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:
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)
89 “Mary has chosen the better part,” we read in the holy Gospel. There she is, drinking in the words of the Master. Apparently idle, she is praying and loving. Afterward, she accompanies Jesus in his preaching through towns and villages. Without prayer, how difficult it is to accompany him!
Truly, God gives daily bread to evil people, even without our prayer. But we pray in this request that He will help us realize this and receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
We don’t need to pray as much as to see our situations change, as we need to pray to see ourselves changed. (Note the past tense here )
I don’t think we understand the nature of prayer all that well.
We can analyze it, we can teach people the elements, we lead retreats on it, and if we are daring, we might actually ask people how their prayer life is. ( I am not sure that is the right question btw) That doesn’t mean we understand it, it just means that we know about it. We can even say it’s having a chat with God, but even then, we fall short.
But what prayer is? It is living life in Christ, in dialogue with the Father, dependent on the Holy Spirit. We come up with words like fellowship, communion/community, or my preference we live in the most intimate of relationships with him.
That’s why Luther will consistently teach that prayer isn’t about making God do something but realizing He is actively doing that which is for our best, whether it is protecting us from evil, or helping us forgive, or seeing His will be done.
This dynamic of prayer is what St. Josemaria is talking about when he says that without prayer, we cannot follow Jesus, that we don’t recognize that He is guiding our paths, and helping us journey, in peace.
THat’s why the early church made prayer, daily prayer, together, such a critical part of their life. Not out of duty, but it is the natural life when you are in a relationship, an intimate relationship with God. It is simply what we do, like Mary abandoning the housework to just be still and adore the God who came to her, who comes to us.
This time of prayer, this time of hearing from God, and learning to simply entrust everything to Him, not because we have to, but because that is what you do when you are sure you are loved. It is far more than a quick check-in chat, a 5 or 30 or 60-minute briefing on our day. It is lifelong dance, a
This is God at work, this is the God whose love we need to experience, to explore, to have revealed to us. This is the God who we need to be with, listen to, depend upon, And all that happens when we pray…
please, consider sharing a moment or two when you were praying and knew the presence of God was there, comforting you, guiding you, even correcting you…
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 361-363). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
Prayers Answered in the Wounds of Christ
† I.H.S †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ convince you of this, that you will never, ever be completely abandoned! For The Lord loves you!
The Fear of Abandonment
It is among the greatest of fears, the greatest sources of anxiety. It’s symptoms include anxiety, chronic feelings of insecurity, depression, esteem issues,, a feeling of no control self-depreciation ( I am not worth it!) isolation, or behaviors which are negative to us, to appease those we feel we cannot lose.
It is the fear of abandonment, and it is becoming more and more prevalent.
Its cause is not rational, it is not even a conscious thought, but there is something within us that convinces us that we are not appreciated, that we are not cared for, that we are neither loved, or lovable.
Even though we know better, the anxiety, the fear is there, knowing away at us, paralyzing us, or driving us into sin, so that we can minimize the pain we except.
And our hope is seen in the background of the slides, in the scars and wounds of the man who was the loneliest in all of history, as he was laid out on the cross.
I think Abandonment is why we fear death, and why we fear to get older. Ultimately, we don’t want to be alone, we don’t want to be separated from those we love. That is why some people will stay in an abusive relationship, or fear to work on damaged ones, because of the risk of being abandoned. It is why we will willingly embrace sin, otherwise, people might reject us. So we join them in their sin, in their negative behaviors. We tell ourselves that the pain and consequences are okay… at least we aren’t alone. Or we numb ourselves with behaviors that distract us, that gives us a break from the loneliness. A warm body is better than nobody, right?
Sin does its damage as well driving a wedge deeper and deeper between us, trying to pry us even away from God. It’s pain causing us to believe we are broken beyond us, beyond meaning,
The Psalm Al read before had significant meaning to me. Especially this verse,
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.
Even if the people who are supposed to care for you more than anyone else abandon you, God hasn’t. He holds you close. In other places, Jesus talks about gathering us to Himself, as a hen gathers her chicks un her arms. He talks about the Father running out to the prodigal joyously greeting Him with a bone-crushing hug. He talks of uniting us to Him in baptism, all of these examples to help us realize that He has us, that we are His, in death, and in heaven afterward.
As we’ve heard the wounds of Christ answer our prayers, our pleas for help, I want you to hear these words we sang of Jesus love again, this time brought into our language, where it becomes clear, this is not just our prayer, it is His answer
Here I will stand beside Thee,
From Thee I will not part!
O Savior, do not chide me!
When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish
In death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish,
Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.
Paul tells us we are united to Christ in His death, and as the power of God raised Him from the dead, we rose, united to Him. And He promises never, ever to abandon us. We are His, His beloved children, His beloved people, and He went to the extent of Christ’s death to make sure of this.
You will never be abandoned, you will never be alone Jesus promised! The Spirit dwells within you. This isn’t just theology, it is the reality, as you will be reminded when Jesus gives you His body and blood to eat, to drink, knowing it is for you, because He loves you.
You are His… therefore you will never be alone. So relax, look to Him, and know His peace. For you are safe in that peace, protected by our Lord Himself.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:14-16 (NLT)
959 We cannot give way in matters of faith. But don’t forget that in order to speak the truth there is no need to ill-treat anyone.
One thing that history has shown us is the need to be theologically astute, as well as to know the history of theology. There are no new heresies under the sun, and they come back with greater frequency than the seasons. As St Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, the role of ministry is to stop us from being tricked, by people who sound like they have the truth.
But it is not enough to simply be orthodox, to have the right explanation theologically, or apologetically.
There are a lot of theologians out there, brilliant men and women who can correctly and clearly explain why they know about God, and even why a contrary view is not dangerous. And there is a myriad who are quite vocal and prolific in their writing, yet still have gaps in their knowledge.
But even for those who have a mastery over theology, it is not enough, and those learning need to learn this as well, less their zeal for orthodoxy become a barrier to the ministry they desire.
Theological orthodoxy is not enough. It never has been.
We have to speak the truth, but it is not enough just to speak it. We have to speak it, loving the person to who we are engaged in conversation. Desiring not to win the argument, or that we were able to zing them. Rather we need to desire that they can glorify God more because they have gained a greater insight into the dimensions of His love for them, that they have experienced His love and mercy.
Too often I have seen the damage the theologian ( or a theologian-in-training like myself) has done because their words were not delivered in love. Words which had unintended consequences, and to use a military phrase, severe collateral damage. The damage that leaves people thinking the church, and therefore God, is heartless and doesn’t care about them, just creating clones, or getting people inside without caring enough to confront their brokenness.
And for us who claim to have some level of wisdom, how heartbreaking it is to realize that we have driven someone away from the love of God.
We can change this tendency we have, we must change it! But it is not simply through our will and determination. FOr we will find ourselves doing the same thing, to different people. Or we will find ourselves responding defensively to others.
It is through learning to adore Christ, as we ourselves are changed by His love, that this change occurs. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, revealing to us and helping us explore the depths of God’s love. That love changes us, enables us to love, and therefore to speak the truth in love. A maturity that is nourished in sacramental times, and in times of prayer and meditation.
So let us encourage each other to know the love of God, which is the reason we have hope and peace in this midst of this broken world, fr we know He will answer when we
Lord, Have Mercy!!!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3383-3385). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our Day:
“No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the LORD. 16 Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.”
17 Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you’ve requested from Him.” 1 Samuel 1:15-18
Does our daily anxiety about life seem so important to us that we can find no time to look above it? There is the daily anxiety about food and lodging for ourselves and for those who are dear to us; our profession, our work; there is our responsibility for society in general, for its improvement, and that injustice may cease to exist in it so that all of us can eat our bread in peace and freedom. Does not all that seem so urgent that everything else seems of no consequence? And is that the whole problem? Today more and more individuals are of the opinion that religion is a waste of time, that only social action can make a significant contribution to man’s well-being. As a result, it will require a kind of miracle to make us let ourselves be lifted up to what is higher. But God be praised, such miracles do occur even today.
Christ as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me, on my left and on my right.
This day Lord, be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak, in the mouth of each that speaks to me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, and yet all-powerful. Christ as a light, Christ as a shield, Christ beside me, on my left and my right.
Joseph Ratzinger’s words this morning, written perhaps 20 years ago or more, ring so true today. We see so many things that need to be done, so many things that need to be corrected, so many things that cause anxiety, so many things that have to be addressed, otherwise, we cannot find the time to eat our bread in peace, truly free.
These things are so urgent that everything else seems. not to matter, not to be of importance. Including our religion, our walking with God, our taking the time in prayer, to pour out our hearts like Hannah did.
Last night in our church service, I saw something I have long dreamed of and encouraged. People staying at the communion rail, emptying themselves, even through the tears, finding the freedom that comes as we, having received the Body and Blood of Christ, find that we cannot leave until we have emptied ourselves until we are confident that God has heard us.
Do I like the fact that these people’s lives are so challenged, so anxious that they must look for comfort, for peace there at the rail? No, but I do love that they have come to recognize that it is the place where miracles begin. Where they can unburden, where they can drop the stuff that oppresses them and find hope, where they can find the peace they need.
We need to pray, we need to know what the ancient Celtic Christians reveled in, the presence of God in every moment of our lives. God so intimately involved, so compassionate that He will bear our burdens, that He will help us cope with anxieties, (whether we know what we are anxious about or not)
Prayer isn’t about duty, it isn’t just another task in our calendar, it is where we find the miracle of peace, where we are reminded He is there, where we can pour out our heart, and ask for the faith to leave the burdens behind.
God is with you… prayer makes that truth come alive!!!!
So take the time, see the miracle begin and lead in freedom and peace! AMEN!
(and anytime you want to come and prayer… you are welcome too!)
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.
from the daily office: morning prayer of Celtic Daily Prayer: Book 2
Devotional Thoughts for our seemingly broken days:
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 (NLT)
291 Jesus is asking you to pray … You see this very clearly. Nonetheless, how poor your response has been! Everything is a great effort for you: you are like a baby who is too lazy to learn to walk. But in your case, it isn’t just laziness. It is fear, too, and a lack of generosity!
The Second Petition
“Thy kingdom come.”
7 What does this mean?
Answer: To be sure, the kingdom of God comes of itself, without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may also come to us.
8 How is this done?
Answer: When the heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit so that by his grace we may believe his holy Word and live a godly life, both here in time and hereafter forever.
In my daily devotions this week, there seems to be a common thread, the idea that we are afraid of intimacy with God, the idea that we are afraid of God.
Looking at the church today, we see this is truly an issue. We speak far more about God than we speak to Him. We train our pastors and ministers to teach theology, to pursue accurate doctrine (even on this feast of St Nicholas, to punch out those who don’t teach accurately) but do we help them to desire those moments, where we simply are in awe of God’s presence?
A friend of mine used to talk about how he hated the Sundays when the church had communion (some Lutheran churches have communion every other week, some even less,) because that meant church went 20 minutes longer, and he would miss 20 minutes of football. In later years this changed, and as a pastor, the churches he cared for moved to celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week. He had realized how precious this time was, in fellowship with God. It meant something special to, this time of breaking away from life, and concentrating not on the truth of God’s presence, but on God himself, there with us.
Prayer is no different, and we need to realize that so that we don’t treat it with indifference. It is the Kingdom of God coming to us, the Holy Spirit transforming us, comforting and calming us, helping us to trust in what is revealed about God’s love in scripture.
We shouldn’t fear it either, this coming of God to interact with us. Some fear the change that God will ask of them, either to give up this sin or that habit or to make some sacrifice (like becoming a missionary to some jungle or the inner city) s if somehow the more we hang out with God the more likely He will ask us to do something that only a saint could do.
I am not going to promise you won’t e “volunteered” for something, but that can happen if you aren’t praying. I can’t say that God won’t put on your heart a desire to break the habits of sin either, for surely He will. What I can promise is what He doesn’t, that in spending more time with God, our burdens are lifted, our anxieties fade away, and our souls find rest, even as God more clearly uses us to reconcile the world to Him.
In a world where peace seems so fragile, prayer, walking with God shows us that the real peace is internal, a gift of confidently living in Jesus.
Don’t be afraid, don’t be apathetic, rather, run to Him, leaving all your brokenness, find rest for your souls. And while you talking to Him, pray that I learn these lessons as well!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1186-1189). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Devotional thought for our seemingly broken days:
18 All the people witnessed m the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it n they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”
20 Moses responded to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin.” 21 And the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21 HCSB
213 When you have fallen or when you find yourself overwhelmed by the weight of your wretchedness, repeat with a firm hope: Lord, see how ill I am; Lord, you who died on the Cross for love of me, come and heal me. Be full of confidence, I insist. Keep on calling out to his most loving Heart. As he cured the lepers we read about in the Gospel, he will cure you.
Reading the reaction of the people God led to Mount Sinai, at first I am confused. Why do they want to distance themselves from the God who had saved them from the Egyptians, the God they had cried out to save them?
Then I wonder if I am any different. Or if the Church today is any different.
We are in awe of those who seem visibly in tune, intimate even, with God. They are among those we sort of see as our heroes. That is, until they invite us along on their journey. The moment we hear them say that all they have done is possible for us as well, we treat them much as Israel treated God.
“We stand over here and watch as you approach God. We’ll stand close enough to know some sort of safety, but far enough away that we aren’t overwhelmed by His grace. We can be afraid of Him, but we don’t want to be close enough to fear Him, to be overwhelmed by His glory so much that we rever Him, that we adore Him.
Look at Moses words again, Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin!”
We might read this and think the reason we will not sin is that of fearing punishment, of fearing His wrath, because we fear both the consequences now and for the future. That isn’t the reason we won’t sin. It is because of our fellowship with Him, and the trust that grows that impels us to call out to Him when the darkness of sin begins to cast its shadow over. We might not like the phrase “intimacy with God”, but it is that very intimacy that gives us hope, that draws us deeper into a relationship with Him, and as we grow in our love for Him, as we trust and adore Him and revere Him, then we are changed, sanctified, set apart to Him.
To use St Josemaria’s words, we are cured.
He has heard us.
He is here.
As He was for those in the desert, those He rescued to make for HImself a people. The people He would love, and care for, those through whom His place to reconcile the world would come true.
So let us hear the advice the Apostle Paul gave in his letter to Hebrew Christians,
16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. Hebrews 4:16 (TEV)
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 928-932). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our broken days:
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. 7 If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. 18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound h in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:15-20 HCSB
228 Be filled with faith and rest assured! The Lord tells us this through the prophet Jeremiah: orabitis me, et ego exaudiam vos—whenever you call upon me, whenever you pray!, I will listen to you.
Over many years, I’ve heard people claim the verses in italics as their own guarantee of what they pray for, what they thought they really needed.
I’ve also known people who have been promised that God will do what they ask, whose faith has been crushed because they do not see their prayer answered, The extreme case of that would be my friend Jean, whose daughter was told by her pastor that if she had enough faith, she would be healed of her cancer, without any medical care.
As I read it this morning, in my morning devotions, I realized something. This well-known passage is connected to another well-known passage, the passage about reconciling those who have sinned against us. It is followed by another passage, where Peter asks how many times he has to forgive Andrew, and is told not 7, but 7 times 70.
So this passage about prayer has a specific context, the impossible task of reconciliation and restoration, the return of the prodigal son, the erring brother, the one we’ve been tempted to give up on seeing in God’s presence.
What a comfort this is, for no one is beyond God’s reach, and no one that lives is beyond being called back, even those who have hurt us deeply. (For if we didn’t love them, how could their betrayal us?)
What peace this brings, knowing that God loves and cares for them, and wants to heal and restore them to us. This is the amazing thing about finding ourselves bath in God’s grace, this glorious love, and peace, that He draws us into at the cross.
He is with us, He is listening,! So let us give Him those who we struggle with, forgiving, counting on Him to draw them back and reconcile us into one body, His. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 980-983). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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 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.