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Maranatha! I am not sure you know what this word means!

Devotional Thought fo the Day:
1  You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2  Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4  Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!   Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)

22  Whoever does not love the Lord—a curse on him! Marana tha—Our Lord, come! 23  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
1 Corinthians 16:22-23 (TEV)

Yet when the Church departed from her Semitic motherland she took with her some words that have since become familiar to all Christians: amen, alleluia, hosanna—and, above all, marana-tha!  (1)

59      If you respond to the call the Lord has made to you, your life—your poor life!—will leave a deep and wide furrow in the history of the human race, a clear and fertile furrow, eternal and godly.  (2)

I love reading Pope Benedict on the topic of worship, especially about liturgical renewal.  Despite being one of the greatest theological minds of the last 200 years, his focus is that liturgy must be understood, and it must reveal Jesus. This morning, the devotional I have that is made up of his writings focused on this,and it is very good.

What struck me the most was the blue quote above, and the word that we need to keep from our “Semitic motherland”.  Not amen, that is, “this is true.”  Not Alleluia, that is, “Praise you YHWH/LORD.”  Not even the cry hosannah, which means “save us, LORD”!

The word that he would have us keep more than all, is the prayer, Maranatha!  Come Lord!  
I thought I knew the word, but I looked it up, just in case.  It is a bold prayer, but more than a bit terrifying in context.  For the prayer is for God to come with all of His justice, to come with His judgment. To answer a call to purge that which is evil, that which is wicked, that which is sinful and rebellious. It is the cry of the psalms, Lord, rescue the righteous, to pour out your wrath on those who deserve it.

To get rid of the murders, the cheats, the liars, those who are envious, the sexually impure the gossips… those who sin actively and passively, in what they do, but also what they say and think.
Are you ready for that?  Are you confident that your soul is clean enough to have God come back right now?  Everyone wants to end up in heaven, but are we ready to be judged for what we have done, or didn’t do?  Do you feel a sudden need for confession, to hear the words you are forgiven?

I know I do…

I need to know that grace!  I know I need to realize that I have found my hope, in that in Christ’s mercy, my sins have been purged from me, that I am counted as righteous because He cleansed me, uniting me to His death and Resurrection in Baptism (Romans 6, Colossians 2, 1 Peter 3) I need to be comforted, and know the love of God for me, a sinner. 9

It is in this Easter season that we are reminded that we are hidden in Christ, in heaven already.  For we dwell in the presence of God Himself. We need to realize this, contrary to the old saying, we need to be so Heavenly minded, so that we can be worth something here on earth!  

That is what Josemaria Escriva is talking about as well, responding to the call that Jesus has put on our life. Not the call to be a pastor or priest, or a lay leader, but the call of all, to be the children of God, to live in His presence. As we think of heaven, as we realize we are dwelling already in His presence, that changes us, and we leave a mark on this earth that makes a difference, because we love as He loves us.

This isn’t just thoughts of piety, but immense practicality. We need to cry out Maranatha, but we need to do so in faith, knowing out relationship with Jesus, knowing that repentance which He grants us, which gives us life.  And that repentance, that cry of faith, changes us, and through us, changes the world. 

So cry it out, in awe, in fear, counting on Jesus to do what He has done.

And live life, knowing He is with you.  

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. 130). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 436-438). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Princess’s Bride’s Most Accurate Quote…..

Devotional THought of the Day:Featured image

2  He has sent me to proclaim That the time has come When the LORD will save his people And defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, Isaiah 61:2 (TEV)

13  I will comfort you in Jerusalem, as a mother comforts her child. 14  When you see this happen, you will be glad; it will make you strong and healthy. Then you will know that I, the LORD, help those who obey me, and I show my anger against my enemies.” Isaiah 66:13-14 (TEV)

Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”  (1)

It lies on my phone in wait for certain messages, just sitting there, a ring tone tied to email’s, text messages and fb messages.

I put it there originally tied to a name or ten, whose messages usually herald some kind of suffering.  Now, faced with the truth, it heralds all messages.  (btw – if you think you name was the one it was attached to, that probably means either that it wasn’t or was…)

As I approach fifty, I am more and more convinced that “the man in Black”/aka Wesley/aka the dread pirate Roberts was correct,  Life is pain.  Or as Buddha is credited as saying, “Life is suffering”.

Some of it is physical, like my body is wracking me with pain presently, because I worked out this morning, or because of the health issues I have faced all my life. Some of it is spiritual/emotional, like the grieving that I went through 2 weeks ago, as I walked along the shoreline where my dad and I walked so many times.  Or the anxiety that comes from being a father and pastor, as I worry about those who I have been given the responsibility for shepherding towards God.

Some of the pain is second hand, which doesn’t mean it is any less, thought it is different.  The pain and suffering that occurs naturally when we encounter people in our familes (biological, communal, church) that are suffering.  Paul wrote about this to the church in Rome,   “Share the happiness of those who are happy, the sorrow of those who are sad.  Live in harmony with each other.  Romans 12:15-16 (Phillips NT)   That harmony means we do suffer together, though the notes we sound are different, they resonate together.

Life is pain…..

And The Man in Black is correct, many will try and sell you something to fix it.  Some things will be dreams, or distractions that addict.  Some will sell the promise of ignoring the pain, which is ultimately more painful.

LIfe is Pain….yet, as Princess Buttercup desired, it should not be mocked.

Even if we think it isn’t that painful, or it is exaggerated, or they are just whiny, pathetic people who don’t know what real suffering is, because they haven’t been in the pit of despair. There is a reason life hurts, and while we may say this is what pains us, it may be something much deeper.

The answer to life’s pain isn’t found in the latest self help book, or in the latest drug, or this or that relationship.  It won’t be found on the other side of the continent (as I often wonder ) or in that perfect job.

It is found in an instrument of pain and suffering.  It is found at the cross.  For there, we find healing, we find the promise of God’s love fulfilled.  We find God bringing comfort to us, That is why the first quote above was read by Christ in the synagogie, and the reason He could confirm it’s fulfillment.  He is our comfort, He is the assurance of our peace.

In Him, suffering becomes something different.  I have a hard ime explaining that, but I’ve seen it to many times, in hospice patients, in church members lives, in my own.  I can’t call it nobility, but there is a quality of endurance and courage as we find sustenance and peace that is more than that.  It isn’t inner strength, for while we barely endure, we are all to aware it isn’t by our strength.

I know no other way to describe it than to say, it is grace.  It is a gift of God to us, to those around us, to know He is there, sustaining, reconciling, bringing healing beyond belief to our souls, and the hope of eternity in our lives.

This isn’t for sale, and we would discount it in this life because it isn’t so easily found.  Yet this peace we know of, and in Christ experience, knowing its value, because life is pain.

Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us, Lord have mercy upon us.

(1)  from the movie, “The Princess Bride”

Humanity’s Search for Meaning. Which Star Trek Captain, Princess Bride Character, Super Hero, MBTI Type are YOU?

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:God, who am I?

 10  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

 20  But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! 21  My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. 22  Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, 23  a life renewed from the inside 24  and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:20-24 (MSG)

34    Don’t be afraid of the truth, even though the truth may mean your death.(1)

We take them mostly for fun, or so we tell ourselves.

In the last week, I found I am Captain Jeffrey Archer, Inigo Montoya, the Green Lantern, and that I am an Elf.

The personality quizzes are fun, and mostly I can live with the results. ( being labelled a unicorn though?)  But these “tests” are getting more and more popular,Especially, how do I say this nicely, among those who no longer fit the “college/career demographic (20-35ish.)

We post the results, looking for affirmation? Looking for comments that tell us it’s okay to be Data and not Patrick Stewart, that its okay to not be Harry Potter but to be Dumbledore, to be Gomer Pyle rather than Church Norris.  (But why did I get picked to be St Stephen, the first martyr?)

We long to know that people will accept us for who we are, for where we’ve ended up in life, that it is okay to be… us.  We long to know who we are even, for there are days, where our self esteem plummets, where our confidence drops, when we dream of re-defining ourselves, and we look for someone we admire, someone we could be life.  And how we answer the questions more often describes what we would like to be like, than who we really are.

The challenge is to remember that who we are isn’t determined by our personality, or our vocation, or even our successes and failures. That we are who we are being “okay” doesn’t depend on what others think of us (especially if they read the 8th commandment)  It doesn’t even truly depend on our own understanding and approval of who we are.  St Paul refers to this when he talks of our limited knowledge:

12  We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG) 

St. Josemaria says that we don’t have to be afraid of the truth, even though it may mean our death.  In a way it does, for to know the truth about ourselves, we have to know that we have been untied with death, Christ’s death. (Romans 6:1-8, Titus, 3:3-8, Ezekiel 36:25ff)  For He is the truth, and it is united to Him, to His death and resurrection, that we begin to know our “true” identity.  The identity that God knows, the identity that He created us to have.  The identity that makes us more than our favorite hero (or villain) could ever be.

For you don’t just have the characteristics like a child of God, you have been created as one.  A creation that God promises is a Masterpiece.  One where we are judged by God to be righteous,

That is who you are….. who you really are.  A child of God, a friend of Christ, a masterpiece

No matter what those “tests” say.

Take His word on it!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 241-242). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Conversion and “Repentance” Evangelical Catholic VI? or VII?

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

18  When they heard this, they stopped their criticism and praised God, saying, “Then God has given to the Gentiles also the opportunity to repent and live!” Acts 11:18 (TEV) 

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. 2  Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (TEV) 

8  But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips. 9  Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old self with its habits 10  and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.   Colossians 3:8-10 (TEV) 

Conversion— metanoia, in the New Testament Greek— is a lifelong matter for evangelical Catholics. Whether one is baptized as an infant or an adult, and no matter how old one is upon first meeting the Lord Jesus in a personal way, the Christian life as proposed by Evangelical Catholicism is one of constant conversion. That process continues until the moment of death, which the Christian should approach as the moment in which the gift of life is offered to the Creator: with gratitude for that gift having been redeemed by the Son, and with confidence that death is, in the power of the Spirit, the moment of transition and purification into a fuller encounter with the Holy Trinity. Living toward death in that way requires a lifetime of preparation, a lifetime of deepening one’s friendship with the Lord Jesus, the conqueror of death. (1)

These are words we are used to dealing with in the church, conversion and repentance.

Yet to adapt a line from the classic movie of movies, the Princess Bride, I think we don’t know what these words mean!

Weigel nails it – when he ties the word metanoia  which is often translated “repentance” to the word conversion.  For indeed repentance and conversion should communicate the same thing – and they often don’t.

I’ve often heard people talk about repentance as our turning our direction, doing a spiritual 180 from heading towards death, to changing to heading towards heaven.  Or some will argue that it means to be contrite and sorrowful for sin.   While contrition is part of it, there is more involved.  For the Greek word breaks apart into “change” and “mind” – calling us to do what Paul will challenge the Philippians to do – to  Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus,  ( Philippians 2:5 (BBE)   Conversion is, having the mind of Christ, one that is not set on things of this world, but rather, things which are heavenly (1  You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2  Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth.  Colossians 3:1-2 (TEV)

Like so much else of scripture, this is easier to say, than it is to do, hence the need for daily repentance, daily conversion.  It is why Luther would remind us to start and end each day thinking of our baptism, about what God did there.  For we all to soon forget, and live far too often trying to avoid or deal with the consequences of guilt and shame.  But our struggle isn’t that within ourselves, for we can’t fix our brokenness.  We can’t erase our sin.  It is finding the humility to look to God, to receive the gift of conversion, of cleansing, of receiving the blessing of renewal, as God provides for us in word and sacrament, as He calls us from the death of sin, to live – and live as Weigel puts it – towards the return of Christ – either when He returns at the end in all of His glory, or when He calls us home.

For there we find another promise fulfilled, 6  And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (TEV)

You see, that is the concept of conversion  – it is not us striving with all our might to change ourselves, and more than a baby can change it’s dirty diaper.  It is instead – taking a breath – remembering who our Lord and Savior is, turning to Him and finding revealed to us that He has done this thing, He has changed us, and is changing us.

May we become more and more aware of the mercy shown to us, as the Holy Spirit molds us, renews us, and restores us to the image in which we are created.

Godspeed my friends!

(1)  Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (pp. 67-68). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

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