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A Bad Way to Start a Day

white and black sunken ship

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Devotional Thought of the Day:

2 Nothing makes sense!
Everything is nonsense.
I have seen it all—
nothing makes sense!
3 What is there to show
for all of our hard work
here on this earth?
4 People come, and people go,
but still the world
never changes.
Ecc 1:2-4  (CEV_

12 But the Scriptures teach that if we piled together all the works of all the monks, no matter how precious and dazzling they might appear, they would not be as noble and good as if God were to pick up a straw

Heaven too is a gift and a glory, not a payment. All talk of merit and law and obedience—necessary as it is on earth—will disappear in Heaven, except perhaps as a joke.

There are days when one wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Then there are days when one wakes up, finds out the bed is upstairs still, and that somehow they have woken up at the bottom of the stairs. (though the idea is figurative, the body aches make one wonder if it is reality!)

And the day proceeds to get worse.

Devotions do not always help, as you see clearly in the first two readings above.  One thinks, well we’ve escaped the tedious nature of Job, only to come across Solomon in a grand funk. His heart isn’t soaring; in fact, it seems like it is plunging into the abyss.  Luther doesn’t help as his cry indicates everything mankind does for God is about as meaningful as picking up a dried weed.

So how do we keep going? How do we handle the pervasive emptiness and meaninglessness of life that seems our destiny under COVID?  We can’t keep up with the changes, we struggle to make things work, workplaces are shutting down, or reducing hours of valuable employees…

This brings us to the third quote…

I think some of us, no matter how well we know scripture, still feel like we have to be valuable to the world to be valuable to God.  That our value, our success, our ability to please everyone in life directly affects whether we matter to God. That our view our perception of our value to our families and workplaces isn’t accurate is another story. We simply believe that our perceived value here is reflective of how God does not care.

Our minds, our theological knowledge, may agree and confess that we get to heaven by grace, but our hearts and souls are breaking at the same time – and they feel otherwise.

We are, in a way, right, our merit, our value is not enough to meet a standard to enter heaven.  That is if there was such a standard.

There is no such standard.

Heaven is a gift, given by One who values us and loves us more profoundly than we can perceive. It is a glorious thing this love, the desire of God to have us as HIs companions, as His beloved children.

That is where our value comes from, the fact we are loved, that we are treasured by God Almighty.  So treasured that God gave up His Son to show all creation what He knows of us. That we are worth saving.

Even when we get up on the wrong side of the bed….or at the foot of the stairs.

God is with you… when things seem the worse.. cry out to him. AMEN!

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 438.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 34.

Injustice. Sin. Brokenness. DEAL WITH IT

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

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  With so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us, we too, then, should throw off everything that weighs us down and the sin that clings so closely, and with perseverance keep running in the race which lies ahead of us. Hebrews 12:1 (NJB)

Worship of God is an act of justice towards Him which disposes us, indeed sets us free, to be just towards one another, because it is the living out of our filial relationship towards God; and it is the living out of our common filiation or sonship in Christ. Worship is therefore in a very real way the basis of any human action, especially towards one another. Pope Benedict XVI echoed similar sentiments:

There is a permanent temptation for the Church: to put aside the cross
(cf. Mt 16:22), to negotiate with the truth, to avoid persecution, thus diminishing the redemptive power of the cross of Christ.

Yesterday I was talking to a young lady at the chiropractor’s office. She was kind of curious about me wearing a collar, and while I waited to get adjusted, we talked quite a bit. She was a little surprised at how I talked about my church, and how we tried to deal with our brokenness, rather than hiding it, or ignoring it. She liked the idea, even more than she liked hearing about California and the celebrities I have run into across the years.

As I was reading this morning, I thought about the fact our society is broken. We see it in the poverty in some communities. We see it in the interaction of our public figures. We see it in the horrors that we encounter, if we bother to hear the news from Africa, where illness and disease and war still kill people daily.

There is a part of me that thirsts for justice, that thirsts for it all to be fixed. To see our politicians grow up, to see them work together to bring peace, and if not prosperity, then at least and end to poverty that results in death. We need to deal with it, just not ignore it! We need to take on such injustice and brokenness, and work to find the healing of our lives, and our society, and our world. I want to see the brokenness of the church dealt with as well, rather than just ignored, or dismissed because it won’t affect me or mine.

I want to cry out, “Deal with it!”

But that is a temptation that I consider naive at best. Not because people will not (and for the most part, they won’t) but because how we cast aside everything and “deal with it”.

You see, what I need to do is cast aside all of that stuff, all the stuff I need, that we need to deal with, first. Because, let’s be honest, I can’t cause AOC and Trump to sit down and reconcile, and I can’t solve the problems in middle Africa, or for that matter in Cerritos, Ca, or Windham, N.H. I can’t replace injustice with righteousness quickly enough.

But I can walk with the Lord, who will do that, who will work thorugh His people, who will change us, and through that change enable us to love each other in a way that is effective and transformative. That will bring about reconciliation, that will teach people to care more about helping others than compiling their own wealth.

You see these things that we long for are the side effect of something bigger. They are results of worship, of clinging to the cross where we discovered we are loved, where all of the injustice in our lives is crucified with Christ, where all our sin and the things that break us down are shattered. Where we learn what matters, what is worth our praise, what transforms us.

And as we look to Christ, as we worship, as we dwell in the presence of God, we are transformed. We begin to love because we are loved, we begin to help others find that justice and righteousness and they in turn are transformed as well, not by force, but by the process of realizing they are loved.

Deal with it…

Father, deal with us!

“deal with it, please, dear Father in Heaven… by dealing with us! Make real Your presence, Your love, Your transforming us… AMEN!”

Turkson, P. (2012). Adoration as the Foundation of Social Justice. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (p. 172). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 233). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.

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