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:
16 Jerusalem, I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Isaiah 49:16 (TEV)
5 Lord, we are glad to find ourselves in your wounded palm. Grasp us tight, squeeze us hard, make us lose all our earthly wretchedness, purify us, set us on fire, make us feel drenched in your Blood. And then, cast us far, far away, hungry for the harvest, to sow the seed more fruitfully each day, for Love of you. (1)
I live in a land of earthquakes. I have friends that live in Tornado alleys, others who live in the normal paths of hurricanes, Where I grew up, snow storms could strand you for a week. Where my first church was located, you could dehydrate so fast that you could die before you knew it. There are places where there are wars, cities where drugs and gang violence is rampant.
I have come to this conclusion, if you are searching for a safe place to live, there is no such geographical location on the earth. As long as we are alive, there will be some threat living over us.
Some of us even have those threats inside us, for me, it was a genetic issue that affected my heart. For others, it may a tendency to addiction.
There can even be problems and threats inside places that should be safe, churches, schools, hospitals.
Is there a safe place?
Where do we go for safety, for refuge, for sanctuary?
Is there a place where we can know peace?
There is a place, rather, there is a person, and the relationship we have with Him, that is our sanctuary, that is our place of refuge, He is our peace.
Even in the worse cases. Consider in the book of Daniel, the three men in the furnace:
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered, “Your Majesty, we will not try to defend ourselves. 17 If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. 18 But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.” 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar lost his temper, and his face turned red with anger at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 And he commanded the strongest men in his army to tie the three men up and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up, fully dressed—shirts, robes, caps, and all—and threw them into the blazing furnace. 22 Now because the king had given strict orders for the furnace to be made extremely hot, the flames burned up the guards who took the men to the furnace. 23 Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, still tied up, fell into the heart of the blazing fire. 24 Suddenly Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement. He asked his officials, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the blazing furnace?” They answered, “Yes, we did, Your Majesty.” 25 “Then why do I see four men walking around in the fire?” he asked. “They are not tied up, and they show no sign of being hurt—and the fourth one looks like an angel.” Daniel 3:16-25 (TEV)
Jesus was there, and in the midst of the the moment, they knew His peace. They found their refuge.
Daniel Himself knew such opposition,
20 When he got there, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was the God you serve so loyally able to save you from the lions?” 21 Daniel answered, “May Your Majesty live forever! 22 God sent his angel to shut the mouths of the lions so that they would not hurt me. He did this because he knew that I was innocent and because I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders for Daniel to be pulled up out of the pit. So they pulled him up and saw that he had not been hurt at all, for he trusted God. Daniel 6:19-23 (TEV)
A final example, this time Stephen in the New Testament, who was killed, and tortured, and yet…. knew peace, and was in a very special refuge.
54 As the members of the Council listened to Stephen, they became furious and ground their teeth at him in anger. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God’s glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God. 56 “Look!” he said. “I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!” 57 With a loud cry the Council members covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, 58 threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul. 59 They kept on stoning Stephen as he called out to the Lord, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!” He said this and died. Acts 7:54-60 (TEV)
Even there, in this midst of death itself, in the moments when all hell is trying to break loose, in what many would never be able to comprehend the existence of peace, there it is.
For the Lord was with the three men! He was with Daniel, He was with Stephen!
And the Lord is with you.
No matter the trauma, no matter the disaster, no matter the threat. No matter what, we are covered by His blood, sent by Him into these places, to be a beacon of hope, a reminder of God’s love and mercy and peace. For you need to know and count on this.
The Lord is with you!
and that is why Paul writes to us
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. 7 And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus! Philippians 4:6-7 (TEV)
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 249-252). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.