Morsels 2019 March

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.

 

 

SUN – 190331

Title

Spiritual roots

Body

Today will be observed as Mothering Sunday in many Anglican Churches around the world. Originally a day halfway through Lent when servants were allowed a weekend off to go home for worship in their home church, it continues to be widely observed in the UK as their version of Mothers’ Day. Where is your home church? Maybe it is the same one you attend these days, but for many of us it will be in another town or even another country. Mine has been sold and turned into an antique shop. It feels odd to enter that space and see it used in such a different way. And it feels smaller than when I was a child. Today may be a good time to pause and reflect on our spiritual roots in those communities and places where our journey of faith began.

 

 

Sat – 190330

Title

The heart of faith

Body

In Jewish tradition, the Shema’ (Hebrew for “Hear”) is a key statement of faith: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5 NRSV) In Christian practice, from the Gospels to Anglican prayer books, we find this proclamation being repurposed within a trinitarian outlook: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ Jesus said: ‘This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ And in Islam, we have a parallel tradition in the Adhan (“Hear” in Arabic): God is the greatest. I acknowledge that there is no deity but God. I acknowledge that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Hasten to the prayer Hasten to the salvation. Prayer is better than sleep. God is greatest. There is no deity but God. Equally significant differences between Christians and Jews as between Christians and Muslims, and yet so much that we have in common as we each seek to respond to our experience of ‘amazing grace’.

https://youtu.be/zBNUdeWw-wE

 

 

Fri – 190329

Title

Days of obligation

Body

Here we are on another Friday, this one occurring two weeks after the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since participation in collective prayers seems to have almost disappeared from Christianity in the West, our renewed awareness of Friday as the day of prayer for Muslims may also be a moment to rethink our commitment to prayer, to gathering, and to our collective identity as people of faith. We are, in the spirit of the Life of Brian, all individuals; many of us increasingly choosing to lives as solitary persons whose connections with others are very weak. The ‘road less travelled’ is not the Way of Jesus. He gathered an intentional community of disciples and taught them to pray as well as to engage collectively in compassionate action (preaching, healing, exorcising). Maybe our Muslim sisters and brothers can evangelise us afresh, so that we take our obligation to form and sustain intentional communities of religious practice more seriously?

https://youtu.be/KHbzSif78qQ

 

Thr – 190328

Title

Lenten disciplines, 3: Give, or engagement

Body

The third attribute of a balanced Lent program is that we give personal resources to some project beyond our own life. For most people that means a financial contribution to some worthwhile project, but for some people it may mean getting involved to help make something good happen in our local community. As we give away money or time to help someone else we are engaging in God’s own work to make the world a better place. We are becoming part of the answer to our own prayer: ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven …’

 

Wed – 190327

Title

Lenten disciplines, 2: Pray, or mindfulness

Body

Prayer is a time to pay attention to life and to the quiet presence of God at the very heart of the universe. aka: mindfulness Set yourself some goals for praying. It may be time alone to reflect and be mindful of your situation. It might mean a visit to the Cathedral during the week to light a candle for someone you care about. It may be a good time to resume a personal habit of attending Sunday worship, our group spiritual fitness workout session. Just do it … (as the saying goes)

 

Tue – 190326

Title

Lenten disciplines 1: Fasting, or embracing

Body

As we get close to the midway point for Lent, it may be timely to pause and reflect on our we have been spending this time. The three great spiritual disciplines are fasting, praying, and giving. Fasting If we seek better physical fitness we do something extra, while maybe also cutting back on some unhealthy habits. Our spiritual discipline can be much the same. There may be some bad habits we need to give up. These are more likely to be negative attitudes than chocolate or alcohol. Let go of fear and embrace love. Reinforce those personal habits that make you a more loving person and cut back on the habits that make you a mean-spirited person.

 

Mon – 190325 Lady Day

Title

Lady Day

Body

An angel whispers new possibilities

surprising developments indeed

to a young woman

in a small Galilean village:

Nazareth.

 

An unknown place

an unknown maiden

an unknown future:

a future not defined by the past.

 

The girl said, Yes.

The angel was pleased.

God smiled.

Now we all call her, Blessed:

Mary of Nazareth,

mother of Jesus.

 

We had best listen to the angels more carefully.

Who knows what new thing they are whispering into our ears?

—Gregory C. Jenks, 25 March 2019

 

SUN – 190324

Title

Come and get it …

Body

Sacred Wisdom calls us to her table: 1 Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. {Isaiah 55:1–3]

 

Sat – 190323

Title

A prayer for election day

Body

Today voters across New South Wales will vote today to elect the 57th Parliament, including all 93 seats in the Legislative Assembly and 21 of the 42 seats in the Legislative Council.

 

WE GIVE THANKS …

for our robust democracy,

for all who are standing for public office, and

for the dedication of our polling officials.

 

WE PRAY …

for those who will be elected to office,

for those who will form government, and

for those who lose their seats.

 

WE COMMIT OURSELVES …

to pray for those elected to our parliament,

to reconcile with those from whom we differ, and

to help build a resilient and compassionate community.

 

 

Fri – 190322

Title

Reconciliation

Body

Lord God, bring us together as one, reconciled with you and reconciled with each other. You made us in your likeness, you gave us your Son, Jesus Christ. He has given us forgiveness from sin. Lord God, bring us together as one, different in culture, but given new life in Jesus Christ, together as your body, your Church, your people. Lord God, bring us together as one, reconciled, healed, forgiven, sharing you with others as you have called us to do. In Jesus Christ, let us be together as one. Amen. — A Prayer Book for Australia

 

Thr – 190321

Title

A prayer for the nation

Body

God of hope, in these times of change, unite our nation and guide our leaders with your wisdom. Give us courage to overcome our fears, and help us to build a future in which all may prosper and share; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. —from the Church of England

 

Wed – 190320

Title

The Peace Prayer

Body

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. —Attributed to St Francis of Assisi

 

Tue – 190319

Title

We have two choices

Body

The modern Jewish philosopher and social critic, Noam Chomsky, calls us to make a choice about how we spend (invest) our lives: “We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up, and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place. Not much of a choice.”

 

Mon – 190318

Title

A more excellent way …

Body

If it is true that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), then this beautiful hymn to love from 1 Corinthians 13 has much to teach us about living without fear: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1Corinthians 13:4–8 NRSV)

 

SUN – 190317

Title

Their sacrifices were mingled with their blood

Body

Today’s Gospel, begins with Jesus responding to news of two recent catastrophes: “… there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. … Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’ ” [Luke 13:1–5] Suffering and catastrophe occur in the lives of undeserving people … but Jesus looks beyond the misfortune of the individuals to the underlying sickness (sin) that fuels the violence, nd calls on his listeners to repent. This passage has always troubled me, but in the light of the massacre of Muslim worshippers in the mosques of Christchurch it seems to make more sense. From what do we need to repent if more innocent people are not to find their sacrifices mingled with blood? Fear of the other … delusions of cultural, racial and religious supremacy … religious extremism … rejection of scientific evidence … populist ideology … Turn from hate, turn to the light. Repent.

 

Sat – 190316

Title

The line between good and evil

Body

In light of the mass killings at mosques in Christchurch yesterday, these words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn come to mind: “And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts” (Archipelago Gulag II, 615).

 

Fri – 190315

Title

The home town crowd

Body

They know us better than anyone else. Probably better than we know ourselves. If we are truly blessed, they love us despite knowing us so well. They are the home town crowd, or simply our family and friends. Fresh from his spiritual challenges in the wilderness, Jesus heads home to Nazareth and goes to the synagogue for worship on Shabbat. It does not go well. The home crowd is a tough gig. Jesus reflects somewhat ruefully on a dynamic known across the centuries: “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” That is one of the rare sayings of Jesus which is is found in all four Gospels. Another temptation perhaps? Living with criticism from those we love?

 

Thr – 190314

Title

Until next time …

Body

“When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13) Spiritual victories are never complete. There is always next time. Jesus was not given a green pass after his successful completion of the inaugural testing regime. There would be other opportunities to fail. Other moments of vulnerability. There always are. The authentic life is a commitment to persistent and recurring faithfulness, not an easy jog to the finish line after some early successes. We are in this for the long haul. So is the dark one. But so is God.

 

Wed – 190313

Title

At the temple’s edge

Body

Temptation three … Now things are getting a little weird. Let’s see what you are made of Jesus; and whether God really cares about you at all. Come over here to the very edge of the temple in Jerusalem and throw yourself from the highest point. You will be fine, eh? After all, you are special. God will look after you. Jesus would be offered that wrong choice another time: when hanging on the cross. The clergy from the temple say to one another: “Let’s wait and see if God will rescue him, since he claims to be God’s son.” None of us would ever fall for that one, right? We would never think that God exists to keep us safe from our own stupid choices or the hostile actions of other people? We would never treat the planet like it exists for our sake, rather than the other way around? We would never take advantage of other people for our own short term satisfaction? Selfishness may be the worst temptation of them all.

 

Tue – 190312

Title

Look at what could be yours

Body

The second temptation … Come with me to an imaginary mountain from which one can survey the entire world, stretching out in all its immense flatness before us. As far as the eye can see, and then some … Let’s cut a deal. I can make you successful, and powerful. One of a kind. All you need to do is play by my rules. Power is seductive, but Jesus would never take that route. He chooses the path that leads to a cross in the garbage pit outside the walls of Jerusalem, rather than the highway that leads to power. We are not called to be powerful, or successful. It is enough to be faithful.

 

Mon – 190311

Title

Turn these stones into bread

Body

The first temptation … And what can be wrong about a hungry person turning a few desert stones into warm bread rolls? Nothing in itself, but context is everything. The reply Jesus makes to the Satan figure in this story points to a spiritual crisis from which we mostly avert our eyes: “One does not live by bread alone.” The “daily bread” for which Jesus teaches us to pray is not at stake here, but our insatiable appetite to acquire and consume. We want … more … faster … better … impressive … convenience … And we want it now. We are not defined by the baubles for which we compete. We do not live by “bread” alone …

 

SUN – 190310

Title

40 days and 40 nights

Body

The tradition of Jesus spending some time alone in the wilderness being “tested” (tempted) by Satan is found in three of the four Gospels, but is unknown to the Gospel of John. In the so-called “Q Gospel” material preserved only by Matthew and Luke, this meme is developed into a story with three episodes. Many stories in the western cultural canon have three episodes. It is how we like to tell stories, or even construct sermons. “Forty days” is itself a biblical meme that occurs repeatedly in the Scriptures. It indicates an extended period of time during which major developments may occur. For the anonymous Christian storyteller who shaped this story, this is the time when Jesus undergoes the challenges that any ancient hero was expected to survive in order to demonstrate their character and their skill. This story is not a memory of a historical moment, but a meditation on the deeper truth that Jesus constantly had to choose faithfulness to God’s call on his life, rather than be seduced by second-best; an acceptable action in itself but not what God required of him. That is a challenge we all face every day.

 

Sat – 190309

Title

Love is at the heart …

Body

And one more piece of wisdom from Michael Gerson’s sermon: Fate may do what it wants. But this much is settled. In our right minds, we know that love is at the heart of all things.

 

Fri – 190308

Title

International Women’s Day

Body

Wisdom is telling her story in the midst of her people:

‘I CAME FORTH FROM THE HEART OF THE MOST HIGH,” SHE SAYS.

“Alone I searched for a place to rest.

I LOOKED EVERYWHERE TO FIND A PLACE TO LIVE.

Then the Creator of all things instructed me:

‘PITCH YOUR TENT HERE IN THIS PLACE.’

So in the beloved community I took up residence.

I HAVE TAKEN ROOT IN THESE PEOPLE

I have grown tall as an oak tree,

I HAVE TAKEN ON MANY COLOURS.

I have spread out my branches like a candelabra.

MY BLOSSOMS BEAR THE FRUIT OF OPENNESS AND CARE.

APPROACH AND TAKE YOUR FILL.”

Come, let us seek Wisdom at work in all lives,

AND ESPECIALLY IN THE LIVES OF HER DAUGHTERS!

(Adapted from Ecclesiasticus 24, with echoes of John 1)

 

Thr – 190307

Title

Not a force but a face …

Body

More wisdom from Michael Gerson: This experience of pulling back the curtain of materiality, and briefly seeing the landscape of a broader world, comes in many forms. It can be religious and nonreligious, Christian and non-Christian. We sometimes search for a hidden door when the city has a hundred open gates. But there is this difference for a Christian believer: At the end of all our striving and longing we find, not a force, but a face. All language about God is metaphorical. But the metaphor became flesh and dwelt among us.

 

Wed – 190306 – Ash Wednesday

Title

Ash Wednesday

Body

As we begin Lent it is timely to focus on three spiritual disciplines we are invited to adopt during this time of preparation for Easter: At the heart of Lent is the invitation to fast, pray and give. Fast If we seek better physical fitness we do something extra, while maybe also cutting back on some unhealthy habits. Our spiritual discipline can be much the same. There may be some bad habits we need to give up. This are more likely to be negative attitudes than chocolate or alcohol. Let go of fear and embrace love. Reinforce those personal habits that make you a more loving person and cut back on the habits that make you a mean spirited person. Pray Prayer is a time to pay attention to life and to the quiet presence of God at the very heart of the universe. Set yourself some goals for praying. It may be time alone to reflect and be mindful of your situation. It might mean a visit to the Cathedral during the week to light a candle for someone you care about. It may be a good time to resume a personal habit of attending Sunday worship, our group spiritual fitness workout session. Just do it … (as the saying goes) Give The third attribute of a balanced Lent program is that we give to some project beyond our personal life. For most people that means a financial contribution to some worthwhile project, but for some people it may mean getting involved to help make something good happen in our local community. As we give away money or time to help someone else we are engaging in God’s own work to make the world a better place. We are becoming part of the answer to our own prayer: ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven …’

 

Tue – 190305 – Shrove Tuesday

Title

Mardi Gras

Body

Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French) is also known as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day or even just Carnival Tuesday. It occurs on the day before the commencement on Lent on Ash Wednesday. This is a day for clearing out the junk: the fat and meat from which people once abstained during Lent, but also the personal junk of spiritual failure and broken relationships. Shrove Tuesday preserve the ancient English custom of making confession prior to the start of Lent, and being forgiven (“shriven”) by the priest. When cleaning out the cupboards don’t forget to sanitise the heart.

 

Mon 190304

Title

Remembering how to live

Body

“Faith, thankfully, does not preclude doubt. It consists of staking your life on the rumour of grace.” Michael Gerson, columnist for the Washington Post [Extract from a sermon at Washington National Cathedral, 17 February 2019. For the complete sermon, see the web link]

https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/02/18/i-was-hospitalized-depression-faith-helped-me-remember-how-live/?utm_term=.ecc4b514a267

 

SUN – 190303

Title

As Epiphany ends …

Body

Today we conclude the Epiphany season, the Sundays between the feast of the Epiphany on 6 January and the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. During those 8 weeks we have been reflecting on different ways in which God becomes known to us: the “epiphany” moments when we discern the deeper reality that we often overlook in our busy schedules. This morning we focus on the transfiguration, a significant epiphany moment for the inner circle of Jesus’ followers as well as for Jesus himself. May your day—your week, your year—be transformed by the quiet presence of the Beloved deep within your innermost self.

 

Sat – 190302

Title

What you give is what you get back

Body

“Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:37–38 NRSV)

 

Fri – 190301

Title

What goes around comes around

Body

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” (Luke 6:37 NRSV)

 

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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