MORNING PRAYER REFLECTIONS from the Ven Dr Thomas Mhuriro, 16 May 2020:
Psalm 118, Leviticus 23:23-44, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18
Good morning people of God. I trust that we are together in this journey we are undertaking under these restrictive circumstances. I am aware that it is a very expensive and exhaustive exercise. Never mind. The point is that the spiritual unity we are celebrating now is critical in terms of our relationship with God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit that sustains us daily.
One interesting thing this morning is the encouragement that God gives in relation to how we should live. To the people of Israel, the instruction was to continue to work, to have time to rest and pray, and also to find time to celebrate. This balancing of activities seems to create a rhythm without which life would be mere routine and boredom, leading to unwarranted misery. Through Moses, people of Israel were given a balanced calendar to help them live this life to the full and to pass it on to future generations.
If we were to be honest with ourselves, we could admit that we allow a culture that tends to militate against God’s designs in most cases. Sometimes we pretend to know more than our Creator. In some cases, happiness becomes a forbidden word and we become so busy with things that do not build us. God requires us to balance our activities. One bishop who used to visit me and my other fellow trainees during my Seminary days used to encourage us to eat well, play hard, study diligently and to pray as if it was the only activity we were expected to engage in. It was clear that he wanted us to balance our lives and therefore to enjoy everything to the full. I am sure the realisation of God’s everlasting love celebrated in the psalm of this morning is only possible when we master the art of balancing our lives and therefore able to appreciate God even when we are faced with adversity. St Paul’s letter takes up the same issue. People who tend to go to extremes end up exaggerating their cases. Paul sees people who were so passionate about the end of the world, to the extent that they stopped doing any work. Among them were people who became experts in perfecting the art of gossip. We all know how much this culture of gossiping all the time even damages the Church. It looks like laziness and gossips are the best accomplices in crime! Funnily enough, according to Paul, lazy people seem to have good appetites. Now it is not easy to balance laziness with a good appetite. It would be good to be lazy and to abstain from food!
For me, it is clear that we start yet another morning with the inspiring lessons of God to help us throughout the day. We should work, rest, pray and finally celebrate the gift of life by eating. I am sure that one of the reasons why many people end up losing their faith has to do with the failure to balance the demands of life with the call to worship God. We end up looking at life as though it were a curse rather than a blessing. The God who allows us to face hardships is the same God who gives us the grace to conquer them. To him be the glory. Amen.
MORNING PRAYER Reflections by the Ven Dr Thomas Mhuriro: 15 May 2020
Ps 115; Leviticus 23:1-22; 2 Thess. 2:1-17
This morning the Psalm and the passage from Leviticus are my focus. The details are given about how much God cares. He wants us to work and to rest. He wants us to have time to reflect about his goodness. Indeed, sometimes we get so busy to the point where we fail to understand that all we do must be for the greater glory of God. This is not easy to appreciate. Meanwhile we get personal satisfaction and reap the rewards of our hard labour; at the end, we should not forget that it is all for the glory of God.
I am very much moved by the instruction on how we handle the left overs after harvesting. How do we deal with extras in our homes? We are reminded that we live in a world where there is plenty for everyone. However, if we are not careful, the poor and underprivileged, the foreigner among us, the widow, the orphan, and all who find themselves compromised in one way or another, may not be cared for.
We are in a very difficult situation at the moment. We find ourselves stretched to the limits in terms of resources to sustain ourselves. At this point in time, God ‘s call should be loud and clear: let us not forget to care. Let us find ways of ensuring that whatever we have left over should benefit those who might have nothing. God does not stop caring after all.
The appeal this morning is therefore to stop and find time to see how we fit into the plans of God for a caring world. Meanwhile we are beneficiaries of God’s love, we are also his instruments for the same purpose. Let us not forget this noble challenge in a world that could be easily swayed into wanton selfishness. To God be the glory. Amen. ( Ven T. Mhuriro)
FROM THE DEAN: Reflections on the Eucharist readings by the Very Revd Reginald Leeuw, Feast of St Matthias, 14 May 2020.
The first task that Apostles had to deal with before taking the Gospel to the ends of the world was the scandal of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. This painful act of betrayal I suppose was something that the Apostles needed to face, deal with and put behind in order to continue with the noble task of spreading the gospel of Christ. The betrayal of Judas was not something that could be just left or swept under the carpet, however traumatic it must have been. And when Saint Peter stands to address his fellow believers, he starts first by putting Judas’ betrayal into perspective, as something that the Holy Spirit had long foreseen, but also to acknowledge the pain of this betrayal because Judas had been one of the twelve. But Peter also assures his fellow Apostles that it is time to move on, and time to look amongst themselves for another person who could take the place of Judas.
Saint Peter gives two criteria
- It must be someone who had been “with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time Jesus was taken up from us” (Acts 1:21-22). In other words he should not be young in faith; he must know the Lord and have spent time with him. A wonderful criterion, wouldn’t you say; one that we should remember when we appoint people to ministries in the church.
- He must be a witness to the resurrection of Christ. A lot can be said about being a witness to the resurrection of Christ because this is the corner stone and the pivot of our faith. One that tends to show in the way we live our lives.
Not much is known about Saint Matthias apart from the fact that he was martyred. But today we celebrate him together with many men and women who follow Christ quickly away from the centre stage, happy to live out their faith away from the inquisitive eyes of our society. We thank God that through him, healing and completion was brought to the disciples.
FROM THE DEAN: Tuesday Eucharist Reflection by Fr Reginald Leeuw, 12 May 2020 : Simon of Cyrene
Fr Thomas in his reflections on the day of Saint Phillip the Deacon makes mention of Saint Simon of Cyrene as another African person who came into contact with the Lord. The name of Simon of Cyrene and his bearing of the Cross for Christ is mentioned by three Synoptic Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke. There is something dramatic about this man who suddenly walked, in one moment, from being unknown into an undying remembrance. Nobody had ever heard of him before, and most likely nobody ever would have heard of Simon of Cyrene. But one day he came along at just the right time and helped to carry the cross of Christ. Today more than nineteen centuries later, we all know his name. It is inscribed in many of our churches under the Fifth Station, and every time we pray the Stations of the Cross we repeat his name.
The synoptic Gospel makes a point that Saint Simon of Cyrene came into the life of our Lord at the Lord’s greatest hour of need. When Christ was very exhausted, he carried the cross or the crosspiece, the (patibulum, the horizontal part of the Cross)
Cyrene was a Greek city in what is now Libya in northern Africa. Either Simon had personally lived there, or his ancestors had. In any case, people knew him as Simon of Cyrene, although he may have been a Jew. Most likely, he now lived in Jerusalem, since at the time he was returning from the fields. He had probably been working there.
St. Mark mentions the names of the two Sons of Simon: Rufus and Alexander (Mark 15:21). In the course of time, these two became Christians, along with their mother and Simon himself. The New Testament makes mention of them. It is interesting to note that the mother was so beloved by St. Paul that he refers to her as his own mother: “Salute Rufus, elect in the Lord, and his mother and mine” (Rom. 16:13). Simon of Cyrene must have been a kind-hearted man. He had pity for the man he was being forced to help, he did not take up the Cross willingly. Not even St. John had thought of doing that or offering to do so. To carry the cross was a disgrace. The cross was for the lowest criminals, slaves and murderers. The one who carried it was the one who died on it in disgrace. Simon had to carry the hated object.
This extraordinary event of Simon and the Cross must have an important meaning for all of us.
We must all bear our crosses and we have to help Jesus bear His Cross.
Our own salvation and that of others depends on our participation in the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.
How can we do this?
- Spare a thought for those adversely affected by Covid-19, the poor and those in the margins of our economy who are unable to earn a living.
- Archbishop Thabo in his Covid-19 guidelines calls us to check on one another daily as a form of support to fellow Christians, especially the sickly and the elderly.
- Those of us who are able, to share food with others, for ‘Truly I tell you, the little you do of the least of these, you do it for the Lord.