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We Talked About What People Should Expect of Their Pastor, But What Should He Expect of Them?

St Paul closing

Devotional Thought of the Day:

2 I have chosen Bezalel from the Judah tribe to make the sacred tent and its furnishings. 7 Not only have I filled him with my Spirit, but I have given him wisdom and made him a skilled craftsman who can create objects of art with gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood. 6 I have appointed Oholiabh from the tribe of Dan to work with him, and I have also given skills to those who will help them make everything exactly as I have commanded.you: Ex 31:2-6 CEV

†3 Judas had betrayed Jesus, but when he learned that Jesus had been sentenced to death, he was sorry for what he had done. He returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and leaders 4 and said, “I have sinned by betraying a man who has never done anything wrong.”
“So what? That’s your problem,” they replied. 5 Judas threw the money into the temple and then went out and hanged himself.
6 The chief priests picked up the money and said, “This money was paid to have a man killed. We can’t put it in the temple treasury.” 7 Then they had a meeting...  Matt. 27:3-7 CEV

612    Get rid of those proud thoughts! You are but the brush in the hand of the artist, and nothing more. Tell me, what is a brush good for if it doesn’t let the artist do his work?

Yesterday I wrote about the things that pastors should be doing, sharing the gospel with people everywhere, forgiving and retaining sins, and being that hands that administer the sacraments. The people of God should be able to expect these things, and indeed, ensure their pastors have the time to do so.

But what about the other side of the coin?  What should a pastor (and other church leadership) expect of those people they invest time serving?

I think we see that in the reading from Exodus, as two men are called, not to be priests and pastors, but to use their gifts in the service of God.  These two, out of two million people, were ordained and commissioned, set apart for a certain task. See how God has made it clear that the Holy Spirit is guiding him in this, and God has given him wisdom and made him a skilled craftsman for this very vocation?

Pastors shouldn’t have to beg people to use their God-given skills and wisdom to do what the Holy Spirit is preparing them to do.  Most of it isn’t miraculous stuff, it is day to day things, like these guys sewing together the tent, and making the furnishing.

The other thing is the one thing scripture shows Judas doing right, even as he does what some consider the worst sin in scripture. With great sorrow, desiring an answer for the guilt and shame he is feeling, e goes to the priests, looking for hope, looking for mercy, trying to figure out what do with his soul being crushed.

He did the right thing, even in the Old Covenant there was a way to confess sins and be given the hope of forgiveness, of having the sins washed away, of having God breathe new life into a soul oppressed by darkness. (That they “held a meeting” rather than absolving Judas might be the worst case of clergy malpractice in history)

Pastors need to expect people will come to be given hope, to confess their sins, that they will know they are forgiven. That is part of people’s responsibility, but it also takes pastors being open to it, encouraging it often. They need to be helping people to know the burdens they bear, guilt, shame, resentment, anger, are all within God’s ability to remove.  They need to know it is God’s desire to free them from that crap.

If these things happen, we won’t need to talk about reviving churches… it will happen naturally.

In summary, the people need to do, as part of the ministry of the family of God, what God has called them, gifted them with skill and wisdom, to do.

And come, as often as needed, to be assured of the grace of God cleansing them of every sin.

Lord, help this occur!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Assistance We Need to Endure Part 1

The Assistance to Endure

Hebrews 5:1-10

May the grace of God our Father and our High Priest Jesus Christ sustain you as your endure, waiting patiently for His return

 

If Life Were Only Like a Commercial

Wouldn’t it be great if life were like the way it is pictured in commercials?  For example, if we get ourselves into trouble wouldn’t it be great to be able to sing a little tune, and in a split second an angel would appear! He would be ready to cut a check, to do whatever it took to make things appear like new?

Wouldn’t it be great to have someone to act as our agent, our friend?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone act our advocate, and to intercede with everything involved, till everything was restored as best it could be?

It would be an amazing thing if such were possible.

It would make life a lot easier when we got into trouble, we knew we could call out, and we would be heard.  Knowing that, we could simply rest, confident in the one God sent to take care of us, to make everything work out for good.

As the author of Hebrews describes the high priesthood, he is describing such a role.  The High priest who is our advocate, the intercessor, the one assigned to be the mediator who would make everything work.

That is the role of Jesus, for He is who the Father chose to care for us, to help us endure this life.

He deals gently… yet

In the job description of the high priest, our intercessor, our mediator, there is an interesting comment.  It is both a bit challenging and yet, very comforting.  Let me read it again,

2  And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. Hebrews 5:2 (NLT)

Hmmm.  How many of us like to be described as wayward or ignorant?

It is hard to admit we are ignorant.  That we don’t know what is good, or what is best for us.  After all, who knows us better than us?

Well, yes besides our wives.

And yeah, God too!

That’s the point, it isn’t too easy to admit that we don’t know.  We like to be the experts, seen as the experts, We are not, and when we act in ignorance, without God’s counsel, we often find ourselves sinning.

We do things we don’t know are wrong or we don’t want to admit are wrong.  We fall prey to sin, and to Satan.  We need to admit that, acknowledge that we don’t know it all and let our high priest intercede.

The other challenge is that we do go astray. The word is a passive very, we are led off course, we find ourselves lost, unable to go the way God would have us go.

Neither ignorance nor getting lost is a valid excuse.  Being separated from God is being separated.

It is hard to admit that, for most of us are quite proud of our knowledge, or that we don’t need to ask for directions.  Some of us are stubborn, and the more we see that we need help, the more stubborn we get.

Ignorant and lost, we need someone to help.  Someone wise enough to bring us back on track, someone we can trust, someone who has been through what we’ve been through.  Someone who can find us, and gently show us the way back.

Someone who is able to deal with us gently, even when we are caught up in our ignorance, even when we are wayward and lost.

Someone God qualifies and equips to do that very thing; who is precise as He compassionately works on our behalf. Someone who will intercede and is willing to pay the cost.

Do We Realize the Cost He paid?

I think we need to take time to read another part of the passage again,

7  While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8  Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
Hebrews 5:7-8 (NLT)

We know Jesus cried, for he cries over Jerusalem, and at the death of Lazarus.

Yet to realize that He would cry out to the Father, is more challenging.  To see him escape the crowds from weariness, from knowing the suffering, He would pray, crying out to the Father.  And He would endure, for them.  Even more perhaps for us, who understand what the cross is, and why he would cry in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus heard the Father’s desire for us to become the Father’s.  He knew the desire of God, and lived it out, fully man, and fully God, caring gently for those broken by disobedience, and ever those who wondered off, distracted by life.

Even as he cries in the garden, for the Father to take away the trauma that was coming yet was as sure to him as Judas’s betrayal.  As sure as our own betrayal.  He still endured.

For the joy set before Him, this letter to Jewish Christians will tell us.  He endured all the pain, all the suffering.  He endures and

9  … became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.
Hebrews 5:9 (NLT)

The Arch-hierus… a Testimony to His Assistance

It is amazing to see how complete Christ’s rescue is, to see how great this salvation is.

For God takes the ignorant and the wayward, and binds them to Christ.

We will talk about it more in our Bible Study; for in that rescue, in our being joined to Jesus, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. And as God cleanses us in baptism, we take on the priesthood with Him.

You see, the title high priest, is actually “first priest” or lead priest, the one from whom all other ministry is given.

You and I, and now, little Jason, are to follow Jesus’ lead as God’s priests.  We will learn to deal gently with those who are ignorant of God’s love and mercy, and with those who have wandered off, and been led away from God. We may even embrace some suffering in order to accomplish God’s will. We will learn to love as Jesus love’s, to hear God’s desire to bring others into the family, as Jesus heard.

That is the transformation of the Gospel, the work of our high priest, the one anointed by God, to be our Savior, our Lord, our High Priest.   To bring us into the peace of God and make our hearts and minds safe, for we dwell in Him.

AMEN!

Lutherans and Catholic Thought about the Liturgy/Mass: Let’s talk

Discussion thought of the Day:Featured image

26  This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. 28  So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29  That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. Colossians 1:26-29 (NLT)

This particular blog post found some stimulus in a internet discussion group I was invited to participate in, composed of Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox and Lutheran followers of Jesus Christ.  One of the discussions the other day was about the encouragement given by Pope Francis for Lutherans and Catholics to talk together.  A continuation of what was began under his predecessors.

I will bluntly state that I am all for it, even as I admit that there are some who see such discussions worthless.

I see it as a blessing for the church at large, because of the Bible passage above, which I believe that many in the RCC and the Lutheran church strive to see accomplished in their ministries.  It is that hope, of seeing people realize that Christ is in you, that there is a relationship there that results in His sharing His glory with you.  Being assured of that, trusting in His promise of that, makes all the difference in one’s life, and as it does, in their living it.

And it is that bond we share in common.

Below are three quotes – two Lutheran, one Catholic (from Vatican II) that discuss this, in view of our mass, our worship services, the times where people are gathered together around word and sacrament.  In both cases, these are not the words of a pastor, a bishop, a pope, or some “expert”.  They are documents which define our understanding of scripture, and the ministry.  While there are things that will divide us in these documents, these quotes show something we might benefit from realizing.

For those of my readers who are more used to a devotional blog, or aren’t Lutheran or Catholic, read these anyways.  Feel free to discuss this, to ask questions, to evaluate and see, do all of our ministries do this – do they proclaim Christ in a way the people understand and benefit from them.  (Evaluate your own churches as well!)  I am not saying this is enough to tear down walls, or to solve every problem.  But in this we seem to agree – that people need to have a liturgy that clearly reveals to them Jesus Christ.

Maybe we can start a discussion here, that is beneficial, and not just focused on showing that we have irreconcilable differences.   read the quotes – look to what they have in common to  say…. especially in view of the Bible passage above!

Godspeed!

7 Moreover, the people are instructed often and with great diligence concerning the holy sacrament, why it was instituted, and how it is to be used (namely, as a comfort for terrified consciences) in order that the people may be drawn to the Communion and Mass. The people are also given instruction about other false teachings concerning the sacrament.

2 Meanwhile no conspicuous changes have been made in the public ceremonies of the Mass, except that in certain places German hymns are sung in addition to the Latin responses for the instruction and exercise of the people.
3 After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ.

and
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

“The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.

The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years.
By means of the homily the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text, during the course of the liturgical year; the homily, therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself; in fact, at those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the people on Sundays and feasts of obligation, it should not be omitted except for a serious reason.

Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (pp. 56–57). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press  (first quote Augsburg confession Artical XIV, second quote Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XIV
Catholic Church. (2011). Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

That Ass May Be More of a Blessing Than You Ever Dreamed!

Devotional Thought of the Day:Featured image

38  Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39  Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it. Matthew 10:38-39 (TEV)

21  So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. 22  But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the LORD to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, 23  Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. 24  Then the angel of the LORD stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. 25  When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. 26  Then the angel of the LORD moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. 27  This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. 28  Then the LORD gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. 29  “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” 30  “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. 31  Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. 32  “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the LORD demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. 33  Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” 34  Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.” Numbers 22:21-34 (NLT)

521      I wrote to you: Though I can understand that it’s not an uncommon way of talking, I’m not happy when I hear people describe the difficulties born of pride as “crosses”. These burdens are not the Cross, the true Cross, because they are not Christ’s Cross. So struggle against those invented obstacles, which have nothing to do with the seal Christ has set on you. Get rid of all the disguises of self! 

As I read the words in blue from above at the end of my devotions this morning, I thought of the story of Balaam.

Partly it is because I have been trying to help a lot of people reconcile the relationships that they have shattered. They often consider dealing with each other the cross they have to bear, and they count it a noble thing to do so.  They might not call them n ass directly, or publicly, but there is that kind of thought that is given.  They will bear up with the frustration, the pain, and will humble themselves to the point where they cannot any longer, and the need for reconciliation becomes ….more visible.

I will confess that I am writing this as much to me, as I am to anyone else.  We struggle against them, we proclaim that we will gladly becomes martyrs, we convince ourselves that we will tolerate them, and that is our martyrdom, that is the persecution we will endure, and offer it up to the Lord, as we bury the anger and resentment, and find ways to increase the distance between us.

And we are full of it!

Not that!  We are full of pride.  (well and the pride fills us with that as well)

They aren’t the cross we have to bear. TO say that is to bear a different kind of cross that the cross of Jesus Christ.

His Cross is one where reconciliation happens, the Cross where mercy and grace is found and celebrated, the Cross where sin is put to death, and we are raised, freed from it and all unrighteousness.  That’s the cross we have to bear – to do things to bring about healing, forgiveness, to see God’s grace and mercy and love accomplish this between the asses in our life, and us.

it is then, with eyes wide open, that we see as Balaam did.  That perhaps God has used them to protect us from harm, to protect us from sin and disobedience ruining our lives. That their work, whether deliberate or not, has been n incredible blessing.

We need to learn not to think of those people as the cross we have to bear, but instead yearn to take up the cross and follow Christ, for them.  Even as He did for us.

It’s a hard lesson, but there is the biggest grace point…. we can’t do it unless we see the cross of Christ, unless we know His love and mercy as we interact with them.  Knowing He is there, to heal, to pour out mercy, to pour out grace on us all, turns this from a cross of horrible suffering, into one we can embrace for the joy set before us.

Which is the biggest blessing of all, this need to walk with Christ, to follow Him to the cross, To remember that our life centers in Him – for that is where we meet Him, where we are united to Him, all of us who are called by His name.  Remember you baptism, run to receive absolution, find joy in our communion together at His table. together.  Amen

So don’t think of them as your crosses, for now you know that is a lie.  Bear the cross that brings reconciliation, and learn from our Lord to bear it for the hope sent before us.

Dwell in His Peace!

As you

They aren’t our crosses to bear, to claim so is not a mark of humility, but that of condescension and pride, much as Balaam found out, and confessed.  Much as St Josemaria pointed out, .

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1976-1980). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Necessity of Teaching People Worship and the Liturgy: Evangelical Catholic IX

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the day, please discuss and meditate on it:

 2  Be like newborn babies, always thirsty for the pure spiritual milk, so that by drinking it you may grow up and be saved. 3  As the scripture says, “You have found out for yourselves how kind the Lord is.” 4  Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable. 5  Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 2:2-5 (TEV)

 “This emphasis on beauty in the liturgical life of the Church is another reason why Evangelical Catholicism takes sacramental preparation and adult catechesis so seriously. Absent a true understanding of what the liturgy is, grounded in a firm grasp of what the Gospel is, those who “come to church” do not grow in living faith. Liturgy without Gospel is superstition, or self-worship, or both. Thus evangelical Catholic parishes take care to provide ongoing liturgical catechesis; this is primarily done through preaching, but it is also done through the various other means by which pastors communicate with their people. Pastors who understand that liturgical catechesis is a matter of empowering their people to exercise the priestly gift that is theirs by reason of Baptism will be likely to be effective in building worshipping communities that celebrate the sacred liturgy nobly, according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. Evangelical Catholic liturgy is, finally, mission-driving. Having been lifted up to the threshold of the Throne of Grace through the dignified celebration of the Church’s liturgy, evangelical Catholics leave Sunday Mass with a new charge of missionary energy. Thus they are always ready to welcome non-Catholic Christians and nonbelievers to the Church’s worship as a means to meet Jesus Christ and enter into friendship with him.” (1)

I recently began a new class at our church, one that is, at once a review of our our faith and of the what and why of our Liturgical Worship.   I need to start off with a disclaimer I suppose, that I find an incredible richness in the liturgy, yet because of the uncommon language, and the unexplained movements, that richness is mostly hidden.  When I comment to that extent some have accused me of being a proponent of anti-liturgical or aliturgical (i.e.  Contemptorary Worship) even though I have noted the same errors in those groups. The church (and I mean the church in its entirety ) in the twenty-first century simply doesn’t do a good enough job teaching people the way in which we worship.  This is true whether it is in the uncommon language and movements of Liturgical churches, or the Contemporary services where the simpler movements are still not explained, and are often far removed from the interaction of a Liturgical Service.

In Wiegel’s article – there is much that is true to the church outside the auspices of Rome. (As well of course, as the Church of Rome about which he writes.)  Specifically of the quote above, and the Bible passage, I would highlight these things.

1.  Worship/Liturgy without the Gospel is empty superstition
There is a part of me that loves to describe food, for example the sizzling of a thick slice of bacon, with its incredible flavor investing the air throughout a home.  It’s because I love watching people uncontrollably begin to react.  You can’t help it.  The same thing should happen within the liturgy – when people are so aware of the grace, the gospel, the love, the mercy and peace  that is about to be shared, that they cannot but begin to react in expectation.  Like those babies in Peter’s letter, there is a desire that builds within us, when we know about what we are to receive.  Absolution, being reminded of the promises of our baptism as we make the sign of the cross, the fact that we are welcome into the Father’s presence, not only that – He desires our presence!  Then, the incredible feast – that which we must give thanks and praise.   ( I hope maybe you are longing for communion like deacons hunger for bacon.)

But imagine not knowing what bacon tasted like?  Imagine not knowing what the flavor that is carried throughout a home where it is cooked.  How could you know how good, how alive the flavor would make your mouth come alive?  The same is true with the liturgy – we rob people when we don’t show them how the Liturgy delivers to them everything of Christ – His presence, His mercy, His love, His comfort, forgiveness, peace, healing…… to them.  This is true as well – when the service is robbed of liturgical elements, when we don’t take the time to realize that that’s the Lamb of God, sent to take away  our sins as well as the sins of the world,  or,  my gosh – we have seen His salvation,  or even as simply as hearing that every burden we have, God desires to take away from us, that we may realize that indeed His is the glory and the honor and the power….as we pray as He taught.

2.  Teaching the people the Liturgy, (and how it delivers to them Christ) is something that empowers them, that helps them realize the gifts given to them in their baptism.  Heling them know that they are God’s children, priests and kings.  As Peter says, as we are joined to the Chief Cornerstone in our Baptism – we are used to build that spiritual temple – where we all work together, serving together, as His priests, where our work is acceptable to God, because it isn’t ours, it is Christ’s Jesus. (see Romans 12:1-10)  People need only realize what is being given to them, if how the liturgy teachings them, shows them, how to dance with God through life, even through the slow and somber times.  Having realized the incredible power of God’s love, having been taught what they need to know about Christ, having realized how God has ministered to them through word and sacrament…how could we not be empowered?  Look at Acts – every time someone proclaimed the Gospel of Christ’s work, the sermons weren’t even completed before someone did something.  Because they proclaimed the gospel – and the people heard it.

May ours do as well.

3.  And that is why the third thing happens:  liturgy is, finally, mission-driving. Thus they are always ready to welcome non-Catholic (insert your own “brand here) Christians and nonbelievers to the Church’s worship as a means to meet Jesus Christ and enter into friendship with him.

I love that Wiegel described what it means to be missional, to have an apostolate.  It’s not about recruiting people to become members of the organism.  It isn’t about getting them from their churches to ours, or to convert them for the sake of numbers.  I love the way Wiegel puts this…it is so… well Lutheran.  Worship is a means (and it contains the means) to meet Christ, and enter into a relationship with Him.  A relationship where He no longer calls use servants – but indeed, friends.  This is what it is all about, this is why we do what we  do.

They need to know Him – and this liturgy – honed and translated into the language of the people, does that very thing….. so well.

So I encourage you – if a pastor or priest, church musician, worship leader, singer – know  why and what you do – and share it with those who need to know Jesus….. and then watch your liturgy come alive…..

(1)  Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 74). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Will I ever retire from the ministry? No! And..

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day.

People often comment about pastor’s never retiring, and I have often wondered how to explain to them, that being a pastor is never a career, it is not a job from which you can retire.  It was hard to explain, until I came across this great explanation – given by a Catholic priest….

A long time ago someone asked me, tactlessly, whether those of us whose career is the priesthood are able to retire when we get old. And since I gave him no answer, he persisted with his impertinent question. Then an answer came to me which, I thought, is indisputable. “The priesthood”, I told him, “is not a career: it is an apostolate.” That’s how I feel about it. And I wanted to put it down in these notes so that—with God’s help—none of us may ever forget the difference.  (1)

What Lutherans call the “office of Holy Ministry”, what my friends who are catholic call receiving “Holy Orders” is not a career, it is something about who we are – it becomes as much our existence, even though we poorly serve in it, as any other thing which defines who we are.   Priests, pastors, deacons, bishops/district presidents, whatever the semantics, those called into ministry, serve with their very lives.  I love how Romans 12, describes such service.

1 So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Romans 12:1 (TEV)

Living sacrifices don’t have expiration dates – we are what we are.  Those called into the office of ministry serve, and when they “retire” they find other people to serve, other places – often those places that can’t afford a pastor – or another pastor.  Nor should they, even at least serving as mentors to younger pastors, or spending their times investing themselves into the next generation of servants – doing so, not with the air of the professional – but the attitude of Christ – with gentleness and humility, lifting up those who have served.

But that brings me to another point, the idea that while some are called to the office of ministry, all of us are called to minister – for the word diakonos – minister – simply means servant.  Romans 12 goes on to describe a number of ways all those in the church serve – just as St Peter  says in 1 Peter 2:9.

9 But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light1 Peter 2:9 (NJB)

You do not get to retire either – and I see this – some of the most dependable servants in the church, are some of the oldest, and indeed some many would wonder why they bother.

When I think about it – the reason we, as believers, shouldn’t retire – the best reason is this:

Because it’s not just a job…..it is walking with God – and seeing Him at work...

Remember to ask that His mercy is seen, as well as had – as you serve for the rest of your life as well.

Godspeed!

 

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2165-2170). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Your Mission for Today, for you’ve been chosen to accept it….

Devotional/Discussion thought of the day.

“Looking on the immense panorama of souls who are awaiting us, and being struck by the wonderful and awesome responsibility before us, you may at times have asked yourself, as I have: “Can I contribute anything, when the task is so vast? I, who am so puny?” It is then we have to open the Gospel and contemplate how Jesus cures the man born blind. He uses mud made from the dust of the earth and saliva. Yet this is the salve which brings light to those blind eyes! That is what you and I are. Fully aware of our weaknesses and our worthlessness, but with the grace of God and our good will, we can be salve to give light and provide strength for others as well as for ourselves.” (1)

I sit and my desk and wonder.  What if the church was as diligent, as determined, to spread the gospel of Christ as it is to see a candidate elected who they assume shares their moral beliefs?  Why don’t we?  Why do we look at a world where as many as 6 billion people do not understand God’s love, who can’t comprehend God’s mindest towards them?  How can we put one mission – that of a political and economic cause, above the mission where everyone becomes a child of God, where true peace is found, as mercy and peace rule?

If Romney wins, the bulk of the world lives in the darkness of sin andin fear of death, and are oppressed by Satan.  If Obama wins, the bulk of the world lives in the darkness of sin, in fear of death, and are oppressed by Satan.

Is the reason we don’t take our call as the people of God, as the servant-priesthood of all believers more seriously?  Do we see the incredible  task before us, and think it is too big?

It is time for the church to step up, not to get involved in politics of the earth, or even politics of the church, and reflect Christ’s light to the world.  But the church isn’t our buildings.  It is you and I, people who have begun to see Christ’s work in our lives, healing our brokenness, cleansing us from all sin and all injustice.  This is our life  – to bear witness to light, following in the footsteps of fisherman and tax collectors and rebels.  It’s not in travelling the world for most of us, but simply in bringing hope to the hopeless, sharing peace with those who are riddled with anxiety, showing mercy to those who cannot conceive of anything but cold justice and retribution and revenge.

Today my friend, you are called to be God’s child – to be like Christ to a world that is lost and broken.  It starts in your workplace, and your home.

Look to Him, reflect His love… you will be amazed at how local your task is.. and how immediate.

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1454-1460). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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