Sun, 27 January 2019
(Heb.9:15,24-28; Ps.98:1-6; Mk.3:22-30)
“His death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions.”
By his death Jesus has disarmed the devil; the Lord has destroyed Satan’s power by His holy sacrifice. Because of Jesus’ innocent blood, “Satan has suffered mutiny in his ranks and is torn by dissension,” for none of his adversarial accusations can stand before such pure love. “He cannot endure, he is finished”… and with him, sin also dies, for there is no longer anyone to accuse us of our sin. It is as if Jesus says, “Kill me if you will,” and once having done so, Satan has nothing left in his arsenal. Once taking all our sins out of his bag and piercing the Savior through with their cumulative strength, what more power has he to effect death? Death has its day, and life – the life that is the love of the Son – has triumphed over it: our sins’ effects have come full force against our Lord and Maker, and “His right hand has won victory” over them.
And so this great promise the Lord can make, this astounding statement He brings to our ears: “I give you my word, every sin will be forgiven mankind and all the blasphemies men utter.” Though the sin against the Spirit will not be forgiven – for how can he who calls salvation condemnation find the grace of God; how can lies find discourse with Truth? – yet all the sins man has committed in his ignorance and lust will be washed clean in Jesus’ blood when any soul comes humbly to Him. And in consequence of this blessed mercy, “those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance,” for our Savior has “entered heaven itself that He might appear before God now on our behalf.” Yes, He serves as mediator now, interceding before the Father against our transgressions, that He might prepare for us a path to His kingdom. His cross and His sacrifice stand as our ladder unto heaven.
“The Lord has made His salvation known” by the offering of His Son, and to “all the ends of the earth” “His holy arm” is revealed. He has appeared once in weakness to take away our sins, but “He will appear a second time not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.” And so, as we are washed clean of sin in His blood, we must stand ready for His final coming, for our promised reward, “sing[ing] praise to the Lord.”
O LORD, cast all the demons far from us
that we might worship you in faith and truth
and come to your kingdom.
YHWH, we should be offering you and your Son songs of praise, not blaspheming against your goodness toward us. For He has come to deliver us from sin, to cast Satan from our midst that we might enter your kingdom and glorify your NAME – let us not doubt or deny the grace you send us; let us not court condemnation with a hardened heart.
There is a pride from which we suffer, LORD, a pride and a fear. We are unable to humble ourselves before your majesty or receive the love you bring. Our hands are grasping and our hearts impure, and so we do not see how much we need the salvation wrought by your Son. Help us to turn from our sin, to seek the blood of Jesus upon our souls, that we might become pure and innocent as children before you, living only in the truth, and so, joyfully singing your praise.
Sat, 26 January 2019
(Neh.8:2-4a,5-6,8-10; Ps.19:8-10,15; 1Cor.12:12-30; Lk.1:1-4,4:14-21)
“He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it.”
These words are spoken of Ezra the scribe who “brought the law before the assembly” of all Israel as he stood above them preparing to read the word of God, but it surely more distinctly refers to Jesus the Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, who reveals Himself to the souls in the Nazareth synagogue today. As “Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all might understand,” so the Word is perfectly read and interpreted for us in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came “into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage” in Isaiah which speaks of Him: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me…” Thus is “fulfilled in [the people’s] hearing” the salvation promised from all time; the presence of the Word is with us in flesh and bone.
Brothers and sisters, the eyes of all are filled with vision of His light, of His glorious being in our midst; all ears are filled with the sound of His voice, like gently rolling thunder soothing our hearts. And so we see. And so we hear. And so His Church has eyes and ears of the Lord, for we become “Christ’s body and individually parts of it.” Our feet now walk with Christ and our hands serve Him, and all for the blessing and honor and upbuilding of the whole. If I write this to you now and you hear, do I write for myself alone? Is it even I who write at all? Are not all things in the Body in the Lord, taking strength from Him and nourishing in turn all its parts? What are we apart from the Body – we could not stand alone! Does the Lord not reveal these things to us in the opening of Scripture before our eyes? Is He not whole and one with all?
In our first reading all wept at the words come from the mouth of Ezra, and all celebrated together this day of feasting. All stood as one when the book was raised, and all were prostrate as the name of the Lord was praised. The Body is one, as St. Paul tells us, and none go off on their own: “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”
Brothers and sisters, “the ordinances of the Lord are true, and all of them just.” Let us live as one in the WORD of the Lord, “the words of [our] mouth and the thoughts of [our] heart find[ing] favor before” our God, that the world might see the truth and the light of Christ alive in His Body.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Body of Christ" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Spirit be upon us
to accomplish your will in Jesus’ Name.
YHWH, your Law is perfect and is perfectly revealed in the presence of your Son. He it is who fulfills in our hearing, in our sight, the glory of your Word. Here is the Word made flesh for us to taste, and so to become as His Body.
High above us Jesus stands to shine the light of your wisdom upon all souls. By His presence in our assembly all eyes are enlightened, for by Him your command is made clear. And what gifts are thus given to your Church, O LORD, by the Spirit upon us now.
How shall our eyes take in the vision you share with us in Him? How shall we hear of the joy He proclaims? How shall we come out of our prisons and embrace the grace of His message, dear LORD, we who have dwelt so far from your will?
Refresh our souls this day, dear God, with the flesh and blood of your Son. Let us become one with Him and declare your truth to the world.
Sat, 19 January 2019
(Is.62:1-5; Ps.96:1-3,7-10; 1Cor.12:4-11; Jn.2:1-11)
“As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.”
“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the wedding.” And it is here Jesus “revealed His glory”; here the beginning of His signs would take place in His changing water into wine.
But why? Why here at a wedding? And why this transformation as His first miracle? He would have begun His ministry some twenty years prior, in the temple at Jerusalem at the age of twelve. Would this not have been a more appropriate place, and a more marvelous age? But His Blessed Mother drew Him from there then, and He was obedient to the wisdom she offered by gift from her Spouse, the Spirit. She would teach Him of our human condition, and lead Him to bear His own patiently, that our high priest might be able to sympathize with our nature. Indeed, to all He seemed an ordinary man.
And now it is she who leads Him to accept His station as the Son of Man. Here at that most blessed, most cherished of human events – one which St. Paul tells us mirrors Christ’s own union with the Church, one spoken of repeatedly by the prophets of old (as does Isaiah today) to demonstrate the Lord’s great love for His people, and one which at the end of time (a time so marvelously depicted by John in his Book of Revelation) will be fulfilled in our midst in the descent of the New Jerusalem, the Bride, the Holy Church, from Heaven to earth… here at this feast so human and yet so divine, He simply changes water into wine. As Eve the wife of Adam once offered her husband the apple he would consume to produce our fall, so here the “Woman,” Mary, the Mother of the Lord and Spouse of the Spirit, offers Jesus His ministry, which will lead to the death that redeems us all.
And the water becoming wine indicates the transformation we all undergo, baptized in the Spirit of the Lord, wed unto heaven. And this transformation produces in the Church the “spiritual gifts,” the outpouring of knowledge and prophecy and healing St. Paul speaks of today: our marriage to God cannot help but produce blessed fruit in us, even as God’s espousal of Mary has produced the only Son.
And, of course, each day we drink the spiritual wine, the wine become blood, poured forth upon our table, upon the altar of the Church. And this primarily feeds our spirits, sustains us human beings with food from heaven, not of earth. One with the Lord do we become by the consumption of this sacred fruit; in this Sacrament our Bridegroom rejoices in us His Bride and calls us to rejoice in Him, to “sing to the Lord a new song” of the purest love as we “worship [Him] in holy attire,” in the finest, the purest of wedding garments – in His flesh and blood. Sing alleluia to our God!
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, no longer forsaken,
we rejoice and sing praise
at the revelation of your Son.
YHWH, we should sing as at weddings for your Son has revealed your glory to us here on this earth. You rejoice in us as a bridegroom in his bride, and should we not rejoice all the more at this great grace you bestow upon us? You make us as your own and place your Spirit within us. O make your Spouse fruitful in your sight!
In holy attire let us worship you, O LORD, clothed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pure and spotless let us be that we shall be desolate no more but know the blessing of your presence among us and partake of your surpassing wine. The hour has come to join ourselves to you by uniting ourselves to the flesh of your Son, and to proclaim such a wonder to all peoples.
Give us wisdom, O LORD, the wisdom to know that we are your own and to do your will in all things. Let us forever praise your NAME by the power of the Spirit upon us.
Sat, 12 January 2019
(Is.40:1-5,9-11; Ps.104:1-4,24-25,27-30; Ti.2:11-14,3:4-7; Lk.3:15-16,21-22)
“Heaven was opened
and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him
in bodily form like a dove.”
“Beloved: The grace of God has appeared.” Here we see its clear evidence in the Baptism of our Lord. Here He who “baptize[s] [us] with the Holy Spirit and fire” has the Spirit descend upon Himself. In our stead He places Himself (as He shall on the cross), and by the Spirit’s presence upon Him, we ourselves are made clean. This Jesus, this Son of God, shall “save us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” the Spirit which is united with His own, which is His own.
And so does He who “rules with a strong arm” enter our midst. And what does He say? “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.” He who is “clothed with majesty and glory,” who has “constructed [His] palace on the waters” and made “the clouds [His] chariot”; He who “travel[s] on the wings of the wind” and “make[s] the winds [His] messengers, and flaming fire [His] ministers”… He comes begging the prophet: “Give comfort to my people.” O brothers and sisters, “the kindness and generous love of our God [has] appeared” and our souls have been “justified by His grace.” And now we are “heirs in hope of eternal life,” life that is in His gentle hands alone.
O Lord, “when you send forth your Spirit, [we] are created and you renew the face of the earth.” And so this day you send your Spirit forth; upon your Son your Spirit rests, and remains. His prayer – which is no other than our own – you answer, and witness to us that He is the Chosen One. Upon us, too, let your Spirit rest. As “in [your] arms” you gather “the lambs,” so let us be gathered with your Holy Lamb and know the Spirit’s power upon us, that to us, too, heaven will be opened, and we may enter there in the wake of our Lord. Let the waters of heaven pour upon us. Alleluia!
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music is "Audio Track 8" by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, be pleased with us as you are with your Son
that we might be blessed with the Spirit as He.
YHWH, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. The Spirit has descended upon your Son and through Him has come to all who are cleansed in His blood. By His grace we are made whole; because of your love, all our crooked ways are made straight, every valley filled in and every mountain made low, and we are called into your kingdom with your beloved One. O let be fulfilled in us the Good News you bring this holy day!
Our salvation is at hand, for Jesus has come to John at the Jordan and made clean the waters in which we find rebirth. Now with the Holy Spirit and fire we are baptized. And coming up from the waters we hear your voice, O Father in Heaven, calling us to your side, calling us to share your glory with your only Son.
O let us give thanks to you, dear God, for paving our way to eternal life! Though you are clothed in majesty, to us poor creatures you come to pour your Spirit upon us through Christ our Savior. Alleluia!
Fri, 4 January 2019
(1Jn.3:11-21; Ps.100:1-5; Jn.1:43-51)
“We should love one another.”
In our gospel, “first [Jesus] came upon Philip” – whose name means “love” – and invited him to follow Him. Love brought with him one in whom “there is no guile,” and he (Nathanael) declared openly to the Lord: “You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” And so we must all be of love, and be without deceit. We must all “know that the Lord is God; He made us, His we are; His people, the flock He tends.” The Lord must find us all at peace “under the fig tree” with consciences that have “nothing to charge us with.” And great things wrought by the hand of God we shall see before our eyes.
“The Lord is good,” and we must be like Him. The Lord is of love, and loving as He does we pass “from death to life”: “The way we came to understand love was that He laid down His life for us; we too must lay down our lives for our brothers.” How well John speaks of the love all need in our first reading today. Here is the voice of a man, an apostle in the Spirit of Christ, who loves “in deed and in truth,” and since he does “not merely talk about it,” but lives it, his words are alive with that truth. Love. This is “the message [we] heard from the beginning.” This laying down our lives is our guiding light leading us to the eternal life of heaven.
And so we should “serve the Lord with gladness.” We should “come before Him with joyful song.” We should declare openly that He is God, as our love leads us to do. His “kindness endures forever”; yes, His love is for eternity, and we must come to share in that great gift of love. “The man who does not love is among the living dead,” but he who loves lives forever. The world will hate us because it is not of love; but all the more we should be encouraged to love, to die to the hatred the world brings and find our place in peace under our fig tree with the Lord who is love itself.
Let us love and be of love, brothers and sisters, and we shall live forever with our Lord and the angels of heaven.
O LORD, let us pass
from the death wrought by this world
to life with you in Heaven.
YHWH, may our consciences be clear before you; may we be of love and so be of you who are love. May we be without guile, seeking only you and the peace you bring to our souls. Then we shall praise you in joy forever, for then we will be your own.
O LORD, let us be true to our call to love you and one another. Let it not be only in words that we love but in truth, with our very lives. If we do not act as your Son, how can we call you ‘Father’; how will we know you at all? You dwell in ineffable light with the angels of Heaven, and only by love do we come to that light, only by laying down our lives as Jesus.
LORD, let us know your goodness in our lives that we might enter your gates with thanksgiving for all the blessings we share with your saints. In freedom may we bless your Name, you who look upon us with kindness. To your side let us be guided by our desire to love.