Devotional Thought of the Day:
23 God, examine me and know my heart, test me and know my concerns. 24 Make sure that I am not on my way to ruin, and guide me on the road of eternity. Psalm 139:23-24 (NJB)
Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy. 2 For the person who speaks in another •language is not speaking to men but to God, since no one understands him; however, he speaks •mysteries in the Spirit. l 3 But the person who prophesies speaks to people for edification, encouragement, and consolation. 4 The person who speaks in another language builds himself up, but he who prophesies builds up the church. 1 Cor 14:1-4 HCSB
771 God exalts those who carry out his will in the very same things in which he humbled them.
There is a joke about being cautious as you pray for things like patience and faith, because surely God will hear those prayers, and give you the opportunity to see your growth. Of course, the only way to see growth in those things is when you have to demonstrate them.
Even though the idea of having to be patient is scary, the idea of praying the psalmist pray this morning is even scarier. To give God permission, to beg God to investigate every nook and cranny of our heart, our soul, our very being, and to make sure I am not doing anything offensive, anything evil, anything that would lead me to ruin.
God knows our right and our wrong, our acts of rebellion, our sin, but to invite Him in to purge them from us? That is a hard prayer, that is one that scares me, for somehow I think that what I hide from him, what I deny to myself, somehow doesn’t count, it doesn’t affect me and others, it just was a passing moment, something I barely remember.
And yet, it is only after I pray that, only after letting Jesus carefully circumcise my heart, that I can begin to understand how great His love his and be in awe of His mercy. It is only then that I can begin to realize what it means to be the one He loves, and adore God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is only then that life begins.
A focus on such love, pursuing such love is essential for those of us who preach, who prophesy, who teach. Whether it is to a parish of thousands, or to two or three in a elementary sunday school class. I believe there is a distinct impact on preaching and teaching that comes from knowing we are loved. Not just knowing it as a fact, but living in the midst of that love, knowing that love so well that we easily trust Him, even with the darkest parts of our lives.
It is as we are rescued from that darkness we can speak of it in a way that edifies the church, that lifts them up, that convinces them of the love of God. THat allow them to realize that God loves them as well, that they can trust Him to transform them.
That when God humbles us, it is so that, cleansed of all that has damaged us, we can be lifted up, healed, and in awe, knowing He loves us.
Such is our calling, such is our relationship with HIm… and though this prayer still scares me, can we pray it together?
Heavenly Father, we count on our love, we acknowledge the need of the Spirit to come through our lives, cleansing us from our sin, our brokenness, our pursuit of things we know distress you. Lord, help us to pursue the love you told us you have, and counting on that love, search our hearts our souls and minds, Find the things that displease You and take them away, so that you may guide us on this way of everlasting life.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1785-1786). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. Exodus 20:7 (NLT2)
7 ‘You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who misuses his name. Exodus 20:7 (NJB)
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT2)
63 In addition, you must also know how to use the name of God aright. With the words, “You shall not take the name of God in vain,” God at the same time gives us to understand that we are to use his name properly, for it has been revealed and given to us precisely for our use and benefit.
64 Since we are forbidden here to use the holy name in support of falsehood or wickedness, it follows, conversely that we are commanded to use it in the service of truth and all that is good—for example, when we swear properly where it is necessary and required. So, also, when we teach properly; again, when we call on his name in time of need, or praise and thank him in time of prosperity, etc. All this is summarized in the command in Ps. 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.” All this is what we mean by calling upon his name in service of truth and using it devoutly. Thus his name is hallowed, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.
If you compare the first two quote (actually the same exact passage, but from two different translations, and do a bit of research, you will find something very, very ironic.
The first one, like most other translations, fails to use God’s name when they translate the command about not using God’s name! They replace the Hebrew YHWH with the letters LORD (Adonai in Hebrew). The use of all caps in the word LORD is supposed to alert you to the holy precious name of God, (YHWH) is used there.
Why? Because of a man-made tradition that says it is better not to use the name of God, rather than misuse it!. You see the same irrational fear in people today who drop the letter “o” out of the word God, (which is a title) and take pride in using G-d. Some have even taken to doing it with LORD.
And in doing so, they miss the very essence of the command. That God has given us the permission to use His name and expects us to call upon Him in prayer, in praise, to use it in Baptism, to use it to bless others.
To use it. Abundantly!
Now, I am sure that God doesn’t mind us translating it, Or using generic titles like God, Theos, etc, but there seems something wrong with deliberately avoiding His name. Especially when we avoid using it the way He asks because we fear that we might misuse it accidentally.
If we don’t understand how to use His name and fear His wrath from using it incorrectly, we don’t understand the forgiveness offered, and the cleansing of sin that God promises to those that call on His name.
If fear is what motivates us, if we are scared to use His name, we don’t really understand the love and mercy of our God. We don’t’ get that He longs to gather and protect us, as a hen would gather its chicks. We need to know the Father that would let the prodigal walk away, knowing the lesson he would learn as the prodigal finally comes to his senses and comes home. We need to know the joy that is seen when one of his children comes home when He can create a masterpiece of our lives as we trust in Him and His grace.
To put it simply, to not use God’s name properly, is to misuse it..
My friends, use His mane, call upon Him, He is our Abba (a term of endearment for one’s father) DOn’t be afraid, but as Hebrews 4:16 says, come boldly into presence, that we may His richest gifts, and help in times of need.
He is your God, you are His people.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 373). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day
25 But I know my living Redeemer, and He will stand on the dust at last. 26 Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. 27 I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me. Job 19:25-27 HCSB
22 “And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, j not knowing what I will encounter there, 23 except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. 24 But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:22-24 HCSB
15 These are the most necessary parts of Christian instruction. We should learn to repeat them word for word.
16 Our children should be taught the habit of reciting them daily when they rise in the morning, when they go to their meals, and they go to bed at night; until they repeat them they should not be given anything to eat or drink.
17 Every father has the same duty to his household; he should dismiss man-servants and maid-servants if they do not know these things and are unwilling to learn them.
18 Under no circumstances should a person be tolerated if he is so rude and unruly that he refuses to learn these three parts in which everything contained in Scripture is comprehended in short, plain, and simple terms,
19 for the dear fathers or apostles, whoever they were,7 have thus summed up the doctrine, life, wisdom, and learning which constitute the Christian’s conversation, conduct and concern.
579 Faith. It’s a pity to see how frequently many Christians have it on their lips and yet how sparingly they put it into their actions. You would think it a virtue to be preached only, and not one to be practiced.
If you read the words from Luther in blue above, they might seem a bit extreme. Over the top. Harsh. One might even accuse him of child neglect or abuse for insisting that children don’t eat until they can repeat them. (please notice it says repeat them) And employees be terminated for not knowing them? Isn’t that a bit much?
Then look at St. Josemaria’s words, decrying the life-less faith of those who can say they believe, but that belief doesn’t impact their lives. They can preach it, they can state the arguments, but there is something missing. One might even ask if they truly have faith if they depend on the Jesus they confess to with their words.
We need to have the kind of dependence on God that we see in Job, or in Paul. One was encountering great trauma (and then it was greatly compounded by his wife and wise counselors) and the other, went where everyone told him not to go because the Spirit revealed to them the pain and trauma he would endure.
Job said no matter how bad it gets, he knew God would be faithful and would raise him from the dead just so he could be with God. Paul corrected them, noting that the chains and afflictions were easily worth it, knowing that people’s salvation was at stake, knowing that without knowing God, there would be no comfort, no solace, no serenity found in the midst of life.
So how does our faith, our ability to depend on the God whom we can’t see, grow? Is it possible to have the faith of Job, Paul, Luther, or Escriva? Or are they just heroes of the faith that we cannot hope to be like?
For myself, my faith, my dependence on God grows or deepens, the more I encounter God’s love. Whether that encounter is at the Altar, sharing in the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper with others who are struggling, whether it is in studying the word and teaching it. Whether it is in times of prayer.
Perhaps the greatest times of growth occur when I hit rock bottom. When I have no other option, no other hope, and I cry out to God. I may cry out for a day, or even a week, but in the end, I find out He was always there. In the end, I realize where He was working in my life, especially in the words of those who pointed me to God’s mercy and peace. It is then what I was taught in the basic tenets of our faith, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s prayer, and the promises attached to the sacraments also cause me to be still, to catch my breath, to know that He is God. Our God.
This is why those that went before us are so insistent that we learn these basic things. It is critical, for people were right in the 80’s. Life can be a bitch, and in the end, we die. But for those who know God, even then, in our flesh we will see God, our Redeemer. And until then, depending on Him, we can live in a peace that doesn’t make sense, kept there by Jesus himself.
Depend on it. He who promised this is faithful. AMEN!
Lord, have mercy upon us, and grant us the ability to depend on you!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 363). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1383-1386). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. 8 Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. 9 With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. 10 Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. 11 Keep us alive with three square meals. 12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. 13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. Matthew 6:7-13 (MSG)
18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT2)
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.
Recently, my son wanted to help me. He’s noticed I’ve been under some stress, and he knows I can’t share some of those things with anyone, even his mother. Another friend asked how they could help.
In both cases, I answered prayer and the response led me to believe they were disappointed with that answer. I could see it in my son’s eyes, “Can’t I do more?”, and in my friend’s response as they try and give me ideas on how to spend my “free time”
Pray, simply pray.
It might be, and is often for me, in a pattern. Some people don’t do that well, and the pattern becomes rote, automatic, simple repetition. For me, it can become that, but I have learned to try and savor the words, rather than just repeat them. I try to tune into what they reveal, and how they help me experience the love of God that is too great to understand fully.
That was St Josemaria’s key, that when prayer, meditation, adoration, studying the scriptures, etc become routine, we need to flee from it becoming routine is to realize the constant presence of God.
Fleeing from routine doesn’t mean fleeing from the practice, it means fleeing from the practice being routine, about realizing that you are in the presence of God, to give to Him your burdens, to entrust to Him, to depend upon Him because you know He’s promised to be there. To experience that love, despite what the world would throw at you.
For experiencing love is never simply routine…
I included the Lord’s prayer from a paraphrase, Peterson’s The Message. I by no means want to abandon the way each of us learned it, but sometimes reading another version helps us to appreciate what we are praying a little more, to realize what the familiar words mean. (the words that are like family) How they do reveal the love of God, how they help us experience it, how all-encompassing it is.
We need that, we need to be in communion with God, in communication with Him. We need to leave our burdens on His doorstep, We need to pray, and receive the sacraments, and spend time seeing Him revealed to us, so ready to love us as we read the Bible, as we read those who realized it before us.
This is God, right now, right here! He is with you! (me too!)
Talk to Him, realize how much He desires to be with You! Adore Him, and begin to realize what it means for Him truly to be YOUR God.
Dwell in His merciful peace.. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1331-1332). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day
11 I will live among you, and I will not despise you. 12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. Leviticus 26:11-12 (NLT2)
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”
2 What does this mean?
Answer: I believe that God has created me and all that exists; that he has given me and still sustains my body and soul, all my limbs and senses, my reason and all the faculties of my mind, together with food and clothing, house and home, family and property; that he provides me daily and abundantly with all the necessities of life, protects me from all danger, and preserves me from all evil. All this he does out of his pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness on my part. For all of this I am bound to thank, praise, serve, and obey him. This is most certainly true.
Men are not the result of chance or of a struggle for existence that brings victory to the practical and the strong. No, man is the product of God’s creative love. God is. That means that he can act, and that he truly does act—now—in this world and in our lives.… Do we trust him? Do we regard him as a reality when we assess our lives, our day-to-day experiences?
Some time back I was telling you: come out of the caves! Today I repeat: come out of the sacristy, of the parish’s offices, of the VIP rooms! Get out! Engage in the pastoral of the atrium, of the doors, of the houses, of the street.
Don’t wait; get out!
“I want more the Sundays and Wednesday nights! Because if you can’t come to me every day, then don’t bother coming at all!”
I remember those words of Keith Green playing from my radio, and from the old cassette tapes I had while I was in high school. And I thought they were God’s words, backed up by scripture and the Holy Spirit, for they caused great conviction, great guilt and shame when I missed my devotions when I struggled with times of prayer.
I had to spend time in the word, I had to spend time in prayer, I must, or God would refuse to talk to me, after all, we know He is a jealous God!
Yet the despair, the guilt, and the shame… easily I could have thought, maybe I am just not one of those called to follow God. I thought often that I am not holy enough, spiritual enough, good enough for God. How could he love one as weak, and as full of coubts as I am?
Even today, I tend to define my time with God as Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights with God’s people, and the hour or so of prayer and reading I do. Corporate and Individual. Times that I truly treasure. times that sustains me. Times that I wish I could instill in my son how precious they are, that I could help him and my church family see how much a treasure they have waiting for them.
Have to admit, that is frustrating! How can they not see how much they need this time? How can they not see how it will benefit them? Why can’t they see how much they need to know what scripture will show them. Others who writings told the story struggled and found strength in knowing what God would reveal to them are precious as well! ALl these blessings, that simply get overlooked, and put on the shelf, or the Bible App relegated to the back page of our phones/Tablets, etc)
You can’t force people to spend time with God, you can’t manipulate it, you can’t threaten hell. So how can I help people find the blessings that are so necessary in my life? THat I depend upon, given the brokenness that I have to encounter.
As I read the readings above this morning, perhaps I have found something that I knew but didn’t appreciate recently. The reason that all these things I set apart time to do helps is because it helps me realize that God is there 24/7/365. That we are His people, that He loves to not just meet us in the “designated” place and the “appointed” times, but He wants to walk through life with us, pointing out the ways He provides and sustains us.
That is why I need my devotional times, my time in prayer, my time reading scripture and those who went before. Because I need to know that God is with me in the rest of the day, in the walks we take, in the people we encounter (and He is with them as well) In every aspect of life.
He is there.
He created us to be His people. And so He loves us, sustains us, provides for us, and wipes away our tears when needed. It is encountering these truths in my “special times” that sustains me in the broken times…and in the good times, and in the routine times. That is why I treasure them, and that is why my son, and my church family, need ot know.
God is with you…. when you need Him. Everywhere, walking with you. He is your God…your Creator, Sustainer, Comforter, AMEN!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (pp. 344–345). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
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. 163). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 165). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Transformed Minds: The effect of the Resurrection
We Have a Life to Live, Together (with Him!)
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ surround us with peace, even as He guides our work together in Him!
A Test of Faith
Most of you know I wasn’t always a pastor, for a while I was in management, and my undergraduate degree is in Organizational Management.
This is probably most surprising to some, but for a while, I was pretty decent at managing things, from restaurants and bookstores to a divisional department at Pepperdine.
When I became a pastor, I found out that not everything in management theory is transferable to church, and it is taking me over 20 years to determine what things will work, and what things do not. One of those things is finance, personnel management quite fit either, and another is leadership development.
Look at today’s reading from Acts, I mean who would ever tell a CEO or COO to pick a replacement for the Board of Directors by flipping a coin or rolling a dice? I mean what if our nominations committee did that… they just gave us a list of names of all qualified people for each office, and we just rolled a die to see who the next president, vice president, secretary and treasurer were?
Anyone want to take a chance at that method? Let’s see, who would be qualified to be the next congregational president? Al? Jim? Bob? You guys meet the qualifications, so we add you to the list…and flip a coin and let’s see what happens. Okay? For vice president, all the names, and let’s roll some dice!
How much faith does it take, to hear God, and trust in an ancient way of asking His guidance that basically accepted that guidance based on a flip of a coin, or a roll of the dice? We’ll get to the faith in a moment.
Replacing Judas ( to do what?)
That’s what they did, they cast lots, like the Urim and Thummim to choose who would replace Judas among the Twelve.
We know why he had to be replaced. In his actions we see the damage sin can do played out completely. He didn’t trust Jesus, and so Judas betrayed Jesus, trying to force him to do what Judas thought was right.
That’s not only a sin we are all capable of, it is a sin that most of us are guilty of this week, and often enough to realize the guilt and shame that would drive Judas to death. For that is what the guilt and shame does, when we realize the damage we have done, not listening to God or obeying His word.
Without Jesus, what happened to Judas would happen to us all,
Obviously, replacing Judas was important. It is the first act of the church after the Ascension. But one of the questions to ask is for what reason was Judas replaced? Was it to be a leader or ruler of the church? Was it to be a VIP on the Board of Directors, or to be the new Chief Financial Officer?
I mean we must have structure in the church, and these twelve and their roles are pillars in the church. So what does scripture say the role he was chosen for was.
Hear scripture again,
21 “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus—22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”
Witnesses of Jesus Resurrection. That is the role of the Twelve. In Greek, they were the twelve Martyrion, the me who would be witnesses of the death and resurrection of Jesus. I wonder if Matthias and Barsabbas were volunteered for this?
That is the critical role of the church, to bear witness to the fact that Alleluia, He is Risen!
All other roles, whether elected offices or hired positions work to make this one task, being a witness to Jesus possible. Which brings us back to choosing, and having faith in God in that choice.
How do we get that kind of faith?
So where should the faith come from, that leads us to trust God’s leading in choosing who will do this kind of work, or any work today? It doesn’t matter whether it is a vote, or a flip of a coin, or whatever method, it doesn’t matter.
We have to trust God for whom He calls into leadership through the church.
Verse 14 and verse 2 show the secret.
“They all met together and were constantly united in prayer” and “they all prayed”.
They were gathered in the presence of God and communicated together as one! It is where the church finds unity, it is there where our dependence on God is encouraged, nurtured, strengthened, where we encounter God’s mercy as others show it us as well,
As one pastor shared it, Do you see? That cable—strand upon strand, many of them woven tightly together—is strong enough to lift enormous weights. You and your brothers, with wills united to carry out God’s will, can overcome all obstacles.
It is not because of our own strength that this happens, it takes God weaving us together, splicing the places where we have become frayed. It is in the peace that the church is the church, that it bears witness to God’s love.
It as we find our lives in Jesus that things become clearer, and we simply focus in on the mission, of bearing witness to His resurrection, and our resurrection in Him.
For a Paul quotes,
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. Acts 17:27-28 (NLT2)
That’s what the world needs to know, and you and I are sent to share that message, a message of great hope, incredible peace, all sustained by His mercy and love. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:31-33 (KJV)
1 As a deer longs for a stream of cool water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for you, the living God. When can I go and worship in your presence? Psalm 42:1-2 (TEV)
316 You tell me: “Yes, I want to!” Good. But do you “want to” as a miser wants his gold, as a mother wants her child, as a worldling wants honors, or as a poor sensualist wants his pleasure? No? Then you don’t “want to”!
I look at St Josemaria’s words this morning, and they hit me with a lot of conviction
As I look at a very busy week, as I anticipate the struggles and the hard work, I wonder how I am going to make it through it all, and do everything well. The temptation is to expedite things, and the really big temptation is to cut short my time with God.
After all, I will be studying scripture, I will be praying with others, do I really need my own time with God.
Abso-freaking-lutely. (pardon the Bostonese)
And I know I need it, and I want it. But the question is how much I want it. Do I want it like the deer wants water, like a mom protecting her child, like those that crave attention or pleasure want it?
I need to, I need to seek first God’s kingdom, I need to seek first those times in His presence, where I am so aware of Him that I naturally respond in worship and adoration.
I know in the midst of this, this is where I have to be, this is where I find healing and life and comfort and peace. It is where I know I am loved, and so loved that I am cleansed, and my sin cut away from me with even more precision than a heart surgeon, or a rabbi/mohel doing a circumcision.
For what draws me to God is not my own strength, if so, as much as I desire it, I might desire other things more. What draws me to God is the Holy Spirit, lovingly, caringly, bringing me back, back to the word that reveals God’s love, back to the sacraments which demonstrate it in my life, back into prayer where I release all my burdens to the Lord who loves me.
Yeah, it’s Monday, and I have a huge week of appointments, tasks, work, ministry, to see accomplished…
But I need to seek Him first, otherwise, the rest is in vain, and the week will be a giant pain in the ass. But with Him, at His side, the week, the very same actions, thoughts, words… will be glorious.
and so we cry out… Lord have mercy on us, and on our week!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 818-820). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
“•I assure you: The one who believes in Me l will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:12-14 HCSB
21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. John 17:21
This is the only way the true structure of the liturgy can be restored, a structure that, as we have just seen, makes concrete in divine worship the fundamental structure of divine action. God, the Revealer, did not want to stay as solus Deus, solus Christus (God alone, Christ alone). No, he wanted to create a Body for himself, to find a Bride—he sought a response. It was really for her that the Word went forth.
3 After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ.
There are times when I question why prayers aren’t answered. For example, why my son has to have the genetic disorder I have, or why friends battling cancer aren’t simply healed. We pray, earnestly, reverently, continuously for miracles of this nature. Yet the answers to these prayers are too far in between for my liking.
After all, Jesus said, if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.
Even more than, I wonder why one of Jesus’ prayers go unanswered.
Why can’t the church be one, as the Father and Jesus are one?
Why can’t that prayer be heard, and answered?
Why can’t the church be one?
We have one mission, to reveal the love of God, seen so clearly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the acts that give us hope and forgiveness, and prove His love. That’s what we have to do! It’s not rocket science!
Our worship is supposed to do that, to teach people what they need to know about Jesus, to reveal that God doesn’t want to stay alone, that He sought a response to the love He would show us in everything, our creation, our redemption, our being made His people. People that have a God that wants to love and be loved.
If the greatest Catholic theologian of the last century and the Lutheran forefathers can agree on this fundamental role of our gathers as believers, can’t we start there? Can’t we start in prayer, and in meditating on God’s word together? Can’t we find unity as we consider the sacrifice of Jesus and the love that comes to us at the altar?
Is that asking too much?
To hear His prayer, and to find the answer to that prayer, not in the halls of academia, but in the church together, on our knees in prayer, lifting up our voices in praise, considering the gifts given in His Body and Blood?
Let’s ask this together in His name…
Lord, Have mercy on us all! AMEN!
Question to think about:
Should working toward unity, the unity found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus be a more important issue in the Church today?
If you are a nonChristian, or even on the border, would the leaders of local churches trying to work out their differences make a difference in the way you view the church as a whole?
Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Trans. John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000. Print.
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:
When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?”
16 Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.”
17 Then Elisha prayed, “LORD, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the LORD opened the servant’s eyes. He looked and saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 1 King 6:15-17 HCSB
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:26-29 (NLT)
404 You say you’ve failed! We never fail. You placed your confidence wholly in God. And you did not neglect any human means. Convince yourself of this truth: your success—this time— was to fail. Give thanks to our Lord, and try again!
There was a great desire to sleep in this morning, to pretend Monday didn’t exist. While Mondays are a study day, I have to admit Holy Week exhausted me.
And while I didn’t feel like a failure yesterday, today I am not so sure! (This is called the Elijah syndrome – after major spiritual victories we want to hide!) But I’ve often dealt with failure, especially on Mondays. Not just the feeling I’ve failed, but the knowledge I have failed, or I am actively experiencing failure.
In those moments, I feel like Elisha’s servant, all I see around me is pressing in on me, and there is no escape. “Oh no, it’s Monday, what are we to do!!!” And the sake of being alone, and without hope rises like the tide and we fear it will drown us.
At least that’s how my Mondays and several other days a month often feel.
It’s as if I’ve forgotten the promise in Romans 8:28, that all things work for good, including Mondays. That I can’t picture God doing something in the present circumstances, so I can’t understand my success is found right in the midst of the failure. Just as the time between the cross and the resurrection was not a failure in the true sense of the word, neither is this time or failure, or anxiety about it, a true failure.
We need to have our eyes opened to this, just as Elisha’s servant did. We need our trust in God rekindled until we can go through the dark times, and trust that the good times are coming.
For God is with us, Jesus is risen indeed, and that means we are given life and a life where the plan all works together….
His plan, not mine.
This is why I adore Him (when I can remember this!) This is why I praise Him, for He is our God, and we are the people whom He loves.
Just need to remember that on Mondays…. and every other day that has a d in it.
Let me pray for you ( and please pray for me)
As our Lord opens your eyes to His presence today, may you rest, as you dwell in His peace!
Question of the day….. how does knowing you are loved help you through the hardest of days?
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1013-1015). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our days:
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT)
304 Each day try to find a few minutes of that blessed solitude you need so much to keep your interior life going.
48 By the blessing of God, the priests in our churches pay attention to the ministry of the Word, they teach the Gospel of the blessing of Christ, and they show that the forgiveness of sins comes freely for Christ’s sake. This teaching really consoles consciences.
.When I come across the phrase, for Christ’s sake, it makes me wonder how we hear it
The phrase is heard in our liturgies, and is used in so many theology texts. “we are forgiven for Christ’s sake,”.
Certainly, without Jesus’ intervention, we wouldn’t be able to be forgiven. And I can’t see the Father wasting the Son’s life, He honors the sacrifice, and Christ’s merit is applied to our lives, as sin is separated from the sinner, and we are found to be righteous without it.
Yet, when I hear we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, there is a part of me that hears it negatively, as if there is no worth God finds in us. As if the cross and all the suffering was simply God resigning Himself to save us, to deal with His frustration. As if His attitude was, “you screwed up again, I suppose I have to save you, okay. I’ll do it, but only because of Jesus.”
That interpretation doesn’t coincide with how God is revealed in the Old Testament or the New. Saving us is not something He reluctantly does, even as He is frustrated beyond frustration.
This is why we need to spend some time in solitude each day, why we need to be concerned about what St. Josemaria calls our interior life. The place where we know God is with us, where we can hear HIs voice and know we are safe. We need to know He’s found us, and we can relax, and listen
We need to hear God’s voice, we need to grow to where we can join the place the psalmist is at when he speaks of God’s thoughts about him. ,
To understand that God thinks about us leads us to realize how much He does care about us and sent Jesus to save us. To think that is not just a passing thought, but that God has thought about us since He created us. His thoughts are beyond our ability to count, yeah that makes sense. Clarifying that you were on God’s mind more times that you can count is, well I just have words for that concept.
He loves us that much…
Yes, it is because of Christ’s coming that we can know this, that we can be counted holy, yet that just isn’t our goal, it is the Father’s desire.
What an amazing thought.
What an amazing God!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 789-791). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print