Visions of Peace III: An Advent Sermon based on Isaiah 35:1-10
Visions of Peace III
† In Jesus’ Name †
May the Grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ help you realize you dwell in the most incredible and unexplainable peace!
- The Promise
Have you ever talked to someone who, though speaking English, was using the technical knowledge that is known only to people in their own work?
Maybe they are a lawyer and tossing around terms that you think might have been Latin, or a doctor talking about your health in medical terms that have 16 syllables per word. Maybe it is an engineer, or someone talking about crocheting.
Pastors aren’t immune to this either. IN fact, one of the many reasons I miss one certain person’s presence, is that she always signaled me when I used to many theological terms, and didn’t define them. She does it with such grace that I could never be offended by it, but that she wants to know what I am saying… is a wondrous thing!.
One of those technical theological terms is the word “gospel.” We know it is something I am suppose to preach, that you all are supposed to share with loved one, neighbors, friends, even enemies…
We know it has something to do with God’s love, and with Jesus, and the cross.
But the gospel is more than that…
The gospel, completely revealed, is what Isaiah describes in our Old Testament reading this morning…
It is heavenly…
And that is why Isaiah says to share it,
“With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. 4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
I don’t know about you—but I could use some strength and encouragement!
And the gospel should do that—as you look for the incredible change in all of creation that comes with Jesus’ return!
- The Party
For someone who had to deal with wars and oppression, Isaiah has an incredible vision for life in Christ.
He describes it so incredibly! Places where there is little life just explode with life. I am not sure if I would use the deserts and wilderness and the flowers that appear over a few hours.
So I came up with a different example.
Everything comes to life as fast as Christmas decorations proliferate stores and streets at the first opportunity. Think about how fast everything changes!
I mean ever here—yesterday at 10 there were the poinsettias and by noon—everything was different; the tree is up and lit, there is green all around, there is the sense that Christmas is near.
But it is not just how things look that changes.
And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. 6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. 7 The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived!
What an incredible vision this is!
Imagine if after church we had a basketball game, and Tom and I were running full bore up and down the court, doing things we haven’t done in 20 and 30 years?
Imagine everyone with hearing aids being actually able to hear what their wives are saying and responding to what is said!
I shouldn’t keep saying, “imagine” as if this is some kind of naïve, idyllic pipedream.
I should say “look forward to” for that is the gospel, that is the truth. We are looking forward to this, not just thinking it might come
God has promised. He has sworn it will be true and guaranteed it with the blood of Christ.
This is what we long for, when everything broken in our lives and in the world… is made brand new….
Including our hearts and souls… everything is made new as we celebrate in the presence of God, our Creator, our Redeemer, the One who draws us into a special relationship with Him!
- The Way
That relationship was described in the of Acts as those who were “followers of the Way,” probably with this passage from Isaiah in mind. This is well before we were known as Christians or little Christs.
To be on the way means we are walking with Christ, for He has ransomed us, in order to walk with us on this way home.
Here it described again,
There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it. 10 Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
I would equate this as going on a plane trip—from our baptism to heaven is simply walking up the ramp from a plane to the terminal.
The excitement is building—we know we’ve arrived; we are where we are supposed to be. Now more hassles, no more security checks, no more struggles. Just the excitement of being at our destination.
That is where we are at right now, because Jesus came.
We are almost there, at the point where we will see God face to face…
Because Jesus came into our world—all our troubles are taken care of—all our weaknesses and instabilities. All our guilt and shame…
We are in His Kingdom even now… and those who depend on Him, and come to love Him, will rejoice…
For Jesus Christ is born, and was born for you. AMEN
Christian, Heaven is NOT your reward!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
23 I will establish my people in the land and make them prosper. I will show love to those who were called “Unloved,” and to those who were called “Not-My-People” I will say, “You are my people,” and they will answer, “You are our God.” Hosea 2:23 (TEV)
1030 My God, when will I love you for yourself? Although when we think about it, Lord, to desire an everlasting reward is to desire you, for you give yourself as our reward.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the church, and its message recently.
Part of that is do to people challenging the church, saying that its message, or the way it shares that message has become irrelevant. That we have progressed even deeper into the irrelevancy, and if the church doesn’t change, it will die.
I think the church needs to be careful as it hears these voices. It must continue to answer the questions of life and death, good and evil (and its partners guilt and shame). And it must answer them with God, with Jesus, hung on the cross to introduce us to the Father who loves us, and would heal the brokenness caused by our sin, and the sin of the world.
The challenge there is that we hold out heaven and rewards for living a good life, and when we do not, turning to God for forgiveness, so the hope of heaven is restored. As if the place with St. Peter’s gate and clouds and angels playing keyboards, and the streets of gold is our reward.
Your reward is the presence of God. To see Him face to face, to hear Him welcome you, His child, into His presence, into His peace. That is why St. Josemaria talks of our loving God for Himself. To desire to spend time with Him.
That is why prayer and meditating on scripture, and spending time receiving Christ’s Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper are critical in our lives. They are how God keeps us realizing His promised presence in our lives. These times should not be entered because we have to, because we want some reward from Daddy.
It is about being there, with God, in His presence, with your Creator, who loves you enough to set up all of creation to then show you off, His greatest treasure…
If we realize this, if we realize the love of God. How could we not want to spend any time we could, in any way we could….
He is your reward, He is your God…
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
9/11, Peace, Nirvana and Heaven
Devotional Thoughts for 9/11:
14 We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. 15 But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying. Heb 2:14-15 CEV
We doubt God’s love when we see and feel all the sufferings that our freedom to sin has brought upon us. Like Dostoyevski’s Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov, we prefer happiness to freedom. We wish God had given us less freedom and had guaranteed that we would stay in Eden forever. We wish that He had put up a sign saying “No snakes in the grass”, that He had given no law that we could ever have chosen to disobey.
I was in Del Taco, the one on 29 Palms Highway, the one from which you can see Yucca Valley High School. I had just placed my order, and heard people gasp. I rounded the corner. and froze.
And we, along with millions of others, watched as thousands died.
I don’t remember what I ordered, or if I ate it. I was supposed to go play golf on the base golf course, that would be cancelled. I drove to my church, threw open the doors, let 107.7 know people could come and pray…. and they did.
19 years later, the memories, along with many of the people I’ve stood by the bedside of, as they died. Many of those times are passing before me this morning. Some people were at peace, others not so much. All, along the journey, questioned God about the suffering that they, or the loved ones they cared for endured.
Why does it have to exist? Why couldn’t god just leave us in paradise, and make it impossible for us to sin? Impossible for us to suffer, impossible to…die. Why do we fall for temptation, again and again? Why do we have to suffer the consequences of the freedom God has given us all? Why did Adam and Eve fall for the lie that all freedom is good? Oh the power of that lie! Oh the damage that freedom can wreak… for freedom means that we often choose that which leads to death. Our death, or others.
Wouldn’t we be happier if God just programmed us perfect, and we knew no freedom, but only happiness? If we knew naive bliss, but not how love is still love in the midst of our brokenness? Would it not be nirvana if there was no war, no discrimination, no terrorism, no death?
Perhaps it would, but nirvana is but emptiness, it is the emptiness, the lack of self, and while this may seem peaceful, it misses out on what truly creates and sustains peace. It lacks the thing we need to know the most
The kind of love that brings peace in the midst of suffering and death. The kind of peace that has us give up control, but in order that God’s love may be revealed to be in control. The kind of love that rescues us from the fear of dying, by reminding us for the promise of heaven.
Kreeft finishes the paragraph above with this,
Mere kindness or compassion would keep us protected against suffering by denying us real freedom. That is the love we have for pets but not for persons, at least not persons we really respect. We are not meant to be God’s pets. He did not create us for that. We are to be God’s lovers.
We aren’t not God’s pets, His naive, companions. Who wants a scratch behind the years, or a treat when we behave right, and ask to go out rather than leaving a puddle on the kitchen floor. We are the bride who will cry on His shoulders, who will depend on His strength to get us through life,e who will sing His praises, for eternity is more than death… and even in the times of death, those who know Him, can know His peace. We need the Holy Spirit to come, and to comfort us, in the midst of terrorism, amid the brokenness of a country torn apart by disease, or sin, or natural disaster. We need to find something so amazing that we can leave the painful emptiness behind, in view of the amazing love.
That is why people ran into First Christian Church on 9/11. That is why they cried at the altar, and why they could leave… still distraught, still not believing, but knowing that God was with them, and therefore knowing peace on a horrendous day.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 116–117.
Is there anything on earth…like heaven?
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
“What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!” 1 Cor. 2:9 CEV
When Gideon looked, the angel was gone. 22 Gideon realized that he had seen one of the LORD’s angels. “Oh!” he moaned. “Now I’m going to die.” “Calm down!” the LORD told Gideon. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re not going to die.” Gideon built an altar for worshiping the LORD and called it “The LORD Calms Our Fears.” Judges 6:21-24 CEV
Even the atheistic philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said, “There comes a time when you say even of Shakespeare, even of Beethoven, ‘Is that all there is?’ ” How can we understand anything of Heaven if there is nothing at all on earth to compare it to, nothing heavenly, nothing that never gets boring? Thus either Heaven is boring, or something on earth is not boring, or nothing on earth is like Heaven.
There are two parts to the answer: first, that everything on earth except agape is meant to be boring; and second, that agape is not.
So let us take up this problem: genuine art is “esoteric in the best sense”, say Rahner and Vorgrimler; liturgy is simple; it must be possible for everyone, particularly the simple, to participate. Can liturgy accommodate real church music? Does it in fact demand it, or does it exclude it? In looking for an answer to these questions, we will not find much help in our theological inheritance. It seems that relations between theology and church music have always been somewhat cool.
As I read Kreeft’s words in scripture today, I was amazed by their accuracy. We don’t understand heaven, we can’t conceive of it, even as the Apostle Paul says in the first quote.
I remember a professor quoting one of the early revivalists who said if he could give people a minute of hell, he would never have to convince them to repent. My sarcastic comment was, “but what if we could give them a glance of heaven?”
Sarcastically said then, but I’ve thought of the wisdom of it – how can we give people a taste of heaven? How can we help them know the joys of which we should sing? That which is “beyond” theology, that which defies our explanation?
How can we show them the holiness, the glory, the pure love that we will experience in heaven? How can we help them experience love beyond love, as radical as the day is from the darkest, stormiest night?
The church’s liturgy aims to do so, revealing the love of God as we celebrate our forgiveness, the Lord dwelling among us, the actions He takes to bless and transform us into His holy people, and the feast of the broken bread and the wine, the Body and Blood of Jesus. The feast that celebrates the love, the feast that opens, for a few moments, a view for our souls of heaven.
I love the story of Gideon, especially the verses above. Here he is, somehow missing the miracles the Angel did, then realizing afterward the significance of being in the presence of a holy messenger. He starts to freak out, the anxiety builds as he realizes his own sin and inadequacy. His glimpse of something holy, someone from heaven, causes enormous fear.
Then the Lord God tells him to chill.
Wait – where was he?
God does speak to us still, just as He did to Gideon. One of the ways that should happen is in our church’s gathering. Even as we receive the message we will struggle with, that kills oof our sinful self, and raises us to life with the crucified Christ. Even as we struggle with that, the Lord comes to us in His feast and tells us, don’t fear, I am with you…
That is why we have a dilemma about the art of leading liturgy and the art of leading songs and hymns that accompany it. The use of the term “art” makes us think it is a showcase for the best o our talents. It isn’t!
What the art is, is not found in the musician’s talent, or the pastor, in the charisma. It is found in the communion, the communication of revealing to people they dwell in the presence of God, and helping them to hear His voice. Therein is the art, there is our target, the goal we strive for, there is our art.
There is our joy as well, for the connection is undeniable, and beautiful beyond words, as people come to know they are loved… as they feast with the Lord, knowing the joy that only comes from knowing you are loved.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 88.
Joseph Ratzinger, The Feast of Faith: Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 100.
Luther, what are you talking about? Don’t seek heaven? HUH???
Devotional Thought for our Day:
8 I also want them to build a special place where I can live among my people. Ex. 25:8
19 Don’t stay far away, LORD! My strength comes from you, so hurry and help! Psalm 22:19 CEV
Our life should not be directed toward our own advantage, not even to our salvation or any blessing, whether temporal or eternal, unless all of this ultimately leads to God’s honor and praise.
The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.
579 Faith. It’s a pity to see how frequently many Christians have it on their lips and yet how sparingly they put it into their actions. You would think it a virtue to be preached only, and not one to be practiced.
As I was doing my devotional reading this morning, I first came across the reading from Luther, and I was stung by the idea that my life shouldn’t be focused on the advantage I have for how I will spend eternity.
After all, isn’t that why we are Christians so that we don’t end up in hell?
Isn’t that reward what we are after?
And then I came up against the question of evil, and the answer that I know to be true, but it does not, in any means, satisfy my questions. Nice job explaining the theology, but where is the comfort I need, when dealing with this broken world?
St. Josemaria brings the lesson home for me, as he reminds me that faith in God is not supposed to be just preached, but something that only exists when practiced. I can talk all I want about depending on God, about believing He is there, about trusting in His provision and protection, but I have to do so, if my words are going to be anything. If I don’t actually believe, if I don’t put my trust in God and what He has promised, all the theological discourses mean nothing.
I have to realize the truth of Exodus 25, that God wants a place to dwell with us, that He wants to have a part (a major part) in our lives, both now and eternally. That is why I don’t seek heaven for my sake, heaven’s promise is worthless except for one thing, we will be with God. That is faith, that is depending, not just on the promises of no more tears and no more sorrow, but that He will be ours, and we His. That is what He glories in, that is what is His mission, that is why all that was created, was created.
It works in the reading from Psalm 29, in the midst of the pain, David doesn’t seek relief, he seeks the presence of God. For knowing God is here, endurance is no longer the question, nor is the suffering. Evil, with all of its ability to crush us, and sin’s power to torment, and the questions both raise, fall aside when we are exploring the breadth and width, the depth and height of God’s love, revealed in Christ Jesus.
Heaven? Angels, and streets of God? Earth? Troubles and tribulations?
Does either matter, is either noticeable when we are dancing with God?
I think this is what the greatest of the faithful have realized. Not their own might or own strength did they endure. They simply knew He was with them.
Lord, help us to realize You are with us… and help us to desire You more than anything else… AMEN!
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 42: Devotional Writings I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 36.
Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 84.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Do We Dismiss Satan (and demons and angels) to Easily?
Devotional Thought of the Day
8 Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Be firm in your faith and resist him, because you know that other believers in all the world are going through the same kind of sufferings. 10 But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share his eternal glory in union with Christ, will himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation. 11 To him be the power forever! Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11 GNT
Nineteenth, let no one presume to perform such things by his own power, but humbly ask God to create and preserve such faith in and such understanding of his holy sacraments in him. He must practice awe and humility in all this, lest he ascribe these works to himself instead of allowing God the glory. To this end he must call upon the holy angels, particularly his own angel,13 the Mother of God, and all the apostles and saints,14 especially since God has granted him exceptional zeal for this. However, he dare not doubt, but must believe that his prayer will be heard. He has two reasons for this. The first one is that he has just heard from the Scriptures how God commanded the angels to give love and help to all who believe and how the sacrament conveys this. We must hold this before them and remind them of it, not that the angels do not know this, or would otherwise not do it, but to make our faith and trust in them, and through them in God, stronger and bolder as we face death. The other reason is that God has enjoined us firmly to believe in the fulfilment of our prayer [Mark 11:24] and that it is truly an Amen.
Today, in the Roman Catholic Church, they celebrate the Memorial of the Guardian Angels, and as I started my devotional reading, that sat in the back of my mind. Not as a major thing, but I had seen on facebook for or five references to it.
Given some of the things I am dealing with, the idea of a heavenly warrior having my back is quite… comforting. But I dismissed it, until I got to my reading in 1 Peter 5, and the warning that Satan is still out there, trying to drag us away from Jesus.
That isn’t myth, that is reality.
And as Satan exists and demons exist, so do angels. Not as heavenly beings to worship, but rather as servants of God who minister to us. Reading the Book of Daniel you see this as Gabriel and Michael do battle on his behalf.
The key is found in what Peter says after , that as we endure, God himself perfects us. That is what Martin Luther points out in his sermon on preparing for death above as well, as we look to God for the strength, and ask for intercession in our ability to grow in faith, to depend on God’s work, and give glory for what is being done.
The end game is sure, God’s work guaranteeing it, His command to those He sends to serve confirm it, as they point us to Jesus, to the promises the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of, as we dwell united to Christ’s and to His death and resurrection.
This is something to take serious, this spiritual battle we are involved in, to recognize it for what it is, and yet, to have confidence in our endurance, which God provides.
Heavenly Father, help us to realize that we are no in this life alone, but that you surround us with Your people, the church, and with the angels you send to protect us, to point us to Christ. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 42: Devotional Writings I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 113.
The Greatest Secret in all History…and it concerns you.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
The wisdom I proclaim is God’s secret wisdom, which is hidden from human beings, but which he had already chosen for our glory even before the world was made. 8† None of the rulers of this world knew this wisdom. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9† However, as the scripture says,
“What no one ever saw or heard,
what no one ever thought could happen,
is the very thing God prepared for those who love him.”
10 But it was to us that God made known his secret by means of his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 GNT
27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God! Col. 1:27 GNT
Imagine you were nine again, and you saw your parents and a couple of other adults whispering, and as you walked closer, they all stopped talking. Or they walked away from each other. Then your brother and sister looked at you with a strange smile.
You would know something was up. It might be a good thing, it could also be something, well not that positive.
Now think about work, and something similar happens. People are gathered around, talking quietly, occasionally glancing at you, only to snap their head around if you made eye contact with them.
You might become slightly paranoid! I would definitely more than just a little anxious.
And yet there was one secret, that secret definitely concerns you and I. The secret of redemption, and reconciliation with God. The secret that God has prepared for us, planned since before He created the world, that Jesus would come, live, be tortured to death, and rise again, so the secret could be fulfilled.
And because of that life eternal will be more than we can ever imagine. The amount of love and serenity we will experience will be glorious.
And yet it was a secret. It was hidden from the world, and yet hidden in plain sight. The promise Paul quotes is there in the Old Testament, the promise that there would be a light for the nations, and the glory of Israel, overlooked. The patience and love of God was not contemplated, and even in Jesus day, there were preachers who maintained that religion was for this life only, that there was noting more.
They missed it, allowing Jesus to become incarnate, to dwell among us long enough for us to kill Him. And He did this because the Father and He loved us so much!
There is the secret, the reason something more stunning that we’ve ever laid our eyes upon, more amazing than anything we have ever heard, and more increible than anything we have ever thought and dreamed awaits us. To be so clean we can enter God the Father’s presence, and not only will we see God face to face, we will be welcomed home into the glory He has planned to share with us.
Lord, help us believe Your promise. AMEN!
Who gets the Best Reception Heaven?
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
So He told them this parable: 4 “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field o and go after the lost one until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, 6 and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7 I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance. Luke 15:3-7
But there is already the threat of invasion by the virtuoso mentality, the vanity of technique, which is no longer the servant of the whole but wants to push itself to the fore. During the nineteenth century, the century of self-emancipating subjectivity, this led in many places to the obscuring of the sacred by the operatic.
Among all those who passed away, there were two men. The first was the most famous preacher of the time, and the other, a man who spent most of his life in prison, and only as he approached death, did he stop fighting, and God drew him close. There would be a worldwide celebration of the former man at his memorial service. The latter man would have 2 or 3 at his graveside, with a chaplain in tears.
They get to heaven, who do you think gets the better reception? Which person gets the warmer welcome? Whose arrival makes the biggest splash?
We might think it was the man who spent his life dedicated to serving God, whose life and messages affect more people than anyone can count, more than anyone knows.
Yet, time after time Jesus tells us that it is not a contest, that the joy over the one lost is greater than the 99. That the person hired at the last moment gets the same wage//reward as the one who worked from dawn. That John the Baptist, who was used by God to call many to repentance, is the least in the kingdom of God.
And yet, even in the church, we applaud the famous, those whose charisma leads them to become popular, the opera soloist with the voice no-one can match, but who causes us to be reduced to listeners, to observers.
God isn’t a respecter of persons, St Paul tells us. Yet we are, I am not sure why, but even in the church, we are. We need to remember that they are sinners, saved by grace, that is why they are saints, even as we are.
All because of Jesus.
It’s all because of Him.
Going after you and me when there were 99 back at the ranch, rescuing us, carrying us, working to heal us. Just as the Spirit is still drawing people to Him, through us.
WHo gets the best reception in Heaven?
Jesus… who made it all possible, and has invited us all to that feast, as the guests He so dearly loves!
Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Trans. John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000. Print.
Dwelling in Jesus…is more incredible that we can know (for now)
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2 Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!
Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)
97 Renew each day the effective desire to empty yourself, to deny yourself, to forget yourself, to walk in novitiate census, with a new life, exchanging this misery of ours for all the hidden and eternal grandeur of God. (1)
Since teaching through Colossians a couple of years ago, these words in red above seem to resonate with me more and more. I have written about them before, and will probably do so again.
I think they are critical for us to understand, this idea of our “real life”, a life which seems hidden, a life which is easily overlooked and forgotten, a life that is found at the throne of God.
THat’s where we belong, it is our eternal life. The life that began when God circumcised our hearts, cutting away the sin and unrighteousness as He baptized us. That was the conversation in the previous chapter in St. Paul’s letter to these saints.
But in chapter 3 he gets to the impact of that cleansing, the difference it makes in our lives today, and every day that will come. He talks of our eternal life as our real life, our reality. He urges us to set our hearts on this dance with God the Father, Son and Spirit. The dance we’ve been invited too, and see glimpses of, even if our mind cannot clearly picture it.
If our mind cannot, our hearts and soul can be set on this. For our hearts are better at knowing we are loved, knowing we are forgiven, and being able to accept the mysteries that our minds can’t fathom.
But as our hearts settle there, we dwell in the peace of God, we lose ourselves, yet find our life in Jesus. For everything changes, from our priorities, to our relationships, from what we “need” to how we view those around us.
So today, think about the glory of heaven and come to realize with your heart that not only do you have a place there… you are already in His presence…
and rejoice in that peace!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 556-558). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Have we forgotten eternity?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. Matthew 25:34 (NLT)
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69 (NLT)
906 Et regni eius non erit finis—“His kingdom will have no end.” Doesn’t it fill you with joy to work for a kingdom like that?
A little over a year ago, I was at a funeral where one of my early mentors preached. He made a point very clear that we no longer preach about eternity. He asked me if I, no longer in that denomination, ever mentioned eternity in my sermons, and I indicated I did, and while I do, the conversation took a back burner for a while.
I do mention it in sermons, for it is the 2nd great promise of our baptism,, the first being the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is why the removal of our sin is so critical, for those who are counted as sinners, those who are bound by them, have an eternity that is not what I would call life. (hell does exist, but how it is clearly described is an existence that is not what we think of as life.)
But I think we put off eternity, we have defined it as a reality we cannot know until we die. It is “after-life” in many people’s thoughts. Not life right now, eternity and heaven are not visible we think. I believe this is, in part due to passages that describe the final judgment, and what theologians call the “not yet”.of the “now and not yet.”
We need to understand that there is a “now” to eternity. That even as we struggle to see it, the love we know now is no different than the love we shall know then. We will just be more aware of it, we will see it more clearly.
How different would our lives be if we could begin to realize the truth of Paul’s words to the church in Colossae,
12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12 (NLT)
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT)
Eternity has begun. It is hard to see at times, and yes, Satan and the world would love to obstruct our vision of Jesus, to diminish our ability to sense His presence and be comforted and consoled by it. As we realize that, our duty becomes reminding each other, teaching and preaching about our eternal life. Meditating on it, partaking in the sacraments, and celebrating those who enter this life by being united to Jesus in the sacrament baptism.
This is who we are…those living in Christ eternally… this is our hope, our trust, and dependence on God and His promises, including the love that will see us to the day when we see Him face to face.
Until then, as St. Paul says, sets your sight on the realities of heaven… for that is where you real life is, hidden in Christ. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2107-2109). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.