For a couple years now, I have been engaging in the practice of praying the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer. This last year, I journaled through the an entire year of the Daily Office lectionary, taking time to read the prayers, the appointed Psalms, the assigned lessons for the day (One Old Testament, One New Testament, One Gospel), confess the truth of the Church through the creeds, and pray the same prayers for the world along with many in the Church.
Along the way, there have been some profound moments, to be sure. I have seen things I had not seen before. I have felt the presence of God, at times, in new ways. But to be honest, most of the time it was quite ordinary and uneventful. It simply became a quiet habit. But I do believe it was a good habit which has and continues to do good work in me; albeit slow, steady, and ordinary work. I read a quote this morning from Brené Brown, who says:
Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.
So, this is an endeavor in the ordinary and an invitation for you to, perhaps, join me. Someone recently encouraged me to continue sharing some of the things I am learning, so I will be sharing some reflections on at least one of the texts from the Daily Office lectionary on a regular basis. It probably won’t be every day. But, I hope at the very least, it encourages you to take some steps of ordinary, regular engagement with God each day, trusting that God will meet you there with joy in surprising and common ways.
There are a few different ways you can access these readings online. If you want to have access to many of the prayers, hymns, and canticles which go with the readings, Mission St. Clare is a great resource I often use when I don’t have my BCP around. (¡Disponible en español, también!) If you just want the Scripture readings for each day, you can go here.
One last note: I would love to hear from you if you are praying this with me, or if you have thoughts from the readings/time of prayer. Feel free to comment or contact me directly.
January 22nd, 2017: Third Sunday after Epiphany
(Ps. 63:1–8 (9–11) Ps. 98; Ps. 103; Isa. 47:1–15; Heb. 10:19–31; John 5:2–18)
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath.
But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.
There were just a few thoughts to offer:
First, Jesus takes the time to go be amongst the hurting, sick, and hopeful. These people are here at Beth-zatha because they believed that these pools were sacred places where healing could take place. And such beliefs were not in line with the First-Century Jewish Temple system. These were people who needed healing and were on the fringes of social and religious life.
Second, the man that Jesus interacts with and heals is VERY old by standards of that day. And has obviously had failed attempt after failed attempt to be healed. He is even marginalized by the marginalized. But Jesus asks him an important question: Do you want to be well? If so, show me by taking up your mat and walking! And he does. This shows the cooperation of our faith-full response and the mighty work of God..
Third, the religious elite will try to find anyway to disparage the work of God, as they call out a man who was miraculously healed for breaking the technicality of the the sabbath law!
And finally, the huge statement that stuck out to me wasJesus’ discussing the work of his Father. “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” I imagined that God said the following to me (and it was very timely): I am not done working in my world, so neither am I done working in and through you. Will you decide to join me today, my son?”
If this story exemplifies the work of God in the world (to the marginalized, sick, and oppressed), will we be like Jesus and work with our Father? How can you join God’s work around you today?