Sat, 25 March 2017
(1Sm.16:1b,6-7,10-13a; Ps.23:1-6; Eph.5:8-14; Jn.9:1-41)
“I am the light of the world.”
And by that light alone we see. By this light which comes from God we who were born blind, who were born into sin, have our eyes opened. And so having escaped the darkness we “live as children of light.”
When David was presented before Samuel, immediately the prophet’s eyes were opened to the one on whom God’s favor rested. His eyes which had first “judge[d] from… appearance,” now with the Lord look “into the heart.” How clearly he hears the Lord speak to him, “There – anoint him, for this is the one!” And how readily he takes “the horn of oil in hand” and anoints the new king. And how wonderfully “from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”
Here is our own baptism in the Lord foretold. Here is our own anointing with the oil of Christ presaged. And as “Jesus made clay and anointed [the] eyes” of the blind man, so in our baptism we find our own anointing, an anointing which washes us clean of original sin, an anointing which prepares our hearts to receive Him – an anointing which opens our eyes to His light. The eyes of our heart now see. Our souls cry out from their depths of the light which has entered in and made them clean. And so we say with the blind man in the presence of Jesus, “I do believe, Lord,” and we, too, worship Him as our “cup overflows” with “the goodness and kindness” of God.
“Christ will give you light.” For this He has come into the world, “that those who do not see might see.” In the words of Scripture, Paul entreats us today: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.” The Lord has come to give us light. As long as we say, “‘We see,’ so [our] sin remains”; we must be blind, we must recognize sin’s darkness encroaching upon our souls… and then we would “have no sin,” for then Jesus would remove from us our sin – then He would bring us light.
“Everything exposed by the light becomes visible,” and so we must bring our sins before Him, and from the dead we shall rise… and with His light we shall shine. May the Lord anoint us all with the oil of Christ, and may we be faithful to that anointing.
(Note: In Confession as in Baptism we are washed clean of our sins by Christ, and light is thus brought to our eyes. Constant recourse we have to this preservation of our souls.)
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (second part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, the innocent Lamb is Himself our Shepherd;
may we find salvation at His side.
YHWH, let us enter into your presence through your only Son, who is the true Shepherd guiding us to you. May we follow in His steps. Even though it lead to the Cross, may we remain near Him, ready to give our lives as He has, as the innocent Lamb for our salvation. Though we are cut to the heart by the truth He speaks in His Word and through His apostles, let us turn to Him in repentance and find His comfort and peace – let us thus find ourselves in your holy arms.
O LORD, let our ears be open to hear His voice and His voice alone. Let us not be led astray by false shepherds, false prophets who seek only their own gain and not the welfare of your sheep. It is to sacrifice you call us, not to selfishness, and by laying down our lives, by entering the wounds in His flesh, we shall find eternal rest in your House. Let us be washed clean in His blood and so be saved from corruption.
Sat, 18 March 2017
(Ex.17:3-7; Ps.95:1-2,6-9; Rom.5:1-2,5-8; Jn.4:5-42)
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.”
What is this “spring of water welling up to eternal life” but the Holy Spirit come upon us, the Truth of God in our midst through the blessed sacrifice of the Son for us “while we were still sinners.” Brothers and sisters, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” even as Jesus’ words of spirit and truth are poured into the ears of the Samaritan woman. Do we know His grace? Do we hear His voice and leave our water jar at the old well as we go to tell others about the Christ?
In our readings today is the juxtaposition of the physical and the spiritual, and the call to enter into the Spirit of God. In our first reading, the Israelites “in their thirst for water” while wandering in the desert cry out against God and Moses and long to return to their slavery in Egypt, that they might but be able to eat and drink. The Lord would teach them to depend on Him, to trust in the Spirit and His love, and He will provide for all their needs, as He does this day, but they are blinded to the Hand of God. “Though they had seen [His] works,” they continually tested Him, unable to find rest in Him, and for their hardness of heart virtually none shall themselves enter the Promised Land. And the source of their lack of faith is ever their bellies.
In our gospel twice we see the inability to understand the Spirit speaking because of the belly’s grumbling. The Samaritan woman confuses the life-giving water of which Jesus speaks with the passing water she came to draw from Jacob’s well: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming to this well.” And the disciples think someone else has brought the Lord something to eat when He says, “I have food to eat of which you do not know,” at their urging Him to eat the food they have in hand. But as He speaks to the woman of the Holy Spirit, He speaks to them of our daily bread – “to do the will of the one who sent [us] and to finish His work.” Indeed, as He awaits the return of the sinful woman with her Samaritan neighbors, He prepares them for the mission that must now go forth even to “foreigners.” It is the Spirit of God He desires them to eat that they might be fortified for their call. And it is the Spirit found in the Body and Blood He has shed for our sakes of which we all must partake to slake our thirst and find the strength to do the work which leads us to the kingdom of God. His is a kingdom for all; and it lasts forever.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Spirit Rules the Body" from Breath, The Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us believe that your Son
is the Savior of the world,
and so have eternal life in Him.
YHWH, give us to drink of the water of the Spirit. Let us listen to the voice of your Son and so be filled with your Word. It is you who feed us; it is you who satisfy our thirst. Let us not set our hearts on the food of this earth but seek only the streams of living water which come to us by the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ. Yes, let us listen to His voice and be converted to His way, and we shall be saved, and we shall worship you in truth.
O what joy would be ours if we could but set aside the jar we use to carry the water of this world and run to tell others of the glory in our midst in your only Son! O what grace would course through our veins and be proclaimed by our tongues if the Spirit we welcomed into our hearts! Dear LORD, let us turn to you and not to our stomachs. Let your river in Heaven brim over and pour upon all your faithful children.
Sat, 11 March 2017
(Gn.12:1-4a; Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22; 2Tm.1:8b-10; Mt.17:1-9)
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
Here in the midst of the darkness we drink in during this Lenten Season comes a light shining to assure our hearts of the promise that is ours. The Lord’s Transfiguration is presented to us this day to lead us through all the tribulations of the cross to the resurrection, which is our holy goal.
“Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God,” Paul says to his special child Timothy, and so the Lord speaks to us all, reminding us that “He saved us and called us to a holy life.” It is “up a high mountain by themselves” Jesus leads His principal disciples Peter, James, and John, to reveal to them the glory to which they are called – thus signifying the cross we must all carry along the rough terrain of this world to reach our place in heaven. In seeing that “His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light” and then hearing the voice of the Father overshadowing them, they are overawed… but the hand of the Lord touches them, and strengthens them for the road ahead.
Our call is like that of Abraham, the father of all those of faith: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” We all must leave behind the security this world holds and go according to God’s word, to travel in a land foreign to our souls. But His assurance is with us, His blessing is upon us, and so the darkness of the night should not make us afraid. For “the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope for His kindness, to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.” And so, however difficult the walk, however steep the climb, our hearts should never waver; for we have always at our side “our Savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
And so, brothers and sisters, as we travel through the heart of the sacrifice this Lenten time invites us to share, let it be that “our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” and let our prayer be as David’s: “May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us, who have put our hope in you.” For Jesus is before us to lead us to our home.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Going Home" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let your eyes be upon us
to guide us by your holy light,
and let our eyes look up and meet your own.
YHWH, let us go as you direct us; let us follow your Son wherever He leads. Though it be up a high mountain, though the path be rough and darkness overshadow us, let us not hesitate. Let us listen to His voice speaking to our souls: “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
O LORD, you deliver us from death and preserve us despite any trial of this world. To Heaven the way of the Cross does lead, so let us not be afraid. Let us put our hope and our trust in you, knowing that you are always at our side, that your Spirit is with us ever to guide us to your eternal kingdom. Let us know and remember that we will rise with Jesus.
All your works are trustworthy, dear God, and so let us be obedient to your call, that our lives, too, might be formed by your hand. Grant us vision that we might see our way through the darkness of this world by the light of your beloved Son.
Wed, 8 March 2017
(Est.C:12,14-16,23-25; Ps.138:1-3,7-8; Mt.7:7-12)
“My Lord, our King, you alone are God.
Help me, who am alone and have no help but you.”
In our gospel we have today a few of our Lord’s most famous words: “Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jesus encourages us to faithfulness in prayer, assuring all that our “heavenly Father [will] give good things to anyone who asks Him.” How beautiful are His words, and how true.
And how well Queen Esther illustrates the faithful prayer of one who has “recourse to the Lord.” She comes to the Lord in all humility as an obedient child before her father and opens her heart before God with a sincere plea for her fellow Jews, threatened with extinction by the enemy. She says of her forefathers, proclaiming herself a daughter of Abraham, “You fulfilled all your promises to them,” and comes now seeking the same answer from the “King of gods and Ruler of every power.” Such prayer for salvation before the God she recognizes “know[s] all things” cannot but be answered by the loving Father. He will give her the food she desires.
In our psalm we hear David’s song of thanksgiving for the prayers the Lord has been faithful in answering for him: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth,” thus proving the truth of Jesus’ exhortation to His disciples, and indicating that Esther will also find answer to her prayer – and so, that we all should have assurance of God’s loving desire to heed all our sincere pleas. David, too, acknowledges the greatness of God: “You have made great above all things your name and your promise,” and so comes to the place where the “kindness and [the] truth” of the Lord will be known to him. And his faith in the Lord’s promise to be with him and hear him lasts for perpetuity: “The Lord will complete what He has done for me.”
Praise the Lord, who answers all prayers. Praise the loving God who knows all things. It is in His heart to feed us with the best of wheat, and this He does each day for those who “worship at [His] holy temple and give thanks to [His] name.” “Forsake not the work of your hands,” dear Lord. Be with us always to hear our humble prayers, that we might witness always your loving faithfulness to all who call upon you in truth.
O LORD, forsake us not, for we are your children
and have no one but you to help us;
thank you for your mercy.
YHWH, you readily give good things to those who ask them of you, for it is your will to give what is good to all. You are goodness itself and would share yourself with all your children if they but desired your presence in their lives. Let us turn to you and call upon your Name with faith that you hear all our prayers.
We need but seek you, LORD, and your hand at work in our days. We need but a tiny seed of faith, and you will nourish us with your Word and see that we are protected from our enemies and have all we need to live forever with you. In your kingdom we shall find our home if we but knock upon its door.
Your Name let us ever praise, O LORD our God, and we shall remain in your truth, and we shall remain in your light, ever growing unto your heavenly presence. We would need fear nothing at all if we but trusted in you and the love you hold for all your people. Your kindness be upon us this day as we raise our hearts to you.
Sat, 4 March 2017
(Gn.2:7-9,3:1-7; Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17; Rm.5:12-19; Mt.4:1-11)
“Just as through the disobedience of the one man
the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one,
the many will be made righteous.”
And what obedience Jesus shows in His temptations. For He was weakened, “He was hungry” after His forty-day fast in the desert, and the devil came at Him with all his power. But He does not falter as did the first man; He remembers the Word of God and His command. And by His faithfulness the sin of Adam is washed clean.
See how the Lord atones for our sins; see how directly His temptations parallel those presented to Eve. As she is shown the goodness of the food before her, that it is “pleasing to the eyes,” so the devil tempts Jesus with bread that will sustain His life. As Eve ventures to take the food despite the command of God, listening to the serpent’s words: “You certainly will not die!” so Satan would lead Jesus to cast His weakened body down from the parapet of the temple, with the encouragement that the angels will protect Him. And as Eve is seduced by the devil’s promise, “You will be like gods,” so he tries the same promise of power over “all the kingdoms of the world” with Jesus. In the first two temptations Jesus struggles as He will later under the weight of the cross, sweating and bleeding under the devil’s test; but in the third, perhaps with understanding that the end of the temptations is at hand, He now exclaims, “Get away, Satan!” apparently revived – and His words are a most cutting blow to the prince of darkness: “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve”; for it is the great sin of Satan to presume to be as the Almighty God.
And so the prayer of David, found so poignantly in our psalm: “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense,” is answered And so the sin that has been “before [us] always,” since Adam fell in the garden, is now to be cleansed from our souls. For now the angels do come to minister to Him; and now He begins the ministry that leads directly to the cross and the redemption of mankind in His sacrifice. Now the die is cast for the salvation of our race. Soon the devil will hold no dominion.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "The Chicken or the Egg: The Devil's Riddle" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, lead us out of the desert of sin;
save us from temptation.
YHWH, we have sinned and would drown in our sin except that you come to help us; your Son stands in our stead for redemption as once Adam stood in our place for rebellion, and so by His suffering the temptations we could not endure, cleanses us of all transgression. And so, life comes now to our souls.
O LORD, by your compassion wipe out our offense. Death has reigned among us because of the sin of our ancestor, but more powerful and wonderful is your grace, for it brings acquittal of our sin, removing our condemnation and so making it as if we had never sinned, as if death had never been. Such is the gift your Son imparts.
Sustain your Holy Spirit within us, dear God, that we might remain in your grace and never again turn away from your Word. Cast Satan far from us that we might stand with you, fed always by your Breath of life.