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Grace Episcopal Church
109 North 13th Street
Ponca City, Oklahoma 74601
Church Office
Phone (580) 765-7609
The Rev. Fr. Dee Wellington Bright
The Rev. Dr. Dee Wellington Bright, Sr.
Rector

 

Weekly Lenten Reflections:
Palm Sunday/Passion Week 2017

(St. Matthew 26:14-27; 27:11-54)

By Fr. Dee Bright

 Palm Sunday sets us on our way into Holy Week. The Passion Gospel, (St. Matthew 26:14-27; 27:11-54), was yet again a great narrative of the events leading to our Lord’s atoning sacrifice. Like us at Grace Church, many congregations now include a donkey as a part of their Palm Sunday parade. This year, we actually had a mule instead of a donkey. For us, the animal has truly added much fun to the commemoration. Many children eagerly look forward to it each year.  As we trace the steps of our Lord, it is important to know it is a journey in which Christ actually journeys with us. A failure to realize this would sadly put us in the category of the character in the popular poem called “Foot Steps”. In that poem, the individual at first never realizes that God journeyed with him. Then in retrospect, when he does, he confuses God’s footsteps with his. Consequently, he thought the Lord abandoned him during times of difficulty when in fact the Lord literally lifted and carried him when he could no longer carry himself. The deeper meaning to our journey resides in the realization that God actually journeys with each of us…to provide guidance, strengthen and endurance for the journey and even to carry us when necessary. As we journey through Holy Week, may we trust Him to guide our steps in the path that leads to eternal life.

This week’s Lenten assignment: During Holy Week, seek ways to help someone stay on the right path of life.

 

Weekly Lenten Reflections:
Fifth Week in Lent 2017

(Ezekiel 37:1-14 & John 11:1-45)

By Fr. Dee Bright

The readings for the 5th Sunday in Lent present a message of hope, of restoration and of the giving of life—new life. The Old Testament story of Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones, (Ezekiel 37:1-14), could not be more reassuring of hope. Those bones were not merely dead bones but they were dead dry bones. Yet they were given life again. Lazarus, in the Gospel story, (John 11:1-45), was not merely a dead man, but had been dead for four days. Yet he was quickened to life. These simple stories are meant to testify to God’s ability to reverse the course of human circumstances. Their implications of remind me of the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous speech: “Never Give Up”. For this reason I always encourage people not to ever give up on God. Lent is that time when the church calls us to seek God deeper—a time for us to allow God to particularly turn around the undesirables in our lives. Some call it opening up oneself to the possibility of second chances. And yes, when we don’t give up trusting God, then each day can be God’s offer of a second chance.

This week’s Lenten assignment: During this week of Lent, let’s be attentive to God’s offer of second chances in our lives.

 

 

Weekly Lenten Reflections:
Fourth Week in Lent 2017

(St. John 9:1--41)

By Fr. Dee Bright

 The story of the man born blind is the gospel for the fourth week of Lent: (St. John 9:1—41).

While the religious legalists (including some of His own disciples), were concerned with who was to blame for the man’s blindness, Jesus was concerned with acts of mercy and compassion. They wanted to know who sinned that the man was born blind…a way of trying to point the accusative finger. In taking path of mercy, Jesus demonstrated yet again that there is a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea; (from Hymn by Frederick Faber). He also demonstrated that adversity is not always self-afflicted and not always a result of a person’s sins. In essence, Jesus’ example in this week’s Gospel calls attention to our prejudices and our misjudgments of others. It points to the risk and harm of jumping to conclusion or making judgmental assumptions about the plight of others. This week’s gospel implicitly warns against the harboring of uncharitable judgments.

 This week’s Lenten assignment: During this week of Lent, please seek ways of showing mercy and compassion towards other people’s predicaments.

 

 

Weekly Lenten Reflections:
Second Week in Lent 2017

(St. John 4:5-42)

By Fr. Dee Bright

The Church lectionary presented Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman as the Gospel,

(St. John 4:5-42), for the second Sunday in Lent. Some people simply refer to her as the woman at the well. In any case, she remained nameless. She was considered one of those “sinners” with whom a religious or righteous person like Jesus was not to interact. She had had five unsuccessful marriages. She was now in an unwedded relationship. Hers was a life of reproach and with little no respect from her townsfolks. She had to fetch water from an isolated well. Jesus, nevertheless, broke with culture and with the status quo and engaged her in a life changing encounter. It was perhaps because Jesus saw her through a different lens. He did not see a sinner. He saw a broken person. In fact, considering her a “sinner” would have made no difference to Jesus reaching out to her since His mission was to seek and save the lost.  There are broken people in every generation, every culture, every race and every society. A variety of vocations bring them across our path every day. The psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, lawyers, priests and pastors all deal with broken people each day.  Actually, they don’t have to come to us through our vocational practices. Broken people are all around us. As a result of Jesus impact, the women at the well was so transformed that she evangelized her village and bridged the divide (in that case) between this Jewish man and the Samaritans.

 This Week’s Lenten Assignment: Particularly for this week in Lent, be more attentive to the brokenness of our world and seek ways of being the heart and hands of God in their transformation.

 

 

Weekly Lenten Reflections:
First Week in Lent 2017

(St. Matthew 4:1-11)

By Fr. Dee Bright

The Gospel (St. Matthew 4:1-11) for the first Sunday in Lent was that of the temptation of Jesus. Over all, this gospel really invites us to be aware of our own moments of temptation and our own times of trial and testing. We need to be aware that temptation is the devil’s way of seeking to expose our worse inclinations and his means of appealing to our fallen nature and our brokenness. In essence, through temptation, the devil attacks our weaknesses in order to under-mind our Christian witness. In times of temptation and in moments of trial we have to remember to draw strength from our Lord Jesus Christ who was tempted in all sorts of ways but never yielded. That is why the Holy Scriptures promise that God will not allow us to be tempted or tested beyond our ability but that with every trial and temptation, God will provide a way out; (I Corinthians 10:13). In the Lord’s Prayer when we pray “…lead us not into temptation…” we can trust that our Lord is able to see us through every temptation and bring us out of every trial.

This Week’s Lenten Assignment:  Look out for those who are facing some of the worse temptations and trials of life and do your best to be of strength and support to them.