Sat, 28 March 2020
(Ez.37:12-14; Ps.130:1-8; Rom.8:8-11; Jn.11:1-45)
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
“You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people!” says the Lord God through the prophet Ezekial. “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit dwelling in you,” says St. Paul. And our psalm sings of the Lord’s “plenteous redemption,” that “He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities”; and so, “more than sentinels wait for the dawn, let [us] wait for the Lord,” who dispels all darkness, all death, by His Word, by His presence among us. Let us but believe in Him, and we shall live.
The dawn comes to Bethany, to Martha and Mary, and to Lazarus. It comes to us all in this powerful sign of the Lord’s conquering of all darkness and death, “that [we] may believe.” Wrapped in burial cloth is Lazarus, laying in the sealed tomb four days. The tears of a people are shed for the loved one who has died, and Jesus joins their weeping. Deeply human is the Lord, and so, “perturbed and deeply troubled” He becomes at the sorrow we all know when death is near. He longs ever to cry out to us not to mourn, but believe, and now we hear His voice call upon the Father’s name; and now as He “crie[s] out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” we see that what He says is true: He is the resurrection and the life. And so, believing in Him, no longer does the Christian fear death.
Death is of the flesh, but we are “in the spirit.” “The body is dead because of sin,” but “the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” And so, as we rise from the graves opened by the powerful word of the Lord, as we rise from our iniquities unto eternal life, we know His Spirit at work within us, the Spirit of Christ that is only life. In Him let us take refuge; in Him let us believe. He is here with us to keep us from death, to release us from all darkness – to free us all from sin. Let us remain with Him and so have eternal life.
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Be Well" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us live in your Son and so in you
that we might do your works in this world
and praise you forever in Heaven.
YHWH, let us be built into and grow as the Body of your Son. Make us a royal priesthood, a holy nation – your Church. Into your House let us come and dwell, eternally praising your Name.
Jesus is in you and you are in Jesus, and those who believe in Him and so in you become one with Him, and so with you, dearest LORD and God. O Father in Heaven, to Heaven let us come, to oneness with you. Let us do your works on earth and so find our way to your kingdom.
Why should we be troubled when we have the promise from Jesus that He prepares a place for us? Why should we fear when He is near in the power of the Holy Spirit? Let us follow closely the way He leads, that indeed we might exult in your presence forever.
Thu, 26 March 2020
(Ws.2:1,12-22; Ps.34:17-21,23; Jn.7:1-2,10,25-30)
“He calls blest the destiny of the just
and boasts that God is His Father.”
And for such He shall be persecuted; for such He shall be killed. For to the wicked “He is the censure of [their] thoughts; merely to see Him is a hardship” for those who stray from the Lord’s commands. And so, in vain attempt to spare themselves the just judgment of the Lord, in their jealousy they say to one another: “With revilement and torture let us put Him to the test”; and so they “condemn Him to a shameful death,” tempting the Lord God to watch over Him.
Evil are their thoughts and wicked are their ways. But the one “they want to kill,” the one “they tried to seize,” escapes their grasp, for indeed the Lord “watches over all His bones; not one of them shall be broken.” And they cannot take hold of Him unless He so wills it; so, frustrated are their efforts “because His hour had not yet come.”
Even when His hour comes and He is delivered into the hands of the prince of darkness, still their violence will not touch Him; yet will He be protected by the Lord, as are all who follow Him. Yes, David sings of what he knows: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves.” And so, even in distress, even in death, the Lord is near to His chosen ones. The Lord shall ever be delivered from the grasp of those whose “wickedness blinded them.”
Jesus stands up in the temple and cries out: “I was sent by One who has the right to send… it is from Him I come.” He declares openly that He is the Son of God, and for bringing such light the wicked who would hide their sins seek to destroy Him. But it shall indeed be proven that He is the Son of the Most High, that God is His Father. The “recompense of holiness” shall be witnessed by all eyes. In subjection to their evil plots, in dying upon the wood of the cross, and in His subsequent resurrection, Jesus shall utterly destroy all the power of wicked men and reveal the one true light that shines, that cannot be overcome by darkness.
“We know where this man is from,” they say, and so they are blind. For God the Father is not of this dark earth, and neither is His just Son.
O LORD, you care for those reviled by the world;
make us as the Just One sent by you.
YHWH, the wicked cannot know the origin of your Son for they are blind to you and your holy will. He is sent by you to suffer and die, but the plots of evil hearts shall not succeed, for His life is ever in your hand. From the dead He shall be raised and draw all just souls to you.
Though the Just One suffer torture and humiliation for His purity, for the truth upon His soul; though those whom He reproaches for their sin seek to put Him to a shameful death; it is so, that none of His bones shall be broken, for you, O LORD, are close to the brokenhearted – those who are crushed in spirit you indeed save.
But those who are proud and envious, those who cannot bear the censure of their thoughts, the chastisement of their evil ways… these, O LORD, shall be destroyed even as you draw your just ones whence your Son has come.
Sat, 21 March 2020
(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, 14 March 2020
(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, 7 March 2020
(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.
Sun, 1 March 2020
(Lv.19:1-2,11-18; Ps.19:8-10,15,Jn.6:63; Mt.25:31-46)
“As often as you did it for one of my least brothers,
you did it for me.”
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Such is the golden rule and the second of the greatest commandments, which is like unto the first: Love God. And the union of the two is made evident by Jesus in our gospel today; He makes clear that what we do to others we do to Him, and so to love God and neighbor become one and the same. So tied is the Lord to His creation by the incarnation of His Son.
And how blessed are all His commands to us, all of which are summed up in love, and all of which give us life. “Refreshing the soul… giving wisdom to the simple… rejoicing the heart… enlightening the eye… enduring forever” – such is the Word of God to the obedient soul. All He speaks is just and all He speaks is holy and brings life, for all He speaks is of the Spirit of love. And of that Spirit we must be, if we hope to attain to eternal life where He sits in glory.
“Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O Lord, my rock and redeemer,” is David’s prayer after extolling the virtues of the law of the Lord in his psalm today. And such should be our prayer. For if our hearts are set upon Him, and if our mouths speak truth, we can be assured that our actions will follow and we will please the Lord in all we do. For being of the Lord, we can only feed the hungry; seeking His will, we can only welcome Him and all His children into our lives. If we are founded upon this Rock, all will find in us the love of God.
For He is love, brothers and sisters, and all He asks of us is love. Love does “not steal.” Love does “not lie.” Love does “not defraud” or “curse the deaf” or “act dishonestly” in any way. In a word, if you are of love as He is love, “you shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.” And all are our brothers, even the least of these; the Lord has made this known. All are our neighbor and so none can “stand by idly when [his] neighbor’s life is at stake.” All are called by love to lend their hand, His hand, to others in need. For then we help Him.
Would we not help the Lord if we saw Him wanting? Is it not our desire to ease His pain? We have opportunity ever to do this in those around us. When we do, we fulfill His command and find life for our souls, for then we are holy as He.
O LORD, may your Word bring us to everlasting life;
let us be obedient to your call to compassion.
YHWH, let your Word be upon us that it might reprove us, that it might teach us and guide us in the way we should go… that it might refresh our souls. We know not the way we should walk but tend toward selfishness and sin. Speak to our hearts this day that our eyes might be opened and we be corrected and come to be holy like you.
Your Son tells us in no uncertain terms that condemnation awaits those who hate their brother, who turn their backs on their fellow man. He lets us know that in doing so we turn our backs on you, O LORD. And thus spurning your love and the practice of that love in our lives, what can we be but separated from you who are love and life?
But the righteous shall be blessed. This He tells us, too. If our hearts are set on fulfilling your commands and especially your command to love (which is all you command), then with you we shall ever dwell in eternal light and life. May all men listen to your Son and live as He does.