4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.John 1:4-5 (NLT)
You became a bit frightened when you saw so much light, so bright that you thought it would be difficult to look, or even to see. Disregard your obvious weaknesses, and open the eyes of your soul to faith, to hope and to love. Carry on, allowing yourself to be guided by God through whoever directs your soul. (1)
It seems many churches yesterday saw incredible spikes in their attendance counts. We had nearly a triple digit spike! It was great to hear all these voices, responding with strong “Amens” and singing and praying together. The cynical side of me wonders if the same people will return to church in the weeks to come, or will attendance fade back to normal. But even among those who normally are here, who normally sing his praises, will His glory continue to shine through us, or will it fade as well? Will we sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today still? and if we do, will it sound more like “Were you there..hen they crucified my Lord”. (As it did this morning on the radio)
How do we keep the glorious light we experienced yesterday from fading?
The answer is simple – by realizing – each and every day – as many times a day as possible – that the Lord is with us! That He doesn’t slumber of sleep or take a vacation, or even a day off.
We need to realize we live in the presence of God.
And we need to encourage each other to see God’s revealing Himself.
Simple perhaps – but as profound as an open tomb.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3577-3580). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day: (why do I write discussion – in the hope someday this is discussed, of course)
“If all those people became so enthusiastic and were ready to acclaim you over a piece of bread, even though the multiplication was a very great miracle, shouldn’t we be doing much more for all the many gifts you have granted us, and especially for giving us your very self unreservedly in the Eucharist?” (1)
In view of these days, when we are arguing and doing battle over what the government can, can’t, should or shouldn’t do for those it governs, this quote by St. Josemarie seems incredibly important. For indeed we get excited about what is physically/financially provided for us, and because of the similarities of those running, the only real argument I can see is about whether people are given to, or have taken from them, money and that which it can buy.
It is never miraculous, the government cannot turn 5 loaves and 2 fishes into enough to feed 12,000 people. And we applaud or crucify those who promise to do something about it, based on its perceived short term affect on us. Yet we waste more time contemplating politics than the ministry of Jesus in our midst. We get more excited about a juicy bit of gossip that we can copy and paste to bash “the other guy” than we do about the word of God which reveals to us that we aren’t alone, that we are loved, that this world isn’t a random and without a purpose.
We aren’t alone.
We are loved…
A little bit of bread, a small sip of wine, a gift that changes everything, that fulfills a promise, that indeed reminds us of the greatest gift, and is a gift that is worth more than any thing,.
Celebrate it, think about what is given you there, as you Take and Eat the Body Broken for you, and you take and drink, the blood outpoured for the forgiveness of sin. All sin.
And may you live, as those God would call to His feast…
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1228-1231). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/discussion thought of the Day:
It’s been too many days away…. even though the men I am with on this retreat are fun loving guys, and there is a great sense of camaraderie among them, it is not the same as being home with my wife and son, and my congregation. I have confidence in the vicar preaching there this morning, ( as I do in the other vicar and deacon extending the ministry this morning) but there is something about being there.
I can’t wait to get home. I can’t wait to get back to my people. (and out of the range of the country western stuff I was subjected to all week)
As i long for that, I think about the Lord’s Supper, the Communion feast of God and His people, the Eucharist.
It is, more than anything, the place I know I am home. It is where we belong, very consciously aware of the presence of God, the awe found in His presence, which rips our sin, our idols, our anxieties away.
I have to admit a bit of jealousy of my Catholic brothers in ministry, who don’t wait a week in between celebrating this feast, this homecoming, this little glimpse of the joy of heaven, this peace which crushes all else.
It’s time for going home… it’s time for the family to dine, the host to bless us, even as He thanks the Father for the cross that made this feast possible.
I love how St. Josemarie Escriva put it, “As he was giving out Holy Communion that priest felt like shouting out: this is Happiness I am giving to you!” (1)
This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, happy are those who are called to His Supper,
Lord, we are not worthy to receive, but only say the words……and we are healed….
For we are home, with God.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1105-1106). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion/devotion of the day….
It is amazing to me, how much we get caught up in the intrigues and plots and plans of government. How much anxiety, how much sin, how much pain is created when we look to our governments, when we look to our candidates to provide that which can only come from God. (somehow we also do this with athletes, which is even more perverse…)
Do we really think that the problems caused by sin will be overcome if our guy wins? Is there any proof that if our opponent wins, that somehow he can override the will and work of God? How much of God’s peace can be stolen from us by politicians? How much of what really matters can be overcome?
A survivor of the Spanish Civil War, which was brutal on both sides, which had believers on both sides, which had pastors and priests killed by both sides, wrote this,
“The measures taken by some governments to ensure that the faith in their countries dies out reminds me of the seals set upon the tomb of Jesus by the Sanhedrin. He was not subject to anybody or anything, and despite those seals, he rose again!” (1)
It isn’t rocket science to realize that in this day, people have turned politics, like so many things, into a form a idolatry. Can we, for a moment, for a day, trust in God more than we trust in the war for “right” or “wrong” in the elections? Can we find our unity in the one who didn’t run for office, but ran to the cross for the joy set before Him? Or will we be like the Israelites, who forsook God’s reign, to have a king…
Lord Have Mercy on us! Help us to look to you for the peace that the world and its governors and kings and presidential candidates cannot deliver…
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1084-1087). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:
Don’t create more obligations for yourself than… God’s glory, his Love, his Apostolate.(1)
Yesterday, as I talked about anxiety in my sermon, and the coming of Christ which overcomes such anxiety, one of the illustrations I used was that the word for anxiety might best be translated as “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”, or “frantic”. It is easy to get into that kind of lifestyle, where we rush around from appointment to appointment, from task to task, spinning our wheels because of the demands placed upon us so quickly that we don’t have time to prioritize. Everything seems to be an obligation, and we wonder if we can get it all done!
And in the fast paced, spinning our wheels type of days, the one thing we do not know, is peace.
And we need that peace.
In the quote I borrowed today, there is something I think we should consider, and try to implement. Simply put, we must try to arrange our day, not by the tasks, and appointments and stuff of life, but realize what we are obliged to do is to walk that day in God’s glory, reveling in His love, and working from the assumption that whatever we do, it is because He sent us to do it, as His ambassadors, as His apostles, as His people bringing light into the world. We start there in His presence – we must start there. Not in the sense of we must because we need to be there, if anything we do is going to be of worth, if we are going to see God’s glory, if we are going to know His peace.
Once we remember we dwell in Christ, when we put on Christ, when we realize His mercy and love and peace – then, we will see the day unravel as He planned, we will see the things we do as His work, and it will be done, and done well, as the Holy Spirit works throughout our life.
Lord have mercy on us, and help us to realize You have, You are, and You will… every moment. AMEN
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 521-522). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion/Devotional Thought of the Day:
“544 The Communion of the Saints. How shall I explain it to you? You know what blood transfusions can do for the body? Well, that’s what the Communion of the Saints does for the soul.” Escriva, Josemaria. The Way
As a pastor, one of the things I do is to bring the Lord’s Supper to those who cannot make it to church, to those too weak or sick, to those who were once quite active, but now are counted as shut-ins. In doing so, the discussion always includes their asking about how things are going at church, it never fails to astound me, how concerned they are for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Often they talk of their desire to get well, to gain strength, just so they can once again commune in the sanctuary, with their friends, the people they love, with whom they have walked through their lives, even if they only knew the people at church for a small while.
We are on their hearts and minds.. and in bringing communion to them, they are reminded that they are part of the community. It is bittersweet, for they realize they are part of the community that Christ has established.
How I wish we were in the future, and we had transporter units like in Star Trek. Then we could beam them into the sanctuary, and fulfill a desire that they would have. (It would also be cool if upon “reassenbly” their ills and pains and weaknesses could be quarantined and separated from them!
St Escriva’s words hit home a lot today, as I consider one of the people I visit, who I can’t anymore. I know how much visiting him meant to me, how in many ways it was like the transfusion spoke of in this quote. Yet in bringing him communion, he two received a transfusion I am learning. The very life of the church was shared, the life we share in every time we gather and we eat together and drink together. For sharing in the Lord’s Table, kneeling at the Altar together is a community, thing, just as our life as Christ’s body is a community thing.
It is tragic that we don’t comprehend this blessing we have in sharing in the feast of Christ – that we would relegate it to less important than other things we do, that we place limits on its time, both the time we spend preparing for it, and the time we spend celebrating it. That we reduce the precious words to a formula, a incantation, rather than savor them, listen intently, and hear and absorb them. It is tragic that the gathering of God’s people is an afterthought in many lives.
As a pastor, I am partially responsible. If you know not why a priest, or a pastor, could describe the gathering of God’s people together around His sacrament as a spiritual transfusion, we haven’t done our job as those who proclaim the world well enough. If we haven’t taught you to treasure this incredible time, we have, in large part failed. If we don’t keep you in prayer, and help your prepare for this incredible gift, then perhaps we need to reconsider what our job is, to preach the word in its fullness, and to administer the sacrament – that those who are broken can encounter His healing, His mercy His presence.
Keep us, all the pastors and priests – and the deacons and elders and worship leaders who stand alongisde us, ready to serve, to minister to you… in your prayers. That we would feed you so richly that your heart would long for the next gathering the next time His people gather around His word, and His table.
“Lord Have Mercy!” we cry, and as we kneel and take and eat… and drink of the Blood shed that sins would be forgiven, we realize how much He has had the mercy we pray for!