Category Archives: Devotions

We all know God loves us, but far too often the stresses, anxieties and problems in life crowd Him out of our view. Here find a moment to re-focus and remember how incredible it is that God loves us, and what it means to live in His presence, in the peace that passes all understanding…

The Value of a Hug

Devotional Thoughts for our Day:

11  No, the LORD’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:11 (NLT2)

On the day of the Innocents12 [Martin Luther said], “If God were to withhold our necessities from us for a year, what a cry there would be throughout the world! But now that he lavishes them upon us we’re all ungrateful, and there is no one who gives thanks.”

COVID has shown us, very clearly, what we’ve taken for granted. Simple things that were part of our lives, that we have had to not engage in, or at least we were supposed to to avoid.

Among those things are hugs (and strong firm handshakes for those who are afraid of hugs)

There is something about them that go far beyond the physical contact. It can bring comfort, peace, the assurance that we are not alone. It can be the hug given to those who grieve, the hug given joy in celebration of a victory, the hiug given to someone you haven’t seen for a while. Even the holding the hand of someone who has been broken by life….as you silently pray for them.

We’ve lost this necessity for a year, and its loss is visible.

Yet as social distancing becomes less a thing, as people return to churches, as life begins anew, hugs and handshakes and contact will come back into play.

But will we continue to appreciate them?

During this last year, God has been faithful, and we’ve been able to put our trust in Him. He has sustained us trhough things we could not have imagined. He has been our hope thourgh this all, for everything else was stripped away, or simply was a shadow of what it was in the past.

And so we trust in Him….in His unfailing love.

And as we receive His body to eat, His blood to drink, in awe consider the closeness and contact He desires with you!..

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 131.

What Have You Planned for, today?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

4  “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5  And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NLT2)

“Why does God love us, but that he may be loved?”1 wrote St. Bernard. And Moses had said the same before him: And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but that thou fear the Lord thy God … and love Him?

It’s a three day weekend.

Some are having barbecues, some are marching in parades or running 10ks. Some are working, trying to prepare for another weekly grind.

But in the midst of all of that, we, are loved.

But that love is illogical, it loves those who sin against it, who spit on it, and would dance on the grave of Jesus. For that is what sin is, it mocks the love that God has for you. It says everyting else is more important, every else is a priority. Everything else is worth more than his love.

There is one thing though, His grave we dance would dance on is empty,

And the one who loves us enough to die for us, still makes us His priority, as He intercedes for us with the Father. We are still His priority. He still loves us.

So take some time, think about His love… and think of ways to show Him your love…even while you are drawn to adore Him!

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 293.

Getting Back on “the” Topic!

Devotional THought of the Day:

Look, the days are coming”—the LORD’s declaration—“when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD livesw who brought the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ 8 but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the land of the north and from all the other countries where ID had banished them.’ They will dwell once more in their own land.” Jeremiah 23:7-8 CSB

I don’t know whether or not we can avoid having social classes. In any case it is not my job to speak of such matters, much less here, in this oratory, where we have come together to talk about God (I would never want to talk about anything else) and to talk to God.

It wasn’t the case of “what had God done for me lately.”  

The people of God were living in the past with God; they weren’t looking for Him in the present. They kept talking about the past, the glories that were there when God freed them from Egypt.

They weren’t looking for His work in their here and now. They didn’t expect Him to be with them, there in the brokenness, as they dealt with the consequences of their sin.

We are not any different. We start by wanting to make the best of a situation, to deal with the apparent injustices in our day. We want to reverse the damage of “their” sin, forcing them to do what we think is right, what we think is just.

We overlook that all sin, and whoever we put “in charge” of making things just will surely offend people. We overlook our biases while condemning others. Therefore aren’t anymore just than those we oppose. We’ve forgotten God dwells in our presence, that we dwell in His presence.

That is why Josemaria wants to get back on topic – talking about God, talking to God.  That is why Isaiah’s prophecy aims to get people to look for what God is doing now and is about to do. We have to learn to look to Jesus. We have to look for how the Holy Spirit is reconciling people in this day, as is promised.  We have to pray and ask God to reveal His work through and around us.

Ironically the cross and the resurrection are not in the past as the Red Sea was. It is present, always! That is where our rescue, our deliverance, our salvation occurs. Our Baptism makes the cross and resurrection our present, the Lord’s Supper – brings us back to that moment of sacrifice, and it cleanses our sin… now.

This is our life… this is why we are here… to talk about God and talk with Him now, even as we see Him at work. Looking a the past helps us see His promises – but we need to know they are here.. now. He needs to be the topic of our lives…. and then we will live in peace. For He has promised that… to us.

Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Perfection? Unrealistic! Watch God at Work!

Deovtional Thought of the Day:

6  I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 (CSBBible)

We need to remember that this world is not so much a place for doing things as for making character. Right in the midst of what some people call drudgery is the very best place to get the transformed, transfigured life.

SInce i was a child, I dreamed of being a pastor/priest. Of taking the Body of Christ, and placing it on the toungue, or in the hands of believers – believers who understood the great treasure that was being given to them.

Thirty-five years ago, that dream came crashing to a halt, as my intern advisor told me that I had no gifts that would serve me as a pastor.

I thought he was correct, and that changed the next ten years of my life. I would become a pastor later, and some have even said I am a good one. I am not sure I agree with them! I still see my shortcomings, I still think I could do more, I still think I need to improve in a lot of areas. No, not think, know.

I came to the conclusion that while I wait to become the perfect pastor, I can do what I am called to do. That is the key. What the Church, or a church calls me to do, that is what I do. I get to point people to God, tell them of His love, feed them the Body and Blood of Christ.

It is in the midst of doing it, that the Holy Spirit is at work, changing me. Just as He is changing you. It is not the job you do that defines you, the job is used to transform you. Whether that is playing guitar in the band, or teaching the five year olds about Jesus, or being the person that is dedicated and cleans the communionware after church.

Should you get training to do stuff? Sure! You should also have the expectation that to be really skilled at what youa re called to do, will take some time- you will learn from some errors, you might even get frustrated now and then. That’s as true in the church as it is in the world. And if there are times where you haven’t thought of quitting because you screwed up, or because you think you won’t ever get it, that means the transformation is happening! For it is in those times that your faith is tried, and it is shown to be growing.

God is with you… relax… do what comes to you, what the church calls you to do…and learn to know you won’t get it perfectly… till Jesus returns. So praise God for how He is transforming you through the challenges!

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

What Did You Put In Your Mouth?


Devotional Thought of the Day:
53  So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54  But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56  Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57  I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58  I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” John 6:53-58 (NLT2)

But when Christ says “My flesh,” I take notice of the identity of the speaker. I ask: To whom does the little word “My” pertain? Then these words will denote more than mere flesh; it will not be a flesh that has the strength of mere flesh and blood. By virtue of the word “My” it is invested with greater strength than plain flesh and blood. It is “My flesh.” You must take note of Him who speaks these words. Then it will not be the sort of flesh from which red sausages are made.

He could not satisfy his love by giving himself to the human race by his Incarnation and by his Passion, dying for all men upon the cross; but he desired to find out a way whereby he might give himself entirely to each one of us in particular; and for this end he instituted the Sacrament of the Altar, in order to unite himself wholly to each: He that cateth My flesh, he said, abideth in me and I in him. In Holy Communion Jesus unites himself to the soul, and the soul to Jesus; and this is not a union of mere affection, but it is a true and real union. Hence St. Francis de Sales says: “In no other action can the Saviour be considered more tender or more loving than in this, in which he annihilates himself, so to say, and reduces himself to food, in order to penetrate our souls, and to unite himself to the hearts of his faithful.”

Reading the title of this post, the question might sound like a mother talking to her toddler, or a man talking to his dog. But it is one of the most important questions that can be asked, and answered in the church today.

Not because of the theological doctrines that have been debated since Zwingli, (and to the gnostics whose thoughts convinced him that the sacred cannot inhabit the physical, that is the profane) THose arguements can go on in classrooms, coffee shops and bars from now until eternity. THis is more than theology.

It is about faith – about trusting Jesus at His word. To realize that He promises to come to us in the bread and wine, so that we might have Him, that we might have life! THat is why Luther points out the power of the word my, this little pronoun that changes everything.

This is His body, given for you. This is His blood, shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Not mere flesh and blood, Far ore than the greatest steak and noblest wine. De Ligouri points out what a tremendous communion this is, as Christ again unites us to Himself, and unites Himself to us. This is not just some simple rite that we do every week, this is God with us, that we can behold His glory.

He says, this is my body… this is my blood…

Rejoice in that moment, treasure that moment….. find your peace and sanctuary there…



Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 23: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 6-8, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 23 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 119.

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 279–280.

The Intimate God…

The Good Shepherd, carrying His own.

Devotional Thought of the Day:

14  Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” 15  “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! 16  See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. 17  Soon your descendants will come back, and all who are trying to destroy you will go away. 18  Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the LORD, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display. Isaiah 49:14-18 (NLT2)

This is the love which causes holy souls to lose themselves, and to stand amazed, when once they have been allowed to know it. From it spring those burning sentiments of ardor, the desire of martyrdom, joy in sufferings, exultation under the storms of distress, the force to walk on burning coals as if they were roses, a thirst for sufferings, rejoicing in that which the world dreads, embracing that which it abhors. St. Ambrose says that the soul which is espoused to Jesus Christ upon the cross, thinks nothing so glorious as to bear upon itself the marks of the crucified one.”

And we beseech thee, of thy great goodness, quicken and set aglow our cold and indifferent hearts, enlighten our minds and understandings, lead us into all truth, bless and sanctify our bodies and our spirits, grant us devout hearts in prayer, and comfort us in all our sorrow and tribulation. So preserve us, that our faith fail not, our love diminish not, our hope vanish not, and our hearts despair not; but at all times enable us to resist all evil and temptation, and with steadfast hope serve and praise thee unto the end.

It’s called the “IR” by some of my peers in ministry. Somewhat a joke, but with a touch of anxiety, perhaps some are more than touched by this concept – that we have an Intimate Relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

De Ligouri’s words in purple describe it, a love which causes us to lose ourselves. No need for self-denial is needed when we are lost in His love. The words may flow for someone like him, but no so much for me. Yet I desire everyone to be as lost to self as can only occur when in the presnce of Jesus. How I desire to get to that point, where I can greet every discomfort with such zeal, even thirsting and hungering for those times where, even in pain, I know Jesus presence.

This is not just a thing for Catholic saints – look at Loehe’s prayer in green. See how he desires the presence of the Holy Spirit. There is desired as deep, as intimate of a relationship, as he begs the Spirit to work deeply in his life. That is how dependent Loehe wanted to be on the Holy Spirit, a dependency based in the intimacy the Holy Spirit causes in life. Note that point, this intimacy is intitiated by God.

Get that – the intimacy is inititated by God.

The intimate relationship is His idea, it is what Jesus came to clearly reveal.

Look at what Isaiah writes, look at this Almighty, Creator who put the stars in place… look at how He compares HImself to a mom…look at how God tatoos Himself. This is not a distant God, or one who remains seated when you walk in the door, He is one who gets up, runs to the door and lifts you off the ground in a bear hug.

This is our intimate God. This is the God who desires intimacy with you…

I pray we realize this, and come to adore Him who adores us.


Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 271.

William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 145–146.

Do we take this faith seriously?

Photo by Wouter de Jong on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:

15  For you said, “We have made a covenant with Death, and we have an agreement with Sheol; when the overwhelming catastrophe passes through, it will not touch us, because we have made falsehood our refuge and have hidden behind treachery.” 16  Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable. 17  And I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the mason’s level.” Hail will sweep away the false refuge, and water will flood your hiding place. Isaiah 28:15-17 (CSBBible)

In thy name do we receive remission of sin and walk in newness of life. In thy name will our bodies rise from the earth at the last day, and be clothed with immortality, incorruption and glory. And before this great and notable day, arouse those, O Lord, who are dead in trespasses and sin. Quicken them by the power of thy holy Word, that they may hear thy voice and by true faith arise from their sins. By the power of thy ressurrection comfort and relieve those who are in any sorrow, tribulation or temptation, that they may assuredly believe that thou art able to deliver them from all evil and bring them into thine everlasting Kingdom, where thou, in unity with the Father and Holy Ghost, wilt be worshiped and glorified. Amen.

We all choose our places to hide, our ways to escape from life. We think of them as safe places, places of refuge, a place to hide from the insanity and pain in this world.

I believe there is a time where rest is needed, a time for a sabbath, a time to be refreshed, a place to catch our breath.

Regrettably, we do not look for that though, we don’t often look for the presence of Christ to restore us as we find rest and remain in Him.

Anywhere else that we try to escape is making a covenant with death. That is a harsh comment, but one we need to hear. We cannot escape the world by running and hiding in a place in it. For catastrophes will happen, and the false sense of security will be stripped away from us.

God will strip those places away, He will shake and destroy them, not in anger though. He will do this because He loves us, He doesn’t want us caught in the illusion, and trying to find deeper and deeper ways to escape the threat of
death, or it as the norm.

There are days we see this, where we find our peace in Christ, where we are aware that we remain in Him. In those days, as we recognize the peace, as Loehe says we receive the remission of sins, It is then we can ask God to quicken, to bring to life those who are searching for refuge and safety in sin. Where Christ’s comfort ministers to them in the midst of their brokenness, where they find God delivering them into His Kingdom.

This is what faith is – depending on God to provide that safe place, that sanctuary in His presence. So that when the world is shaken, we are at peace. It is something we can share, and desire for others. Faith isn’t the doctrine – that simply helps us define the trust we have in God, based on what He says. Faith isn’t what we do – that is simply celebrating that God is faithful.

Faith is living in the moment – with God….

Let’s us do so, and intercede with others, that they might join us in God’s peace!

 

William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 139–140.

Struggling with others… a thought

Devotional Thought of the Day:

15  It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16  They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17  Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18  But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. 19  For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance. Philippians 1:15-19 (NLT2)

(Luther said) Although the fathers were often wrong, they ought nevertheless to be honored on account of their testimony to faith. So I venerate Jerome and Gregory and others inasmuch as one can sense [from their writings], in spite of everything else, that they believed as we do, as the church from the beginning believed, and as we believe. So Bernard was magnificent when he taught and preached. However, when he engaged in disputation he assailed what he had before preached. Consequently the fathers aren’t worth much for controversy, but on account of their testimony to faith they ought all to be honored. Bernard was superior to all the doctors in the church when he preached, but he became quite a different man in his disputations, for then he attributed too much to law and to free will. To dispute in the church is therefore bad.”

I love Luther’s attitude toward the saints, show in his discussion above. I wish he could have been as patient with Eck and Tetzel (Roman Catholics) and with Zwingli (protestant). Still, it is easier to see God working in the lives of those who had passed on compared to those you are currently engaging in “disputes.”

I am not better at dealing with some of those I disagree with or who disagree with me.

Some I can honor quite easily, for I see their hearts for God’s people quite easily. Two of my closest friends in ministry are Catholic priests – and their hearts for bringing people to Jesus are pretty obvious. They are about crafting disciples, not just converting numbers. For us, it is about helping our people come aware of God’s presence and His care. I see that in some writers I know of and read- a Southern Baptist, a Methodist.

But others, including some within my own brotherhood, I struggle to respect, and honoring them seems far from my heart and mind. It may be because of disputes between us. I can’t see their heart and soul, and there is obvious
dissonance based on actions and attitudes. Frustration builds Luther’s ability to cope with such people boiled down to their faith – that they trusted in Jesus. He could rejoice in their preaching because it was about Jesus, and it drew people into God’s presence. That is the same bottom line that Paul rejoiced where the gospel was being preached – even if for reasons that seem contrary.

So there is where we need to go if we are going to respect our adversaries if we are going to pray that God bless them. For
that is what we need to do, coming together because of the Lord whom we make known. Find out where God is using them, and praise God for it; even while praying, we all are drawn closer to Him, and therefore to each other.

Our hope in all this is in Christ and in the work of the Spirit. I pray we learn to depend on Him more and recognize His work in others more.



Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 104–105.

Am I a Hypocrite? What if I feel like I am?

God, who am I?

Devotional Thought of the Day:
(Jesus said) “Whenever you fast, don’t be gloomy like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces so that their fasting is obvious to people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. 17  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18  so that your fasting isn’t obvious to others but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.   Matthew 6:16-18 (CSBBible)

8  Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me. 9  And he replied: Go! Say to these people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep looking, but do not perceive. 10  Make the minds of these people dull; deafen their ears and blind their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their minds, turn back, and be healed. Isaiah 6:8-10 (CSBBible)

I do not deny that, over the years, people have come to me and have told me with real sorrow: “Father, I don’t know what’s come over me, but I find I am tired and cold. My piety used to be so solid and straightforward, but now it feels like play acting …” Well, for those who are going through such a phase, and for all of you, I answer: “Play acting? Wonderful! The Lord is playing with us as a father does with his children.” (a few paragraphs on…)
“But, Father,” you ask me, “can one put on an act for God? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical?” Don’t worry: for you the moment has arrived to play out a human comedy before a divine spectator. Persevere, for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are contemplating your act; do it all for love of God, to please him, although you find it hard. How beautiful it is to be God’s jester! How beautiful to act out such a role for Love, with a spirit of sacrifice, not seeking any personal satisfaction, but just to please our Father God, who is playing with us! Turn to our Lord with confidence and say to him: “I don’t feel like doing this at all, but I will offer it up for you.” And then put your heart into the job you are doing, even though you think you are just play acting. Blessed play acting! I assure you it isn’t hypocrisy, because hypocrites need a public for their pantomimes, whereas the spectators of our play, let me repeat, are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;

Since i was a little child, Jesus’s words above in red bothered me. I thought it was somewhat hypocritical, and even a lie to pretend what was going on wasn’t going on.

If you are fasting or suffering, why should you hide it?

I get the part of offering it up to God, but to pretend things are different than they are? Isn’t that being a hypocrite?

I have not only heard peopel ask how to deal with the “dry spells” of their faith, I have had them myself, and I am not talking about my childhood, or my time studying to be a pastor. I feel like giving up somedays, and other wonder why Isaiah didn’t! I mean – he walked into the gig – knowing he would have little or no effect! He did it anyway!

I had to read St. Josemaria’s words a few times over to get into the idea of “acting” differently than I am. To persevere in my acts of faith, of searching for the Lord’s pleasure and presence – knowing that I would not always get the satisfaction, at least cognitively.

And not getting the satisfaction cognitively….doesn’t mean it is not there!

And it certainly means that we are not hypocrites, we are not doing this for praise, we aren’t showing off our holiness, we are trying to love God, the God who loves us. We are trying to reach out to the One who came and reached out on a cross to show us His love. It isn’t acting – it is trying to do what we have done, where we have known HIs grace. He knows our hearts better than we, He is the one who empowers our faith as well as our will, and the very desire to keep moving, there is something that pleases Him.

Simply put, if you are worried about being a hypocrite, the odds are you are not. Continue to trust in Him, continue to do what you know will reveal His presence, and HIs grace… for even if you can’t feel it…

THE LORD IS WITH YOU!!


Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

RIght Now, the Church Is Like An Anxious Bride…

Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional Thought of the Day

1  A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth. 2  It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 (CSBBible)

We have been accustomed to hear of the Creation, Incarnation, Redemption, of Jesus born in a stable, of Jesus dead on the Cross. O my God, if we knew that another man had conferred on us any of these benefits, we could not help loving him. It seems that God alone has, so to say, this bad luck with men, that, though he has done his utmost to make them love him, yet he cannot attain this end, and, instead of being loved, he sees himself despised and neglected. All this arises from the forgetfulness of men of the love of God.

O Thou dealest so mercifully with us, and ascribest to us all Thy merit and righteousness; and in Thee the Father himself accounts us as righteous, even as though we were like Thee, Thou Mediator of the New Covenant; and through Thee the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and quickens us to newness of life.

The hands of God are blistered with love and accompany us on the path of life. Let us entrust ourselves to the hands of God, like a child entrusts himself to the hand of his father. This is a safe hand!

As we come out of COVID, the Church is like an anxious bride moments before
the wedding begins. Anxiety-driven by the moment, as concerns over everything
being perfect, everything fulfilling her dreams comes into play. Anxiety over
how the Church will be renewed, how we will get all our people back, and the
anxiety paralyzes us.

I asked a newlywed about her wedding last year, and she summed it up by
saying that she was walking down the aisle one moment the next moment she was
getting kissed. With that a common thought, why is so much time spent in
anxiety needed? If only I could rid them of the anxiety and allow them to savor
every word, every vow, every promise, every indication of the love that is
shared. Some women get caught up in the moment and are terrorized by it.

I see the same thing in de Ligouri’s quote in blue above. We know all about the
work of God; we can even enter into theological disputes about it. The
masterpiece of creation and every moment that God has formed is there to ponder!
To meditate on His love for us that is revealed. Yet instead of that, we worry
about life, we try to find the latest book to read and recommend to others,
that their lives and churches might be full. So we don’t look for His love; in
fact, we abandon Him in search of other, more immediate answers and fixes.

As God stands there with blistered hands and a pierced side so our anxiety
would be replaced with peace! So that our sin would be replaced with His
righteousness! so that the Holy Spirit would quicken us to new life! He would
care for us with such mercy, like the groom who tenderly holds his wife’s hands!
He is caught up in the moment as well –  but caught up in the moment because he is with
her. (By the time the sermon is over, even the most anxious bride is caught up
with her groom, in the moment)

That is where we need to be, fully aware of God’s love, fully aware of His
presence. This is where Solomon’s wisdom comes into play and why he says mourning
is better than feasting. It focuses on the transition rather than ignore it. As
we realize the shortness of this life and what comes after, we should long for
that day and the incredible life that follows! We need to hear Jesus, we need
to hear the vows He made to us, we need to see our hands held in His, and
forward to our eternal life spent with Him.

As we do, the anxiety will fade, and the miraculous happens as the Holy
Spirit breathes life into us. We begin to have hope again as we realize the
love of the God who is here… with us.

As we come out of COVID, together, we need to focus on Jesus, on His love that has sustained and comforted us, and the promise of life with Him.  As that is our focus, then church will not just come back to normal, it will revive!

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 252.

William Loehe, Liturgy for Christian Congregations of the Lutheran Faith, ed. J. Deinzer, trans. F. C. Longaker, Third Edition. (Newport, KY: n.p., 1902), 133.

Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 147.

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