Morsels 2018 October

An archive of previous “Daily Morsels” published on the Cathedral app. Please note that these version of the content are not formatted to reflect line breaks or separate paragraphs, as they are purely an archival set. They also tend not to have any embedded web links from the original Morsel. To receive these message direct to your mobile phone or tablet each day, please download the Cathedral app.

Wed – 181031
Title
Halloween
Body
The Eve of All Saints (All Hallows) has taken on a life of its own, disconnected from the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day which will follow over the following two days. The Hallowed Eve as we commence the celebration of All Saints has evolved into Halloween: one of the few times when our society pays any attention to dying. In our death-avoiding culture we rarely pause to think about the countless generations of humanity on whose shoulders we stand. Or our own death. Behind the ghoulish decorations and the fake threats to perform nasty tricks, Halloween invites us to bring in the harvest of our days, while not forgetting those whose lives have ended but whose legacy continues. Tomorrow we celebrate All Saints, but today we might reflect on our own mortality and imagine what our obituary will say about the harvest of our lives.
Tue – 181030
Title
Generosity
Body
The abundance of Spring invites us to be generous, rather than hoarders. This is the polar opposite of a scarcity mentality, which evokes a fear that there may not be enough to go around so we had best hoard what we have. Jesus encouraged his followers to be boldly generous, and to trust the Father to provide what we need. This is a mindset we need to recover in our shared public life, so we move away from the politics of fear and scarcity and embrace the politics of abundance and generosity.
Mon – 181029
Title
Gratitude
Body
It is Springtime in this part of the world, and Jacaranda Festival time in Grafton. One response to the beauty and diversity around us is simply to be grateful. Gratitude disperses the negativity that dominates our news cycle. As I acknowledge and express my delight in the world around me, I find new reserves of energy to make the world an even better place: to build community, to resist prejudice, and to advocate for change.
Sun – 181028
Title
Saint Simon and St Jude
Body
Not the best known of Jesus’ earliest followers.
Always listed at tenth and eleventh. Only Judas Iscariot ranks after them.
Making no mark and leaving no lasting impression.
But they were disciples of Jesus. Among the Twelve.
I am not one of the Twelve, but I am a disciple.
Maybe that is enough.
Sat – 181027
Title
A Celtic psalm
Body
An extract from a Celtic psalm attributed to St Patrick: Our God is the God of all, The God of heaven and earth, Of the sea and of the rivers; The God of the sun and of the moon and of all the stars; The God of the lofty mountains and of the lowly valleys. He has His dwelling around heaven and earth, and sea, and all that in them is. I read this as an inclusive affirmation of the God who is everywhere, and not as an exclusive claim that “our God” is better than “their god”. It may be especially suitable on this day when the 2018 Jacaranda Festival begins. For the full text, see the website link …
Fri – 181026
Title
Quran 5:32
Body
These words from the Quran make interesting this week as we learn more about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi: “That is why We ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever takes a life—unless as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land—it will be as if they killed all of humanity; and whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity. ˹Although˺ Our messengers already came to them with clear proofs, many of them still transgressed afterwards through the land.” [Translation: Mustafa Khattab, The Clear Quran]
Thr – 181025
Title
Murder most foul
Body
The title of the 1964 Agatha Christie movie featuring Miss Marple has come to mind this past week or so as we have watched the unfolding (or is it the unravelling?) reluctant disclosures about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The death of this journalist was not necessarily more cruel or violent than the deaths suffered by many of his contemporaries. The deeper horror may be the failure of international civil society to respond with similar outrage when hundreds or thousands of people are incarcerated, banned from travel outside their country, excluded from work or study, killed or driven into exile. Every life is precious and each death matters. Our humanity is diminished when we fail to care.
Wed – 181024
Title
Melchizedek
Body
This word can alarm those rostered to read from Genesis 14 or Psalm 110 or Hebrews 5 & 7 during the liturgy. It occurred again this past Sunday. Between the OT legends where this figure is a pagan ruler of Jerusalem to the esoteric traditions in Hebrews where he becomes a supernatural figure with no human parentage, this character had quite a run as a cultural meme in early Judaism. He features in the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the writings by Philo of Alexandria, so now we know what sense the writer to the Hebrews may have expected his readers to make of his references to this elusive character. As “king of righteousness” (“melek” + “zedek”), he leads the forces of good in the eternal struggle against the powers of evil, led by his appropriately-named opponent, Melchiresha. In modern terms, he is the Luke Skywalker character of post-biblical Judaism. In this week of national reflection and apology, we recommit to the struggle for justice: whether that be victims of institutional child abuse or children in detention or domestic violence survivors. We stand in the light. We oppose the darkness.
Tue – 181023
Title
Time zones
Body
Friends: It seems that the time zone differences between Grafton and Winnipeg caused some issues with the distribution of the last few Morsels, which were composed while I was in Winnipeg. The Morsel that came out this morning (Tue) was obviously intended for yesterday. The Morsel that was planned for this morning will actually go out tomorrow morning. My apologies for any inconvenience this has caused you. Grace and peace. Greg Jenks
Mon – 181022
Title
Light a candle
Body
Today the Australian Prime Minister will deliver an apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. Words fail. But they are needed as part of the truth-telling that may someday culminate in justice, compensation and healing. Light a candle for all those touched by this horror.
SUN – 181021
Title
Disruptive faith
Body
“I’m ready for the sort of Christianity that ‘ruins’ my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable. I want to be filled with an astonishment that is so captivating that I am considered wild and unpredictable and…well… dangerous. Yes, I want to be ‘dangerous’ to a dull and boring religion. I want a faith that is considered ‘dangerous’ by our predictable and monotonous culture.” Robert Capon – The Astonished Heart: Reclaiming the good news from the lost-and-found of church history (Eerdmans, 1996)
Sat – 181020
Title
Radical faith
Body
“What happened to radical Christianity that turned the world upside-down? What happened to the category smashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional gospel that spread through the first century like wildfire and was considered (by those in power) dangerous? What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear, who spoke the truth no matter what the consequences, who made the world uncomfortable, who were willing to follow Jesus wherever he went? What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude, and who every day were unable to get over the grace of God?” Robert Capon – The Astonished Heart: Reclaiming the good news from the lost-and-found of church history (Eerdmans, 1996)
Fri – 181019
Title
Astonishment
Body
“The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life-enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wide-eyed radicals anymore, He changes them into ‘nice people’. If Christianity is simply about being nice, I’m not interested.” Robert Capon – The Astonished Heart: Reclaiming the good news from the lost-and-found of church history (Eerdmans, 1996)
Thr – 181018
Title
St Luke
Body
Today we celebrate the legacy of Luke. This is the name we give to the anonymous author of the Gospel of Luke and its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles. All we really know about this person is what we can glean by reading between the lines of these two documents which represent about one-quarter of the New Testament. Luke preserves the past and prepares his readers for the future. For him that future meant coming to terms with Rome, embracing a more inclusive expression of the Jesus movement, and finding ways to be faithful in a world that did not share our values. Rome has fallen but the task remains much the same.
Wed – 181017
Title
Make Poverty History
Body
Remember that slogan from a few years back? On this international day for the eradication of poverty it is timely to reflect on how poverty correlates with infant mortality, poor maternal health outcomes, disease and lack of education. Poverty is a major theme in the Bible, but rarely gets a mention in the success-oriented expressions of Christianity that are proving so very popular these days. Social justice is not an optional extra for the followers of Jesus. As we lay aside some of our own privilege, we also seek to empower others to escape poverty and live the abundant lives God wishes for all of us.
Tue – 181016
Title
The last shall be first
Body
Last Sunday’s serve of Jesus wisdom from the Gospel of Mark concluded with this zinger: “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” [Mark 10:31] God upturns our expectations. That feels good when we consider ourselves outsiders, but has a different feel when we realise how much we are really insiders. Dare we follow this God who turns our expectations upside down?
Mon – 181015
Title
Camels and needles
Body
In all three Synoptic Gospels and possibly in the oral tradition known to Mark, the story of the rich young ruler is always followed by this saying of Jesus: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” [Mark 10:25] Of course we think that does not apply to us since we are not rich. Think again. Thread the camel through the needle …
SUN – 181014
Title
Privilege and discipleship
Body
Today’s Gospel is the familiar story of the “rich young ruler”. In Mark’s version he is simply rich: neither “young” (that is Matthew’s touch) nor a “ruler” (that comes from Luke). We have blended all three versions into our familiar triply-advantaged individual. This guy is dripping with privilege: wealthy, powerful (in Luke) and young (in Matthew). He has it all. But he wants something more, or maybe something else. Jesus cuts him no slack: surrender your privilege. He walks away from life …
Sat – 181013
Title
A circle of blessing
Body
From our blessing of the animals at Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton last Sunday:
All dogs and dingoes, large and small: Praise the Lord! All rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs: Praise the Lord! All goldfish, guppies and swimming creatures: Praise the Lord! All kookaburras, budgies and singing birds: Praise the Lord! All wombats, koalas and wallabies: Praise the Lord! All horses, cows and sheep: Praise the Lord! All lizards, skinks and crawling creatures: Praise the Lord! Every animal in the sky, the sea and the forest: Praise the Lord!
Fri – 181012
Title
This we believe
Body
An affirmation of faith used in the liturgy at Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton last Sunday:
God creates all things, renews all things and celebrates all things. This we believe. Earth is a sanctuary, a sacred planet filled with God’s presence, a home for us to share with our kin. This we believe. God became flesh and blood, a piece of Earth, a human being called Jesus Christ, who lived and breathed and spoke among us, suffered and died on a cross for all human beings and for all creation. This we believe. The risen Jesus is the Christ at the centre of creation, reconciling all things to God, renewing all creation and filling the cosmos. This we believe. The Holy Spirit renews life in creation, groans in empathy with a suffering creation and waits with us for the rebirth of creation. This we believe. We believe that with Christ we will rise and with Christ we will celebrate a new creation.
Thr – 181011
Title
Mother Earth, Our Mother Birthing
Body
The offertory hymn from last Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton:
Mother Earth, our mother birthing Ev’ry creature from the ground. Jesus too was flesh and breathing, Kin to all that’s green and brown. Celebrate with all creation: God has joined the web of life. Sister Air, our sister lifting Ev’ry creature born with wing; Jesus shared the breath of forests, Breath that makes our spirits sing. Celebrate with all creation: God has joined the web of life. Brother Water, brother pulsing Deep through ev’ry vein and sea, Jesus drank the very raindrops For our wine and in our tea. Celebrate with all creation: God has joined the web of life. Father Fire, our father burning With the sacred urge to live. Jesus’ death completes the cycle, Bringing life beyond the grave. Celebrate with all creation: God has joined the web of life.
Words: © Norman Habel 1999
Wed – 181010
Title
Creatures around the throne
Body
Animals around the throne: In this vision of the future, it is not only angels that praise Christ on the throne, but also the living creatures of Earth and sky. They are an integral part of our hope and our future.
So many popular version of Christianity are myopic: sin dominates the airwaves, and no creatures but us matter to God. The visions of Revelation offer a more holistic view of the future:
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped. [Revelation 5:11–14]
Tue – 181009
Title
All creatures great and small
Body
Continuing this week’s focus on our shared relationships with other life forms on this shared planet, here is the Prayer of the Day from our Sunday liturgy at the Cathedral:
God, our Creator, help us to love all creatures as kin, all animals as partners on Earth, all birds as messengers of praise, all minute beings as expressions of your mysterious design and all frogs as voices of hope. Amen.
Mon – 181008
Title
Thanksgiving and confession
Body
From yesterday’s liturgy for the Blessing of the Animals at Christ Church Cathedral, Grafton: Thanksgiving and Confession Lord, for all the animals in the whole wide world, We thank you, God! Lord, for all the fun and friendship we have with animals, We thank you, God! Lord, for all the times we have hurt or neglected animals, We are sorry. Lord, for all the times we have used poisons that have killed animals, We are sorry. Lord, for all the times we have destroyed the homes of animals in the forests, oceans or fields, We are sorry. Absolution I speak for Christ. For all your sins against the creatures of Earth, I forgive you and I call upon you to honour and protect all animals. Yes, I speak for Christ. May the animals of Earth be your companions in life and lead you to celebrate your place in the circle of life. Amen! Amen Shalom! Shalom!
SUN 181007 – Blessing of the Animals
Title
Web of life
Body
Modern science has revealed how intimately we are connected with other life forms through our shared DNA, but the ancient Hebrew creation myths included a beautiful story as humans, animals and birds are made from the same earth:
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the Earthling should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the Earthling to see what he would call them; and whatever the Earthling called every living creature, that was its name. The Earthling gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field … [Genesis 2:18–20]
Companion animals indeed!
Sat – 181006 – Creation Prayers
Title
Pilgrimage Blessing
Body
A creation-centred prayer on this ancient day of Sabbath rest: Dear pilgrim, As you go into the wilderness of the land and of your heart— May you experience the ever-flowing grace of God’s presence! May you be immersed so fully in God’s love that you learn to let go and swim! May you engage deeply and radically with the natural world, as steward, co-creator, and friend! May you drink anew from the divine source, the stream of living water! And may you be transformed, may the stagnant waters of your spirit begin to flow, and may all which is dead in you rise again! God is here. The river awaits. Let the adventure begin. Amen.
SOURCE: Lisa Hershey Kutolowski, “The River of Life Prayer Book” for the Connecticut River Pilgrimage 2017. See web link to Kairos Earth for more resources like this.
FRI – 181005 – World Teachers Day
Title
Teachers who have shaped us
Body
October 5 is observed as World Teachers Day. This seems like an invitation to be grateful for those people who have been our teachers. Some of our teachers were employed in educational institutions. And some of those people have changed our lives. Other teachers were people in our intimate circle. They nurtured us and modelled healthy living. Not just the vegetables and the exercise, but care for others and respect for our own true selves. Some of our teachers seemed like opponents at first. But on reflection we learned a great deal from our encounters with them. Some of our teachers are officially our students, or our children, or both. To Sir (and Miss), with love. Thank you.
THR – 181004 – St Francis
Title
Make me a channel of your peace
Body
Today we celebrate the legacy of Francis (1182–1226 CE), one of the most widely loved of the Western saints. Although not composed by Francis, for a great many people the following prayer captures the essence of Franciscan spirituality: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offence, let me bring pardon. Where there is discord, let me bring union. Where there is error, let me bring truth. Where there is doubt, let me bring faith. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring your light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
WED – 181003 – Beatitude 8
Title
Beatitude 8
Body
The last in this series of Beatitudes from Matthew 5 takes us to place that most of us find unfamiliar and unwelcome: persecution. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10 NRSV) In liberal Western societies, freedom of religion is so well established that persecution seems all but impossible to imagine. Recent campaigns for religious freedom are more about freedom for religious people to discriminate than any genuine threat to freedom of belief, freedom of worship, freedom of practise or even freedom to promote one’s religion. The beatitude speaks of persecution for the sake of righteousness: not religion, but right living. While Western Christians chafe at our increasingly irrelevance in a hedonistic culture, there are fellow believers in many parts of the world who suffer real hardship because of their faith and the justice which their faith calls them to uphold. Can it be that Jesus was right in saying they are more blessed than we?
TUE – 181002
Title
Non-violent justice
Body
On this International Day of Non-Violence—as we mark the birthday of Mahatma Ghandi— this extract from John Dominic Crossan may be a good stimulus for reflection: “To obtain and possess the kingdoms of the world, with their power and glory, by violent injustice is to worship Satan. To obtain and possess the kingdom, the power, and the glory by nonviolent justice is to worship God.” ― John Dominic Crossan, The Greatest Prayer: A Revolutionary Manifesto and Hymn of Hope
MON – 181001
Title
A cup of water
Body
We sometimes aspire to heroic achievements. Maybe it is all the little acts of kindness and goodness that matter more than the grand gestures? In yesterday’s Gospel reading, we hear these words on the lips of Jesus: “For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” (Mark 9:41)

About gregoryjenks

Anglican priest and religion scholar. Senior Lecturer in the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University. Dean, Cathedral Church of Christ the King, Grafton and Rector of the Anglican Parish of Grafton. Formerly Dean at St George's College, Jerusalem. The opinions expressed in my publications, including my blog posts, are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Diocese of Grafton nor Christ Church​ Cathedral in Grafton.
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