Devotional Thought for the day:
11 Just as underwear clings to one’s waist, so I fastened the whole house of Israel and of Judah to Me” g—this is the LORD’s declaration—“so that they might be My people for My fame, praise, and glory, h but they would not obey. Jeremiah 13:11 HCSB
We have to be candles,
hope and despair,
faith and doubt,
life and death,
all the opposites.
That is the disquieting place where people must always find us.
And if our life means anything,
if what we are goes beyond the monastery walls and
does some good,
it is that somehow,
by being here,
we help the world cope
with what it cannot understand.
We may talk about finding ourselves, or our search for meaning, but I am not always sure we are ready to find ourselves. Each generation has their search, whether it was the boomers in the 50’s and sixties, or the GenX’er, or now the Millenials. Eventually, the majority of the people will settle down into a life that isn’t truly satisfying. A life filled with turmoil, anxiety, uncertainty.
Lite I mentioned, I am not sure we are all ready to find ourselves.
Because the search will lead us into what Brodrick calls the “disquieting place”.
We live there, but we don’t want to find ourselves there, bouncing between optimism and pessimism, between joy and sorrow, in a place which is more often surreal than real.
And to be content there… in the midst of the disquiet, in the realm of the dysfunctional, in the place where balance isn’t found, that is when we truly find ourselves.
Because there, we learn to do what God desires, what God designed us to do.
To cling to Him like a pair of underwear!
Seriously, it is in that place where life spins us back and forth between the extremes that we find our only hope is clinging to God. It is in our relationship with Him that we can find rest and peace, it is in Him that the paradox of life can be put to rest.
In Him, the disquiet turns into a crescendo of praise.
And clinging to Him, we reach outside of ourselves and find that we can help the world cope with what it cannot understand.
It is as we cling to Him, ministry happens…..
So learn to realize the disquiet can be a blessed place as well, and when it isn’t, remember to cling to God like a pair of underwear clings to its owner.
William Brodrick (https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/ )
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 They have treated My people’s brokenness superficially, claiming, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14 HCSB
993 You reason well … coldly: how many motives for abandoning the task! And some of them are apparently conclusive. I see without any doubt that you have reasons—but you are not right.
For decades the Catholic church has ignored a crisis in their midsts, and now many are trying to avoid the blame that their denial of the issues has caused. They are not the only ones, there are a few protestant mega-churches now learning the high cost of denial of the problems of sin and immorality
You see the high cost of denial as well, as churches that were once 10 or 15 times their present attendance are floundering, struggling not ot close. But for the decades in decline, denial was the passive strategy, or implementing programs that promised great success, but didn’t account for denial’s apathetic response.
I’ve seen it in personal relationships as well, from abusive relationships to neglect, from drug and alcohol addiction to work problems. We deny our problems, we present that all is at peace, and the pain and trauma results in our heart and soul being destroyed.
We have all the reasons to engage in denial, we can rationalize it out with the best of them. We can claim we are powerless, we can claim we can’t do better, we can find theologians and pastors who will enable our denial.
But the denial is like covering up an infection without neutralizing it. It will rot, and build up pressure underneath the surface. It will eventually have to be dealt with, but by the time it is, the results are even more damaging, the healing takes longer, significantly longer.
So how do we overcome the temptation to enter into denial?
First, we have to recognize it. We have to realize we are running away and turning our back on the problem.
Second, we have ot trust in God’s ability to sustain us, to make things work out for our best, even in the midst of the pain of dealing with the situation. That trust grows as we pray, as we spend time in deep conversation, seeking God’s care, getting to be familiar with Him, and knowing His will.
What happens then is what Luther often mentioned, when he explains prayer, noting that God would see His will worked out whether we pray or not, but that we pray that we know it comes in our lives.
We pray so we remember He is here, so we are assured of His love, and His active care. Knowing His presence, the anxiety of dealing with the problem fades. W can take on the issue head on, we can deal with the problem. We can even handle it with great tenderness, patience, and love.
And life finds healing, and revival, and hope.
Lord Jesus, help us not hide our problems and the major issues in our lives, but run with them to you. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2307-2309). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Effect of the Resurrection
Pt. 2 One Heart and Mind
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus transform your heart and mind so that you united to Jesus, and to all who are His!
God’s Mega Blessings
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles this morning, we heard a description of Concordia, and I want you to hear it again.
God’s great blessing was upon them all.
This is us.
Blessed, overflowing with the grace of God, overwhelmed by the presence of God, and if we take a moment to take a breath and think about it, or better, to look around us, we shall see it.
For we see the work being done in each other. We may be completely oblivious as to what is going on in our own lives, but we see what is going on around us, and the peace that is found here.
I can look around the room, and see the same thing Luke described in the early church, a place where people are united in one hear, one mind, the very transformation that comes from knowing that….
Alleluia, He is Risen! (He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
and therefore, (we are risen Indeed! ALLELUIA!)
This is a natural transformation, actually supernatural…
As we look at the description of how the church interacted in this passage, it seems either naïve, r some socialistic plot, at first.
Karl Marx who used a description gathered from these verses to describe his perfect society, describing it this way, from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs
And wherever that has been attempted by law or by forcing people to believe it, it has failed. Not because the idea is wrong, but because the transformation has been forced, rather than allowed to happen naturally, It is put upon the people that this is the way they will live, rather than allowing love to cause it naturally, to be driven by the spiritual desire to love those around us.
We do that to often, even in the church, when we try and change people’s behavior without seeing their hearts and souls transformed by God, resurrected and brought to life by the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit draws them into Jesus, into His death and resurrection.
This is a long habit, dating back to the Pharisees, and probably before. When they didn’t want the tax collector or the prostitute in Church. When they paid more attention to the outside appearance of the individual, and the broken and different were sent away.
We want people to live generously, we want them to give sacrificially, we want them to give up the sins that so damage their lives. What we want for them is good, if we don’t guilt them into it, or promise them some special blessing from God, if they only act the way we think God wants them to think and act,
It happens more naturally than that, or it might be better to say, more supernaturally than that…. For God moves us, His love transforms us.
The testimony causes it…
That is what the rest of the verse had mentioned,
The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.
The blessing that was upon them was delivered through the testimony that Jesus was no longer dead, that Praise God, He is risen….
And as the apostles proclaimed this, the people realized all the promises of God were poured out on them, for they were forgiven, cleansed, made the holy people of God our Father. They had become brothers and sisters of Jesus, counted no longer as servants, but as friends.
The gospel is not just the testimony of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, but it is the testimony of what this means.
We are His, we are free, we have been given the Holy Spirit, God present with us, who comforts us, empowers us, and transforms us.
To use our motto, that is why we, the people of Concordia, are the broken people, who are finding healing in Christ, help others to heal.
It is why Cyndee and Carol and Linda find such joy in gathering women together for special events, knowing that they will bring joy into their lives. Or why Jim and Manny had a few guys over for the first men’s time yesterday. It is why Hank and his team from both congregations raised the money, and why Hank was down here each day, checking on the work. It is why we help people who’ve lost homes or send Bernie back to Sudan, or why you sent me to China a few years ago. It is why we have Al constantly talking about benevolence, and he doesn’t just talk about it. It’s why we have Nancy keeping her prayer book and encouraging others to pray. It’s why Missy sets her anxiety aside to guide our worship, and why these people smile over here, as they hear your voices sing louder than theirs… I could go on and on, but this is the evidence of God working Just as they did in the early church, each person helping the rest… not thinking about themselves.
We want others to know the love we know, or as Peter describes in His epistle, to be people with a future and a hope.
The love that we find here at the altar, its why a 2-3-year old will cling to it, not understanding, but knowing this is a special place. For many of us older folk as well… for here, reminded of how deep God’s love for us is, the resurrection becomes more than history, it becomes our life!
It’s the love given to us in our baptism, and that becomes more real each and every day. For Ezekiel promised that God would change us,
The gospel is that God loves us, and cleanses and transforms us, something seen as we grow in love for one another, in a naturally supernatural way…..
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT)
A love that brings us together, one heart, one soul, for ours is His heart, His soul….a love that causes us to dwell in His peace… united to Him… AMEN!
Let us pray!
as an added bonus…. the notes from Bible Study (let me know if I should continue to post these!
What is Concordia
A Look at the Body of Christ
Why should we study what the church is?
If we are shaped by the Holy Spirit, then can’t all this come about naturally (Jer 31:34)?
Is the church in the day’s of the Acts of the Apostles better or worse from the church today?
The Lutheran Confessions describe the Church this way:
1 It is also taught among us that one holy Christian church will be and remain forever. This is the assembly of all believers among who the Gospel is preached in its purity and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel.
2 For it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word.
Does this resonate with what we heard today in the sermon? What caused the transformation in the believers?
Is Concordia the Church, or just part of the Church?
What does it mean that all the believers ( those having faith) are of one heart (kardia) and mind (psyche)
is this passage talking just about sharing money, or is that just an example?
What do people “need” in this church?
Back to being a witness to the resurrection. What does that mean? How can we be that today?
How do the sacraments fit into that? (1 Cor 11:26 & Titus 3:4-8)
So are the sacraments still being a witness to the resurrection?
How much of one kardia and psyche do we realize during the sacraments?
 Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Father, I thank d You that You heard Me. e 42 I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent f Me.” 43 After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.” John 11:41-44 HCSB
422 Jesus is your Friend—the friend—with a human heart, like yours, with most loving eyes that wept for Lazarus. And as much as he loved Lazarus, he loves you …
No, my blog hasn’t developed a Brooklyn accent, and no, I am not being rude.
I am not telling you to get lost, but indeed to be loosed, freed, from that which clings to you like the death wrappings clung to Lazarus.
Things like bitterness, resentment, envy, the need to gossip, the struggles with lust; you need to be free of these things.
We can add anxieties to this, for often these lead to temptation, and to doubt.
We can add sin as well, and all of the effects sin has on us, from the guilt and shame and fear of God’s wrath to the brokenness of injustice when we are the victim of sin.
We need to be freed from these things, to have them stripped from us, taken away, even as the burial wraps were unraveled, and he was free.
It starts with the Easter cry, “Come out” and our hearts souls, and minds follow Jesus out of the tomb, We have to hear His voice, and let it draw us past this other stuff that held as prisoners inside the tomb of our stone hearts (see Ezekiel 26:25ff)
As we hear His voice, the Holy Spirit breaks the power of death over us, and gives us life, the life He is Lord of, (this very thing we confess in the creeds! ) If the Spirit didn’t generate life in us, we couldn’t answer the call, He has, and this is something incredible.
A life lived in the presence of the Lord and Savior, who calls us His friends.
A life lived loosed of all the sin that so easily ensnares us.
A life lived loosed of all that is not of God’s love.
What are we waiting for?
Lord have mercy on us, and help us to live in your resurrection, for it is ours as well! AMEN!
What are the things you need to be freed from?
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1047-1049). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— 12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. Psalm 139:11-12 (NLT)
101 Persevere in prayer. Persevere, even when your efforts seem sterile. Prayer is always fruitful.
102 Your mind is sluggish and won’t work. You struggle to coordinate your ideas in the presence of our Lord, but it’s useless: a complete fog! Don’t force yourself, and don’t worry either. Listen closely: it is the hour for your heart.
Recently, the skies in Southern California were filled with clouds. Not the light fluffy kind that seems so high, but the dark, ugly, black storm clouds. The kind of clouds that are once fascinating, but also frightening.
Some of us are enduring those clouds spiritually. Whether the storms are coming or not, we feel almost paralyzed as the clouds gather around us, coming at us from every direction.
it is at those times when my prayers seem hollow, my devotions, just going through the motions. I want to move on past them, but the fog which St. Josemaria describes is enveloping us, just as the darkness seems to cover us.
St Josemaria advises us to persevere in prayer, not in pushing our prayer, but listening more carefully, becoming aware of the Lord’s presence, until it shatters the darkness, until the Holy Spirit breathes into us, clearing away the fog. comforting us, loving us.
SO what do we do? Do we fight the burden? Do we just abandon our prayer time, discounting it as too draining, to ineffective, and not worth it? Do we let guilt swallow us because we wonder if our faith is lacking and that is why our prayers are so dry?
I’ve been there, done that, given up, said I will come back in tomorrow, or next week, and once, it was a year…
What I didn’t realize was that these “down times” are essential for my spiritual health. They teach me like they did Ezekiel, who hid in a cave, waiting to find God in the storm and in the fire, then recognizing God’s still small voice after hiding. Why else would Jesus Himself head into the mountains to pray, or go to the garden, begging his friends to watch and pray with Him?
We need to be ministered to by God. We need to let Him love us, care for us, comfort us, and kindle the spark of love that exists in us.
As I come out of these times or at least see the light of the tunnel, I can begin to realize the power of God that raised Christ from the dead is at work in our lives.
And I need that… so need that.
So I’ve learned to try and persist in prayer, waiting to hear He will have mercy, to know His presence and love. ANd some days, I can even rejoice in the dry times, knowing that God is going to take care of it.
As he does for all He loves… and you are one of those He does!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 389-392). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional THought of the Day:
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby moved within her. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and said in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me? 44 For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. 45 How happy you are to believe that the Lord’s message to you will come true!” Luke 1:41-45 (TEV)
2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” 4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6 And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’” Matthew 11:2-6 (NLT)
32 And John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on him. 33 I still did not know that he was the one, but God, who sent me to baptize with water, had said to me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and stay on a man; he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen it,” said John, “and I tell you that he is the Son of God.” 35 The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, 36 when he saw Jesus walking by. “There is the Lamb of God!” he said. John 1:32-36 (TEV)
106 You wrote, and I well understand: “Every day I spend my ‘little time’ in prayer. If it weren’t for that …!”
As I was reading the 3rd reading about John the Baptist this morning, (part of my daily routine) I thought of the other two readings.
John, before he was born, and while Jesus was even younger, recognizes the presence of God. (not to mention what happened to John’s mom must have been cool!) Incredible experience!
Move to the second reading, and now John is in prison, he is having one of “those” kind of days. Miserable, depressed, anxious and afraid, he needs to be encouraged, he needs to remember that what he devoted his life to, actually was worth it.
A bad day to say the least.
A day where even he, a prophet, doubted the very prophecy he was meant to give.
John, who had pointed to Christ, who knew him well, who proclaimed he was Israel’s hope, doubted and struggled with trusting God.
Just like we do!
There is a lot of hope in this realization, that John the Baptist could have one of those days, and apparently more than one. That he could be so caught up by his own situation that he needed to know God was at work, that God’s promises are true.
And God responded to his query, John wouldn’t die without knowing for sure Jesus was the Messiah, that John’s ministry was validated, it was good, it was needed. That Jesus was still there, doing what John knew he would do, even when he didn’t know.
And Jesus is here for you and I, His promise is that we are never alone. ( Read Psalm 139 sometime – David realized God couldn’t be outrun either)
Even when we struggle, even when we doubt, God is there…. and will respond to our cries, our cries of despair, our cries of doubt, even our cries of anger and frustration. He hears you and I and responds. As St. Josemaria notes, if it weren’t for those little times of prayer, where we listen, where we vent, …
This is the lesson of John the Baptist, the lesson that even the greatest stumble and struggle, and are ministered to by God. For He hears us…and loves us. AMEN
Does it help you to know the prophets and apostles struggled and doubted? That they ahd bad days as well?
How do you feel when you realize God was there, working behind the scenes? Can you accept that you won’t always be able to see Him at work?
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 397-399). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 A ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. 20 You know the commandments:
Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness;
honor your father and mother.”
21 “I have kept all these from my youth,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, He told him, “You still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, n and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” Luke 18:18-22
Creation exists for the sake of worship: Operi Dei nihil praeponatur, Saint Benedict says in his Rule: “Nothing is to take precedence over the service of God.” This is not an expression of exalted piety, but a pure and practical application to our own lives of the story of creation and its message. The genuine center, the force that moves and orders from within the rhythm of the stars and of our lives, is worship
888 You tell me that you want to practise holy poverty, you want to be detached from the things you use. Ask yourself this question: do I have the same affections and the same feelings as Jesus Christ has, with regard to riches and poverty? I told you: as well as resting in the arms of your Father God, with all the confident abandonment of one who is his child, you should fix your eyes particularly on this virtue to love it as Jesus does. Then, instead of seeing it as a cross to bear, you will see it as a sign of God’s special love for you.
The devotional part of my blog originated as a journal, the writings that summarized my devotional readings for the day, that helped me process what I encountered in the Bible readings and other readings I do.
Originally those readings started out as a discipline, and the writing was something I did because I realized that otherwise, I would go through the motions, Reading, and maybe even slowly changing, but not with any real desire. I read because that is what a “good” Christian should do, what a pastor “should” do because then I am an example for my people.
It has become more than that, partially because of Lutheran theology, partially because of St Josemaria Escriva, but mostly because of needing to cope with my own brokenness, and the darkness that would overwhelm me otherwise. I don’t like talking about it, I don’t like even dwelling on it, but it is there… lurking with every click of my heart.
In my devotional reading, in the writing I do that comes from that, there springs hope, I find not only the light at the end of the tunnel but the light, the glory of God, the love of Christ is not at the end of the tunnel, it is there, with me, guiding me, comforting me, protecting me.
The rich young man, (some say it was Saul, years before Damascus Road) couldn’t see his own brokenness. He couldn’t see the need to be with Jesus, and more importantly, to know Jesus was there, with him. The man had the same invitation the apostles did, “come, be with me,” and he turned it down.
Likewise, the poverty, the detachment that St, Josemaria describes is a form of the brokenness I have encountered, as things I loved dearly ( sports, martial arts) were stripped away from me, as who I was drastically and painfully redefined. So painfully, that I can easily acknowledge the only comfort that helps is finding rest in Christ, especially in His word, and in the peace, I find in the sacraments, especially Confession and Absolution, and of course the Eucharist, the Holy Supper where Christ gives us Himself. ANd in the midst of the brokenness, the pain of body heart and soul, I find something more precious, the love of God. That doesn’t mean I like the pain, but it doesn’t mean I can be thankful for it, and even praise God for it. For in the pain, I find His comfort.
Which leads me to a third reading, the one from Benedict XVI, where he talks about Creation is worship. So it is, I find. Not because I am a particularly pious person, or because I want to be considered holy. Take my word for it, I am not, not even close! Worship isn’t just about upbeat praise or ceremonial splendor, it is about finding yourself in God’s arms, held, comforted, healed. It is about being able and free to weep until there are no more tears. It is there that we find the reason we worship God.
He loves us.
And as we realize this, as it is revealed, nothing else seems to matter, all the brokenness falls away… and worship and adoration is what we do, in response to that love.
Why do I spend the time I do, reading scripture and works of others God has ministered to?
I have to… it is the only way I can survive. And yet, the beauty revealed, as I see how much God loves us, reveals that such reading and prayer and meditation is not sacrificial, but something that is life. with Him. It is exploring the length and width, the height and depth of the love of God, the love I cannot understand, but I can experience. I pray you can as well.
Know this, He loves you…
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.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3131-3137). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought for our days…
14 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. 15 I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. 16 When that day comes,” says the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’ Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT)
15 But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, 16 but answer in a gentle way and with respect 1 Pet 3:115-16 NCV
66 My God, teach me how to love! My God, teach me how to pray!
Every once in a while, when doing bills, I put the wrong month in, and sometimes the wrong year.
It is hard for me to accept we are in 2017, and that we are almost at 2018. It seems that this should be in the future, way in the future.
Similarly, it sometimes feels like the promises of God aren’t here yet, like 2017 shouldn’t be, I can’t see it, I can’t picture it, even while I long for those days when my hopes, my expectations will be fulfilled. The expectations and hope that make up my faith, the answers I need to answer people with, as St Peter says, in a gentle way and with respect. Even to those who do not respect me, especially to those who do not respect me, or God.
That is the amazing thing that gives me hope!
We see it in the underlined part of the first reading, these people who hated GOd, who turned away from Him and worshipped gods they made of wood and metals and gems. Those who ignored what He would say, especially when He told them that He loved them.
These people of God wouldn’t call him master, they wouldn’t call Him by some official titles, but they were to use an endearment to call Him by, a name that revealed the love that they recognized was between them.
For God would win our affections back, God would restore us, and we would willingly give ourselves to Him, a response to His healing and caring for us.
FOr we would finally realize that He loves us!
We are Christ’s bride, not His slave, we are the Father’s beloved children not, the servants who run from His anger. We are the companions of the Holy Spirit. RElationships that are not bound by law, but love. A relationship that began because God was stubborn and patient, not willing to let us perish, but bringing about in us a change of mind…
A change that comes when we begin to see His love for us fully revealed at the cross.
May we realize this is now – this hope, this expectation is not just in the future, some far off date when we finally realize He loves us. That was revealed at the cross, and at our baptism, and every time we share in the Body and Blood of Christ at the altar.
This is our reason for hope, our assurance of everlasting life, with the God who doesn’t want us to call Him Lord and Master, but beloved…for
He loves us…
And so we pray, with St Josemaria, that God would teach us how to love, how to interact with Him!. Lord have mercy on us! (And be confident and know He has!)
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 452-454). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our days…
20 “If a truly good person starts doing evil and I put him in a dangerous situation, he will die if you do not warn him. He will die because of his sins—I will not remember the good he did—and I will hold you responsible for his death. Ezekiel 3:20 GNT
13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. John 15:13 (GNT)
993 In our meditation, the Passion of Christ comes out of its cold historical frame and stops being a pious consideration, presenting itself before our eyes, as terrible, brutal, savage, bloody… yet full of Love. And we feel that sin cannot be regarded as just a trivial error: to sin is to crucify the Son of God, to tear his hands and feet with hammer blows, and to make his heart break.
I read an article the other day, that made the argument that a pastor cannot be friends with his congregation. That he has to stay aloof, separated so that he can call them to repentance when needed, and that they will hear him when he does.
One of my questions in the conversation that followed was, “shouldn’t your friend also care enough, love you enough to call you to repentance” I had several questions about the concept, but this question is one I think we need to address today.
Should a friend help a person see the error of their way?
Or should we simply ignore the path they were on, letting them move on to perdition?
This job isn’t just a pastors. It belongs to anyone that cares about anyone else. A parent, a teacher, a co-worker, a son or daughter, a friend.
There are a couple of challenges to this.
The first is taking sin seriously enough. St Josemaria helps here, helping us realize that sin can only be reconciled at the cost of life, the life of Jesus. His brutal death, the shedding of His blood. We get that about murder, or grand theft, or adultery. I am not sure we realize that about that little white lie, or lust, or envy or gossip, And what about not treasuring the restful time we call the Sabbath when we gather with other believers and weep and laugh and rejoice together? Do we see this as sin?
The second is more akin to comfort. We are afraid to broach the subject, we are afraid our desire to care for our friend will be misunderstood as condemning them (We are trying to stop that!) We are afraid of that awkward moment when they have to look in the mirror when they have to see their sin and error.
But their salvation, is that not worth the discomfort we might experience in calling them back?
These are hard questions, and yet, evangelism is not a matter of “Law”, but one of Gospel, one of Love. One of Joy. We want people to experience this because we know the difference being forgiven makes. We know the difference being clean creates in our lives, and knowing the hope of eternal life.
Our friends need this to know about this love of God that can take a sinner and make them a friend, that revive a broken soul, that can restore to its strength. We can’t-do this because we have to, because it is a duty because it is what good Christians do. We do this because we love them, and we love the God who is merciful. For then, our thoughts aren’t about preserving our life or being comfortable. It is about knowing them.
SO that we all can have the same heart and mind – that of Jesus.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 4014-4017). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.