” And we are all His servants, made holy only in Him. John declares his own servitude, speaking of “the one who sent [him] to baptize with water,” and stating, “A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because He existed before me.” His witness to Jesus and the strength he takes from Him is clear, as is the case with St. Paul, who declares himself “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,” and goes on to say that, indeed, all the Church is “called to be holy” in Jesus Christ. This call from the Lord to be His servant, and that it is through His servants the Lord shows His glory, is prophesied in strength by Isaiah in our first reading, showing that even before Christ came to be born among us He indeed existed and through Him the Father called His servants, His children, to Himself. For Isaiah speaks for God, saying, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Here he speaks of Jesus; here he knows even in his time of the salvation the Lord brings.
And David in our psalm echoes the same theme of the servitude of Christ and the servitude in Christ to which all are called, and which acts as a light to this world. “Ears open to obedience you gave me,” proclaims the great and humble king, and sings as if in the voice of Christ: “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!” What great blessing it indeed is to share in the servitude of Jesus, to have His song placed in our mouths, to make our lives “a hymn to our God.” He makes us His own and we share in the blood that flows through His veins when we place ourselves in the service of the Lord.
The Lord calls. He is among us now and has made His salvation known. Through the prophets, through the Baptist, through His apostles and martyrs and saints – through “all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” He reveals His glory day to day. It is His desire that we be strong in Him as we join to Him and are baptized by Him with the Holy Spirit. His grace and peace He would leave with us, His glory He would reveal through us, if His servants we would make ourselves this day. Find your strength in Him, brothers and sisters. He stoops toward you and hears your cry, and will instill His song of praise in your hearts, to be declared to all the world.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Miracle" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, may we all testify
that Jesus is the Son of God;
by Him may all souls be saved.
YHWH, ears open to obedience give us that we might be your servants, that we might be as the Body of your only Son, doing your will in all things, ever making Him known. Let all we do testify to His presence in our midst that salvation may come to all men, even to the ends of the earth. Your apostles, your prophets, please make us, crying out your way, calling all to holiness in the Lamb of God.
Jesus is the One who is greater than us, greater than any man who has walked this earth, for only He is your Son, dear God; only He sanctifies the human race by His blessed sacrifice. Let our lips not be restrained, but let us declare His glory to all souls.
You have stooped toward us, O LORD; through Jesus you have shown us your glory. Your Servant you have called and sent among us that we all might become your servants in Him. O let your law be so in our hearts and the doing of your will our delight! Alleluia!
Sun, 8 January 2017
(Is.42:1-4,6-7; Ps.29:1-4,9-11; Acts 10:34-38; Mt.3:13-17)
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.”
And so He anoints us all in the baptism our Savior has wrought. As Jesus humbled Himself to be baptized by John, so must we bow our heads before Him and receive holy baptism at His hands. As He has laid down His life for us, so must we lay down our lives for one another. As “He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil,” so God is with us to do the same.
“The Spirit of God descend[ed] like a dove and [came] upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” So Matthew recounts the Baptism of our Lord. And how similar is the beginning of our reading from Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am well pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit.” The chosen one of the ages now walks amongst us, the Spirit of God upon Him. His justice now extends to the ends of the earth, calling all into His blessed confines. None who come to Him does He reject. The “eyes of the blind” He opens, the prisoners He brings “from confinement” in the sin and darkness of the dungeon that is this world to the heavenly light of His presence walking among us in sacred flesh. “In every nation whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him,” for He loves all.
And so should we not sing out in praise of the glory of the Lord to which we are all called as did David at the completion of the tabernacle of God? For here stands the true Tabernacle, here stands its fulfillment… before us is God who calls us not only to look upon but to enter into His doors and dwell within Him in His heart, in His bosom – one with His sacred flesh and blood. The law is now written on our hearts, not only pages of a book; now the Spirit speaks to those who remain close to Him. Now we hear the “mighty” and “majestic” “voice of the Lord… over the waters”: “the God of glory thunders.” “In His temple all say, ‘Glory!’” And should we not “give to the Lord the glory due His Name”? Does not our cup overflow as Peter’s to declare the salvation that comes at the hand of our God?
Jesus has come. The Spirit is with us. Go now in the Spirit and power of God.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.
Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, may your Son, our King,
bring your merciful justice to all who dwell in darkness.
YHWH, your mighty voice is over the waters, declaring the glory of your Son to a people in darkness. Your Spirit is upon Jesus to open our eyes to your glory here now in our midst – and what should we do but praise you?
He comes humbly to us, bearing our sins and bringing peace to our troubled souls. And so, now the flood cannot overwhelm us; now we are released from the prison in which we had been trapped for so long. Now, O LORD, your will is accomplished and all are called into your holy light.
O let us be baptized with Him and so become as your beloved sons! Let us, too, hear your voice speaking your blessing over us. Fulfill all righteousness among us this day, let your work be accomplished among men – let us be known as your children. O LORD, let us be acceptable to you!
Glory to you, O God of all glory! May we be pleasing to you as is your Son. Let your surpassing justice be done.
Fri, 6 January 2017
(1Jn.5:14-21; Ps.149:1-6,9; Jn.2:1-12)
“He hears us whenever we ask for anything according to His will.”
In our gospel, the waiters come to Mary; their misfortune is witnessed by her compassionate heart: “They have no more wine,” she tells her Son. She knows what she is saying, she knows what she is asking… and Jesus knows, too. And though He seems not prepared to answer her concern (you see, our concern is her concern, and she makes it His), yet she says to the servants standing by the words which perhaps best exemplify the Mother’s relationship to the Son – “Do whatever He tells you.”
Has Jesus a choice now? Can He rebuff her request to “reveal His glory”? It is a miracle she asks for the benefit of those in need, and the Lord cannot turn her down. Do you see this? Do you understand the significance of this scene, here at the very inception of Jesus’ ministry, especially those who doubt our Blessed Mother’s intercessory power with her Lord, her Son? And do you think the power for finding answer to prayer with her beloved Jesus, the Son of God, is somehow shortened in ensuing days? Does death conquer it? Is she no longer the blessed of all generations? Has this blessed generation come to an end?
“We know that He hears us whenever we ask” and that “what we have asked Him for is ours.” This is our confidence in God’s compassion and love. And we know too that the Blessed Mother stands beside our Lord and prepares the prayers we would offer Him, putting them into the words, the Spirit, we cannot express. If we give them all to her, they will all be made effective, and we will taste of “the choice wine” which has been kept in store for us until these latter days.
Through this miracle at Cana “His disciples believed in Him.” Here He offers them a sign of His divinity – here they find “discernment to recognize the One who is true... the true God and eternal life.” And so the wedding feast truly begins. And so we “praise His name in the festive dance” and “sing praise to Him with timbrel and harp.” “The children of Zion rejoice in their king,” for He has answered their deepest prayer: here in our midst is the Son of God.
O LORD, reveal yourself to us in your Son;
hear our petition.
YHWH, your Son has come and given us the grace to recognize Him. And so we have confidence to approach Him with our petitions, especially through His Blessed Mother. And we know that our petitions shall thus be granted and we shall sing praise to you in the assembly of all the faithful in your holy kingdom.
From sin take us all, dear LORD, from that which holds us to this world. Your glory alone may we seek, the eternal life we find in your only Son. He is true, He is God, and if we are in Him we may rejoice in you. Increase our faith in Him this day; let our eyes not be blinded to His miraculous presence.
O let us taste the water become wine! and the wine become the blood of your Son. Let us be inebriated with this fruit of the choicest Vine whose time has come and celebrate your glory in our midst. For by His flesh and by His blood we are wed to you, O God, and for what greater cause could we dance and sing? All sin He takes from us that life in you we may know.