Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Eucharist: the Strength to Reveal Christ to Others…


English: The Lord's Supper. Christ standing at...

English: The Lord’s Supper. Christ standing at an Orthodox altar, giving the Eucharist to the Twelve Apostles. Frescoes in the upper church of Spaso-Preobrazhenski cathedral. Valaam Monastery Русский: Алтарная апсида верхнего храма Спасо-Преображенского собора Валаамского монастыря. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

This can only mean that whenever you eat this bread or drink of this cup, you are proclaiming that the Lord has died for you, and you will do that until he comes again. So that, whoever eats the bread or drinks the wine without due thought is making himself like one of those who allowed the Lord to be put to death without discerning who he was1 Corinthians 11:26 (Phillips NT)

If you don’t keep in touch with Christ in prayer and in the bread, how can you make him known to others? (1)

Though I have been in churches of many denominations and brotherhoods, the three I have spent the most time in, have had something in Common.  The weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion, or my preference, the Eucharist.

To be honest, it is something that I took for granted far too often.  The Eucharist was something that when I was younger I thought was a spiritual “fill-up”, an opportunity to refocus, a chance to be reminded of God’s promises, a chance to remember His grace covering my sin, as surely as His blood was poured out on the ground.

You might be saying, well Pastor Dt, that’ what it is all about – isn’t it?  That moment of refreshing, a weekly “mountain top” experience, a break and rest from the norm, and a break from the sin which haunts them.  A chance to really realize what holiness is about…

As we think about what the Eucharist results in, we slowly lose sight about it is…  the Body of Christ, given for us; the Blood of Christ, shed for us…

It is  not just about knowing God’s love – it is time with Him.  A time for His to comfort and cleanse and help us explore with Him the height and depth, breadth and width of  His love, and the Father’s love. A time not just where we are reminded of His covenant and its promises, but where He, Himself, reminds us of that promise – most specifically His loving presence.  That we are His family, called to dinner with Him as the Host…

That is why Paul can say we proclaim His death – it is ours, we who are untied to Him in His death and resurrection (our re-birth)  It is time with Him in that moment beyond time, that foretaste of the feast that will be thrown when we all have come home.   We proclaim it – not just for our benefit – but that others would join us at this incredible moment, in this incredible time with Him…celebrating out union…our being the beloved. It is from there, from that depth of intimacy with Christ, that knowing Him and being known by Him, that the kerygma – the desire to introduce others to Him springs forth.

Not from duty…

But from the passion He has for us, the unbelievable love He has for us….

And we know who we are introducing people to, not just a way to “be saved”, but the God, the incredible, majestic, glorious God who loves them, Who gives them life… and brings them into His glory.

It is where we find the answer to our plea… Lord have mercy….  and know He does that in a way beyond expression… and it is He, even more than us, the is joyous in the reunion.

Godspeed us all to this realization.

Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 396-397). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition

The Apostolic Mission that is the Church… and overcoming fear…


Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jo...

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day”

 17  When they saw him, they worshiped him, even though some of them doubted. 18  Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19  Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20  and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-20 (TEV)

In grasping the outstretched hand of Christ, the Church of the twenty-first century, and of all time, finds the remedy for its fear. It also finds the criteria of authentic Catholic reform: the criterion of truth— for it is the truth of Christ that measures all in the boat that is the Church— and the criterion of mission— for it is by Christ overcoming our fear that the Church finds the courage to be the mission it is. (1)

Even after forty days of coping with the disturbing fact that Jesus died, and the more shocking fact that He had risen, the apostles struggle.  They know enough and desire to worship – but doubt and anxiety, even as it appears Jesus will be leaving them, begins to grow….they begin to waver… to be unsure of what’s next..

He commissions us, the entire church, to share this message.  But then there is the beautiful thing – He promises again, that we will not be alone, never alone, in this work which is our life.  Yeah, I said our lives, lived out in fellowship with God.  You see, mission is now about what we do as believers.  It’s not what we do to prove our salvation, or to become holy and sanctified.  It isn’t about working in the Kingdom, as if it is some other part of our lives. some chore we do as God’s children.  It cannot be – that kind of effort, programmed, built into us, can be used by God for sure….yes we grow in the skills, in the use of words, in understanding the people we serve and love, yet – you can’t plan to grow in love for someone, can you?

The answer to the wavering is in realizing the presence of God.  The “disciplines” we “endure”, the Worship Services, the  Bible Studies, the prayers, private confession and absolution, even things like fasting or almsgiving, is not about strengthening us like lifting spiritual weights, but they strengthen us – because we come into contact with Christ’s strong hand, we realize the presence of God, right here, right now in our lives.  The joy of that encounter is what causes us to be missional – to realize where we have been sent as God’s apostles.   It is His overcoming our fear, our doubts, our wavering, and the complete surprise that He is with us that those things we do have as their objective.  To create a dependence on God’s presence, that is what we do as believers instill in us.

Wavering about what happens next in life?  Where God would send you?  Who around you needs to know about Jesus’ love?   Look first to Jesus.  Find your hand already grasped by Him.  Relax and know His love… know He will not abandon you… and see who needs that same peace.

Go in His name, with Him.

 

Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 92). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Dan Brown, Dante’s Inferno and the Missio Dei


English: Dante Alighieri's portrait by Sandro ...

English: Dante Alighieri’s portrait by Sandro Botticelli. Tempera 54,7 x 47,5 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 27  God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. 28  We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. 29  That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.   Colossians 1:27-29 (MSG)

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. (Dante)  For Langdon, the meaning of these words had never felt so clear: In dangerous times, there is no sin greater than inaction. (1)

Throughout Dan’s Brown’s latest novel, the above italicized words are repeated, over and over.  ( I happen to like this one – even though it’s attack on the church was much more… veiled)

There is something to be said for those who are inactive in the face of a crisis, in the face of a moral crisis.  To passively live as if there was not some looming disaster that would come is simply wrong.

Most of us would look at this and think of things like war, abortion, racism and other forms of discrimination, political corruption, slavery.

In view of the book though – and the crisis there and the so-called “solution”, I kept coming back to the cause of all sin – including inaction.  Idolatry, especially that of Narcissism. It is encoded in us, as surely as if it was part of our DNA.  Spiritual leaders, self help authors and counselors of many types make money – many of them with great sincerity.

But the answer isn’t found in growth, or development in the way we set our minds to it and grow.  The way is through dependence, through recognition of our weakness, through something that radically changes us, radically transforms us.

In church language, the concept is what Peter talked of at Pentecost. “Repent (literally – to have a changed mind) and be Baptized (see Ezekiel 36:25 and following to see how the Holy Spirit works there )  In both cases, the work is beyond us, it is beyond our ability, and it is the work of God.  We have to, however, trust Him.  We have to die to ourselves – as the Spirit unites us to Christ’s death on the cross, so that we can be born again, that we can come to life.  It is their (not in purgatorio ) that we are purged of our sin. We trust God to do this – to cleanse us, to give us life.  This is basic Christianity…. and once alive – we dwell – even now, in the presence of God.

Back to Dan Brown and Dante’s quote about inaction.

The world’s population is growing – for sure.  I don’t think to the extend of Brown’s theories, but it is growing none the less. Even so, there is a crisis more severe than that of Brown’s thoughts – it is the crisis of faith – that much of the world is unaware of God’s heart toward them, His desire for a relationship with them, and the extent of God’s work to see that happen.

We who know this – do have an obligation – that of loving our neighbor – to share with them that which we know.  Know legalitically, nor condemning their symptomatic demonstration of sin in a way that gives them no hope.  Rather, our job is to share why we, who also sin – have more than “just” hope.  We have Him

Let us not dwell in the sin on inaction – but with Paul, let us share God’s love, with the power and strength God gives us.  AMEN.

 

(1)Brown, Dan (2013-05-14). Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon) (p. 464). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The Idol of Time “Managed”….


Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

15  So watch your step. Use your head. 16  Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! 17  Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. 18  Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. 19  Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. 20  Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:15-20 (MSG) 

There is also, he added, “another richness in our culture”, another richness that prevents us from getting close to Jesus: it’s our fascination for the temporary”. We, he observed, are “in love with the provisional”. We don’t like Jesus’s “definitive proposals”. Instead we like what is temporary because “we are afraid of God’s time” which is definitive.  “He is the Lord of time; we are the masters of the moment. Why? Because we are in command of the moment: I will follow the Lord up to this point, and then I will see… I heard of a man who wanted to become a priest – but only for ten years, not any longer…” Attraction for the provisional: this is a richness. We want to become masters of time, we live for the moment.  ( Pope Francis’s honily this day… from Catholic News Agency)

We live in a world that is, as Pope says, fascinated with “the temporary”.  We look to the short term investments to make a killing, we lease cars so that in two or three years, we can buy a new one.  We buy into a system that causes us to replace our cell phones, our tablets, our computers every two or three years.   We hear that young people will not have one career in their lives – but 3 or 4 or more (heck , I am on my third…)  And less we forget marriage, people trade in their lifetime commitments like they were library books.

I labelled this blog – the “Idol of Time” because that is what it appears to be.  Yet I think the Pope sees it very clearly – this is an Idol, because while we claim to value it, we also want to desperately control it.  That’s the thing about idols – they are far easier to control than God is, who as CS Lewis put it (and Chesterton as well) God cannot be tamed.  So we try to become Master’s of our own time – setting up calendars and planning our next moves, working to see what new thing we can distract ourselves with for the moment, thinking that we’ve got it all now.  Then the next commercial makes us realize we are out of date already.

That’s why we are attracted to the temporary, to that which is unsustainable, to that which needs to be replaced.

But what id we were to focus on that which endures – that which is sustained – that which has a meaning that can never be replaced?

What if we understood the will of God, what if we took the time in prayer, and in reading His word, and in finding encouragement as we fellowshipped with those who also knew His love?  What if our joy was found in seeing people cleansed and healed and finding God’s presence – not far off in some othre universe, or even on vacation in a gloriously beautiful place like the mountains of New Hampshire, or Rome, or China?  What if we found God’s incredible majestic presence in our homes, our work places, our cars as we drive – and yes… our churches.  Would we then look at those places differently?  Would we find contentment in the simplicity of knowing He is there?

Would we find the joy that would explode in our singing praises?

Let God manage our time, let Him redeem it, let Him show us His will… His love, His mercy…His peace…and an eternity of wonder and awe and…Him

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stirred, not Shaken!


Basic Bond coat of arms with motto translated ...

Basic Bond coat of arms with motto translated as The World is Not Enough (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Stirred but not Shaken”

Acts 2: 14a ,22-36


Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

 May you realize the grace of of knowing the Triune God desires and works to know you, and make you perfect, perfect for a relationship 


Anybody get the number of  that creed?   

Even though I dearly love the Athanasian Creed, even though I love how it lays out the relationship of the Trinity, even though I love spending a couple of hours with it, and highly recommend that to you, there is a certain feeling I get, reading it in a worship service.

Two ways to describe it…

The first is, I feel like Wiley E Coyote at the end of every scene in the old Roadrunner cartoons….

The other, I wonder if anyone got the license plate number of the theological 18 wheeler than just hit me.  I almost wonder if Anthony of the Desert, who is credited with writing it, and Athanasius, a deacon who presented the creed to a gathering of pastors and bishops – comprehended the depth of the creed’s teaching….

Maybe it overwhelmed them a bit two… as if as they read it, they wondered who was driving the chariot that ran over them….

Even as I love this incredible Creed, as I love how it teaches us about the mystery of the Trinity – the Tri-une God, the Three yet One, I realize it has one shortcoming.  It was written to challenge all the false teachings about the Trinity, and about the nature of Christ…it seeks to teach us to know about how the Trinity is, and how Jesus is both fully God and fully man…

But it assumes one thing…. That we know this Trinity, this Triune God.

It does a wonderful job stripping away many, if not most of the false teachings about Jesus… yet leaves us there… needing to get to know Him…

May this day, we rejoice, in not just knowing who God is not, but may we rejoice in knowing our Triune God…..

And as we grow in knowing the Trinity, this God of ours, may we be just the opposite of James Bond’s famous drink – may we be stirred, and know we cannot be shaken.

Stirred

Still a little overwhelmed by the theological semi that ran over my brain, I’m going to do the sermon backward today – and give you the gospel, before the law…

Hear King David’s words again, really hear them….

‘I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 26 No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope. 27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave. 28 You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’

 The very God we proclaimed that we trusted a moment ago, David said is right before his eyes.  As God is here, right in our midst.  Here to protect, here to be our shepherd, here to be all that we need as our Father, as our Lord, as our God.
He is here…The Triune God who has been at work in our lives since we were created, is with us. He has called us together, He has brought us here, in order that we can know His love, that we can remember His mercy.  The Holy Spirit drew us that we can literally taste and see that the Lord is good.

Walking with Him, on this way, which He has revealed, is what our lives are to be, and are, because of that presence of His. To know He is here, To realize that love which causes Him to cleanse us, to assure us that our souls will not fade into nothingness, even as Christ’s body was not meant to tor in the grave.

Paul explain this, in this way,

12  For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ through your faith in the active power of God, who raised him from death. 13  You were at one time spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were Gentiles without the Law. But God has now brought you to life with Christ. God forgave us all our sins; 14  he canceled the unfavorable record of our debts with its binding rules and did away with it completely by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:12-14 (TEV)

That is what the presence of God in our lives means… it’s the time to rejoice in everything that has opened up to us.  It is time for a party, for the feast – for the incredible life that God has given us…. And would live with us.

No wonder David says that His heart dances, it rejoices, (forget this line “glad” GRR) and his tongue SHOUTS his praises – the special shout reserved for the jubilee – that one time in life, everything you are shout!

He is here – He has given us life – He has given us the joy of His presence….

He is right beside me… and I shall not, will not, cannot be shaken…

Not Shaken   

That is where the Law comes in, this idea of being “shaken”.  Being shaken is like being out in the middle of Lake Galilee with 80 mph winds raising waves much bigger than our fishing boats, or a spiritual earthquake.  Those are the words that are used for those traumas, when life is so in turmoil that you cannot determine which way is which – not just east and west or north and south, but forward and back and upside down.
The Trinity’s presence in our lives takes care of that – for it completely changes our point of orientation. It is no longer us that is spinning out of control, even as the world is spinning – and in such a way that people have to realize God is with us.

As we do, as our lives, as our desires, as our dreams ocme into line with His, as we see that our redemption, our deliverance has been the Father’s goal all along, things change.

The law – which is the way in which God orders the universe, which we struggle with, is revealed to be what drives us to Him, looking for hope, looking for something which will cause the storm…

And when we are with God, Triune, majestic, beyond our ability to comprehend, at least during this life, we do find ourselves able to rest in hope, our heart finds that gladness, and we shout His praise, as we realize His desire is to be here – with us, His people.

It’s His plan…no, we are His plan..

 It’s His plan, the reading calls it His pre-arranged plan…
Even to the point where Jesus was betrayed, and fixed to a cross, and murdered.  As Peter preaches to the very ones who killed him,

That He could, for the people the Father created, pay the price of redemption, and pour out His Holy Spirit, that we would become His Holy and Righteous people…

Yeah – no wonder our hearts are glad…joyous – know His presence, having been shown the way of life – through the death of Christ.

May we indeed know His peace, as we wait, resting in the hope that comes from knowing He is beside us.  May such knowledge stir us to love and good deeds, even as we trust, as we know we’ll never be shaken…
AMEN?

Evangelical Catholic X: Called to being the Mission


Port St. Joe, Florida: St. Joseph Catholic Mis...

Port St. Joe, Florida: St. Joseph Catholic Mission Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Discussion/Devotional THought of the Day:
27  God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28  So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29  To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:27-29 (TEV) 

In the encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Pope John Paul II, summing up a line of development that had begun with Leo XIII’s new engagement with modernity, taught that the Church does not have a mission, as if “mission” were one among a dozen things the Church does; rather, the Church is a mission, and everything the Church does is ordered to that mission, which is the proclamation of the Gospel and the conversion of the world to Christ. 43 Evangelical Catholicism is that form of twenty-first-century Catholicism that has fully embraced John Paul’s teaching on the nature of the Church-as-mission and that declares itself and its people to be in permanent mission. 44 And as such, it is the form of Catholicism that will complete the deep reform of the Catholic Church that has been underway since 1878.

In an evangelical Catholic perspective, mission measures everything; or, in the language of management theory, Evangelical Catholicism is mission-driven. Even in the sacred liturgy— that part of the Church’s life that seems to be a step back from the world, or better, a step into the real world that is the Kingdom of God in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb— the Church is being equipped by sacramental grace for mission. Even contemplative vocations that really are cloistered, from both the world and the rest of the Church, are mission-oriented. For the consecrated life, as John Paul II taught in the 1996 apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata, is the spiritual engine of the Church. Here the energies of evangelism are refined and shared in a great exchange of gifts by which the entire Church, as the Bride of Christ, strives for union with her divine Spouse. 45 Thus the mission of the Church in-the-world is ordered to the coming of the Lord in glory and the New Life of the New Jerusalem.

If mission measures everything in Evangelical Catholicism, it also measures everyone, for as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught, “each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith.” 46 In an evangelical Catholic perspective, every Catholic is a missionary, an evangelist, a baptized disciple commissioned by the Lord to take the Gospel to every nation, calling all to be baptized in the name of the Most Holy Trinity. Thus does Evangelical Catholicism respond to the challenges posed by evangelical Protestantism (in which sharing the friendship of the Lord Jesus is understood to be everyone’s responsibility) and clericalized Catholicism (in which mission is something reserved for the ordained). (1)

I think that believers in Christ are greatly confused by two words – Church – and Mission.

You might say, “Pastor Dt – we know about church – it’s not the building, its the people that gather together to worship God.”

That’s aa good start – but it is deeper than that – the word for church is ekklessia – “those called”, and defines us by what we are into, not  just the call itself.  We are called to be in a relationship with God, a relationship that is much like a dance, where He guides us through life, and He directs how we interact with others, and indeed, where He goes – we follow.  So church is not just “the people”  but its the people of God, walking, dancing, living in Him.

That life then, is the mission.  As Wiegel asserts above, it also defines us, not in the sense of being a characteristic of our lives; rather mission is our life together. It is inviolate part of our calling, for mission is at the very heart of our relationship with God – from His sending (the word apostle is used regarding Him) Christ on the mission to save us, to the “Great Commission”, to the very revealed will of God – that none would be condemned, but that all would be transformed.

I love, absolutely love,  Wiegel’s description then – of the gathering of the church above, “Even in the sacred liturgy— that part of the Church’s life that seems to be a step back from the world, or better, a step into the real world that is the Kingdom of God in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb— the Church is being equipped by sacramental grace for mission.” For how can we encounter God’s grace, poured out through word and sacrament, and then enter a world that is dark and bleary and without hope – but filled with narcissistic emptiness?  Are we that hardened to the plight of people without God?  Are we that unaware of what life is like, without dancing with God?

Do we take our own salvation so much for granted, that we do not desire the world to know?

Last January, I went on a “mission trip” sort of, a chance to go to China and preach in a church there, for a friend.  A chance to visit others, who teach English, and share their love of God with those who ask why they have such hope.  It was amazing to see a hall that through which a million people would pass each day – as they cleared customs from Hong Kong to Mainland China.  But there, as odd as it seems, the work seemed easier, people desiring to know about God, wanting to learn, asking the hard questions about their faith, and desiring to learn how to give others the hope they only recently encountered.  O how I wish we could bring that attitude here…  I thought.  WHat would do it?

I think Wiegel’s words give us the clue, it’s not another seminar on apologetics, it’s not another program/class on evangelism.

It’s standing at a baptistry or baptismal font, and knowing the Lord who cleansed us there, who opened our eyes – who guaranteed our lives with Him.

It’s kneeling at an altar, wondering why God decided to bless us with an invitation to feast with Him, to feed us the very Body and Blood of Christ.

It’s staying there, crying, as we realize we can pour everything we are, our pains, our sorrows, our hurts…. as He revives and renews our trust in Him…..

Then, as we leave there…. looking at our neighbor, hearing the pain in their voice.  Seeing the anxiety building in the young mom at the market,  visiting our friends in the hospital….

Seeing them, not as numbers to get to church, but as people to bring to that altar, to that font, so they can know the rest and peace… that we celebrate and rejoice in.

We are those called, we are those led on a mission…. it is who we are,…. already… in Christ.

(1)Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (pp. 85-86). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Prayer – the act of deep trust…


English: Lords Prayer in Aramaic(Syriac)

English: Lords Prayer in Aramaic(Syriac) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 16  Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with!  James 5:16 (MSG)

“In te, Domine, speravi—“In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped.” And together with human means I prayed and took my cross. And my hope was not in vain, nor will it ever be. Non confundar in aeternum—“Let me never be confounded.”

You don’t know what to say to our Lord in prayer. Nothing comes to you and yet you would like to ask his advice about many things. Look: take some notes during the day of the things you want to think about in the presence of God. And then go with those notes to pray.” (1)

In Bible Study this morning, we were looking at the 11th chapter of Hebrews, and the first fourteen verses.  As we talked though Abel and Enoch, Noah and Abraham and Sarah, we saw something very inspiring.

We saw the trust they had, not in the promises, but in the God who they knew existed, and knew was with them, that they could seek Him out.  More than that – since we know the stories, we had the assurance that sin didn’t separate them from God.  They were given hope – not just for the moement, but the hope that comes from a life of walking with God, the hope that is assured by love, and is never in vain.  The more we talked, the more the concept solidifed that though they couldn’t know all the details of what awaited them, the knew God clearly, trusted in Him, spent time with Him.

But what do we pray about?  How do we have a conversation about life with the God who created the stars?

Well my first question is, “what do you need to trust God in/for/with?”    Write them down as St. Josemaria suggests ( you could tweet them to Him?!) or text/fb message them to yourself for later review.  Lots of technology things out there – but then, set the time apart for them.  Think through them, ask God for guidance, to be the active partner that He has promised to be in your life.  (Managing Partner actually)   All through the day – keep reminders of what you need to discuss with God, sure the traumas and problems, but also the things you need to voice you admiration and adoration of His creativity, of His sense of beauty, of His ability to bring healing and peace.

And trust Him, deeply, even more deeply than you trust yourself.

Godspeed

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 377-383). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

You must be a Theophilus (Loved/r of God before being a Theologian


Devotional Thought of the Day:

 2  I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains—but if I have no love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 (TEV)

7  The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. 8  Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ 9  and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousnessPhilippians 3:7-9 (MSG) 

“You wrote to me: “To pray is to talk with God. But about what?” About what? About him, and yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, great ambitions, daily worries—even your weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions—and love and reparation. In short, to get to know him and to get to know yourself— “to get acquainted!”” (1)

For the last year or so, I have been toying with the idea of going back to school, to get a doctoral degree.  I’ve thought about which degree to get, for there are a number of fields that interest me – from worship, to sociology, to counseling, to homiletics and other pragmatic areas of ministry.  Yesterday I went back to where it all started, 30 years ago this fall, as I entered a “non-denom” Bible College – in a very accidental “God-thing” type moment.

Combine with that preparing to preach this weekend – “Trinity Sunday” we call it, a day to meditate upon how God has revealed Himself to us, as three distinct, yet …..One.  One of the greatest, most complicated theological doctrines there is, and yet, still so far out of ability to comprehend. ( Read the Athanasian Creed – an incredibly beautiful explanation of God, yet each phrase, raises more questions, leaves us more in awe.  And for a theologian, albeit an amateur one, (as all pastors are – as serving others takes precedence…always… over such deep thoguhts) I love to just sit back and plumb the depths of the minds who wrote far more comprehensively than I can think.

But then I come to St. Paul – a man who was a first rate theologian in his day, prior to His conversion, who wrote the quotes above.   It doesn’t matter how much I know, I’ve got to realize I am loved, I have to understand why Paul so desired to be embraced by Christ, why everything else took a back seat to knowing, not the details.

Which is where Theophilus – the person Luke writes his gospel for comes in.  The name in Greek is Loved by God/Lover of God. But it is that relationship that matters, that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have revealed that we are the beloved, that we never walk alone, that we have been cleansed and healed and are loved.   It is starting from there, realizing the miracles our being justified and sanctified are only to deliver us, the children of the Father, the ones Jesus calls His friends, the ones who are the Home of the Holy Spirit.  We must be Theophilus, before we ever become Theologians..

English: Gergeti Trinity Church cross relief

English: Gergeti Trinity Church cross relief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would never say to not study theology, but first, come to know God, as St Josemaria says – get acquainted with Him in prayer.  Talk to Him – about everything and anything.  Listen to Him, hear Him tell you of His love, of His mercy, of His grace.  That is what matters, in a way, it is ALL that matters….. for knowledge even all the data we can generate about Trinity – without that love… is nothing….empty…worthless.

I pray for you  (and ask you to pray for me, as the apostle Paul did for the people of Ephesus…

 14  For this reason I fall on my knees before the Father, 15  from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its true name. 16  I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, 17  and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, 18  so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. 19  Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (TEV)

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 365-368). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

It’s not Fair! (or right, or legal or just or moral ) Uhm, who made us judge?


English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded ...

English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded woodcarved relief by Martin Vinazer (* 1674 in St. Ulrich in Gröden; † 1744) signed MVF (MV Fecit) Deutsch: Gefasstes Holzrelief des Martin Vinatzer gezeichnet MVF (MV Fecit) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional thought of the day:

7  And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus. 8  In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. 9  Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.   Philippians 4:7-9 (TEV) 

“When a layman sets himself up as an arbiter of morals, he frequently errs; laymen can be only disciples.”  (1)

A disclaimer to start with: I have been having to deal with, preparing to deal with, and contemplating taking on a few things that are injust, unfair, and is in one situation – evil.   Why I do this, I don’t know – and it frustrates the heck out of me.

When I read the words of St Josemaria Escriva, quoted above this morning, my reaction was twofold.

The first was that I thought the word pastor/priest should be added to the word laymen.   As I think through that one, I realize that we as individuals do not, but in our role as ordained, as we stand in Christ’s place – by his command and forgive and retain sins, we do have that role.   We even have the role to confront people who have sinned against us.  (see Luther’s Large Catechism – the section on the Ten Commandments – The 8th Commandment for a great discussion of this)

But we cannot set ourselves up as the arbiter, as the judge, jury and executioner.  Not our role.

The other reaction I had, is – this statement flies in the face of 60% plus of what I see on FB.  From people commenting on selected photos of presidents and their umbrellas, to comments about how evil that person is, or this one, or how unjust this situation and that is, we vent our frustrations on the internet.  We like having that illusion of power, and an illusion is all that it is.   We feel like we can strike back, that we aren’t powerless, that we have a voice, that we somehow fulfilled a religious obligation.  And we are just spinning our wheels, and our souls.  There is a time to effectively work to overcome evil – in a way that is personal and caring and effective.

We haven’t been doing what’s good and beneficial.  In fact, when we set ourselves up as judge and jury, as we spend our time digging up the mud on this person or that, as we fight for our “rights”, we effectively say “no” to the peace of God.  We take the matter into our hands –  and with the illusion of power, allow things to take our minds off of what St. Paul suggests we should be doing,

Focusing on Christ, and His work.  Looking at the things which will bring Christ into the picture, His mercy, His love, His gospel.

Whether it makes things fair or not.  After all – Christ didn’t combat evil – talking about what was fair and moral.  He overcame it – by loving us enough to suffer the evil – to show us that love.

As we deal with Mondays, and a complicated week – and we want to strike out because its not fair, let us instead remember we are nailed to the cross of Christ – that we’ve died and risen with Him.

Therefore – we are home – and at peace.

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 310-311). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Our Place is His Place!


 Our Place is His Place

And the World would know!

John 14:23-31

 Jesus, Son, Savior

 May we welcome the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, confident of the love and mercy with which He cleanses our lives, and sets them apart to live in Christ with the Father!

 Mi Casa et Su Casa:  Ruth

Pentecost is more than a Sunday we celebrate once a year.  It is more as well than the longest church season of the year – when that banner is up there, and when I wear a green stole to symbolize the growth of the church.

It is the start of something wonderful, something which defines every day every moment of our life.  Because of the Holy Spirit, the one we confess is the Lord and Giver of our life.

One of the best illustrations of that life is found in the story of Naomi and Ruth.  The promise that Jesus makes to us, comes more fully into focus when we hear the promise Ruth made to Naomi,

But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; 17  where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me GOD—not even death itself is going to come between us!” 18  When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart set on going with her, she gave in. Ruth 1:16-18 (MSG) 16  

Of course, the Holy Spirit doesn’t say it quite like that – but the desire, the commitment, the very attitude of God is no less than Ruth’s, even unto death, God has made us a promise.  “and We (the Father and Jesus) will come to him, and make Our Home with Him.”

May we indeed be like Naomi, and realizing that God has His heart set on going with us, may we give in, and welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives.

May we rejoice in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, may we rejoice in His presence, here and now.

Judas’ lack of vision

I was given an article this week, a pastor’s comments on the ascension, that troubled me.  The basic concept was the reason the pastor thought Jesus ascended to heaven. He basically said the lesson of the Ascension was that God “trusts” us.  That He left us to finish His work and trusts us to do it. Here’s a quote:  “These were Jesus final marching orders:  ‘Go everywhere you can and be a witness for love.’ And then He left”

Some really bad theology there, for a number of reasons.  But I seem to recall the words a little differently

18  Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19  Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20  and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (TEV)

It’s that last line, the I will be with you always, that somehow I think the pastor missed.

And I think Judas’ question shows us why.

“Lord,” he says, “How is it that you will reveal your glory to us, but you will assure the world won’t be able to see it?”

I guess all the “light unto the gentiles stuff” and “that the world may know” that seems so much a part of the gospel readings slipped Judas’s mind for the moment.  Even as I think that the mission of making disciples slips our mind occasionally.

Along with some of the other things God would have us do, like loving our neighbor, or feeding the poor, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and forgiving those who have sinned against us.

I pray that God doesn’t just “trust us, and then leave.”  I need, and I believe you need the constant presence of the Comforter, to heal us, to comfort us, to empower and commission us to use the very gifts that the Spirit has invested in us….as we depend on Him

The Miracle of the Holy Spirit’s Ministry

As these two widows, the young Ruth and older Naomi moved to Jerusalem, Ruth took on the role of the provider. She was the one who went out into the fields and worked, she cared for her mother-in-law, even as she promised.

In many ways, this too pictures the relationship of the Holy Spirit with us, nourishing us with the word of God, gathering us to the sacrament,  Jesus prophesies about this work in this way. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

This blessed work of the Holy Spirit, is something we so desperately need in our lives.  For the treasure of the teachings of God are so easily pushed aside as we deal with the challenges in this world.  We need to know God’s love, we know He is with us, we need to explore the depths of His love, and how that love changes us from people outcasts, to being His very children.

We need the Holy Spirit to help us adjust our priorities, to help us keep our focus on God.  We need to be reminded of our baptism – the very place where the Spirit was poured out on us, reviving us and renewing us.  We need the Holy Spirit to grant us repentance, to help us treasure the incredible words of Jesus, the promises made to us by the Son of God.  We need to be reminded that God’s will is that no one should perish, that all would be transformed by God.

Here is how Paul described this work of the Holy Spirit,

27  God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28  So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. Colossians 1:27-28 (TEV)

In other words – our place, wherever we are, He chooses as His place as well.  And that is what the Holy Spirit teaches us, even as we teach others.

What is that message?

So what is it the Holy Spirit calls us to our minds, that which Christ had taught the disciples?  Jesus said it this way,

“I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

And the Father sent His Son to save us, to make us His own people.. and such you are…

For he has done this – He has left us in His peace, He has given us His peace, the comfort the Holy Spirit has made known to us.

Assured of this – we have no need of troubled hearts, nor anxious minds..

For the Spirit reminds us, we dwell with God, we are in Christ, we are welcome here… in His peace.

AMEN.

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