Thursday, March 2, 2017

Feel Defeated Yet?

The opening verse in today’s reading from Isaiah says it all! If you have welcomed the challenge of the Great Fast, by today you are feeling a bit defeated. Your body has already begun to react to the new diet and you may even be wondering if it is all worth it. YES! It IS worth it and you can and will survive. All you need to focus on is trusting the Church knows what she is doing. As I have said before, the Church has two thousand years of tried and tested methods to grow closer to God. The Church has experienced the Great Fast in all sorts of climates and political seasons. The life may be difficult, but anything worthy of your time deserves some effort.

Last night the Church offered you the opportunity to receive Holy Communion at a special and unique service known as the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts also called Presanctified Liturgy. I tend to use both, so please don’t be confused. Did you attend Liturgy last night? Did you stop at the “Spiritual Rest Area” and rest your soul for the remainder of the week? The truth is you won’t be able to endure the entire Great Fast without allowing the Church life to surround you as protective wings. Without prayer and almsgiving, reading the Holy Scriptures, receiving Holy Confession and Holy Communion, the Great Fast is only a diet and will be destined to defeat you as nothing more than a radical diet.

The comforting part is that this is only the first week, and if you didn’t get everything just right this week, there are five more weeks of Great Lent before Holy Week. If you feel defeated, you’re not alone. Many have been where you are, and they have made it to the finish line. You will also! So chin up soldier of Christ. You haven’t been’ve just been knocked around a bit. The battle is still on!

Here are Today’s Readings:
Old Testament Readings: Isaiah 2:11-21 (RSV) - The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall be humbled; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills; against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft.  And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.  And the idols shall utterly pass away.  And men shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. In that day men will cast forth their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.
 Genesis 2:4-19 (RSV) - These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up -- for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground -- then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.  The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.  The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Cush.  And the name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria.  And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."  So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
 Proverbs 3:1-18 (RSV) - My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare will they give you. Let not loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.

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