Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 His wife said to him, “You are still as faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?”
10 Job answered, “You are talking nonsense! When God sends us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us trouble?” Even in all this suffering Job said nothing against God. Job 2:9-10 GNT
Celebrating the Eucharist is the most sublime and most sacred function of every priest. As for me, from the very first years of my priesthood, the celebration of the Eucharist has been not only my most sacred duty, but above all my soul’s deepest need.
For a while our dear God looks on and lets us lie between a rock and a hard place, and from our experience we learn that the weak, suffering word is stronger than the devil and hell’s gates. The devil and his followers can storm the fortress all they want. They will find something there that will make them break into a sweat and still not win the day; it is a rock, as Christ calls it, that cannot be overcome. Thus, let us suffer what we will; we will experience that God will stand by us to guard and protect us against the enemy and all his followers.
I think that the hands of a priest, rather than expressing routine gestures, must tremble with excitement when administering baptism or giving the absolution of sins or blessing the sick because they become instruments of the creative power of God.
As I finished reading my daily readings this morning, I pondered aloud if there was something up. I mean the reading in Luther in green and starting the book of Job (In my read through the Bible in a year) could be considered ominous.
As in… what’s coming that I have to be prepared for it by all this?
I mention this aloud, somewhat as a joke, and one of my co-workers said something to the extent of, “it worked out okay in the end, so as long as it works out alright…”
While I know that it all does indeed work out in the end, and that GOd has promised it all works out for good, it is hard in the midst of trauma to focus on the end result. Indeed, it is more than challenging, and while we talk about patience, persistence and prayer, we also must admit that there is a drain mentally, physically and spiritually to the repetitive trauma that life and ministry throw at us.
So how do we learn what Job advocated for, this idea that we should not complain, but welcome the suffering of life, simply, because like the blessings, it comes from God!
Even as I looked at what I just typed, it strikes me as wrong, as unjust, and to be honest, impossible. I might be able to teach this as a theory, but an honest reaction is that this is not how I think, normally.
The key word is normally.
What i need is what Luther wrote about at the end of that citation. That Christ is the rock that cannot be overcome. We can endure suffering and struggles, aware of God’s presence, that He stands by us and guards us, even in the valley of the shadow of death that David describes.
In the midst of the suffering I need to experience His love, and there it seems even more sweet, more rich, more real, more comforting. In the midst of the struggle, when I take a breath (Psalm 46) and slow down, I can realize He is my God, He is my fortress, Luther is absolutely correct, aware of God”s presence we can echo Job’s welcome – suffering simply then becomes a tool by where we realize even more the blessing of being God’s people,
Which is where the other two quotes come in, and the role of the sacraments. You see, as much as it is a privilege, and my sacred duty to distribute the body broken and blood shed for the people of God, I need to receive it, I need to realize the blessing that it is, the presence of God there in my hands, even as it is given away and shared. Francis is right, as we administer the sacraments our hands should tremble, as should the hands of those who receive it.
For there, at the altar, over the font, at the bedside, there is the inescapable presence of God, there specifically for the people I am ministering to, and there for me. It is at that point I can release all the stress, and the pain. I can find hope for reconciliation, I see God’s mercy helping me realize my sins are taken away. It is there peace overwhelms us, and we realize God has answered our prayers, and come to us.
So even before it all works out in the end, we find what we need, what makes the difference, even if on a Monday we begin a journey like Job’s.
God is with us.
He is our sanctuary, our place where even Satan’s hordes and suffering cannot separate us from God.
Lord, as we struggle in life, help us not look past you. Help us to realize we dwell in your presence, that Your Spirit is there to comfort us, and enable and empower us to endure, and minister to others, revealing to them Your healing and grace. We pray this in Jesus name. AMEN!
Burke, R. L. (2012). Adoration in the Formation and Life of Priests. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (p. 145). London; New York: Burns & Oates.
Luther, M. (2007). Sermon at Coburg on Cross and Suffering. In P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey (Eds.), P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey (Trans.), Luther’s Spirituality (p. 159). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 207). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 Where there is no vision the people get out of hand; happy are they who keep the law. Proverbs 29:18 (NJB)
2 Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and mature. Romans 12:2 (NJB)
958 You have a big problem; but if such things are approached properly, that is to say, with calm and responsible supernatural vision, the solution is always to be found.
Yesterday I attended a class on the relationship between stress and weight loss/gain. Some of the things in the course were quite interesting. others were, hmmm, more challenging to hear, as they led down different paths.
But the first words were about the inavoidability of stress, of problems that we will encounter. It’s there, and there are natural bio-chemical, hormonal reactions to stress. ANd the natural reactions to stress are fight or flee, both kicked into high gear by the rushing hormones that fill our blood stream and affect every muscle and organ in our body.
Stress is unavoidable, brokenness, grief, guilt, shame, worry, all cause this, and more besides. And the toll of such stress over the years is an horrific list of thigns from heart disease and cancer, to forms of mental illness.
Techniques were offered. Breathing, mediation, Tai Chi, Yoga, Visioning. Lacking was anything about prayer, meditative on scripture or on the sacraments. ( Which is odd considering the weight loos program is under the asupices of a Roman Catholic Hospital, administered by an order of nuns. )
For I have found that in the presence of God, when I realize that He is my fortress, the protesction from the trauma of the world (and my own internal trauma as well), that I can begin to relax, that I can begin to hand over the causes of my anxiety.
It is as the Proverb says above, that without that vision, we get out of hand. In other translations, we cast off all restraint, and then, we perish. But when we treasure (for that is what heep means) this revelation of God’s love, of His mercy and healing, we know a joy that is only found in the most perfect peace.
But how do we get there?
It was odd, at the end of the presentation, the last slide included the presenter’s fvorite word. Metanoia a word she knew as change, the change of our mindsets, our way of processing life. You could see her light up as she talked about it.
So I asked if she knew the “other” translation of the word. And then shared with her the word often it is translated into in scripture.
Not the repentance seen in movies, the guilt and shame producing feeling that comes from someone pointing out your guilt and shortcomings. But the kind of transformation seen in Romans 12 above, the very work of God renewing our minds. The work of Holy Spirit in our lives, brinign comfort and healing to our broken hearts and souls. Reminding us that there is no need to beat ourselves up over our sin, rather as 1 John 1:9 says, confessing ti to God, knowing He will cleanse us of all of it, and all injustice.
All of it.
The end of this, the end of seeing/envisioning God, revealed in all his love and mercy in scripture finds us at peace, at home in the presence of God, a place where the anxieities and stress of life may exist, but are so dimiished as we know GOd will bring us through them.
As He has for all who depend, who trust in Him.
Heavenly Father, help us be aware of the Holy Spirit’s work within those who have faith in You, and depend on what You have promised to do and provide for us. Grant us, repentence, the renewing of our hearts and minds and souls, so that we can dwell in the peace You intend for us. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who made this all possible at the cross. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3886-3888). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
A friend of mine, who has endured a lot in life sent me this devotion she wrote for the staff at her church. It is a good devotion, one that resonates with much I write. But what is amazing to me is her ability to trust God enough to share these things that run so deep. Facing brokenness is never easy, and sharing it so others can heal… is beyond amazing!
For that, I am incredibly thankful to God and proud of my friend!
And so, for only the third time, I turn my blog over to someone else…. knowing there are others who need to hear T’s words.
Last night I was driving home and the song You Say by Lauren Daigle came on. One of the lines in the song says, “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough, Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up”, spoke to me in a very profound way. One of my daily battles is fighting the tape in my head that tells me
• I am stupid
• I am fat
• I am ugly
• I am unworthy of love
• I will never be enough
I grew up being told all of these things and more, so my tape player is strong.
Imagine for a moment that you knock a priceless vase to the ground and it shatters. What do you do? Do you try to put the vase back together as it was? Do you collect the pieces and drop them in the trash, as the vase is a total loss? Or do you pick up the beautiful colored pieces and glue them back together?
I am like that broken vase, that has been glued back together. I still retain the shape of the vase, but I am fractured. For many years I believed that those cracks made me not only damaged but broken beyond repair. Then I met Jesus, and at the age of 26 I was baptized, reborn with the promise of salvation. In time I began to realize the tape in my head was a lie. It was someone else’s story, not mine.
This is not to say I don’t still struggle, but I am able to remind myself to look to God for the truth of who I am.
Lauren’s song continues with “You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing, You say I am strong when I think I am weak, You say I am held when I am falling short, When I don’t belong, You say that I am Yours”.
And I know I am HIS!
We are all broken in some way, broken dreams, broken relationships, broken lives. So, what do we do with the broken pieces? Take those broken pieces and use them to make something new turn yourself into a colorful mosaic, reach to God and turn what is broken into beautiful, pieces, by sealing the cracks with lines of gold.
Jesus promises us that we as broken people will be better than new. Let that soak that in for a moment, WE WILL BE BETTER THAN NEW. 17 Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-19
Don’t let the lies that swirl around and whisper to you in the deepest parts of your soul in the weak moments define who you are When you feel like you have lost your grip, and things come crashing down reach for Jesus.
It is Jesus that tells us that we don’t need to hide our scars. Our brokenness has not rendered us useless in this life. God breaks through all of those lies. He tells us that we are never beyond healing or too broken for restoration.
Don’t be ashamed of your scars, of the deep crevices that line your soul, or the broken places of your life. They have an amazing story to tell. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT2)
Dear Father, I pray that we remember each and every day that the only thing that matters is finding our worth in you. That we are able to lay everything at your feet knowing that we don’t have to carry it ourselves. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
24 “But how terrible for you who are rich now; you have had your easy life! 25 “How terrible for you who are full now; you will go hungry! “How terrible for you who laugh now; you will mourn and weep! Luke 6:24-25
“The LORD did not love you and choose you because you outnumbered other peoples; you were the smallest nation on earth. Deut 7:7 GNT
3† He made you go hungry, and then he gave you manna to eat, food that you and your ancestors had never eaten before. He did this to teach you that you must not depend on bread alone to sustain you, but on everything that the LORD says. 4 During these forty years your clothes have not worn out, nor have your feet swollen up. 5† Remember that the LORD your God corrects and punishes you just as parents discipline their children. Deut. 8:3-5 GNT
What the world needs is God’s love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church’s
The third quote from scripture, the one from Luke 6, is a painful one. It shakes up most of our
This is confusing, yet it will set the tone for the other two readings from the Old Testament. It helps us understand why the wimpiest nation was the one God loves, why there were times where the brokenness would cause them many tears and great pain. They would even long to return to the slavery they once hated.
But they were loved and cared for, and God would heal them, and ensure that even their clothes didn’t wear out.
God stayed with them, in the midst of their rebellion, in the midst of their sin, and called to them to return, to repent, to allow Him to cleanse them, to heal their brokenness.
It is all a parent can do at times… allowing their children to hit rock bottom, but being there all the time, waiting for the moment they cry out.
It sucks to be the parent (God) and we wonder why He would let us get so lost, so in bondage to sin, so broken. So needy. So Empty.
He is there, ready to heal, ready to fill us with love and hope and peace.
He does this through His word, and with that word, through the sacraments. Which is why the quote from Pope Benedict XVI is so powerful.
It is not something we can diagram, this transformation that God is working in us, but it is there. In this moment that is as close to heaven as we can imagine, as the love of God is revealed through this bread and wine, this precious Body and Blood of Jesus our Lord.
And as we experience the dimensions of this love, it is so incredible, we don’t have to be forced to share it, we simply do. A church which has an inkling of the grace distributed in the Lord’s Supper is simply a church that must share that grace with others who are broken. An individual to whom this blessing, that they are given the Body to
If you are a
If you are a pastor who wants his church to grow, help people see this blessing you serve them with…
Look to Christ, be amazed by the depth of His love, the wonderful mercy poured out on you, and realize, despite
Benedict XVI. (2007). Sacramentum Caritatis. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 But Moses said, “No, LORD, don’t send me. I have never been a good speaker, and I haven’t become one since you began to speak to me. I am a poor speaker, slow and hesitant.”
11 The LORD said to him, “Who gives man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or dumb? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? It is I, the LORD. 12 Now, go! I will help you to speak, and I will tell you what to say.”
13 But Moses answered, “No, Lord, please send someone else.” Ex 4:10–13 TEV
22 “You don’t know what you are asking for,” Jesus answered the sons. “Can you drink the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 “You will indeed drink from my cup,” Jesus told them, “but I do not have the right to choose who will sit at my right and my left. These places belong to those for whom my Father has prepared them.” Mt 20:22–23 TEV
We cannot proclaim Christ’s promises to ourselves; we cannot store them away safely on a computer disk or in a safety deposit box for later reference. We need the word to come from outside of us so that it may reign over us. Someone must wash us, someone must feed us, someone must speak an inescapable and unconditional word of absolution, and in doing so these someones become Christ for us. The worldly spirituality of Luther with its emphasis on vocation and service to the neighbor is also a thoroughly churchly spirituality. We are called to venture forth on our individual paths of discipleship as members of a redeemed people, the very body of Christ.
There is no way for the Christian to avoid the brokenness in life.
We may try to hide it. We may try to justify it in our hearts and minds, yet our soul will still feel the brokenness.
We may try to run from it, and to be honest, this week, there have been times I wish I could have.
We encounter brokenness in each day, in each relationship, and even if we could isolate ourselves from the world, lock ourselves up in some monastery, we would still be crushed by our own brokenness.
So too often we from this aspect of brokenness to that one. From this shattered place to that, never having found the rest we need, never dreaming that there could be a way to see all of life healed, never seeing life restored.
Moses ran from where he encountered the greatest point of brokennes in his life. Everything he was. up to that point, disappeared in a moment of rage. And so he ran, rather than face his brokenness. God sends him back, not to deal with his own, but to help others deal with theirs. To deliver them from slavery, not the physical kind primarily, but the spiritual kind.
Moses goes back to help people realize that God isn’t distant, but that He is here. That God loves them, that He wants a relationship with them where He can love and care for them. (That is why Christ came as well!) And Moses, broken, afraid, more than willing to let someone else bear the burden, Moses would let someone else address the sin and shame.
God wouldn’t let him, but God also didn’t let him wander back alone. He never does.
We are meant to see people healed and find hope in the community. For even as Moses ministers to Pharoah and Israel, Aaron will minister to Moses, serving him as his mouthpiece, being his right hand, and Aaron does what Moses cannot do for himself. They were Christ for each other, as we need to be.
That can get pretty messy, as we, sent by Christ in his stead ( and yet paradoxically with Him) encounter their brokenness. As we share the grace they need, speaking absolution, binding their wounds, helping them have hope. Them helping us by serving us as Christ would. This interchange can get extraordinarily painful, as we sacrifice our own comfort, our own illusion of peace in order to encounter the brokenness. And even then, God provides real peace – that passes our understanding, meeting us in the midst of soul-wrenching pain that brokenness causes.
It takes confidence in God to reveal your own brokenness, to confess is and let yourself It takes confidence to go, and embrace those who are broken, to reach out and give them the proof of God’s healing them, the hope of the day when there will be no more sorrow, no more tears. When brokenness and the spiritual death it threatens is swallowed up in the greatest of victories.
This is what we hold onto, this hope of the new day coming. The day the church holds onto each other until, as we minister to each other, and remind each other of the love of Christ.
Lord, help us neither hide our brokenness or run from it, or the brokenness of those around us. But let us begin to minister to each other, to be Your hands, Your feet, Your mouthpieces, even as You minister to us through others. AMEN!
Strohl, J. E. (2007). General Introduction. In P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey (Eds.), P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey (Trans.), Luther’s Spirituality (p. xxx). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
7 God sent me ahead of you to rescue you in this amazing way and to make sure that you and your descendants survive. 8 So it was not really you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:7-8 GNT
Trial and temptation are the initial means of spiritual formation. Through them the Christian is stripped time and time again of presumption and the delusions of righteousness. One is thrust into a kind of existential free fall with nothing to break the descent into darkness, nothing to hold onto but Jesus the Christ.
309 Far away on the horizon heaven seems to meet the earth. Do not forget that where heaven and earth really meet is in your heart of a child of God.
Yesterday, I posted on FaceBook the following thought
“Struggling with the idea that Maranatha shouldn’t be just a prayer of despair, but one of expectation.”
Let me be honest, the last week or so, as I’ve have witnessed so much trauma, that I would be very grateful for the Second Coming of Christ. And in a desperate way, I want to plead for it, for the release from the tribulation and tears that seem to be occurring wherever I turn.
And yet part of me regrets wanting the Second Coming for such a personal excuse, for such a homecoming, for such peace. I know I should know this peace, and there are times where I know it, especially as I hand to my brothers and sisters the Body of Christ, as my elders and deacon encourage them to take and drink the Precious Blood poured out to activate the New Covenant, a relationship where we are free from sin.
As I look out on this broken world, this shattered community, as I see the sin ravaged relationships, my instinct to run and hide from the pain.
And gently confronting my angst this morning, I came across the readings above, and sit in wonder, as I realize God’s providence.
In the reading from Luther’s Spirituality, I see the blessing of such tribulation, as it strips from me everything but Christ. Out of need I cry out to Him and find He’s already there. He’s not on the distant horizon, not somewhere out there in time. But He is here, He is wonderfully sustaining me! He is wonderfully here!
And then, like Joseph, I realize the pain’s purpose, the salvation of all of those around, the chance we all have because even in this midst of the trauma, I see God at work. Oddly enough through some of the most broken, those in the deepest pain, those with no other option but Christ.
What an amazing paradox, what a wondrous mystery. What an unbelievable peace that is found now, in the presence of the Lord who will wipe away every tear one day, yet now cries with us, even as the Holy Spirit comforts us,
And as I think this through, I realize the peace, the incredible peace of being claimed and cleansed in baptism, of the feast where God celebrates our being united to Him. And though the trauma remains… so can we.
If you too are dealing with, or surrounded by those who are dealing with trauma, pain, whether from nature or because of sin, consider this prayer for you as well.
Lord, there are so many in need of Your peace, as they feel pressures crushing them, or feel for those who are being crushed, Lord reveal yourself to them, may they know the presence of the Holy Spirit, that in the midst of everything, builds within them the undeniable peace that is unable to be explained, but comes from knowing they are loved by you, Jesus, and the by the Father and Holy Spirit, as You reign and care for us, forever and ever, AMEN!
Strohl, J. E. (2007). General Introduction. In P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey (Eds.), P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey (Trans.), Luther’s Spirituality (p. xxvii). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1471-1472). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
23 As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; 24 but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 (TEV)
16 I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God’s power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. 17 For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the scripture says, “The person who is put right with God through faith shall live.” Romans 1:16-17 (TEV)
Poor and lukewarm is the Church that flees from and avoids the cross! She will become only a “polite social” institution in her sterility. This is, ultimately, the price paid, and indeed it is, by the people of God for being ashamed of the gospel and giving in to the fear of giving witness. If we do not confess Christ, what then would we be?
Jesus’ Last Supper was not one of those meals he held with “publicans and sinners”. He made it subject to the basic form of the Passover, which implies that this meal was held in a family setting. Thus he kept it with his new family, with the Twelve; with those whose feet he washed, whom he had prepared, by his Word and by this cleansing of absolution (Jn 13:10), to receive a blood relationship with him, to become one body with him.3 The Eucharist is not itself the sacrament of reconciliation, but in fact it presupposes that sacrament. It is the sacrament of the reconciled, to which the Lord invites all those who have become one with him; who certainly still remain weak sinners, but yet have given their hand to him and have become part of his family. That is why, from the beginning, the Eucharist has been preceded by a discernment. We have just heard this, in very dramatic form, from Paul: Whoever eats unworthily, eats and drinks judgment on himself, because he does not distinguish the Body of the Lord
For decades, the two gospel passages above have been burnt into my mind.
This is what we do, or what we try to do.
Preach Christ crucified, and we do it in a way that proves we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
Being not ashamed of the gospel is harder than we think. It is not being a hire-powered, no holes barred evangelist. It is about letting our souls be laid bare so that we can be healed!
And yet, to preach Christ crucified we have to deal with our guilt and shame. And it may be that we are afraid of, no terrified of, our shame.
To preach the cross of Christ, means we have to realize something else is there, something God has to deal with, for we cannot.
6 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the Cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call!
Romans 6:5-6a (MSG)
There we are. preaching the cross of Christ, knowing that on that cross our sins are nailed there, with Him. All of our dirty, shameful, secrets lifted up on that cross for Him to bear. Our sin was nailed to the cross with Him, and such a way that we are not ashamed of admitting it.
Our confession is not that we trust in Him, but that we confess our sins, we give Him permission to deal with them, to heal us of our brokenness.
That is what faith in Christ, depending upon Him boils down to, our recognition that He will help us deal with our brokennes, that he will take and remove our sin.
And the power of that salvation is such that we are not ashamed to depend upon Him for that.
Pope Benedict’s words have an incredible meaning here. For in clarifying that the Lord’s Supper (the Eucharist) is not the sacrament of reconciliation, He reminds us of the intimacy of this feast, and the celebration of His Body being broken, His Blood being poured out, the action which brings us, a holy and healing people into the presence of God. We need to go to the cross, face our sin, and see it nailed there, that is what discerning the Body and Blood means.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is my hope, to deal with my brokenness, and to help me help you with yours. (and at times, vice versa)
It is this that is most ironic, that my shame, that yours, can be dealt with in a way of which we are not ashamed, but that brings joy and peace.
Lord Jesus, draw us to the cross, draw us close to Your side. Help us to not be ashamed of being there, help us as we not be ashamed of handing over all our sin, all our brokenness, letting You remove their hold on our souls. Lord, help us to receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit so that we realize Your presence.
Help us as well, to be willing to help others deal with their guilt and shame… knowing how You deal with ours. And then, lead us all into the Father’s presence. 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.
Ratzinger, J. (2003). God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life. (S. O. Horn & V. Pfnür, Eds., H. Taylor, Trans.) (pp. 59–60). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
*this helps us to understand the difference between a pastoral form of close communion, and the denominational practice of closed communion. The latter simply says you aren’t like me, you can’t be part of the feast, the latter looks at the common dependence on Christ’s mercy, the discernment of that need, and the desire to see God continue to heal us.
the devotional thought of the day:
For this is what the LORD says: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you” —this is the LORD’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you”—this is the LORD’s declaration—“and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you”—this is the LORD’s declaration. “I will restore you to the place I deported you from.” Jeremiah 29:10-14 HCSB
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:4-6 HCSB
In the first quote above, the one from Jeremiah, there is an amazing and well-known quote. “For I know the plans I have for you” —this is the LORD’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope!
But is even more amazing, give the context of it.
I’ve heard a lot of people quote this passage when they get into hard times, or when they don’t know what is coming next. But that isn’t the context. Which is why it is even more amazing.
God’s not giving a future and a hope to those who are His spiritual superstars, not the heroes of the faith either. The context is those whose sins are so shameful, so repugnant, so evil that God had to lead them into captivity.
The people in context were banished, they were broken, they were dominated by seeking after their own welfare, and indeed, their own pleasure. They were in the midst of being disciplined, discipline as hard as any faced in scripture. They lost their home, their country, and all the things they counted on to tie them to God. The temple – gone. The sacrifices – gone. The land promised to Abraham, Issac and Jacob.. gone.
Because of their sin.
And yet they were given a promise, a future, and a hope. The assurance that when they ceased being the prodigal, God would still be there. The promise of reconciliation and restoration, when the time is complete.
Like them, there are sometimes that we become dominated by sin, when we are as broken when we deserve to be punished and disciplined, and worse, we deserve the wrath of God. We deserve the same kind of treatment that He poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues He poured out on Pharoah and Egypt, the justice He poured out on the people of Noah’s time.
Yet for us, even as for the exiles, there is a future and a hope. There is a God who promises He can be found, and when He finds us. He pours our something incredible on us.
His Spirit, the Holy Spirit who washes us clean with the word and the water. Who revives and regenerates our broken lives, who renews our strength, so that we don’t faith.
This is the promise you received as God baptized you, as He claimed you as His. When He declares that we are healed, cleansed, His people.
This is the promise of a future and a hope that we’ve been given.
Rejoice in it! Remember it! Celebrate it! Hang on to it, when things are challenging, when you life is broken, when you find yourself yielding to temptation and sin, and despair…
He has promised you to cleanse you, guaranteed by the cross. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 So by virtue of the blood of Jesus, you and I, my brothers, may now have courage to enter the holy of holies by way of the one who died and is yet alive, who has made for us a holy means of entry by himself passing through the curtain, that is, his own human nature. Further, since we have a great High Priest set over the household of God, let us draw near with true hearts and fullest confidence, knowing that our inmost souls have been purified by the sprinkling of his blood just as our bodies are cleansed by the washing of clean water. In this confidence let us hold on to the hope that we profess without the slightest hesitation – for he is utterly dependable – and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds. And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another’s faith, and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing ever nearer. Hebrews 10:19 (Phillips NT)
Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there may be a great spirit of communion.
Once you’ve heard a child cry out to heaven for help, and go unanswered, nothing’s ever the same again. Nothing. Even God changes.
But there is a healing hand at work that cannot be deflected from its purpose. I just can’t make sense of it, other than to cry. Those tears are part of what it is to be a monk.
Out there, in the world, it can be very cold. It seems to be about luck, good and bad,
and the distribution is absurd.
We have to be candles, burning between hope and despair, faith and doubt, life and death, all the opposites.
The song came up in a discussion yesterday, the cover of a classic that is even rawer, more real, more…powerfully and compelling than Simon and Garfunkel ever imagined.
I have listened to it over and over this morning, in awe of the pain, of the devastation and emptiness observed. (one track is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Dg-g7t2l4&start_radio=1&list=RDWJCGY0Hxz1M ) In awe of the helplessness expressed as the singer looks upon those he would help, and they won’t listen.
This morning, in my devotions, the resonance continued, as the quote in blue echoed the theme… the brokenness, the rawness, of prayers of a child unanswered, or prayers of a friend. The only answer is tear-soaked prayers of my own, and the insistence that we live between the moments of hope and despair, and faith and doubt, death and life.
Life is about more than good and bad luck and the distribution of them that is so absurd. Yet there are days it seems so, as evil seems blessed, as good seems oppressed, as sin and brokenness seem to reign over the land. Even in the church, as people set aside their relationship with God to define and be in a religion that resonates with their opinions, beliefs, bias and political positions.
So how do we survive, and how do we help people caught up in the meaningless and vanity of this life? Can we truly bring them peace, can they find it within what we reveal to them, with what we encourage each other?
The scripture passage from Hebrews says, “YES” and I do not believe it to be so!
I can’t believe it, I have been too overwhelmed by the times where there are no more tears, when the heart feels heavy and empty, and where eyes seem lifeless. I can’t believe it, because I’ve seen the people in bondage to their pain, their grief, their shame.
I can’t believe it!
I know it though, my soul is in awe when it is has seen people come to life, be renewed, be healed of brokenness that has shattered them, and their family. I have seen God do the impossible, I have seen the tears return at altars once abandoned, I have seen peace wash over those whose lives have known only suffering. I have seen joy break through empty eyes like the sun exploding through the darkness of night.
I know it.
I have seen this prayer come true,
and I pray that out of the glorious richness of his resources he will enable you to know the strength of the spirit’s inner re-inforcement – that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ – and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. May you be filled though all your being with God himself! Ephesians 3:14 (Phillips NT)
That is the difference having a relationship, a deep, abiding, intimate relationship with Jesus makes in life. A life with Him that is shared with others, as we remind each other of this,
As we realize that in the sound of silence, in that place stillness, we can encounter and be lifted up by the fact that He is God, and He loves us.
That is the sound of silence, transformed by the Holy Spirit…
Lord, help all who read this resonate, not only with the honesty that brokenness leaves us with but with the hope that even in the silent darkness You come and are with us. Help us to realize that You are our sanctuary, our fortress, our peace. AMEN!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 251). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
William Brodrick from https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/
Devotional THought of the Day:
7 But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. 8 Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. 9 But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. 10 I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (TEV)
604 Humbly acknowledge your weakness. Then you can say with the Apostle: Cum enim infirmor, tunc potens sum—“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
605 “Father, how can you stand such filth?” you asked me after a contrite confession. I said nothing, thinking that if your humility makes you feel like that—like filth, a heap of filth!—then we may yet turn all your weakness into something really great.
There is a point of burn out in ministry, at least that is what I have often thought. There is a point where a pastor simply can’t take anymore, where the grief and the problems simply overwhelm his strength. We aren’t superheroes, after all, and it doesn’t take kryptonite to drop us into times of depression, into times of great angst, into times where we just aren’t sure of anything, at least in our minds.
And yet out of such times, can come the most incredible moments of praise.
Out of brokenness, when we realize how our sin has caused devastation when like the person confessing their sins wonders how their priest can stand the filth, only to hear that once that is cleansed, then God strength resonates through us. He renews us in a way that we cannot even completely understand, protecting us as we stand in awe at His strength. As He watches over us, as He guards us, as His power cares and comforts us in our brokenness, and as we live in a world horrifically broken.
It is in such moments, humbled, broken, we stop trying to play God, and our prayers finally reach out to Him.
He’s been there, for He never abandons his children.
Even when we struggle to see Him, even when we struggle to entrust our brokenness to Him.
Waiting to pour His love into us… waiting to show us His glory, as He redeems and reconciles us, our very lives, and uses us to spread His love to this unjust and broken world.
Father, help us realize our weakness, our brokenness, and humbly walk with You. Help us to stop playing God, and realize again that You are God, and that you love us. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1438-1442). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.