Devotional Thought for our Days
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:14-17 (NLT)
827 A friend of ours used to say: “The poor are my best spiritual book and the main motive of my prayers. It pains me to see them, and in each one of them, Christ. And because it hurts, I realise I love him and love them.”
Article VI Of New Obedience: Also they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17:10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.
A number of issues seem to be addressed by today’s readings, (and the quote from the Augsburg Confession)
We could start with the devastation of Houston, or Northwest and the fires that plague them. This week adds the Carribean, and possibly all of Florida as Irma draws close.
We can add to that those around us who are stressed by the changes brought about by the end of DACA. And the growing homeless along the Santa Ana and other river trails.
There are others I think of, as next week I will do a memorial service of a young man who left behind his father (who is my age) and a neighborhood of friends still in shock Or other friends battling health issues. Including them, our prayer list is over 150 different people and the friends and family that walk with them.
How do we help so many? We start on our knees, we ask God to bless them, to strengthen their faith, to strengthen ours as we pray, depending on God not only for the ability to help where we can…. but for the wisdom to know who to help.
And then we live out our lives, knowing God is faithful.
That is how we do it, looking to a God who so loves us, who so gives to us, who is with us.
We may end up giving more than we thought we could, we may end up having to make tough decisions between a lot of people in need, a lot of people who do not just need our money, but our time.
With confidence built up the promises of God, promises delivered through His word and the sacraments, we can do this… we can love, for that is who we become in Christ Jesus.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3401-3404). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
— Augsburg Confession, The
Discussion point at the end of the day…
That friend of ours would finish his prayer in this way: “I love the Will of my God and that is why, abandoning myself completely into his hands, I pray that he may lead me however and wherever he likes.” Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 374-376). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
That is a hard statement to say – especially for me these days. I think of several of my friends, for who the journey of the moment is scary, it not only causes them great anxiety and fear, but it causes me to be anxious, to try and analyze and research and find ways to encourage them. I think of a friend who just started his “formal” formation to the pastorate today, knowing the challenges he will face, even as his families undergoes a number of other life transitions. Another friend who will walk beside him the next four years – and faces different challenges along the same road. A young seminarian I met, who I have a gut level instinct that he is something special, but his road will not be the norm as many other pastors.
How can each be encouraged to simply trust, to simply abandon their own desire and let a God who is here, but not always easily seen and felt, take them into His loving hands. How can we love the will…that we aren’t sure we like?
How can I, even as I look to the future as a pastor, and see where God would do the same thing – not just with me, but with a congregation of people I love. (Knowing that some may struggle with what God is planning for us, even as we abandon ourselves into His hands…
Luther would say this is a First Commandment issue – will we trust that He is our God, our Father, our Almighty, Everlasting, Wise Counselor, One who creates a kingdom of peace – in the midst of our messed up broken lives. That is a level of trust that is foreign to us today, hard, difficult, risky,….
We can’t play God anymore. We can’t pretend to have strength that we don’t have. We need to find the rest that comes only when we get into the passenger seat, and let someone else pilot our lives. For there, in letting God reign, and rule, we find the rest and peace to hear His voice, to feel His presence, the stillness to have peace and know… to experience, to have revealed to us that He is our God.
Lord, this evening, help me to abandon myself to you… help my heart rejoice in being Your child, in letting You guide the way of my friends, to bless the path of Vicars Mark and Eduardo, to help the people I shepherd know Your love and hear your voice….and may we all pray the same prayer that start this blog…
I love the Will of my God and that is why, abandoning myself completely into his hands, I pray that he may lead me however and wherever he likes.”