Getting Out of the Boat

The Daily Selectionary

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: (AM) Psalm 5, 6; (PM) Psalm 10, 11   

Isa. 40:25-31; Eph. 1:15-23; Mark 1:14-28 

 

Eucharistic Readings: Heb. 2:5-12;Psalm 8; Mark 1:21-28

 

Getting Out of the Boat

Christopher Hodges

 

Mark 1:14-28

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” 16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb’edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. 21 And they went into Caper’na-um; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; 24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

                Spontaneity.  I find it a great attribute.  I use to have loads of it.  I was able to make a decision at the drop of a phone call or an email and just go.  Go to Where?  I was not always too sure, but I went nonetheless.  I had no fear.  If I put myself into a situation that was not good for me, then I would make a decision to get away from that incident upon running into the problem.  My free spirit allowed me to participate in life and to take away so many experiences.

                Somewhere along the line, I have lost a lot of that spontaneity.  Every now and then I find a spark of it.  I know that I have grown older and more mature so that has a lot to do with the dwindling.  I think things through before I act upon them most of the time.  I have learned from many mistakes and now my brain sounds off alarms whenever a past unwieldy experience could rear itself again.  I am warned of impending doom.  Still, yet, I could benefit from some more of that spontaneity now.  I want to still experience life, but security has led to complacency which some times more than ever has led to laziness.  One of my resolutions this year is to embrace my spontaneous curiosities once again.

                Just think about how the lives of these men in today’s Gospel would have been if they decided to become complacent and tell Jesus “no.”  What if the fishermen had decided to stay in the boat content with what they were doing instead of going with Jesus?  They may have caught more fish.  This is how they earned their living.  But Jesus asked them to come along with him, and they could see what it would be like to become “fishers of men.”  This turned their heads.  I would have been intrigued too.  How can you fish for men?  What is this guy talking about?  I must come along with him.  If you think about it, Jesus had caught these men.  He “fished” and reeled them in with a great hook, “become fishers of men.” 

                Because of their spontaneity, they were able to see Jesus at the very start of his ministry.  They saw some incredible things.  Because of their “yes” to follow Jesus into Capernaum, they decided to start following Jesus everywhere, and Jesus eventually attained disciples.  If they decided to keep fishing in the sea, their lives probably would have not been miraculously changed.  But they agreed to follow and now they were sharing their changed lives with others.

                This year, I will strive to be more spontaneous with ministry opportunities.  God may be asking me to follow, and I do not want to miss out on changing other’s lives because he has changed my own.

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this email to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – Christopher Hodges  2010   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

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The Future Now

The Daily Selectionary

Monday,  December 20, 2010

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: ( AM) Psalm 61, 62; (PM) Psalm 112, 115Isa. 11:1-9; Rev. 20:1-10; John 5:30-47 

 

 

Eucharistic Readings:  Psalm 24Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38

 

 

 

The Future Now

Christopher Hodges

 

Isaiah 7:10-14

Isaiah Gives Ahaz the Sign of Immanuel

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13Then Isaiah* said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman* is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.*

            The Bible fascinates me, to put it simply.  The comparison between the Old and the New Testaments are intriguing.  I like how something stated in Isaiah can be paralleled to passages in the Gospels.  This is the last week in our Advent journey, as we await the coming of the birth of Jesus.  It has been three and a half weeks of intensive inner struggle as I find myself seeking how I will go about accepting the coming of the Lord in the manger this year.  How will I live my life in accordance with the teachings of Christ after he is born?  This is also an exciting time.  Because every day is a new day, and every year is a new year.  As Christ is celebrated once again, this is an awesome opportunity to think of our new birth, and we are born anew with him.

            The passage in Isaiah is a direct link to the foretelling that the Angel gave to Mary.  It was prophesied of the Messiah’s coming even in the Old Testament.  “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”  In the days of Old, the people were always looking for signs and wonders from God to help them figure out the state of the world, and about how their future lives would be played out.  I think they really wanted to trust God, and that he would finish what he said that he would do, but they found Him so far away.  It was difficult for them, as it still is for us today, to stay focused. 

            I can think of no better sign that God gave than the sign of his coming on Earth in the form of a baby, so that he could later walk among the people, and give them all a glimpse of the Eternal Kingdom.  There would be more signs to come, all pointing to a fulfilled life with God.  We are about to again celebrate this first sign of his arrival this Saturday.  It is always a wondrous and mysterious time of year. 

            As we experience the rebirth within ourselves again this year, how will you take on the life of Christ in deeper ways?  What path will you take to realize and to achieve your dreams and goals in Him?  “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel.” 

             

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this email to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – Christopher Hodges  2010   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

Sticking to My Diet

 The Daily Selectionary

Friday, December 17, 2010

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: Isa. 10:5-19; 2 Pet. 2:17-22; Matt. 11:2-15 

 

 

Eucharistic Readings  

 

 

 Sticking to my Diet

 Christopher Hodges 

 

2 Peter 2:17-22

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the deepest darkness has been reserved. 18For they speak bombastic nonsense, and with licentious desires of the flesh they entice people who have just* escaped from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them. 22It has happened to them according to the true proverb,

‘The dog turns back to its own vomit’,

and,

‘The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.’

            The words contained in the books of the Bible can be overwhelmingly confusing at times.  There are words of poetry and prose all wound up to convey certain meanings and to bring some sort of point across to its readers.  There are those who most sadly dismiss the scriptures as archaic and some refuse to read any of the Bible all together.  This is a travesty.  I read the Bible as one great book of literature.  There are so many stories.  There is so much diversity.  There are odes proclaiming love and there are epics telling of violence; sometimes they can be found in the same passage.  This is the beauty of the Bible.  As literature, it is truly a marvelous work.  But for us Christians, the words within the Bible speak volumes to us.

            This passage in particular is one of those readings that take us to another place.  Our logic of the day cannot seem to wrap itself around these words.  After reading these verses from 2 Peter, I am placed in my own position of trying to figure out what this means to me specifically.  I feel that this is what it means to meditate on the scriptures.  “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them.” 

            How many times have we erred from what we have known to be true and just to ourselves?  We have known the guidance of truth only to turn away from it and accept the ways of things that are contrary to who we are?  This reminds me of the many healthy diets I have tried to pursue.  I know that I should eat only things that are healthy for me.  And after living that diet of organic food, and after exercising, and after feeling so “healthy,” I go back and give into the fast food mentality.  It is easy.  It is readily available.  The only work that I have to do for it is to swipe my debit card.  I do not have to cook a thing.  I can be lazy at this.  After a few days of giving in, I feel worse than ever.  My body craves the nutrition I once gave it, but I refuse, and give it the sustenance that is convenient.

            The same is true with our spiritual lives.  We live a life full of Godly measure, only to give up because it is easier to not care about what is going into our spirit.  It is so easy to take the “fast food” mentality when it comes to our walk with God.  But once we have experienced the healthy lifestyle we get from a life engaged in God, it is frivolous to take steps backward.  Why would we?  Yet we do it all the time.

            I strive to embrace this Holy life.  I fail many times.  But I do know that this is the diet I am supposed to be on.  Let us all pray for one another to live a life of purity for the one who is at utmost, the purist. 

             

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this email to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – Christopher Hodges  2010   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

Hail Mary, Full of Grace

The Daily Selectionary

Thursday,  December 16, 2010

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings:  

 

Eucharistic Readings  

 

 

 

Hail Mary, Full of Grace

Christopher Hodges 

 

Luke 1:39-45

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be* a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

            After Mary got over her fear from what had happened to her, and after her torment of emotions left her from what she had to tell Joseph, she became one excited mother-to-be.  She ran out into the countryside and went to her friend Elizabeth’s house to tell her the good news.  I can envision this girl running in her robe, her arms holding up the hem of it, dashing and tripping, maybe even falling a few times as she approached Elizabeth’s house.  She may have even shown up finally with a few nicks on her knees and toes.  Breathing fiercely to get her rhythm back in line, she banged on the door, thinking about how she was about to tell her friend this glorious yet mysterious news.  

            “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”  This was the greeting Mary received from Elizabeth when she opened the door.  A celebration was in store for the two friends.  There was probably a lot of jumping up and down like teenage girls often do when they cannot contain themselves.  A key passage to take away from this reading is that Elizabeth already knew the news Mary was to tell her right when she arrived.  She knew this because ““For as soon as [she] heard the sound of [Mary’s] greeting, the child in [her] womb leapt for joy.”  The story parallels a future event about thirty years into the future.  John the Baptist would be baptizing in the Jordan River and he would know when Jesus would approach him to be baptized himself, right when he arrived.  His heart would leap for joy.  Just as John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s belly at the arrival of the Son of God within Mary’s womb.

            We get the words from the Holy Rosary from this very passage.  Whenever I say the rosary I am reminded of the words that Elizabeth proclaimed to Mary on that day.  It had to be such a glorious moment to know that Elizabeth was in the presence her Lord’s mother.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou amongst women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners,

now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

             

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this email to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – Christopher Hodges  2010   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

:  Psalm 33:1-5,20-22

Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Luke 1:39-45

AM Psalm 50; PM Psalm [59, 60] or 33

Isa. 9:18-10:4; 2 Pet. 2:10b-16; Matt. 3:1-12

A Cold Day

The Daily Selectionary

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: (  

 

Eucharistic Readings  

 

 

A Cold Day

Christopher Hodges 

 

Matthew 1:18-25

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah

18

 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah* took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

   and they shall name him Emmanuel’,

which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son;* and he named him Jesus. 

            A man’s wife became pregnant and he had nothing to do with it.  He had never touched her in a way that would allow this to happen; by his own deed, at least.  Before he started to live with her, she told him that she was indeed “with child.”  Imagine someone you know telling you over Starbucks one evening that he had come home and he found his girlfriend sitting in the corner of the room with worry purely engraved onto her face.  He asked her what was wrong, and after some mumbling and biting fear, she whispered that she was pregnant.  And that he knew the child was not his, because he had not once even slept with her.   You would probably look him sternly in the eyes and tell him to do what he had to do:  To leave her!  She obviously cheated.  Kick that girl to the curb.

            But what if he told you that she kept insanely muttering, and swore that she never slept with any man?  You would most likely tell him that this kid was a liar.  Then he told you that she actually believed she was still….a virgin?  She never.  Ever!  And she was absolutely convinced of this.  You would look at him with a genuine love, extend your hand, and tell him that she was…still a liar.  But that he should not rule out complete craziness and she needed to be committed.  Absolutely.

            The scene portrayed in this Gospel is of a story we have heard year after year.  We focus on it constantly during advent as we prepare for our Savior’s first placement on Earth as a boy.  The difference between my scenario and in Matthew’s presentation is that the young girl is really a Virgin.  And she was not at all crazy.  Now Joseph at first, in his logical mind, probably thought she had cheated on him and that for her to say she was still a virgin was a lie or indeed a symptom of insanity.  But the Angel came to him, just as he did to Mary, and explained things to him.  He need not have her killed, or put away, but to embrace her.  For what had happened to her was from God.  And who was inside her body, already on his way, already starting to grow, was God as well. 

            I think that if this happened to me, instead of my thinking that Mary was crazy, it was I who needed to be locked up.  But Joseph accepted this gift, and accepted his girlfriend, and decided to marry her.  On a side note, I think this could also be about forgiveness and acceptance, and the real true longing to keep working on a relationship out of unconditional love.  He respected her and decided to carry on with her.

            I wish I could have been there.  I would like to have known them.  Can you imagine the feelings inside that house?  To know that a friend was about to bring forth the foretold messiah.  What excitement.  What a burden.  Their lives would never be the same.

             

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this email to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – Christopher Hodges  2010   email: ChristopherHodgeMusic@gmail.com

Praise In the Refuge

The Daily Selectionary

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: (AM) Psalm 45; (PM) Psalm 47, 48 Isa. 9:1-7; 2 Pet. 1:12-21; Luke 22:54-69

Eucharistic Readings:  Psalm 34:1-8Zephaniah 3:1-2,9-13; Matthew 21:28-32

 

Praise in the Refuge

Christopher Hodges 

 

Psalm 34

Praise for Deliverance from Trouble

Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.1 I will bless the Lord at all times;   his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;   let the humble hear and be glad. 3 O magnify the Lord with me,   and let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me,   and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Look to him, and be radiant;   so your* faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,   and was saved from every trouble. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps   around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;   happy are those who take refuge in him.

           I decided to embark on a Psalm today because I have all reason to praise God.  Through so many inner struggles with insecurity and fear, God is still worthy to be praised.  I look at my life now and compare it to just even a year ago and I see so many positive changes that have come to pass.  I have never immersed myself in constant ritual of the Daily Offices and in liturgy as I have done this past year, and I feel the changing inside of me to pursue God on a much deeper level than ever.  What a great thing it is to have God as a focus at all times.

            I will have to say, however, that it is not that easy.  Actually, it isn’t easy at all.  There are so many distractions around me.  There are things that take my focus off of the Divine all the time.  Even church itself can be a distraction at this time of year.  Outside of the awesome mysteries of the sacraments, there are rehearsals, performances, events to attend, dinners to prepare and dishes to clean.  Outside of church life, there are friends with which to entertain, nine hours every week day at work and a productive domesticated life at home.  I play many different roles in my life.  I am a partner in a great relationship at home.  We have two dogs we adore and to take care of.  With all the busyness outside of the house it is difficult to manage the daily up-keep to ensure it all stays in line.  Needless to say we cannot keep up with everything.  There is no way.

            “I will bless the lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Time may be a precious commodity and I fear that I will never be able to get all the things that I need to get done, but not a day goes by where I do not thank God for every single bit of what he has placed in my life.  I look at it all as a tapestry that He has woven just for me and he guides me through.  He knows that I can handle it.  That tapestry is a blanket created for me to keep me secure in Him.  I no longer need to worry.  I must not.  By constantly praising God and showing my appreciation to Him, his Love gifts me with the patience to see it all through.

            During this very busy season added to our already busy lives, do not find it necessary to give yourself up to the worry.  Just focus on the truths given to us by God.  “Oh magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together.”

             

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this email to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – Christopher Hodges  2010   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

Focus On the Inner Focal

The Daily Selectionary

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings:  (AM)   Psalm 148, 149, 150;   (PM)   Psalm 114, 115 Isa. 5:1-7; 2 Pet. 3:11-18; Luke 7:28-35 

 

Focus on the inner Focal

Christopher Hodges

 

2 Peter 3:11-18

11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening* the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Final Exhortation and Doxology

14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, 16speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him is the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.*

            Holiness.  The simple yet often painful call to holiness.  What is holiness?  One of the definitions from the Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines holy as being devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity.  So holiness is having all those qualities and attributes of being holy.  Our deity as Christians is the one simple name of God.  We come to know God through the person of Jesus Christ.  We have learned of Jesus from the Gospels within the Bible.  We get our Bible from authors who exude holiness.  So what does it mean from 2 Peter to “lead lives of holiness and godliness?”  Your answer is as good as mine.

                To me, to live a holy and Godly life is to embrace all that I can attain from whatever and wherever I may find some spiritual gratification.  Since I have started to embark on this journey to read scripture and actually meditate on these words, I feel that I have entered into something that is quite extraordinarily holy.  It forces my mind to constantly focus on these historically spiritual scriptures that point the way to God.  Therefore, I feel closer to Godliness.  It is only something that I can aim for.  I will never achieve complete holiness or Godliness, but it is definitely something I can strive for.  We are all constantly embittered with complete craziness in our lives.  The economy is something very questionable.  Every day we hear of another war brewing.  We often times compromise part, if not all, of ourselves in our secular daily careers.  We can feel guilty and selfish if we want a little “me” time.  It is completely understandable.  As human beings, companionship is like a built in electronic chip.  We become people-pleasers and we often times forget about ourselves.  When we lose ourselves, we lose our grounding in our foundation of faith. 

                It is difficult to become holy.  And Godly.  Simply put.  We also know, however, that God will never leave us.  Through all the turmoil of our lives, even though we easily forget that He is there, he has not forgotten where He is.  The old Southern Gospel song, “One Day at a Time” just started playing on my internal radio frequency.  (Crazy, I know.)  But that is what it takes.  There is another goof-ball saying in the south, it may be other places by now; but a District Manager of mine from years back at one of my retail company adventures said to me one time about how to clean up a store and make sales and lead and develop a team, etc.  I asked her how do I do so much?  She answered, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

                That is what we are to do.  Even though it may be impossible to attain pure holiness and Godliness on this planet in our flesh, it is possible to make sure we are at least trying.  Every morning is a brand new adventure.  And God is bigger than any elephant.  Just take Him one prayer at a time.

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Episcopal Church Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this email to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – Christopher Hodges  2010   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com