O Son of Man… Can these Churches Live?
Devotional & Discussion Thought of the Day
16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Romans 4:16-17 (NLT)
7 So I prophesied as I had been told. While I was speaking, I heard a rattling noise, and the bones began to join together. 8 While I watched, the bones were covered with sinews and muscles, and then with skin. But there was no breath in the bodies. 9 God said to me, “Mortal man, prophesy to the wind. Tell the wind that the Sovereign LORD commands it to come from every direction, to breathe into these dead bodies, and to bring them back to life.” 10 So I prophesied as I had been told. Breath entered the bodies, and they came to life and stood up. There were enough of them to form an army. Ezekiel 37:7-10 (TEV)
926 When I am told that there are people dedicated to God who are no longer striving with fervour for sanctity, I think that—if there is any truth in this—their lives are heading towards great failure. (1)
So, my wife and I are having this Sarah and Abraham moment… and in trying to live in a state of denial, I’ve been thinking about churches. Today, we had a pastor’s gathering of our circuit – some 22 churches in our area – and five pastors showed up beside me. After celebrating God’s gifts – we talked a little bit about our churches – and where we see God leading us shepherd them.
In all but one case – the chruches are in need of…. some call it revitalizaiton, some call it revival. We talked about being focused on Christ, about discipling, about outreach – and about beng the church together.
In trying to process all of this, I remember what the experts told me about my first church – that is couldn’t possibly be a vital congregation again. I had heard that about others congregations, that had on such advice folded, closed their doors, abandoned their communities, and their duty to be salt and light, usually in neighborhoods experiencing great darkness of sin. I’ve heard that since – as experts have told me that there is a growing need for church hospice pastors – the pastors that will assist churches as they mourn, as their lights fadee, as they die…..
But if God can create life in Sarah’s womb, in Hannah’s womb, in Elizabeth’s womb, if He can create this universe from nothingness, (and in my wife’s – who is much much younger than the others just mentioned) can He not create life in these churches?
Abraham believed God, the Son of Man in Ezekiel knew that even when there were bodies with flesh – God’s spirit was needed for those bodies to become alive, for them to be a “mighty army” (not going to war with the world – but going to war to save those in it). St Josemaria talks aof failure in not being a place where God’s holiness is sought, and even though his writings are sacred writ – there is that same point. Where is the Holy Spirit in our churches? Where is the evidence of repentance and reconciliation, of lives that are made whole in Christ, of a desire to see people freed from sin, and from its wicked accomplices of guilt and shame. Holiness being a characteristic – not thatit is intentionally developed – but it is the normal by-product of people in awe of God, and overwhelmed by His love for them.
Can these churches live? Yes Lord, you know.
I also wonder, if we see this in little churches, does it happen in big ones as well? Can the church do so many things that it forgets its first ministry is to know Christ and Him crucified? Can even mega churches be a valley of dried bones, or a valley of bones with flesh – but no Spirit? For there, when the Spirit enters our lives, we find our hope – we find God’s mercy, we find His love. We find that call to holiness that we should never deny,, for it is a very gift of our Baptism. You see Holiness isn’t about some goody two shoes, condescnding holier than thou attitude. Holiness is about realizing that we’ve been called into God’s glory – that He will share our lives, even as we share in His.
It is a million times the feeling a father has, when he holds the baby that has been in his wife’s womb for 9 months. For daily, daily, we encounter God’s presence, His glory, His mercy, His love in much the same way a mother shares life with her baby.while in the womb. Yet – then. on the day He returns, face to face…
Yeah – these churches can live – for that is why God has put His name there – to bring life from nothing, to erase darkness with the light of His glory.
We find our lives.
So let us, as His children, as His people, cry “Lord have mercy!” and “Come Holy Spirit” and know 1) the call is the same, and 2) It is always answered, Fear not, I AM with you!”
And then watch – as the Spirit breathes life into these congregations, and they live!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3264-3266). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on February 11, 2014, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Abraham and Sarah Moments, Birth, Ezekiel, life anew, Pregnancy, Something out of Nothing, St. Josemaria Escriva, the quickening, Valley of Dry Bones. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.