Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29 To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:28-29 (TEV)
In the sacrament Christ is received. However, this would not happen if Christ were not, at the same time, prepared and distributed through the Word. For the Word brings Christ to the people and acquaints their hearts with him. The sacrament in itself does not transmit this knowledge.
And even if there is some preaching, the mass may be of Christ but the sermon on Theodoric of Bern or some other story. God punishes us in this way because we do not pray for our daily bread. The venerable sacrament finally becomes not only a vain and empty custom but also an object of contempt. After all, what does it profit us if Christ is present and has prepared bread for us, if this bread is not given to us and we do not delight in it? That is just as if a delicious meal were prepared and no one was there to pass the bread, bring the food, or pour the drink, and all were expected to have their hunger appeased by the odor or the sight of the meal.
You might think that this post is going to laud the preaching of the word over the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. I mean, after all, Luther’s words could be interpreted that way. Luther makes it sound like the sacrament is completely dependent on the word, that without it, it, it is vain and worthless. It would be of no profit to our bodies and even less to our souls.
Theologically, that may sound right, but I do not agree with that interpretation.
I think it is that we can’t separate what God put together, the gift of hearing the word and receiving the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood. We need both, and we need them together. They need to understand the experience they have, as they take and eat, and take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
As I said in the title, pastors and priests (Lutheran, Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and other sacramental groups) are more than spiritual Pez dispensers. Our role is to reveal to you Christ, to ensure you understand the grace that you are being given in the sacraments, to make sure you understand that grace is Christ’s presence in your life, and how that transforms who you are, it results in a change to your very identity.
That is why we see this Communion Feast so important, and the words that prepare us for it critical. This time, not just about our sins being forgiven, but the time we know we dwell in Christ, and He dwells in us.
We need this, and we need to remember, to understand, to savor this moment. So to preach on something else, to not focus on Christ crucified for us, to make sure you understand this and treasure it, and to give you the time to think and work through it, this is our calling.
For your benefit.
So let both people and their clergy, work together, and rejoice together, as God provides for us. 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), 57–58.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
Sing to the LORD a new song, His praise in the assembly of the godly. 2 Let Israel celebrate its Maker; let the children of •Zion rejoice in their King. 3 Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine and lyre. 4 For Yahweh takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation. 5 Let the godly celebrate in triumphal glory; let them shout for joy on their beds. Psalm 149:1-5
39 In conclusion, now that we have the right interpretation and doctrine of the sacrament, there is great need also of an admonition and entreaty that so great a treasure, which is daily administered and distributed among Christians, may not be heedlessly passed by. What I mean is that those who claim to be Christians should prepare themselves to receive this blessed sacrament frequently.
Since I started studying for the ministry in 1983, I have usually been taught two things about what happens when the people of God gather together. (You may call this a worship service, a divine service, church, or the mass; but I am talking about the main time a group of people are gathered by God together, where they sing, hear scripture read, a teaching time (called a sermon or homily) and perhaps (more about this later) sharing in our communion with the Lord’s Body and Blood.
Both teachings focused on service. The difference is who is serving whom.
In the first theory, we go to church to serve God. We go out of obedience to the commandment which talks about keeping holy the Sabbath. We go to church because it is our duty, and if we miss doing our duty, God will punish us, either actively, or perhaps by withholding the blessings He would have poured out for us.
The problem is that looking at this “active” view of church reduces it to mere duty, and then we start to ask how much is enough. Can I serve God by going once a month instead of weekly? Can I get by with once a year or one a quarter? How active do I have to be to be a Christian? Why can’t I just be with God at the beach, or in a forest?
The second theory is that we go to church to be served by God. That His servants exist to make sure we receive what we need through explaining God’s word and giving us the sacrament. This breeds a consumer mentalism to church as well, as we go to the church that feeds us the best. We want the purest doctrine, explained in an enjoyable way that drives away our sin and weaknesses and makes us stronger in our faith and the way we approach life.
Both of these ways make sense, and in part, they both are true., in that in a church service, in the mass, we should be serving God and He, most assuredly,, serves us.
But the reason we go to church, the reason we are gathered into the assembly of His people (and those that are becoming His people) is neither.
The reason we are gathered is that it is a celebration, It is a time for us, as the Psalmist says, to sing and dance as we rejoice in the presence of our King, our Lord, our Heavenly Father! It is likewise a chance for God to take pleasure in His people. It is, as one of my professors was known to utter, “the people of God gathered in the presence of God”
It is why our forefathers called it the “Celebration of the mass” understood as the “Gathering/Communion of the saints”. Yet this gathering, this celebration is that not just of the saints, bit the saints gathered around and in fellowship with God. That communion, that fellowship, that time where we and God are together, His people and Him, that is the treasure we find in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (which is why the passage from Luther’s catechism described it being offered daily!)
This church service/mass and Lord’s Supper/Eucharist isn’t a solemn occasion, though certainly, it is one we should treasure and celebrate with all we are. It is God and man, together, living as one, because of Christ. It is a Thanksgiving feast, a celebration of peace with God, and the welcoming of the prodigal home.
It is a time we celebrate with an abundance of Joy, it is one God where God looks out on His people and is pleased. It should be an amazing time, where we realize what God has done, adopting us as His kids, and we adore the one who loves us.
Celebrate this, my friends. and jealously treasure this time with the One who loves us, and draws us together.
Heavenly Father, draw us together with greater and greater frequency, with a hunger to know You, to explore and experience Your love. We pray this all in Jesus name! AMEN!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 451). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 “Believe me,” returned Jesus, “the time is coming when worshipping the Father will not be a matter of ‘on this hill-side’ or ‘in Jerusalem’. Nowadays you are worshipping with your eyes shut. We Jews are worshipping with our eyes open, for the salvation of mankind is to come from our race. Yet the time is coming, yes, and has already come, when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in reality. Indeed, the Father looks for men who will worship him like that. God is spirit, and those who worship him can only worship in spirit and in reality.” John 4:21 (Phillips NT)
17. In seminaries and houses of religious, clerics shall be given a liturgical formation in their spiritual life. For this they will need proper direction, so that they may be able to understand the sacred rites and take part in them wholeheartedly; and they will also need personally to celebrate the sacred mysteries, as well as popular devotions which are imbued with the spirit of the liturgy. In addition they must learn how to observe the liturgical laws, so that life in seminaries and houses of religious may be thoroughly influenced by the spirit of the liturgy.
18. Priests, both secular and religious, who are already working in the Lord’s vineyard are to be helped by every suitable means to understand ever more fully what it is that they are doing when they perform sacred rites; they are to be aided to live the liturgical life and to share it with the faithful entrusted to their care
The purpose of observing ceremonies is that men may learn the Scriptures and that those who have been touched by the Word may receive faith and fear and so may also pray.
When I was a child, my parents had a prayer meeting in our house, that lots of people attended. It was not unusual for a few priests, a brother, a couple of Baptist pastors and an Assembly of God pastor to be present. It was there I played guitar with Brother Michael, and there I learned to pray.
I also went to parochial school, and there we had masses and other services that were dedicated to God as well. I would often serve as an altar boy and played the organ as well. From those perspectives, I saw more of the mass and fell in love with the sacredness of it, even the parts I didn’t quite understand.
Since then, I’ve played and led praise bands, become a non-denomination pastor, then moved into the Lutheran Church where a form of the historic liturgy is our “style” of worship. And yet the lessons from the prayer meetings and non-denom worship leading play into the planning of worship as well.
As I read Vatican II’s words in green this morning, I saw them trying to unify the two streams of worship I have known. Starting with the pastoral training in seminaries, there must be part of that training that teaches the pastors and priests to worship God with all their heart, to understand and actively take part in the mysterion of God, to realize the Trinity is not just observing the mass, but participating in it.
Liturgy must be “lived” whether it is the historic liturgy or the common liturgy of prayer meetings and evangelical gathering. Those facilitating it must get caught up in it themselves, so that while they are aware of the people’s participation, they first are praising God for all He is, in their life.
It’s not about being the best musician, the best singer, the perfect reader of scripture, the perfect liturgist. ( We can add ushers, altar guild members, sound techs, parishioners) It is about knowing the presence of God in this place, of realizing the blessings He is pouring out, and responding with others, even helping them to do value this time with God.
These words we say, and in the liturgy they are all from scripture, are the words of God, scripture read and sang and breathed. They are the words of life that kept Peter and the apostles bound to Jesus when everyone else ran away. They are the words, as the Apology of the Augsburg Confession states. that touch us. That the Spirit uses to draw us into Christ, to develop in us a dependence on Him, and in that dependence, to pour out all we are upon Him.
This isn’t something I think we teach people to do in a lecture, or even in a sermon. It is something that is modeled and formed in them, and in order for that to happen, it must be modeled and formed in those who lead. Whether this is in a full liturgy, or in a back yard worship time that simply happens among friends.
God is with us, may we realize this, and help those who come to our churches, bible studies and prayer meetings realize it, and when they do, cry confidently, “Lord, have mercy on us”
Catholic Church. “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print
Devotional thought for your day:
23 Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. 24 Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. 25 Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. Hebrews 10:23-25 (TEV)
16 I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, 17 and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, 18 so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. 19 Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (TEV)
667 Haven’t you noticed how people in love dress to please one another by their appearance? Well, that is how you should tidy up and deck out your soul.
I have seen and heard a couple of people challenge the idea of going to church recently. Sometimes it is direct, saying that people who go to church are needy (we are!) and hypocrites ( correct again). Or perhaps the challenge is that you can worship God anywhere (but will you?) or that truly being a Christian is demonstrated in how you care for people. ( it is, but exactly how good are you at loving the unlovable?)
Some may say that I am biased because of my occupation/vocation, that because I often invest 60 hours a week in “church” I have a stake in whether people come or not. If it was only a stake, if it was only to make my investment of time, talent, and tears pay off, I wouldn’t do it. The amount of time, whether as a pastor or a lay person is great. But it demands more than that – it demands the investment of your soul.
So why go to church?
Well, the obvious one is in the first quote, simply because God’s word tells us we need to, we need to encourage each other as we gather together, not setting it aside, it is too important, too critical to keep each person encouraged, to support each person in their life, to help guide each other, and sometimes carry each other, into the presence of God. It is in church that we learn why we find hope in knowing God, and more importantly, exactly what that hope, that incredible hope is.
That is the purpose for the music, which expresses our pain ( this type of worship is called lament) and the healing God brings, which celebrates His love and His presence. That is the purpose of the sermon and Bible studies, to reveal the hope that knowing, intimately knowing God’s love. It is even the purpose of the various things we do in church, and everything we take in with our eyes.
It’s all about God… and us.
Which is what Paul expresses in the second quote, where he talks of knowing, of experiencing ( because we can’t fully know/understand) the dimensions of God’s love for us, revealed in Christ Jesus. The soaring heights as we realized we are loved, the depth of God’s compassion, as He is with us at the rock bottom parts of His life. In the midst of this, Paul inserts the word together. That all God’s people need to experience this love, together. That too is what church is, not just what it is about.
It is the moment we hear we are all forgiven of our sin. All of it. Completely.
It is int he moment when we realize God’s peace is with us, and we share that peace with those around us. celebrating the love of God which glues us together, and together with Him.
It is in that moment when we are given proof of that love, as we are given His body and blood, to remind us of His death for us, and His opening the door which reveals God’s love to us, together. Even that person I was so ticked off at, is there, being loved by God, as I am. To realize we’ve both been freed of the sin and guilt, the shame and resentment, the burdens that crush and divide us.
It is then when loving them becomes a joy, not a duty obeyed because we have to .
It is then when church becomes more than an organization, or a costly bit of entertainment mixed with some positive “feel good” messages, or a club where we celebrate our being holier than those people out playing golf or watching their kids play soccer, or working.
Church isn’t some obligation, it is what St. Josemaria talks about, a time to get our soul ready to interact with God, by hearing again and again how He has prepared us to be with Him and then spending the time with Him. the early part of a service, as we are forgiven, as we hear of His love, of his promises, that is like a bride being made ready for her wedding. And the Lord’s Supper is then the wedding and all joy of life brought together, as we realize how much we are loved.
This is what church is, this is what we need, a place to find hope, healing, reconciliation, and joy as we dwell together in Christ, while helping others find those same things, as God revelas His love to them.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2792-2794). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of The Day:
28 About a week after he had said these things, Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up a hill to pray. Luke 9:28 (TEV)
42 They spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers. Acts 2:42 (TEV)
551 Flee from routine as from the devil himself. The great means to avoid falling into that abyss, the grave of true piety, is the constant presence of God. (1)
There is a joke (at least I hope it is a joke) about an elderly gentleman and an odd sense of romance. He was asked by a newlywed how often he told his wife he loved her. The old guy thought for a moment and said, “the day we got engaged.” Seeing the shocked look on the young man’s face, he followed that up with, “and I told her if I changed my mind, I would surely let her know!”
I can’t believe there exists a woman for whom this would be satisfactory.
And so I wonder why many of us settle for that kind of relationship with God. It’s not that He doesn’t tell us constantly that He loves us, for He dearly wants us to know He loves us, to be aware of His presence.
That is what all of creation is about, about our relationship with Him.
Imagine for a moment that the old man’s wife told the young couple, “Oh, don’t worry about us, I am too tired to pay attention to my husband telling me he love me. It’s too much work to drop what I am doing, and read a loveletter he carefully wrote me. I don’t want his comfort, or for him to treat me special. Are our excuses for not spending time with God, with His people, any better?
Are our lives so perfect that we don’t need to be comforted by the Holy Spirit, that we don’t need to be encouraged by our brothers and sisters in the church? Are we somehow more mature than the early church, who gathered regularly to pray?
If this letter is producing some guilt, that is not its intent. We have been given an amazing gift, a blessing beyond compare. The presence of God, and in scripture, the proof of His love. A gift we need to use, a gift that is a life changer, to know we walk through life with God.
Spending time in prayer, in readying and stuyding His word wih others, in celebrating the Lord’s Supper – it isn’t about duty, it is about knowing we are love… about hearing and seein that love…. Together, as His family.. And there is nothing better…
1. Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1331-1332). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
50 Don’t you realize that it is better for you to have one man die for the people, instead of having the whole nation destroyed?” 51 Actually, he did not say this of his own accord; rather, as he was High Priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish people, 52 and not only for them, but also to bring together into one body all the scattered people of God. John 11:50-52 (TEV)
906 That cry of the Son of God, lamenting that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few, is always relevant. How it tears at our heartstrings. That cry came from Christ’s mouth for you to hear too. How have you responded to it up to now? Do you pray at least daily for that intention? (1)
A few weeks ago, as I answered the call to provide the invocation at my city’s Martin Luther King day celebration, I thought of the charge laid against the church in the 80’s, which may be still true today. It noted that Sunday morning was the most segregated time in a church’s week. With few exceptions, (my Concordia is close to being one ) churches in our country are primarily ethnocentric. It is true, unfortunately, that churches, even the most missional ones, are this way. My own denomination’s national magazine recently had our president lamenting that a district hadn’t planted a church in a predominantly Anglo community in fifteen years.
While this may be an issue of passivity and comfort, there is something that is even more staggering. A move to isolate the church on Sunday from the world. A pendulum swing reaction from the Seeker-sensitivity of the 80’s and 90’s, that is claiming that Sunday Morning worship services are for believers only. That we have to return deliberately to encoding everything in practices and languages that a unbeliever would not be able to comprehend. This is what is faithful, we are told, to use words like salutary, or beseech, to strive for an ethereal and beautiful service, but one that our own people struggle to value.
Let me be clear, I am in no way advocating the abandonment of the liturgy. if anything, I think word and sacrament order should be made more available.
But I am saying we need to hear the Father’s desire that all come to the transformation of repentance. We do need to pray for the work, even the work on Sunday morning! We all need to realize that the harvest doesn’t pause for a station break on Sunday morning as we, the holy people’ recharge. Evangelism happens as well as a couple chooses to move from their comfortable place, to sit with those visitors and make them comfortable, and explain the service movements. Harvest work should be seen throughout every aspect of the service. Our spiritual homes must be places of hospitality to all. That has always been true, even at Solomon’s temple, and at the tabernacle.
The idea that Sunday is only about those who are members of the church is as ludicrous as those who say it should only be about seekers. Both ignore the fact that Christ would die for those who are already in covenant with God, as much as He died to bring the nations into that covenant. For all to know that He is God, and we are His people.
Worship wars, liturgy wars, wars about what is beneficial or not cease, as do the flurry of articles bashing contemporary worship liturgy, as well as that bashing traditionalism, have no place. They do stop when we focus on God’s desire to call all His people, to gather them together as one. (this includes those that don’t know… yet!) As we pray that, God would send more workers into the harvest fields, so these battles diminish. I pray we realize that the harvest is great, not just in Turkey and Ghana, but also in our own sanctuaries.
May our worship teach anyone there what they need to know about Christ – His presence, His mercy, his faithful love…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3202-3204). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.(1(
Devotional Thought of the Day:
22 So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. 23 Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. 24 Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. 25 Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. Hebrews 10:22-25 (TEV)
66 It is true: we are worth nothing, we are nothing, we can do nothing, we have nothing. And, at the same time, in the middle of our daily struggle, obstacles and temptations are not lacking. But the joy of your brothers will banish all difficulties, as soon as you are back with them, because you will see them firmly relying on Him: Quia tu es Deus fortitudo mea—because you, Lord, are our strength. (1)
It’s Monday again, the weekend is over, and to be honest, that first sentence of St. Josemaria’s note seems all to real.
On Monday’s we often feel challenged, unequal to the task of a long week, It seems our list of weaknesses is all to real, and we’ve forgotten the lessons learned a short twenty-four hours ago. We may already be tempted to think about and/or do that which is wrong. Or maybe, the temptation is just to overlook that which others are doing wrong, or even the risk to their souls.
Mondays are hard, even thought 24 hours or so before, we found ourselves close to heaven, as we gathered with others who have been called to be part of God’s family. Who have learned that we can trust in Him, that we can know the promises He has made us are sure. To hear God’s word together, and rejoice in the love for us that is revealed. We get to hear that all of our sins are forgiven, erased, that Christ’s merits have brought healing to our souls. and to the relationships that have been marred and broken. Incredibly, God invites us to a feast, one that calls to mind the feast that will occur in heaven, the wedding supper of Christ.
Mondays are hard, because we forget the lessons we learned again on Sunday. We forget the words we professed, the words we know are true on Sunday.
My way of dealing with Mondays is simple.
I start preparing for the next time I will find myself with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I think about the service (pretty much I have to ) and the message God will share with us. (as long as I don’t get in the way) I think about the hands humbly reaching out for the Body of Christ, and the visible change in body language as they receive again the promises of God. the promises of being in Christ. Of our burdens being taken by God, an offering to Him that is pleasing, as we recognize that He is our God, that He will provide and heal.
It is truly good to gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
For where two or three, or sixty or thousands are gathered, here He is, in their midst.
And that changes everything… even Mondays!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 496-499). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion thought of the Day:
2 Those who speak in strange tongues do not speak to others but to God, because no one understands them. They are speaking secret truths by the power of the Spirit. 3 But those
who proclaim God’s message speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort. 4 Those who speak in strange tongues help only themselves, but those who proclaim God’s message help the whole church. 1 Corinthians 14:2-4 (TEV)
Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. And not only has Paul commanded to use in the church a language understood by the people 1 Corinthians 14:2-9, but it has also been so ordained by man’s law. The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of public worship. (1)
Last night, during the time my son and I spend reading scripture and now the Augsburg Confession together ( in Kindergarten – he chose that after 10 times reading the small catechism to me!) we came across this passage, one I think my denomination overlooks I think. I know I do – simply because in a conversation a month ago, I brought up the quote from 1 Corinthians 14 and was told that it wasn’t speaking about Latin and German (and High English) but rather (their words) just speaking in tongues.
Sigh, I allowed them to get away with it – forgetting that in this Article – it is made all to clear that our spiritual forefathers were talking about using language that people know – and use regularly.
I have also backed down a bit when people claim that the liturgy is not for people seeking God, but rather for the initiated, for those that cherish words like salutary, words like Nunc Dimitis, and grasp the many varied and intricate ways the mass point people to the fact that Christ is merciful, loving and present in their lives. This is a reaction to those who claim that the church service must be seeker-sensitive ( I think they mean seeker driven – but that is my opinion) Again – look at our Lutheran Confessions, the ceremonies of our liturgy are not for those with all the knowledge – but are to benefit those without such knowledge. It’s not for the spiritually elite, but those of us who have been spiritually bankrupt – without understanding what we need to know about Jesus. ( His love, His mercy, His presence – heck even the middle one needs to be unpacked — mercy= His compassionate and careful cleansing us of all that is unjust – our sin and the sins of others that affect our lives )
I so love the attitude of Melancthon in writing this – an attitude that shows me how much our forefathers cared about those who didn’t know God, or those who knew of Him, but didn’t know Him. I love the balance that says – what we’ve done is good – great – this liturgy speaks of Christ – but let us speak in a language those uninitiated in the faith.
Let our words proclaim His love, His mercy, His presence in our lives! Let those words be such that they are heard, and treasured.
And may we see the glory of God that is with us, as we see the awe in faces as they hear and know the love of God – and with us begin to explore its depths, heights, breadt and width! AMEN!
(1) — Augsberg Confession, Article XXIV
- Narcissism in the Church today….breaking it down so “they” can say AMEN! (justifiedandsinner.com)
- The Beauty of the Liturgy – Evangelical Catholic VIII (justifiedandsinner.com)
Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:
As I was in the place between sleep and waking this morning, my mind wandered and thought of the “work” that lay ahead of me this day…. a marathon of study and writing, and then two church services – and then just a few hours of sleep – then up for yet again another service. It’s a long day, this last day of preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
And while I know it will be a great blessing, it is a long day as well….and part of me – just longed to sleep in! It’s the classic battle of our lives!
Some would use guilt, or a call to duty, or other gimmicks to give them the strength to get done what needs to be done. To be honest, I’ve thought of that, for all one has to do is look at the “successful” churches – and such techniques are used – even as they sincerely desire to have people come and hear of God’s love. It works – and there will be churches that are full, cathedrals with people huddling in from the cold, as people respond to the call of a “Holy Day of Obligation”, or that come because there is an incredible “show”.
My heart longs for our sanctuary to be filled – but it also longs for a different attitude from those coming. One that comes, in response to God’s love… to celebrate it, to hear about it, to revel in it.
Christmas Eve, as we re-live the last moments of expectation, and celebrate the coming of Christ, and indeed, Christmas Day as well – are not days of our obligation as much as days were God did what He fulfilled His obligations, His responsibility to us. That is what these days are about. Going all the way back to the Garden, God promised to cover our sins, He promised to fix our brokenness, He promised that we would always be welcome in His presence, and He has given us Jesus, His only begootten Son, and the gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit to prove it.
I long for the day, when this is so clear – that we rush to church – to hear it confirmed again, to celebrate this great love, to gather – not because we have to – but because it just makes sense to be with each other, those united in Christ, those who are One in Him.
They may say I am dreamer – but to quote the song, I am not the only one…..
A priest/pastor wrote…
In the interior life, as in human love, we have to persevere. Yes, you have to meditate often on the same themes, keeping on until you rediscover an old discovery. “And how could I not have seen this so clearly before?” you’ll ask in surprise. Simply because sometimes we’re like stones, that let the water flow over them, without absorbing a drop. That’s why we have to go over the same things again and again—because they aren’t the same things—if we want to soak up God’s blessings. (1)
I pray that as we gather this day. and tomorrow, and I pray that you do gather, that our hearts are open wide, are open expectantly, to soak up God’s blessings, to revel in them, to rejoice, and celebrate His love, that you know the depth and height and width and breadth of God’s love for you, in Christ Jesus. And I pray you pray the same for me…
Merry Christ’s gathering! (for that’s what Christmas means!)
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2034-2039). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion/Devotional Quote of the day:
In the introduction to a book of Josemarie Escriva’s sermons, I read this,
When we cry ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8: 14–17). This text speaks to us about the Blessed Trinity, which is another frequent theme in these homilies. It also reminds us that Jesus Christ is the way leading to the Father through the Holy Spirit. He is our brother, our friend—the Friend—our master and lord and king. The Christian life, then, means being continuously in touch with Christ in the context of our ordinary life, without abandoning our rightful place. How does this contact take place? Monsignor Escrivá explains very concisely: “In the bread and in the word.”
Escriva, Josemaria. Christ is Passing By
I was recently told that the only hope for the church was to be found in a “annointed man’s” understanding of the book of Revelation and the end times passages of Matthew.
I don’t think so, for Paul declined talking of such things in detail – saying it wouldn’t be of benefit to the church. What matters – that we understand His grace is all we need. (funny coincidence that I just preached on that!) That we, because of Christ, and through the Holy Spirit can cry out Abba, Father! That is where our hope lies! Not in someone’s speculation – but instead in a intimate dance with the Trinity, as they pull us into their relationship…
That comes, as the introduction tells me this priest points out – as we hear God’s logos, His word, His reason, His plan.. as we see that plan re-revealed as we come again to the feast which is a foretaste to come, as we commune with our Lord, as He communes with us. This is not just some simple ritual, this gathering of people who walk with God, it is an intimate encounter with God, the I AM – and because He is, as we commune with Him, we find out that we are…. His. It’s where we enjoy the dance, where we are reminded of the depth, height, width, and breadth of God’s love, of that fact that His peace is so incredible, that we can rest in His presence, rejoicing that we are welcome there…
God’s Revelation, the Apocalypse, the Unveiling (they are all translations of the same word) is not about the calendar – its about the relationship, the assurance that God is with us, that He is always HERE. If we can learn that… if we can hold on to that… we won’t have to change the church… we will realize that we are being changed… as we walk in Christ.
That is the reason we have hope… when we realize…
The Lord has had Mercy… on us..