Trinity 4/Ordinary Time 10 – Monday
Memoria of St. Ephraem – Deacon & Doctor of the Church
I’m not one who is too fond of John Piper. Heck, amongst evangelical Protestants, you could name him as being one pastor who is almost venerated like a saint in the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
While I don’t doubt his sincere passion and zeal for the Lord (he has the heart of a missionary pastor), his pastoral emphasis in preaching and his gritty earthiness that I’ve seen in sermon videos, his very closeness and unswerving adherence to the five-point Calvinist TULIP viewpoint always leaves me wary at times.
But I haven’t read my emails in about a week (despite downloading them off my mail server). So this morning I opened up one that’s been sitting in my in-box for about a week now.
And this sermon by Piper is one where he is at his very best. The second one in his “Psalms: Thinking and Feeling with God” series is on the very topic that makes up the title of this post.
Spiritual Depression in the Psalms is based upon an exposition of Psalm 41 (which is Psalm 42 in most Protestant Bibles). Whenever I hit this Psalm in the Psalter, this is one that always resonates very strongly in my heart and mind. The only other one which has the same effect on me (if not more so) is that of Psalm 50 (51), “Miserere mei, Deus“.
Some food for the soul indeed.
On another note, today is St. Ephraem’s memoria. Here are some words from one of his sermons that are on a similar vein as that of Psalm 41 and Rev’d. John Piper’s exposition.
Taken from Sermon 3 by St. Ephraem
O Lord, drive away the darkness from our minds with the light of your wisdom, so that enlightened in this way we may serve you with renewed purity. The beginning of the sun’s passage through the sky marks the beginning of the working-day for us mortals: we ask you, Lord, to prepare in our minds a place where the day that knows no end may give its light. Grant that we may have within us this light, the life of the resurrection, and that nothing may take away our delight in you. Mark us with the sign of that day that does not begin with the movement and the course of the sun, by keeping our minds fixed on you.
Do not take away from our minds, Lord, the signs of your spiritual presence and do not withdraw from our bodies the warmth and delight of your presence. The mortal nature of our bodies is a source of corruption within us: let the outpouring of the spirit of your love wipe away the effect of mortality from our hearts. Grant, Lord, that we may hasten to our true home, and, like Moses on the mountain-top, let us have a glimpse of it.
Here’s the collect for lauds on this memoria:
in your kindness open our hearts to the Holy Spirit,
under whose inspiration
Saint Ephraem loved to sing of your mysteries,
and by whose power he served you alone.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.