Monthly Archives: December 2018

Escaping the ghost of Monday’s past

Jesus asks, “can i cleanse your past? can i redeem it for you”

Devotional Thought of the day!

15  Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16  redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17  Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (ASV)

365         You became very thoughtful when you heard me say: I want the blood of my Mother the Church to run in my veins; not Alexander’s, or Charlemagne’s, nor that of the Seven Sages of Greece.

When human time is no longer tuned to God’s time, it becomes repetitive, boring, unbearable, infinitely long or too short and, what is worse, deadly “times.”
Economic deadlines, for instance, do not consider hunger or the lack of schools for children or the unhappy situation of the elderly. Technology produces a kind of time so instantaneous and full of images that it does not let the hearts and minds of young people mature. Political time often seems circular like a carousel where the free-ring ride is always taken by the same people.

As I read the words of Pope Francis this morning (the words in green) the phrase “redeeming the time” came to my mind.  

Too often we lose time, worrying about things like our personal economic situations, or by those in the world.  By political maneuverings, by wasting time on technological pursuits.  

Our time isn’t tuned to God’s time, and I don’t think that Pope Francis is exaggerating when he talks of such time becoming deadly.  Such time lost is dead, whether it is stolen by anxiety, or wasted in pursuit of some escape. 

It’s gone, we can’t get it back, and even if we did, would we make the most of it this time? 

Most modern translations don’t talk about “redeeming the time”, they talk about making the most of it. But looking at the word in greek, it is definitely redeeming, of buying it back, to pay the ransom to see it returned. 

That may seem impossible, we can’t go back in time, we can’t purchase the time machine.  It seems more logical, what the modern translations advising us to make the most of the time we have in front of us.  

Except that isn’t what it says.  It talks of redeeming the time, not just the present, or preparing to do so for the future, but redeeming the past.  And in context with the light of Christ, His glory shining upon us, revealing all. 

And in that glorious light of Christ’s love, we can find our pasts redeemed, the sin and unrighteousness that cause our brokenness touched and healed.  We begin to see that even there, in the past, God is able to use that past for good, because that is what He does. Redeeming the time isn’t about our making the nest of the future, it is about letting Christ has our past, our present our future.

FOr He is the God of Abraham, and Issac and Jacob, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning, and the end.  And as we allow Him to redeem the time in our lives, free of what haunts us, we find an amazing thing. 

He is with us, now….

I added in the comment by St Josemaria, this idea of the blood of the church running through our veins, rather than the blood of leaders, or the wise.  But rather the blood of the church, Christ’s blood, poured out to redeem everything, to create everything anew. That is where we begin to realize this, in those moments of sweet communion, when God simply reminds us that Jesus died…for us.

So redeemed the time… let God have it, and watch what he does with it.

Even last Monday.

God’s peace flow over you my friend…know He is with you, and has promised you great things!


question for you to consider (and even answer)
What is the challenge of letting God bring healing to your past?

Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 366). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1677-1679). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Be Full of Joy: A sermon and service based on Phil. 4:4-7

Be Full of Joy
Philippians 4:4-7


† In JesusName †

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ leave fill you with more joy that you can imagine!  AMEN!

Irritating tunes…

There are in life some very irritating tunes.

You know, the ones that get stuck in your head and remain there for hours?

A few years ago it was songs from the children’s movie frozen, specifically “I want to be a snowman” and “Let it go!” And anyone who has ever been to Disneyland knows how long this next song sits in your mind. Here, I will give you the first word of it… and see if you can get it…

“It’s” (a small world after all…

There are a few of those in the church as well, though thankfully the ’70s are over and we rarely sing them.

Song’s like, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy…(down in my heart) and even worse, “rejoice in the Lord always..”   (Missy please note– these songs are never to be sung here unless I am on vacation in New England and Bob is preaching…)The latter praise song, “Rejoice in the Lord Always” is just the same words over and over, and over and… you get the picture. But what made it worse was that it was called a round… so, group, a would start it, then group b, then group c, so basically you were getting overwhelmed with this idea of having to rejoicealways

and sometimes we are not in the mood!

Dang it, sometimes you just don’t want to rejoice, you know, because sometimes life… is challenging.  (What did you think I was going to say sometimes life sucks?)

And to be assaulted over and over with people saying “rejoice always” (which is how some old translations state this passage… shortens already short, frayed fuses.

One of the reasons I like this translation is passages like this, that makes it less about us, and talks of being filled with joy.
 
Things that joy needs to replace.

But if we are going to be truly filled with joy, we have to get rid of the just that is in the place where joy is supposed to be.  Heck most of us have our lives so filled with these things, that we have not room for a chuckle or two, never mind full-blown, life overwhelming joy.

The things we are anxious about, the things that our minds dwell upon that cause us great stress.  Getting rid of that junk will give us a lot of room in our lives for joy.

Then, of course, are the things we need, or that we think we need in our lives.  Those too take a lot of room in our hearts and minds.  And even if we get them, we aren’t always satisfied.  And chasing after, or hyper-focusing on these things takes up room that should be allocated for joy!

Then there are the things we pray for because we are so desperate that we turn to God. I am not sure we always do give it to Him, but we at least say we have, yet we still let the situation burn a hole in us.. And when it does, it steals the place for joy.

I could go on and talk about the guilt and shame that we live with, the things that cause us to fear death or consider the return of our Lord Jesus Christ in a way that isn’t full of joy and expectation.

For we should look at God’s returning, with the same kind of eyes that kids have, as they see presents with their names on them begin to be placed under the tree.  For Christ’s return and what happens next are described with these favorite words from all of scripture.

9 What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man cannot visualise; all that God has prepared for those who love him;  1 Corinthians 2:9 (NJB)

And this thought should help us see the joy that God would fill us with if our lives can be emptied of anxiety, and our needs, and desperation and guilt and shame.

How did I come up with the list?
          Our conversation with God revolves around these important things

So where did I come up with that list, the things that fill us instead of the joy God would so lovingly fill us with? Where did I get anxiety, needs, despair, guilt, and shame?

From the passage of course.  Though I changed the words slightly.

Worry for anxious – the idea is to have a dueling mind, or two separate minds, at war with each other.  Some translations actually use “be anxious over nothing”.

Pray comes from the word for desire – it is to lay before God all the things that cause us despair, and then we are not just to tell God, but we are to makeGod intimately aware of our needs, so that we can trust Him to take care of them, so we can empty ourselves of these burdens, and allowing Him to gill us with joy.

He does this when we come to the realization that Jesus return is what we truly need.  We set aside our guilt and shame, or more accurately, we realize He has set it aside, thinking of the joy God has planned for in our homecoming, in our finally seeing Him face to face.

We don’t empty ourselves of these things, we need to trust God to do this, understanding that it is His desire to do so, and to fill us with joy, This is the comfortingwork of the Holy Spirit!  As He cleanses us,and fills us with God’s joy!

For as we heard Wednesday night, the prophet Zephaniah revealed the God delights in our homecoming, even more than we do.  You see the joy we are filled with is His joy, the joy God has when He sees His people knowing they are loved, and able to fully experience it. 

His joy is contagious, and His joy is found, and always has been found when He and His people are together when He’s been able to provide for them something beyond anyone’s capability to understand. or explain…

That which Paul prayed for His people and I pray for you, that emptied of all that can be replaced by joy, I pray you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. And know this, His peace will guard your hearts and minds, as you live in Christ Jesus.  AMEN!

God did it again! Grrrrrr! Can He frustrate me!

Devotional Thought of the day

23 Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.   Proverbs 4:23 GNT

Be open to the night…
Pray with open hand, not with clenched fist…
Shapes loom out of the darkness, uncertain and unclear: but the hooded stranger on horseback emerging from the mist need not be assumed to be the bearer of ill…
The night is large and full of wonders…

Lord Dunsany from Morning Prayer: 12/15 Northumbriacommunity.org

For God, we are not numbers, we are important, indeed we are the most important beings to him; even if we are sinners we are the closest to his heart.

Again I find myself sitting in my office, upset at another injustice I see.

Something that seems dark and ominous, something that I’ve got to watch someone deal with, something that just isn’t right, or in my humble opinion, Godly.

I want to react, some might accuse me of wanting to overreact.  I want to step in and make things right, to bring light to the darkness, to bring healing where there was only division and repression…. and brokenness.

Even as I go to pray about it, I want to vent my anger to God and pray that He gets angry as well, angry enough to leave His throne and come done and do something about it.  As I tried to pray, I found my anger too strong, and I tried to ask God to bless all involved. and then I moved onto my readings for the day… 

You see some of these readings above…. and I my anger shifts a little, changes a little as I realize that God did it too me again.  He frustrated my anger, my agenda, my coming to Him with clench hands by pointing these readings right at my weakness, at my brokenness, at my lack of trusting, in Him. 

I need to guard these thoughts of mine, I need to be careful of how I think, of how I respond, of how I resent injustice. I need to realize that God could work through this dark time for my friend (actually friends – I am dealing with at least three such situations.. just one more appeared this mornign) and I need ot pray that God determines how this situation should go. 

And I need to realize the people involved in causing the injustice, they too are just mindless numbers, that they too are people that God cares about, even as they are broken sinners as much as I am. I need to pray for them, not just that their hearts are convicted, but that they know God would bless them, and work in their lives.

Of course, I don’t appreciate God pointing this out, arranging these readings in such a strong and powerful way.  It’s more than a little frustrating, not to mention I feel like he’s spying on me and playing with me a little.

Then again, I am incredibly grateful that He loves me that much, that He calls me on my anger when giving into it and when I forget His goal of revealing His mercy and love.  I am grateful He makes me wrestle with Him, and He allows me to see the Holy Spirit at work.  I am grateful He shares with us His love…and mercy…and enables us to (eventually) reach out in real prayer for those who antagonize and hurt us.

This is God…who knows and cares about us.

and I am thankful for His work in our lives.   AMEN!

Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 366). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

Let Nothing You Dismay: And Advent Prayer for the Day of Delight is Coming!

https://concordia.org/worship-services%2Fsermons

Let Nothing You Dismay! – An Advent Prayer
Week 3 – The Day of Delight is Coming!
Zephaniah 3:14-20

IN JESUS NAME

May the grace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ be so revealed to you, that the idea of dismay or disillusion be simply impossible, as you experience the dimensions of His love.

The Announcement Will Be
 
As we consider the old hymn’s line, God rest you merry gentleman, let nothing you dismay, as we look at the advent readings out of the prophets about the day of Christ, we’ve see something incredible so far.  These prophecies were all about a day that was to come, the day that Jeremiah described as the day of promise.  Last week Malachi described it as the day of returning, and next week, Micah will talk about the day of peace.

But tonight we’ve heard from Zephaniah, and we will explore the day he was prompted by the Holy Spirit to write about….

The Day of Delight!

Delight, the greatest of joys.  The kind of joy that leaves us unable to speak.

A video is circulating on the internet, of this kind of joy.  People born color blind are given these new special glasses, that enable them to see color for the first time in their lives.  And these people’s body language and the tears of amazement are something to see. 

So I think I will show you…

(video?)

That’s the kind of joy, the kind of delight the prophet says God has promised on that day.

This is Amazing… 

But what we really need to realize, is that he didn’t promise this delight to you and I.  We aren’t the primary ones to know this joy, this delight.

He is.

Hear the passage again,

17  For the LORD your God is living among you. He isa mighty savior. He the greatest delight in you with gladness.

God will beoverjoyed, He will know the greatest delight with gladness, as He comes anddwells with you, and me.

He will take delight in you, Al, and you Tom, He will take delight in you therein the back, yes you Doug and Frank, and you over hiding there behind thepulpit and the music stand, yeah you Missy and Kay.

God will, on that day, take delight in you! Think back to the joy of the color blind man… can you imagine Godlooking at your with that kind of joy? That is His promise to you!

I mean I get the idea that with all of our burdens we will know a delightbeyond all imagination when we are welcomed into the presence of God.

God finding that kind of joy, joy inexpressible, when we show up?

That’s what the prophet promises!  He even says it again, hear this! 

With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

The Hand of Judgement is removed

This is the incredible promise we have to understand, that as much as we findGod’s mercy incredible, as much as we are amazed when we hear our sin is completely forgiven, as much joy we find as we experience the width and breadth, the height and depth of God’s love for us, revealed in Jesus…

He finds the greatest joy in restoring us to Himself, reconciling us, cleansing us from all sin.

All of it.

Zephaniah tells us that God will remove his hand of judgment, he ends all ourtroubles, and we will never have to fear His wrath.  We will never be disgraced or live in shame,or be oppressed, and He will gather us together, and on that day bring us home.

Where we will see God rejoice and sing and be delighted, as He makes His homein our presence.

Not yet?  Or Now?

Now the really mind blowing part of this… this day when God finds such delight in our presence, the day when He rejoices over us with songs of joy…

While this will definitely be something that we see completely revealed on the day of Christ’s advent, this time has already happened, for John’s gospel tells us,

14  So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John 1:14 (NLT2)

And in Luke’s gospel

19  and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” 20  He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21  Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Luke 4:19-21 (NLT2)


In Christ’s incarnation, the thing we celebrate at Christmas, as Christ came, this truth became real, God again found great delight in His people, in dwelling with them.  Even through the suffering, the death on the cross, we find that Hebrews tells us it was for the joy set before Him that Christ endured the cross, and in the resurrection, and at the day of Pentecost and every day someone is baptized since, this promise becomes true,

God delights in His people, in you’re and I,, and He rejoices over us with songs of joy!

So let Him cleanse you once again, as we gather together and share in the Lord’s Supper… AMEN!

In Ministry, whom do we please? A different perspective!

Devotional Thought off the day:

28  “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” he demanded. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” 29  But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30  The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. 31  Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven.
Acts 5:28-31 (NLT2)

383         In governing, after considering the common good, one must realise that both in spiritual and in civil affairs it will be very rare for a law to displease nobody. There is a popular saying: The rain never pleases everybody! Yet you can be sure, that is not a defect of the law, but an unjustified rebelliousness of pride and selfishness by a few.

I have often heard those in ministry talk about the pressure to please others. It is one of the things that contribute to clergy and lay ministry burnout.

Sometimes, we get so tired of being there for others, of trying to meet their expectations, that we decide to only please and look after our own needs. with a similar attitude, I have heard pastors and others justify their own attitudes that precede and accompany such burnout.  I am going to please no-one – just be faithful to the scriptures, using a passage like the one above from Acts.  In reality, the attitude is not one of a shepherd, but one of a scribe, using the law to condemn, rather than an agent of reconciliation

Let me be blunt, most of the times I have heard, or even said such a thing, the idea of pleasing God was not on the mind of the one spewing it forth.  They might have been in burnout, they may have been overwhelmed, or tired of feeling attacked. But we weren’t trying to please God…

We were trying to find some respite, perhaps a little peace, and in a perverse way, the pleasure of telling someone off.  We want karma (…err… God’s wrath) to bite them in the … well you get the picture

If we were trying to please God, we would hear the rest of the passage and realize what pleases God. 

People being transformed, people having their minds renewed, for this is what repentance is. His goal and greatest desire is to see people forgiven and to be drawn into a relationship with Him.  A relationship based in love, not fear. That is God’s end-game, it is His desire, it is what pleases Him.

One more thought, if we are patient and strong enough in our faith to strive for their reconciliation, if we depend on God for the words, the wisdom, the heart to see their redemption through, then we will have provided them with what will please them more than anything else we could ever do.  

So work to please everyone, working not for the false pleasure of the world, but the real pleasure that is the result of God and His people, rejoicing together!  AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1747-1750). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Value of A Dead Servant of All

Devotional Thought of the day:

32 If the bull kills a male or female slave, its owner shall pay the owner of the slave thirty pieces of silver, and the bull shall be stoned to death.  
Exodus 21:32 TEV

The Eucharist is not a private business, carried on in a circle of friends, in a club of like-minded people, who seek out and get together with those who already suit them; but just as the Lord allowed himself to be crucified outside the city wall, before all the world, and stretches out his hands to everyone, thus the Eucharist is the public worship of all those whom the Lord calls, irrespective of their personal make-up. It is particularly characteristic of him, as he demonstrated in his earthly life, to have men of the most diverse groupings, social backgrounds, and personal views brought together in the greater whole of his word and his love. It was characteristic of the Eucharist, then, in the Mediterranean world in which Christianity first developed, for an aristocrat who had found his way into Christianity to sit there side by side with a Corinthian dock worker, a miserable slave, who under Roman law was not even regarded as a man but was treated as chattel. It was characteristic of the Eucharist for the philosopher to sit next to the illiterate man, the converted prostitute and the converted tax collector next to the religious ascetic who had found his way to Jesus Christ.

It always amazes me when I read the value the priests of Israel put on the life of Jesus.  Thirty pieves of silver, the same value as the servant killed in an accident, gored and trampled by an uncontrolled bull

Mankind, uncontrolled, would gore and trample Jesus, and they paid the penalty in advance, to the one, no really, one of several who would betray Jesus.

But in paying the price of a servant killed, there is another message.  Jesus is the servant of all, and that is seen as we look at those He gathers together. People, as is noted in the second quote, as different as can be.  From every economic class, from every culture, from those who people look up upon, and those that are looked down upon by society.

He gathers us all, cleanses all of us of the sin that would entrap us, heals us of our brokenness. 

This is the service Jesus renders, even as we dismiss him as insignificant.  As we dismiss Him as someone who just was there, whose value was not visible, despite the healings, the miracles, the teaching.

Despite the death and resurrection.

It is time now to realize His value to our lives and praise Him for the way He loved and served.  To know that and be sure of that more than anything else. To experience value the love he pours out and the way He mercifully serves us. 

And to do this together, with the people we have only two things in common with, sin and a Savior. 


Ratzinger, J. (2003). God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life. (S. O. Horn & V. Pfnür, Eds., H. Taylor, Trans.) (p. 108). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Make Requests of God, with Joy! A sermon on Phil. 1:2-11

Making Requests with Joy!
Phillipians 1:2-11

I.H.S.†

May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ surround you with such peace, and such confidence, that it is a joy to place others into His hands, knowing His love for us all!

Making Requests…how?

So, we have this page that gets stuffed in the bulletin this week, one of the tasks that Dane does so faithfully. It was once the front half of a half page of paper, and then it grew, and we made the print smaller, and then we put it  both sides of the piece of paper, and we again had to make the print smaller,and then earlier this year, we went to a full page of paper, both sides, and on some days, we still have to make the print smaller.

You get to hear me say almost all of the names every week, and the list of players is almost as many words as this sermon. (999 to 1004 this week)  These are people who know one or two of us, or some are known to all.  They arepeople our hearts hurt for, that we worry about, some of us are on this list,and for good reasons.

We deal with life, and with grief, with cancer and other illness, with familyproblems, work problems, other problems we can’t even go into… and we workthrough the list together, giving the people into God’s hands.

Some of us, and Nancy is the obvious one who comes to mind, pray this listevery day, with many of the names coming up during the day….

It takes a while, and it may cause a tear or anxious moment or two, or fifty.

The challenge is to pray these, the way Paul does.  In our epistle reading today, he wrote to us,WheneverI pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,” even as he notesthe partnership, the fellowship, the relationship he had with them, just likethe people we pray today, and I pray that we pray for every day, confident ofGod’s care for them, and therefore laying these requests out with joy

So how does this happen, how can I pray for you, making my requests for youwith all joy, and how can you do that for others?

Confident of God’s work – cause we can’t do it

Having that kind of faith in God, that leaving people we love, and thesituations they are in, in the hands of God takes great faith.  It requires confidence in God, the kind ofconfidence in God’s love that allows Paul to boldy say,

Iam certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his workuntil it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

That’s where our faith in God begins, knowing that what He began when the Holy Spirit worked through the word of God, which we’ve heard, and brought us to faith.  And what the Holy Spirit started with, will keep going through our life.

When we think about that, the first thing that comes to mind is that if we need to be worked on, (from the inside out) that means we must have been broken. 

That’s what sin does, more than anything. It breaks us, internally as we have to deal with guilt and shame, externally as sin harms the relationships we are in, including the relationshipwith God.

And God goes to work on us, a job that is more important to Him than sustainingthe universe, for it is for the relationship He wants with us that thisuniverse exists.

And so, we pray for people, confident in God’s work in their lives, some todraw them to faith, others to draw them deeper into a relationship with Him,causing us to rely on Him more, to trust Him more.  That’s what starts in our baptism, as we areunited to His death on the cross, the death that takes our sin onto Him, andallows us to be born again, to be raised with Him, and made His own.

If God loves people enough to do this for any and all then we can entrust theminto His total care, rejoicing because we know He loves us.

What that looks like

So what does it look like, when we pray for people?  What happens?

Well, Paul prayed that their love would overflow, that it would flood our communities and our lives.  And so, be a surprise when we pray, that we weep and laugh with those we are praying for. 

And we grow in knowledge and understanding of God and of His love, and what the sacrifice of Jesus means in our life.  For that is what really matters, that is what makes the biggest difference in our lives.

That difference leads to us living lives that are pure and blameless, words that have the picture of outshining the sun, of being glorious in their purity and unable to even cause another person to stumble, that our very lives draw people to God, not away from God.

That is what this work of God does in our lives, as we are made to reflect the image of Jesus into this broken world. This doesn’t happen in a second, but it takes our very lives to accomplish, but that is the promise that God makes to us.

We will be finished products, completely healed, completely made new…on the day when, Christ returns and completes the work began at the cross, when Hecompletes His labor of love.

And until that day, we can dwell in a peace that surpasses all explanation, apeace that even includes giving God everything that stresses us, and with greatjoy, entrusting everyone and everything that concerns us.

For we know Him, and His love for us. AMEN!

The Value of Quietness…and how it leads to a joyful dance!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

9  This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.
Genesis 6:9 (NLT2)

All of us, in this era when public life is being more and more Americanized, are in the grip of a peculiar restlessness, which suspects any quietness of being a waste of time, any stillness of being a sign of missing out on something. Every ounce of timeis being measured and weighed, and thus we become oblivious to the true mysteryof time, the true mystery of growing and becoming: stillness. It is the same inthe area of religion, where all our hopes and expectations rest on what we do;where we, through all kinds of exercises and activities, painstakingly avoidfacing the true mystery of inner growth toward God[1]

You can suffer from a desperate hunger to be loved. You can search long years in lonely places, far outside yourself. Yet the whole time, this love is but a few inches away from you.
It is at the edge of your soul, but you have been blind to its presence.
We must remain attentive in order to be able to receive.

John O’Donohue

Our primary goal, then, is not just to hear the voice of God but to be mature people in a loving relationship with God. This will result in our living a certain kind of life—one ofloving fellowship with God and those who love him. Only with this in mind willwe hear God rightly.[2]

As a child, my favorite times were when I was alone. Alone to read, along to wander the woods behind our home, alone especially in a church, an hour or two before mass.

Something happened as I was growing up, somehow, I turned into an extrovert, which is kind of awkward, because socially, I am pretty awkward. I can’t find contentment, or satisfaction, or peace easily when I am alone anymore.  Which is pretty good considering my vocation as a pastor, but not okay really, because spiritually, there is a huge need to be alone.

Well, not really alone, for in Christ, we never area.

The quote from O’Donohue above (from the Northumbrian community daily devotions at https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/) struck me first this morning.  How often our desperate hunger to be loved forces us into awkward and even harmful situations,  How often are we blind to the purest and greatest love, that is right at the edge of our soul?  And yet to recognize it, we have to set aside our restlessness, we have to realize that being still, being quiet, being able to rest is not a waste of time.

For as Pope Benedict notes, there is a mystery that occurs as we are still, we grow and become, we find our reality, we relate to God.

Willard reinforces this as well, as he notes we aren’t just made to listen toGod, to hear His voice, to praise Him in unison with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.  We are madeto grow up into this loving relationship with God, to be in this amazing lifewhere we dance with God, where we share His joys, where He helps us with peacein the midst of sorrow.

Which means we have to find the quiet times, not to be disciplined, but to restin His presence, to remember He is our God, that He cares for us. To walk inclose fellowship with God as Noah did, and yet find the strength to know Him,to be at peace in His glory, in His presence.

So set the time aside, learn to love the moments of peace that finally set in…learn to leave all the distractions behind.

Meditate on the fact that He love you, until that meditation becomes aconversation, and then a dance.

Lord, may all those who read this, findthe time, and the patience, to realize they dwell in Your presence, and you intheirs… AMEN!


[1] Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 386–387). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

[2] Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.

Let Nothing You Dismay: The Returning – A midweek advent message!

MidWeek Advent Service II  

Let Nothing You Dismay
The Returning

I.H.S.†

May the mercy of God of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be so clearly revealed, that when you have strayed into disobedience and sin, you simply remember the promise and return, knowing He will cleanse you from all sin and unrighteousness.  AMEN!

The Trial

There are words that we hear God speak through Malachi this evening that are brutally scary.

“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears?

That’s a hard question, will you be able to face God when he appears?  When he brings our the Law and compares your life against it?  Will you be ready?

Or will you be one of those who Jesus spoke of, when Matthew records,

21  “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
Matthew 7:21 (NLT2)

While my head knows I can count on God’s grace, my heart and soul struggle to hear those words.  And it gets scarier,

Malachai continues,

At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

I wonder if we have lost a healthy fear of God, a fear that drives us to Him, to ask for the mercy He has promised us?

Or do we just keep dwelling in our sin, in the guilt and shame that drives us into the ground?

You see, our fear of God shouldn’t drive us away from Him, but it should drive us toward him.  That is what God is talking about through Malachai when he says,

God doesn’t Change

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them.

We have to understand that about God, that while he abhors the sin, He doesn’t hate us. He wants to be in a relationship with us, not destroyed for what we have done, and what we’ve not done.  A healthy fear of God realizes that He is patient and merciful, and has always intended to be.

That’s why he hasn’t wiped us out and destroyed us, pouring out His wrath upon us.

He has never wanted to, it is not what He desires, and so He is patient, waiting for us to remember the promise and return.

The Promise

Here is that promise,

Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Return to me, and I will return to you!   What a promise, what a God who promises not to leave us alone in the midst of our brokenness, but promises forgiveness, cleansing and healing!

The people of that day struggled, they ask how they could return when they never left.

We don’t have to do that, we know that He wants us to return, so we don’t have to play that game.  We see how much He wants us return, as we think about Jesus coming into the flesh, dwelling with us, teaching us about the love of God then demonstrating it on the cross.

Return to me He says, and so we do, as we move into our time of confession, knowing God will be faithful to forgive us…knowing that He will return to us.

The Forgotten People of the Exodus from Egypt

Devotional Thought of the Day:
37 The Israelites set out on foot from Rameses for Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 men, not counting women and children. 38 A large number of other people and many sheep, goats, and cattle also went with them.   Ex. 12:37-38 TEV

If a foreigner has settled among you and wants to celebrate Passover to honor the LORD, you must first circumcise all the males of his household. He is then to be treated like a native-born Israelite and may join in the festival.  Ex 12:48 TEV

342         The salt of the earth. Our Lord said that his disciples—you and I also—are the salt of the earth: to render immune to infection, to prevent corruption, to season the world. But he also added: Quod si sal evanuerit…—if the salt itself becomes tasteless, it will be cast out and trampled underfoot by men. On seeing the many things happening which we lament, are you now beginning to find an explanation for what you could not explain before?

As I was reading the account of the Exodus again, I saw them, almost hiding in the background.  And I realized they have long been forgotten in the histories, they have long been forgotten in the stories of the Jewish people.

“A large number of other people,”  these people that were not Israel, yet left Egypt with them.  Not related to Abraham, Issac or Jacob, this large crowd went with them anyway. We don’t for sure know all the reasons for this, could it be they were impressed by the miracles of Moses, could it be that they were in fear of Pharoah, could it be they actually believed in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob?

And yet ten verses later, they are mentioned again, and the transformation that takes place when these foreigners become people of the covenant.  They become as one with the people of God as if they genetics did tie back to the Jewish Patriarchs.

I would think, that without thinking about it, that Moses and his kinsmen were salt in the midst of Egypt.  That they had such an impact on their neighbors, because of the simple faith in God, the “I AM”.   Their lives brought hope and healing to the people that couldn’t stay behind!  That helped them deal with the brokennes of Egypt!

So I would ask you, who would go with you if you were to move?  Who would want to stay close?  Who lives would you have wanted to touch in such a way that they would want to follow you?

It is something to think about, for you are salt and light, and your work in this world is to point to the amazing love of God and demonstrate that love to those around you…

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1589-1594). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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