Morsels 2019 February

An archive of previous “Daily Morsels” published on the Cathedral app. Please note that these versions of the messages 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.

Thr – 190228

Title

Action worthy of God’s children

Body

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35–36 NRSV)

 

Wed – 190227

Title

Go one better

Body

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.” (Luke 6:32–34 NRSV)

 

Tue – 190226

Title

The golden rule

Body

A core spiritual principle found in almost every great religion: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31 NRSV)

 

Mon – 190225

Title

Turn the other cheek

Body

More from Jesus in Luke 6 this week: “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.” (Luke 6:29–30 NRSV)

 

SUN – 190224

Title

Love your enemies

Body

The opening words of today’s Gospel reading: “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27–28 NRSV)

 

Sat – 190223

Title

Inasmuch …

Body

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:34–40 KJV)

 

Fri – 19022

Title

The Christ hymn

Body

An ancient song from the first generation of Jesus’ followers is quoted by Paul in his letter to the Philippians Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who … …though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5–11 NRSV)

 

Thr – 190221

Title

X marks the spot

Body

Well, not actually an “x” but a cross: † On Good Friday we see where God’s priorities subvert and transform the twisted logic of human culture. The cross of Jesus is not about punishing sins, it is about reclaiming sinners and their compromised world. The cross of Jesus is not about soothing God’s feelings after centuries of human evil, it about a love that never says “No” even when humans act so badly. The cross of Jesus is not about the honour and prestige of God, it is about our ultimate worth to God, how much we matter—individually and collectively—to the Sacred Lover at the very heart of the universe. X marks the spot.

 

Wed – 1902020

Title

The song of Mary

Body

The victory song that Luke puts on the lips of Mary in his carefully crafted account of the conception and birth of Jesus captures the essence of the Holy Rebel from Nazareth: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:46–53 NRSV) Christians who really believe these words change the world …

 

Tue – 190219

Title

Turning (over) the tables

Body

One of the classic scenes from Holy Week is Jesus causing quite a scene in the Temple at Jerusalem as he overturns the tables of the money changers and makes a whip to chase out the stall holders from the farmer’s market held in the great courtyard every day. For Mathew, Mark and Luke this is the critical moment when Jesus takes it right up to the religious authorities of the Jewish temple state in Jerusalem. It comes near the end of the story and is the spark that leads to his arrest. Interestingly, for John this episode comes at the start of the Jesus story and sets the tone for all that will follow. The God we encounter in Jesus is a god who overturns privileges and power. How odd that Christians have loved associating with the rich and powerful so much during the past 2,000 years.

 

Mon – 190218

Title

Captain’s pick

Body

In recent Australian politics we have experienced the famous “captain’s pick” on more than one occasion. God makes captain’s picks as well, but she does it differently. God chooses the poor, the widows, the orphans, the overlooked younger sibling, the refugees and the asylum seekers, the collaborators (“tax collectors”) and the women with reputations (“the sinners”). Phew! That gives me a chance …

 

SUN – 190217

Title

The God who subverts

Body

We should have expected this from a god who gets himself born to an unwed mother. “Blessed are you who are poor … woe to you who are rich … Blessed are you who are hungry now … woe to you who are full now …” What is this bleeding-heart left-wing nonsense they are reading in churches all over the world today? Oh? It is Jesus? Really? I do not like him saying things like that. It makes me feel uncomfortable. Read my lips, says Jesus.

 

Sat – 190216

Title

The God who calls: Paul of Tarsus

Body

Paul describes his own sense of calling as an act of grace towards someone who was completely unworthy of being chosen by God … For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. (1Corinthians 15:3–11 NRSV)

 

Fri – 190215

Title

The God who calls: Jonah

Body

Sometimes people try to run and hide when they sense God calling them. You may know someone like that? Jonah is the most famous example of such futile resistance … Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.”But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.” Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. Then they cried out to the LORD, “Please, O LORD, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows. But the LORD provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then the LORD spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land. The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. (Jonah 1:1–4, 11–17; 2:10–3:3 NRSV)

 

Thr – 190214

Title

The God who calls: Fishermen on Galilee Lake

Body

Peter and his work mates were just going about their ordinary business, albeit not very successfully that day. Then Jesus turned up and everything changed … Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:1–11 NRSV)

 

Wed – 190213

Title

The God who calls: Isaiah

Body

Isaiah was a high-ranking official in the royal court at Jerusalem and used to attending the Temple for official events, then one day his life is turned upside down … In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” (Isaiah 6:1–8 NRSV)

 

Tue – 190212

Title

The God who calls: Elijah

Body

In fear of his life, Elijah has fled to Mt Horeb (another name for Mt Sinai), where Moses had encountered God in the burning bush … At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”” (1Kings 19:9–13 NRSV)

 

Mon – 190211

Title

The God who calls: Samuel

Body

A very different but still classic episode is found in the ancient traditions about Samuel the prophet as a young boy. Note the role of an older and experienced spiritual guide in teaching him how to respond to this strange encounter. Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The LORD called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1Samuel 3:1–10 NRSV)

 

SUN – 190210

Title

The God who calls: Moses

Body

The readings in church today feature several episodes where someone senses God calling them to get engaged in the mission of God in ways they would never have imagined, and sometimes a call they actively resisted. During the week the Daily Morsels will focus on some classic examples of the God who calls, which is a key element of our Epiphany theme between tween Christmas and Ash Wednesday. We begin with Moses who is “ambushed” by God at the burning bush, and who finds that call irresistible even while seeking to evade it. Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:1–6, 13–14 NRSV)

 

Sat – 190209

Title

The disciple’s secret

Body

Paul of Tarsus shared his own discovery as an intentional disciple of Jesus: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NRSV)

 

Fri – 190208

Title

Intentionally eclectic

Body

Eucharist, prayer and Bible reading are the big three spiritual disciplines for intentional discipleship, but there are many more. These include cell groups, compassionate action for justice and environmental stewardship, fasting, labyrinth, pilgrimage, preparing a rule of life, sacrificial distribution of our own resources for mission, spiritual direction, and volunteering our time for church and community projects. Which of these spiritual disciplines we embrace depends on our circumstances and perhaps our personalities, but the call to intentional discipleship is universal.

 

Thr – 190207

Title

Attentive intentional disciples

Body

Paul once urged his friends in Thessalonika to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:16). Prayer is at the heart of intentional discipleship. At its most basic level, this means we cultivate mindfulness: we are attentive to the presence of Christ within us, in others, and around us. Our personal and collective rituals can help us develop and sustain our mindfulness, and from that will flow a deeper experience of prayer in all its forms: contemplation, thanksgiving, protest, and intercession.

 

Wed – 190206

Title

Intentional disciples around the Table of Jesus

Body

As Anglicans, we are blessed with a rich heritage of spiritual practices that can be embraced as we commit to intentional discipleship. Some of them (like Baptism) are once in a lifetime events, while others are practices that we can use regularly in our own spiritual disciplines. Gathering with other believers for the Lord’s Supper is perhaps the first and greatest spiritual discipline for anyone who is serious about intentional discipleship. We need to ensure that our weekly Eucharistic gatherings are engaging and transformative, and not simply a case of going through the motions. What we celebrate in the Eucharist is the saving presence of God in Jesus and among us. Our liturgies should express that dynamic reality.

 

Tue -190205

Title

Intentional discipleship redux

Body

An intentional relationship with Jesus? That would be a continuous Epiphany experience as we discover more and more about God’s loving and compassionate purposes for the universe, including our own selves. That would be a lifelong commitment to shape our lives around the beliefs and practices that mattered to Jesus. That would be to engage in compassionate action to bring the effective reign of God into the lived experience of our families, friends and local communities.

 

Mon – 190204

Title

Intentional discipleship overview

Body

As a focus for reflection this week, I will post excerpts from the longer essay that I posted yesterday. These bite-sized snippets may serve as a doorway to deepen reflection. An intentional relationship with Jesus? An intentional relationship with Jesus is going to be about practice (what we do and how we treat people) more than with ideas (what we believe and how we explain our faith to others). As the practical Christian wisdom found in the Letter of James puts it: “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” (James 2:18)

 

SUN – 190203

Title

Intentional discipleship

Body

I am not preaching today, although I am presenting a seminar on the Year of Luke as part of the Dean’s Forum series at 11.00am. That presentation should be available as a video afterwards and maybe I can even get the technological ducks in a neat line so the presentation can be live streamed … In the meantime, let me share a short piece on intentional discipleship that was published in the February 2019 issue of North Coast Anglican which will be available in churches across the Diocese of Grafton this morning. I especially invite to think about the place of the three great spiritual disciples in your own intentional practice as a disciple of Jesus:

• gathering at the Table of Jesus with other disciples

• prayerful attentiveness to life

• engaging with our sacred scriptures

 

Sat – 190202 – Presentation of Christ

Title

Candlemas

Body

Today we have a festival that is not so well known these days: Candlemas. As this occurs 40 days from December 25, in some places this was the day when Christmas decorations were taken down. Before the days of electricity, this was the day when families brought their candles to be blessed. We have no real modern equivalent. Blessing our solar panels is a tad trickier. In traditional Jewish lore, 40 days after childbirth marked the time when the mother was ‘purified’ and able to return to everyday life. The old BCP service for the Churching of Women reflects a similar custom, but is now listed in the Prayer Book as a service of Thanksgiving for a Child. The “40 days” is a symbolic period, found in many biblical stories. In our busy high-tech lives, we do well to revive the ancient art of marking the passage of time with traditional observances that also reflect the cycle of our lives. These gentle rituals can be our ‘songlines’ as we navigate the strange new world in which we seek to sing the Lord’s song.

 

Fri – 190201

Title

February already

Body

Here we are on the first day of the second month … February In the ancient north from which my tribes come, this is the last of the cold months. The snow remains on the ground. Fresh food was once no longer available. These were tough times. Surely spring will soon be here? In the ancient south land where my soul has its roots, these are stinking hot days. Summer has not yet released its grip. The hottest days may yet be to come. Sometimes interrupted by cyclones and floods. We love a sunburnt country … The cycle of nature turns, for all creatures great and small, even for self-obsessed humans. Autumn will soon be here (down south) and spring will soon be here (up north). Time to press the reset button and get ready for the new opportunities and challenges that will soon be here.

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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