Devotional Thought of the Day:
20 How great is your goodness, Lord, stored up for those who fear you. You display it for those who trust you, in the sight of the children of Adam. 21 You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from scheming enemies. You conceal them in your tent, away from the strife of tongues. 22 Blessed be the Lord, marvelously he showed to me his mercy in a fortified cPsalm 31:20–25 (NABRE)ity. 23 Though I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your eyes.” Yet you heard my voice, my cry for mercy, when I pleaded with you for help. 24 Love the Lord, all you who are faithful to him. The Lord protects the loyal, but repays the arrogant in full. 25 Be strong and take heart, all who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:20–25 (NABRE)
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (NLT)
After the happy encounter on Easter morning, Mary Magdalen wants nothing more than to return to the former familiar status quo, to leave the Cross behind her as though it were just a bad dream. She wants to have “her teacher” as she had had him formerly. But that conflicts with what has transpired. No one can have Jesus as “his teacher” while disregarding the Cross. (1)
As a young man, even as one who wanted to and was studying to be a pastor, I never understood why the church met in Acts daily in the temple. Part of it seemed practical, how could you write a sermon every day, and do an adequate job.
Perhaps part of that is that I focus on the teaching aspect of their getting together, not the sacramental, the communal nature of it. As one who was trained in expository and exegetical preaching, I tended to believe that the sermon was the critical part of any gathering of the people of God. That it was and is the major tool in the box of the preacher, in order to make disciples of all nations.
Looking at Benedict’s words this morning, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. If we think Jesus’ primary role is that of the teacher, the disciple whose lessons show us how to live, we have tragically missed what being a believer is about.
It is for walking with God, about living life in HIs presence, in the presence of God who loves us. The love which drove Jesus to the cross, that love which had the Father throw all of His wrath on Him, the wrath we deserved, onto Jesus. Check out Isaiah 53:10 and Hebrews 12:2-3 to see this more clearly, as it was for joy Christ went to the cross, and it pleased the Father to crush Him there.
So we could be the children of God. the holy children of God!
So great is His love for us!
So back to why I want there to be a church service on Monday, what Catholics and old fashioned Lutherans call a “mass.” It is because of the Psalm above. As God becomes our refuge, our hiding place, the refuge, and fortress that David sought, that Luther’s most famous hymn celebrated and rejoices to find.
It is there, that Jesus becomes more than a teacher, as we celebrate His incarnation in our midst, as we celebrate His sacrifice, as we take and eat, and take and drink the very body and blood of Christ. It is there, with our knees bent, we find our refuge, we find our peace, at the altar where we encountered the crucified and risen Lord. Where we find our healing, where we find our peace.
Where we no HIs promise, that He won’t forsake us, that we don’t walk alone.
Maybe I am a wimp, or too weak in my faith, but why should someone like me not value and treasure such times? I have to deal too often with death, and with brokenness in life, in my life, in those I minister to, and that refuge, that time of rest and renewal is too meaningful.
The cross, the grave, the resurrection, and the knowledge we aren’t alone…..
What a blessing…
Maybe the early church knew what they were doing!
KNow God is with you my friends… know He is your refuge!
Even on Monday. AMEN!
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. 129). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
We pray….Lord, Rip Open the Heavens and Come!
Isaiah 64:1-9 Psalm 102:18-22
† IHS †
As you grow to know God’s mercy, may you find your prayers sustained by the Spirit’s presence, even as you pray for Christ’s return!
Rip’em open Lord
There are days where Isaiah’s cry I hear with great anger, and other times I hear it with great heartache. As we look out into this world, with its wars, with it massacres. When we see people causing division, rather than trying to bring reconciliation, when we see people struggle with the political games, with broken relationships, when they get played by extremism, or self-centeredness. When we look around us, and all we see is sin. There is a frustration that results in anger, and in tears. There is a desperation to our prayers, to connect to God!
Lord, come quickly, come so quickly you rip the sky’s open, and bring it to and end1
Isaiah certainly didn’t mean this as a casual invitation, but it was a cry born of pain, he pleaded with God to not hold back, but to come down with all His power, and set things straight.
To make things the way they are supposed to be.
Why can’t people love God, and love each other?
We can get so frustrated, there are times where we aren’t sure whether to be angry, or crushed. For that matter, we aren’t even sure which we are, at the moment.
The World Deserves it….
The cries for God to fulfill His promises resound throughout the Old Testament. For God promises, as he does in our reading tonight, to come with all of the angels and fix it. To come and destroy all that is Holy, to shake it up the way He did in the Old Testament, to deal with those who do things that are unrighteous.
You see it in all of the prophets, they pray for God to come and fix it all that is broken.
To take care of evil once and for all.
Even as Christ came the first time to save us, we know He is coming back to judge the quick and the dead. He will reign, He will fix everything, and that will go one forever.
They plead with God to return, they can’t stand living amid the brokenness any longer, so they turn to God and cry for help. The God the psalmist notes is looking down, listening to the cries of those in bondage, and will come to release them.
We deserve it
Back in Isaiah, even as the prophet cries for God to rip open the heavens, there is a realization, a hesitation. For Isaiah realizes how much the people of God have wandered away. He realizes that God isn’t just angry at them, but at us as well. That our desire to do good, is worthless, that we are dried up by sin,
What is alarming is verse 7,
No one prays to you or makes the effort to reach out to you….
I have to ask, how much is prayer a part of our lives. Whether it is taking the psalms and praying through them, or whether it is just pouring out our heart to God. How often do we think of Him, talk to Him, find our selves concerned with what He is concerned with in our lives, in our world?
How often do we follow what He tells us to do? Or do we justify our sin, not caring if it breaks God’s heart?
We get frustrated by the very thing that in others we want to condemn. We need to learn to hate this sin, this failure, in our own lives. We need to call out to God to cleanse us, heal us, forgive us.
As Isaiah says, we cry for Him to remember we are His people. The people He poured water upon in baptism, the people He feeds and nourishes the souls of during the Lord’s Supper.
We are people that the psalm was recorded for, so that we could praise the Lord with angels and archangels and all the hosts of heaven.
For He has promised to look down and release those for whom Christ died. To free them from their sins…. He promised that to us.
Advent makes Christmas something special, for it takes it from something historical, and we realize that it was to us He came. Because we needed Him To save us, and eventually, to return and bring us home to the Father.
Where we will dwell for eternity, in His presence. A day we should long for, even as God gives us His peace, until we return.