Thoughts which draw me closer to the cross, and to Jesus.
My people are like sheep whose shepherds have let them get lost in the mountains. They have wandered like sheep from one mountain to another, and they have forgotten where their home is. 7They are attacked by all who find them. Their enemies say, ‘They sinned against the LORD, and so what we have done is not wrong. Their ancestors trusted in the LORD, and they themselves should have remained faithful to him.’ Jeremiah 60:6-7 GNT
14But as for you, continue in the truths that you were taught and firmly believe. You know who your teachers were, 15and you remember that ever since you were a child, you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Tim 3:14-15 GNT
Segments of Christianity have made every possible concession in efforts to win young people to Christ; but instead of converting them to Christ they have “converted” Christianity to them. Too often they have come down to the modern level—playing, teasing, coaxing and entertaining. In essence, they have been saying to them, “We will do everything as you want it,” instead of giving them Christ’s insistent word, “Take up your cross!”
The Jews were stubborn and depended on God’s promises. They vainly thought they owned the temple, and that God dwelt there; besides, they thought they had mighty men, money and treasures enough to defy all their enemies. They trusted in their own glory and built their own confidence on a false delusion, which finally deceived and destroyed them.
Jeremiah, Luther and Tozer, from different periosds in the story of God and His people talk aof the same problem. One which I hear people in the church complain about, a lot, today. A world without direction, devoted to compromise and self-determination. Therefore, both on the liberal and legalistic sides of the journey, they sin.
That sin is easily is described in the words of Luther, people think “they own the temple.” THey think they are in charge and whether it is a progressive agenda or Chirstian Naitonalism, they seek to remake God and the relationship He’s created with us according to their thoughts. Tozer calls this converting Christianity to them, as their wander aimlessly, either encouraged by those originally taksed with shepherding them, or just ignoring the Shepherd’s existence. The church is even mocked today for not following God, and deserving the redicule they earned, by creating visions that are not faithful to God.
This would be a very negative post, except that it points out our need to be freed from the false delisuion, to be converted (transformed) into the image of Christ, to hear and to treasure what the Shepherd and His shepherds teach about the cross, the grave. and the resurrection… and the life found there.
This is what Paul is telling Timothy to focus upon the truths which he learned from those who taught him from the scriptures. The message that teaches us how Christ saves us, and that is the message we can and must depend upon. THis is the message that matters, This is the truth that will guide our lives, and bring us home, rather than leaving us wandering around.
This is our hope – so look there.
A. W. Tozer and Gerald B. Smith, Mornings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008).
Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 317–318.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
But you have followed my teaching, my conduct, and my purpose in life; you have observed my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, 11† my persecutions, and my sufferings. You know all that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, the terrible persecutions I endured! But the Lord rescued me from them all. 12 Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted; 13 and evil persons and impostors will keep on going from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. 14 But as for you, continue in the truths that you were taught and firmly believe. 2 TImothy 3:10-14 GNT
228 “Have a good time,” they said as usual. And the comment of a soul very close to God was, “What a limited wish!”
Looking at the words of St. Josemaria this morning, I was a little… I don’t know the words. I had to sit and think about it for a moment.
What’s wrong with wishing that someone have a good time, that they enjoy whatever it is they do? Isn’t that what we would hope they would want for us?
How can it be considered “limited?”
It takes a moment or too to think it through, to consider some of those times that are not “good” in the sense of enjoyable, in the sense of time where everything brings a smile to your face, a time that is “fun”
But some of the most blessed times are not enjoyable, that are not easy, that start in the midst of strife, or at the side of someone dealing with trauma or tragedy. Times where division and discord are dominant, time where I would prefer not to go. Times where the brokenness that is being experienced is crushing, and I walk away feeling drained and exhausted.
Times that end I end up looking back on in awe of what God accomplishes. In spite of the exhaustion, in spite of the pain, in spit of the suffering, these times are the times I have come to learn to treasure.
Because it is in those times, I see the grace of God revealed, and the healing that only God can create brings peace where there is no peace. I have learned to seek and expect miraculous things in those times. That helps, stay focused on God in the midst of the struggle, and to remain hopeful and pray for the grace to be confident in God’s faithfulness.
The Apostle Paul indicates that tough times happen to those who follow Christ. It’s going to happen, you can’t address brokenness without being affected by it. Paul puts it clearly, those who deceive are deceived themselves. Ministering to such people often is like wrestling an alligator! But the battle is not against the one deceived, but the spiritual powers that have them in bondage.
At the end of the day, which would you rather have done? Enjoyed a pleasurable time, or rejoiced in God’s work? Which will you remember 20 years from now?
Desire something more… even though it seems to have a cost… remembering God is with you!
Lord Jesus, help us desire to see You at work, more than we desire our own comfort. Help us to enter those situations were things are broken, looking for the miracles You are doing. In Jesus name… AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 629-631). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
4 Then the word of the LORD of Hosts came to me: 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and in the seventh months for these 70 years, did you really fast for Me? 6 When you eat and drink, don’t you eat and drink simply for yourselves? l 7 Aren’t these the words that the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem was inhabited and secure, m along with its surrounding cities, and when the southern region and the Judean foothills were inhabited?” Zechariah 7:4-7 HCSB
Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things e have passed away. Rev. 21:-3-4 HCSB
Speaking with God must be a progression in and for ourselves—a progression in the literal sense of the word, that brings us forward, that moves us toward God and away from ourselves.
Many Christians have a routine for how they relate to God. For some, it is a walk, every day meeting Him, and traveling with Him. For others, it is a weekly, thing, as they pray with others on Sunday and Wednesday night. Some only react to God when facing a challenge.
While I would desire that all interact with God more and more, it is not just the amount of time invested that matters. It is also about how we interact with Him. The prophet Zechariah writes of this, as the words of God are given through the prophet to challenge us all.
Why do we pray, fast, go to church and Bible study? Is it just to feel good about ourselves? Is it just to appease our own feelings of guilt or inadequacy? Is it just to be assured that we won’t spend eternity in hell?
Or is it because of the glorious promise we see in Revelation. When we shall dwell with God, in all of His glory! Is it because, having seen revealed in part how much God loves us, we need to explore it, we need to adore Him, we find ourselves craving His presence? For as we find we are loved, that unbelievable fact must be explored, its height, its depth, its width, and breadth. We want to experience it more, no, we need to!
This transformation we need to be patient with, it needs to be nurtured, it needs to be guided. This journey happens in community, it is the nature of communion. It ebbs and flows, and this means we need to look out for each other and be there for each other. For it is to easy to be dragged away by the cares of the world, it is too easy to be trip and fall off the path (one of the definitions of is exactly that!)
And yet it happens, as we look to the end of the journey, as our hope is found in God’s promise that He will draw us to Him. As prayer, speaking and hearing God causes that progression, and the Holy Spirit’s presence assures us, comforts us and enables us to see God’s love.
Prayer isn’t important in and of itself Every religion prays, even atheists. Gathering with people to study religious doctrine doesn’t either, every religion does that, including those who are agnostics, or secularists. What makes the difference is the loving God who loves us is who draws us to pray, to commune together, to celebrate the love which drove Jesus to cross, looking forward to the eternal relationship cleansing us from sin would bring.
It’s all about the end, the end which is a glorious, wonderful moment, when we see God face to face!
Lord Jesus, help us to encourage each other, as the day of Your return draws closer, as the Holy Spirit draws us closer, and into the relationship that You have with the Father. Help us to do the things we do, adoring You more and more, as we realize Your love for us. AMEN!
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 344). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” John 6:28 (NLT2)
41 If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded. Mark 9:41 (NLT2)
819 Because you have been in pauca fidelis—“faithful in the little things”—enter into the joy of your Lord. The words are Christ’s. In pauca fidelis! … Now will you disdain little things, if Heaven itself is promised to those who keep them?
As I prepare to preach on John 6 this weekend, the first verse above is part of the text. It takes me back to the days of college when we all believed we would do great things for Jesus. We were willing after all, and some of us had the brains, and others the charisma, and a few had both the charisma and the brains. And a few of us had neither.
Jesus’s response is interesting. Most translate it “believe in the Son of Man.” I read it as “depend on the Son of Man”. There can be a huge difference between the two statements. Belief seems like a passive response, just sit there and acknowledge me. Just think about me once in a while, and let me take care of everything. Depend seems far more active as if we are going to do something that we can only do with God’s intercession, with His guidance, requiring both His power and His approval.
Like being able to realize who needs a cup of water, and finding the focus to give it to them.
Like holding someone’s hand while they are crying, and keeping our own mouth shut, and sobbing with them.
Like finding the strength to allow someone to make errors, and being there while they try and pick up the pieces. Like finding the power to humble yourself and apologize for what you have done wrong, and doing what you can to make up for it.
St Josemaria echoes the theme when he asks why we would toss aside the little things God has called us to do, For there we find God’s promises. Not just rewards, but the presence of God that ensures those rewards. The presence of God which is more than a reward.
It is easy to set our dreams high, expect ourselves to serve in the big things, to desire to write the perfect worship song, or pastor the megachurch, or become the next missionary who changes a country. But those dreams are ours, not necessarily God’s.
God’s start small, loving your neighbor enough to give them a cup of water, or a listening ear. For those things make a huge difference in life…..
May your faith allows you to see the needs of those around you, and a relationship with God that brings great joy when you help them know His peace! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1881-1883). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 And to some, his ‘gift’ was that they should be apostles; to some prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; 12 to knit God’s holy people together for the work of service to build up the Body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God and form the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NJB)
Hence the highest office is that of the ministry of the Word, with which all other offices are also conferred at the same time. Every other public office in the church is part of the ministry of the Word or an auxiliary office that supports the ministry, whether it be the elders who do not labor in the Word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17) or the rulers (Rom. 12:8) or the deacons (the office of service in a narrow sense) or whatever other offices the church may entrust to particular persons for special administration. Therefore, the offices of Christian day school teachers, almoners, sextons, precentors at public worship, and others are all to be regarded as ecclesiastical and sacred, for they take over a part of the one ministry of the Word and support the pastoral office. (Italics mine)
Everything that has been said above concerning the People of God is intended for the laity, religious and clergy alike. But there are certain things which pertain in a special way to the laity, both men and women, by reason of their condition and mission. Due to the special circumstances of our time the foundations of this doctrine must be more thoroughly examined. For their pastors know how much the laity contribute to the welfare of the entire Church. They also know that they were not ordained by Christ to take upon themselves alone the entire salvific mission of the Church toward the world. On the contrary they understand that it is their noble duty to shepherd the faithful and to recognize their ministries and charisms, so that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one mind. (Italics mine)
Thirteen years ago, I was installed as the pastor of a Lutheran Church for the first time. I had served those people for well over a year as a vicar, (basically a student pastor) while going through a time of transition. I was glad for the 30 months or so of transition, it gave me a chance to work through the differences in theology and the difference in practical ministry.
There were two sermons were given that day, one directed toward me, another directed to me and the people of Shepherd of the Valley. The latter, given by Greg Seltz was basically about the unity of pastor in people. A unity that is found in our baptism, a unity that is seen in our mission, our apostolate. It is not pastor over people or people over the pastor, but pastor and people. It was a great sermon, and something we need to understand in every congregation, in every parish!
We don’t always get this correct. Many people think the pastor is the evangelist, the only one that works in what the quote from Vatican II calls the salvific mission of the Church. Pastors don’t save anyone, neither does the average person, but they are saved by Christ, through the work of the Church.
We both have roles, even as Walther writes in Church and Ministry ( an incredible nook from the early days of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod). He says they are to be recognized as ecclesiastical and sacred, as part of the ministry of the Word, supporting the pastoral office.
Yet there are clergy and laity in both the Roman Catholic Church and in Lutheran churches that don’t understand this. They don’t get that the ministry is God’s, entrusted to the entire church together. It is our mutual responsibility, to reveal to the world the Love of God, and God’s desire to reconcile all to Him. Each has their own role, each has their own God-given place in this ministry.
Such a responsibility isn’t to be hoarded like Gollum’s precious ring or relegated to the pastor/priest alone, to provide a convenient scapegoat when the church shrinks. Nor is this responsibility a duty, with checklists and deadlines. It is best done, when all, so in awe of God’s love, work naturally, sharing it with those around them, and then bring them into the family of God. Serving together, ministering together, we see the world turned upside down, amazed not just at our love for each other, but the love of God that pours through us, to them.
We, the church, pastor, and people, are here for the world. To reveal to them the greatest treasure, the greatest of blessings, which brings the news of the greatest love, and the greatest of peace.
It is time again, to work as the church, the people of God.
Lord, have mercy on us and help us be your body, reaching out to the world. AMEN!
Walther, C. Church and Ministry : Witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the Question of the Church and the Ministry. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1987.
Catholic Church. “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print. Italics mine
Devotional thought for your day:
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT)
718 If only they could see the good things I do!… But don’t you realise that you are carrying them around like trinkets in a basket for people to see how fine they are? Furthermore, you must not forget the second part of Jesus’ command: “that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Nearly a year ago, I did the memorial service for an incredible lady.
The bulletin of that service still resides on the little refrigerator in my office, a reminder of our very simple, very special relationship.
Every Tuesday at 9 am, I would travel about 500 yards from my office, enter the house she had a bedroom in, and talk a moment, then pray for her. No more than 15 minutes, more likely ten or so. On occasion, I would bring her the leftover flowers from church on Sunday,
And every time I left, even when she was too tired to talk, I felt lifted up. She ministered to me far more than I ministered to her.
I knew she had a couple of incredible jobs in her life. The executive assistant to a seminary president, the producer of a mega church pastor’s television ministry. She didn’t talk about those things. Rather it was the joy of hearing from this friend or that pastor. It was about reading the sermons of those she knew. It was always about someone else,
Given the honor of officiating at her service, I realized that day how much of an honor it was. Men who served the church for decades and trained thousands of preachers were there. They told me of the things my friend did, and how she ministered to them for decades. How she helped and raised money for seminarians and worked for equity among the staff. How she interacted with world famous preachers ( I still love the story of her moving a bicycle rack to protect a parking spot for Billy Graham – and how he helped her move it back where it belonged when he got there! )
Yet I knew none of this as I visited her, as I prayed for her, as we looked at Roses and carnations and lilies and marveled at the hand of God that created the beauty we observed. I simply knew a lady whose bright eyes ministered to me as I prayed for her, a lady who lived so simply, so beautifully that I looked forward to visiting her each week.
I think she got the passages above and the incredible things she did in life weren’t paraded around, for her reward was to hear Jesus welcome her home. Looking back on a life full of incredible service to God wasn’t her style, it wasn’t what she counted as important. Rather it was finding God’s peace, as a neighborhood pastor stopped by, and she could fill his life with God’s peace, even as she rejoiced in a small time of prayer.
I miss my friend – but thank God for what she taught me about ministry and walking with God, watching Him at work.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2995-2999). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for the Day:
57 Then they shouted loudly and covered their ears and all ran at Stephen. 58 They took him out of the city and began to throw stones at him to kill him. And those who told lies against Stephen left their coats with a young man named Saul. 59 While they were throwing stones, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell on his knees and cried in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” After Stephen said this, he died. Acts 7:57-69 NCV
This is the perpetual characteristic of the true church: it not only experiences suffering and is dishonored and held in contempt, but it also prays for those who afflict it and is gravely concerned about their perils.[i]
It is a necessity that we are reminded that Spiritual Warfare is not battling against flesh and blood, rather, the flesh and blood is what we are called to do battle on behalf of, to help free them from what would keep them away from the gospel.
Yet so much of our literature, so much of our training, so much of our attitude is about defeating the person, bringing them to submission, We have so bought into a competitive lifestyle, that it impacts and drives our ministry.
If we are that competitive if we see our spiritual warfare as against those we differ with, how we will nourish the faith and desire we need to pray as Stephen did?
How will we learn to plead for those who do evil as Moses, Abraham, and Paul would? How can we begin to imitate Christ, who asked the Father to forgive those who mocked, stripped, bet and tortured Him, even as He died to secure their freedom from sin?
We need to develop this characteristic that is found in Christ Jesus. We need to develop it not just as a measure of our holiness, but for their sake. As Luther said, we need to be concerned about the perils that the people who oppose us will face, especially the peril that would come if they never find out about God’s love.
This may sound imprudent, or impossible, It may seem that it is only for saints and the holiest of us, but holiness is not an inbred characteristic. Nor is the patience and compassion that this kind of ministry requires. Which should give us the key to the ministry. It isn’t about us being holy enough, it is about realizing the compassion and love of God show to us! It about trusting in God’s promises more than we fear them, or are shamed by the contempt and dishonor they would throw at us,
It’s the result of walking with God, of sharing in His glory, of realizing the love we treasure would free them.
It would bring about reconciliation.
And when it happens, it is amazing to see, it is wonderful and incredible to see
And so needed. It is our ministry, to walk with Jesus as He seeks and saves the lost.
Lord Jesus, help us love them as you love them. Help us desire that they would know you mercy, that they would experience your compassion and love, that they would find themselves sharing in your glory, as you claim them as your own. Lord, have mercy on us all. AMEN!
[i] Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Vol. 2: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 6-14. Ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Vol. 2. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999. Print.
The devotional thought of the day:
35 When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, Jesus found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He asked, “Who is the Son of Man, sir, so that I can believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him. The Son of Man is the one talking with you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe!” Then the man worshiped Jesus. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world so that the world could be judged. I came so that the blind n would see and so that those who see will become blind. 40 Some of the Pharisees who were nearby heard Jesus say this and asked, “Are you saying we are blind, too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. But since you keep saying you see, your guilt remains.” John 9:35-41 NCV
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him
Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus (1)
445 If you abandon prayer you may at first live on spiritual reserves… and after that, by cheating.
The Pharisees struggled with this idea of Jesus healing a blind man.
They had even more of a problem with this man showing them the obvious, that the one who healed them was the prophet promised by Moses, the One they were waiting for, the Messiah and Savior, not just of Israel, but the world. (they had trouble with that as wel!)
One of the earliest praise songs I can remember learning to play is in green above. Simple lyrics, some might say too simple. They are a prayer we need to consider, to pray for ourselves, to teach others to pray.
They are what Jesus is getting at, as he responds to the Pharisees, noting their blindness, a blindness so complete that they do not even realize they cannot see. Some would read Jesus’ words as simply chastising the men, but that would overlook His love for them, and the mission He has been sent on by the Father. (Luke 4) He is there to open the eyes of all the blind, the ones that cry out to him for healing, and those who don’t even know what it is like to see.
If we only hear Him chastising them, as much as I hate to say it, we must realize that we are no better than them. We have become just like them.
My instinct is that it is then we have forgotten to love a life of prayer, a life not just studying about Jesus, but listening to Him, and realizing that we can tell Him that we love Him, that we adore Him. We get judgmental, condescending and condemning when we’ve forgotten this, and yes it happens to all of us.
We get spiritually dry, our reserves have been depleted, we’ve been overwhelmed, and in our dryness, justify and try to find comfort in our position, or our knowledge. We are better than them, whether they be those who are new to the Kingdom of God, or they are our neighbors, or our family, whoever is the one who reminds us that we cannot see God at the moment.
The blessing is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Repentance isn’t far from us, and the opportunity to pray is always there. You don’t have to take a number or remain on the on hold.
God is with you… ready to cleanse and bless and comfort you and I…
So Lord have mercy on us, and open our eyes… we need to see You!
(1) A praise song by Bob Cull 1976
(2) Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1975-1977). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. 10 Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another. 11 Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. 12 Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. 13 Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers. 14 Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep. 16 Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise. 17 If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. 18 Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Romans 12:9-18 (TEV)
Christian experience begins in the everyday world of communal experience. Today, the interior space in which Church is experienced is, for many, a foreign world. Nevertheless, this world continues to be a possibility, and it will be the task of religious education to open doors on the experiential space Church and to encourage people to take an interest in this kind of experience. When people share the same faith, when they pray, celebrate, rejoice, suffer, and live together, Church becomes “community” and thus a real living space that enables humanity to experience faith as a life-bringing force in daily life and in the crises of existence.
As a young believer, I watched the church betray and hurt people I loved. I’ve seen it again recently, to more than one person.
It puts the words from Pope Benedict above in a different context, as he speaks of those for whom the experience of being the church is a foreign world. We aren’t talking about those who are completely blinded to the gospel, we are talking about those who have had to seek refuge from the Church.
Why would the place described as the place where we “experience faith as a life bringing force in daily life and the crises of existence” be the place where such faith is snuffed?
Have we forgotten that the church is a body, that we are to have the same concern for everyone, weeping and laughing with them, That we are to try and live in peace with everyone? This is why we talk of church as a community, a communion, a fellowship. Everyone is important, no one is to be silenced because they are drowned out by the crowd.
But how do we create this environment in the church? How do train leaders to develop such a spirit, especially in a culture which promotes narcissism? How do we do this in a culture which says we have to take care of things at home?
Pope benedict talks of the mission of religious education being to help people experience this – but how can they, if the church is more often seen as a cold and heartless place?
My answer may seem to simply, but it is the only one I’ve seen work. That answer is to work on developing hearts full of devotion. This kind of church is not something naively discussed, but it occurs as God’s presence is revealed, and people adore Him, because of what His presence brings about, the lives of joy that His presence creates, strengthens, and sustain.
We find what people what we need, in the communion of saints, the communion that is fashioned by Jesus, and gathers and laughs and cries, as He laughs and cries with us… all as one.
This is where the church is, where it is experienced, where it goes and finds refuge from the world, and then brings others to experience that refuge. AMEN
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.