Devotional Thought of the Day:
30 And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? 31 For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. 32 And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” 33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all. 1 Corinthians 15:30-34 (NLT)
Heaven, then, is none other than the certainty that God is great enough to have room even for us insignificant mortals. Nothing that we treasure or value will be destroyed. As we ponder all this, let us ask the Lord on this day to open our eyes ever more fully to it; to make us not only people of faith but also people of hope, who do not look to the past but rather build for today and tomorrow a world that is open to God. Let us ask him to make us who believe happy individuals who, amid the stress of daily living, catch a glimpse of the beauty of the world to come and who live, believe, and hope in this certainty. (1)
These days, from just after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve are called the season of Advent, the time where we wait for the second coming of Jesus, and eternity to be revealed.
It is a time of hope, of expectation.
Time we need, for many of us are experiencing a time of life that seems hard, and one without any form of hope.
Advent is not the answer to the hopelessness in and of itself. It simply seeks to remind us of the hope. It is a time where we go through, recognizing our need for hope, our need for something more, that this life is not all there is.
When we know there is something, we learn to wait for it, fully expectant in the promises of God. That hope gives us the ability to depend on God for the strength to endure.
For heaven is waiting, the place we can’t describe, yet what we know is enough. For we will be with the one who loves us! As Pope Benedict points out, this gives us a sense of happiness, a sense of joy, even amid the stress of daily living.
Which is why the Lord’s Supper is the ultimate moment in Advent. It is that piercing the curtain between our mortality and our immortality. The Body and Blood of Jesus, a feast that God our Father serves us, is the moment we find ourselves in His presence so clearly, so completely. From that moment, as with our baptism, the hope of heaven is more than a dream, it is real, the presence of God quite tangible.
Which is the point of Advent, amid the stress of life, as it seems we are in the midst of darkness, affected by disease, division, depression and even death; it is then these extra moments, assuring us of God’s promises, and His faithfulness, are so needed.
This is life, as we don’t just walk with God, we let Him carry us… and safe in His arms, expecting a new day, we find peace.
(1) 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.
Another year, another step, an incredible look at God’s glory, and hopefully a greater dependance on Him.
Devotional thought of the day:
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people* did not accept him.12 iBut to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 *j who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh* and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory,the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. Jn 1:9–14 NABRE
I will seek Thee, Lord, by calling on Thee; and will call on Thee, believing in Thee; for to us hast Thou been preached. My faith, Lord, shall call on Thee, which Thou hast given me, wherewith Thou hast inspired me, through the Incarnation of Thy Son, through the ministry of the Preacher.
This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.
As we can see in the lives of such individuals, faith is a kind of passion, or, more correctly, a love that seizes an individual and shows him the direction he must go, however fatiguing it may be—the spiritual equivalent, perhaps, of a mountain to climb, which to the ordinary Christian would seem foolish indeed but to one who has committed himself to the venture is clearly the only direction to take—a direction he would not exchange for any conceivably more comfortable one.
5 We should have preferred, and we besought and petitioned the Almighty, that our churches and schools might have been preserved in the teaching of God’s Word and in agreeable Christian concord and that they might have been well managed and carried on in a Christian fashion and in harmony with God’s Word, as they were while Dr. Luther was alive
I started a journey a year ago, and today I start a new one.
The journey began by adding to my devotional reading several things. The Bible, using a translation I like called the New Living Translation, The Book of Concord, which I read twice, The Documents of Vatican II, the Edicts of the Council of Trent, and as I went on I added a devotional called the Co-Workers of the Truth, a very pastor devotional book composed of the writings of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
It was an interesting journey, one which unexpectantly opened up a new category for my devotional blog. It is called Augsburg and Trent, but simply is where I see the Lutheran Church (once called the Evangelical catholic Church ) and the Roman Catholic Church (referred to recently as the Evangelical Catholic Church by George Wiegel and others) holding a pastoral application of doctrine together… or more together than I would have thought.
I will do a similar journey this year, dropping the writings of Trent, and adding two earlier sources, that of the writings of Augustin and Patrick. Augustine’s because is writings were the basis of a lot of what Luther wanted to see the church reform to, at least according to Him. Also, Calvin points to him often, and I’ve heard scholars describe his Christian faith as simple. Patrick because I am curious about the dude. A strong theologian by all accounts, and a noted missionary/apostle. Both writers write from a time of the earlier church, and in times where God’s love was revealed to many.
The goal is simple – not much different than the quotes above. To seek Christ as Augustine desires, and to call upon Him in faith. As Vatican II urges, to learn to given people a new energy and desire to examine the height and depth of God’s love which will impact their very lives. As Cardinal Ratzinger writes, to create the passion and love for God in my own life and the life of His people. Finally, as the Book of Concord writes, to have for the people a perspective that produces in believers a life like Christ’s, lived in harmony with scripture.
Such a journey is worth the time, (probably about 45-60 minutes a day) if indeed I can help us realize the truth that the Apostle John notes, that Jesus dwells among us, and to help us see His glory, finding in it the mercy, the love and the peace we so desperately need.
And yes, I will continue to blog where I find ideas that strike me, that challenge me and cause me to grow in understanding of God’s love for us, and communicating that to others. And I would love the comments and discussions that come from these thoughts.
Thanks for reading… and encouraging me to record my journey… Godspeed
Rev. Dustin T. (d.t.) Parker
Pastor, Concordia Lutheran Church
PS – my prior pattern was a Bible Translation and a book called Celtic Prayer, and writings of a Catholic saint by the name of St. Josemaria Escriva. The Bible reading and the writings of Escriva will continue. 🙂
Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.Catholic Church. (2011).
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 345). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.