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The Paradox of Peace

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thought for our Seemingly Broken Days:

9  These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the LORD. Are they so wise after all? 10  I will give their wives to others and their farms to strangers. From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. Yes, even my prophets and priests are like that. They are all frauds. 11  They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Jeremiah 8:9-11 (NLT)

311 Everything seems so peaceful. God’s enemy, however, is not asleep… The Heart of Jesus is also awake and watching! There lies my hope.

Since the devil is not only a liar but also a murderer,3 he incessantly seeks our life and vents his anger by causing accidents and injury to our bodies. He breaks many a man’s neck and drives others to insanity; some he drowns, and many he hounds to suicide or other dreadful catastrophes.
116 Therefore there is nothing for us to do on earth but to pray constantly against this arch-enemy. For if God did not support us, we would not be safe from him for a single hour.

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men


It has, in the last few years, become my favorite Christmas song, replacing “What Child is This.”  “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is based on a poem by Longfellow, whose story seems like a modern Job.  

In the verse above, we see the paradox of peace. As we see it in the prophet Jeremiah’s description of his time, when those who taught and led Israel would tell them there is true peace, and ignore the gaping wounds and despair their people were suffering because there was no peace. Their proclamation of peace simply was a band-aid, not put in place to bring healing, but simply to hide what was underneath.

It is in recognizing the despair that we can know peace, it is dealing with the mortal wound, that we can see the healing fo God which leaves us in true peace. This is the paradox that peace is.

I have seen this too many times, even as recent as last night, when in the midst of tears, of heartbreak and grief, a sense of peace that leaves us in awe floods a sanctuary.  Even as the tears flow, there is something, you hear it in the voices singing His praises.  It is hard to address the brokenness – but it is so prevalent in our lives, we can’t just cover it up and ignore it.

I think the illusion of peace provides the scenario that St Josemaria mentions, where under the illusion, the facade of peace, Satan and his minions are not asleep, but hard at work.  (And yes, Satan is real, not just a mythical explanation for evil.)  He is the one who would have us project peace when there is not.  He would have us dismiss the havoc, the anger, and hatred, the misery, and grief, allowing people to dwell in despair, blinded to the idea of hope.

That is how Satan can do what Luther describes him doing. Satan could not keep Christ in the grave, and so his desire now is not just the glorification of evil, that it simply a means to his end.  His end game now is simple, to keep Christ from living in our hearts, in our lives, and through us redeeming the rest of the world.  He would stop us from being drawn to Jesus, to the mercy and love, and the peace that comes when we depend on Jesus for all of our life. 

You see, that is the greatest paradox of peace.  It is known, not in the absence of conflict and pain, but it is found there, in the violence and anguish of the cross.  It is not found in ignoring the mortal wound, but found in the wounds of Christ crucified,  It is not found in covering the brokenness with a holiday facade, but in the body broken, and the blood shared. 

For there at the cross where Jesus was broken there is found peace, for there, untied to Him, we find the glorious peace that comes from knowing the immeasurable love of God for us.  

This is what we need to experience, a love so amazing, so overwhelming, that doesn’t hide the brokenness, but bring to its healing, and comfort.  That notes the mortal wound and pain and brings healing through the resurrection.  

This is our hope, especially in these days…

So be drawn to God, allow Him to comfort you in your despair, Then, you will dwell in the glorious peace of God, which is beyond all understanding, but which Christ guards you, your heart and soul and mind.  AMEN!




The Forge (Kindle Locations 1252-1255). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.  

Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.

Are We Afraid to Pray?

photoDevotional 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.

A Different Life, one of the Sabbath

nativityDevotional Thought for our Days:
12  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)

102 Peace, and the joy which comes with it, cannot be given by the world. Men are forever “making peace” and forever getting entangled in wars. This is because they have forgotten the advice to struggle inside themselves and to go to God for help. Then He will conquer, and we will obtain peace for ourselves and for—our own homes, for society and for the world. If we do things in this way, you and I will have joy, because it is the possession of those who conquer.And with the grace of God—who never loses battles—we will be able to count ourselves conquerors as long as we are humble.

I am looking out the window of a timeshare, at a schooner being driven by the wind.  From a distance, it looks peaceful, calm, the stuff that makes a beautiful portrait or painting.

I am here, on a two day “sabbatical” of sorts, to plan for our Advent services, to find quiet, to get away and rest.  A good friend lent me some of his timeshare points to do this, for which I am grateful. And so time away, to pray, to think, to meditate on the incarnation, to have, in a real way, a Sabbath rest. 

But like the schooner in the distance, what may appear to be a peaceful time isn’t.  The master watches the sales, the quartermaster/pilot is considering the terrain, listening for directions, the sailors working hard to ensure all goes well.  And I am tempted to do the same. To think through all the problems and challenges I am escaping from for a brief moment.  To think of the chores and the work that will await my return.  It is too tempting for my mind to return there, while my body is here. 

Dear St. Josemaria is correct, we try to “make peace” but only cause more riots, more violence, more sin. Rather than go to God, who has supplied our peace, we try to create it on our own.  We try to even manipulate the silence when we encounter it.

Scripture calls us to something different, a life that is peaceful because God has conquered us internally first,  To know and rejoice that He rules over our hearts, that He has come there, even in the dark recesses where our lives truly aren’t peace-filled, but hectic.  Those places that we struggle to control, or having crashed our ships on the rocks, struggle to keep afloat.

There is something different that happens when we can relax in His presence.  We can allow Him to be the master of our life. We can take a moment to enjoy the Spirit breathing life into us, providing the power and guidance.  We can trust God to do all that is necessary, as He moves us from one place to another. as he reconciles our life to His.

It is then we find peace, even in the midst of storms and waves that would threaten us. For it is not a human peace we have made, it is His peace, a peace which will pass all understanding, but in which we shall live, Amen!


Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 568-575). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Our Hope: The Transformation found in Stability

DSCN0014Devotional Thought for our days:

God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.  NCV Phil. 1:6

We often use the word stable to refer to a person who is constant and consistent. We say, “You can count on her.” Or, in Christian terms, we may think of the writer of Hebrews, who admonishes new Christians to endure to the end (Heb. 4:11).
The monastic concept of stability translated into our spiritual life means “stay in your baptism” and “continue to live out of the death and resurrection of Jesus by continually dying to sin and rising to the new life of the Spirit staying in God’s divine embrace.” Obviously such a vow should not be taken lightly.

2   God is my Father! If you meditate on it, you will never let go of this consoling consideration. Jesus is my intimate Friend (another rediscovery) who loves me with all the divine madness of his Heart. The Holy Spirit is my Consoler, who guides my every step along the road. Consider this often: you are God’s… and God is yours.


It is an odd word for me.  You see, I have spent most of my adult life changing things.  Changing jobs, locations, residences ( again next week!) I am not sure I have known stability, or for that matter, provided it for my family.

I have to admit, I love change, and love being involved causing change.  Hopefully, the change is on the order of transformation, and not just the chaotic kind of change that causes stress.  Well, let me be honest, I can find that kind of change exhilarating and even entertaining. 

I love change, I am almost an addict of it.  Routine is boring, and I don’t find much alive in getting into a rut.

So this morning, I am writing on… stability? As a positive thing? Really?

There is an area I desperately need stability in, and if that is stable, if that is anchored, all other change simply becomes… negligible.  There is a stability that must invade my life, must always be depended upon.

Webber talks about it as staying in your baptism, what the monasteries and convents were actually trying to provide.  Their strength was not found in their own personal stability, or in the stability that living in a disciplined community caused.   Their stability was provided by the constant reference to the presence of the Lord.  

That is where the stability comes from, the work and promises God did in our baptism, and continues to do until the work is finished with Christ’s return. It’s this knowledge of Christ’s work, the Holy Spirit’s work, that happens in our presence, which reveals we are in the presence of the God the Father.  He is ours, St. Josemaria pleads with us to remember!  We are His!  And that creates a stability that goes beyond our problems, our challenges, our brokenness, our sin. 

It is the divine embrace, God taking us into His arms, our being fused to Christ and His cross.  Nothing is more intimate, more transforming and yet more stable than this.

Know this, hear it over and over;

The Lord is with you!  

Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 237-242). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.


Crafting Serenity: A Sermon for the Feast of Christ the King!

church at communion 2

Crafting Serenity

Col. 1:13-20

† Jesus, Son & Savior †

May the Grace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, the grace seen in action as He brings us from darkness to life, may you know so clearly that grace, that you dwell in His peace!

Made Peace – Crafted Serenity:

In the last verse read from Colossians this morning, we hear something that Jesus has done.  It is accomplished, done, competed, and yet we don’t’ always see it.

It is a great description of what reconciliation really is, what the cross accomplishes,

Hear the words again,

He made peace with everything on heaven and earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

He made peace…made peace.

It actually can read more powerfully than that…

He crafted serenity…

 Crafted Serenity….

I hear those words, and for a moment I am taken back to Lake Ossipee – to a place where you can barely see the homes on the other side of the lake, when the colors of the fall include just about every color imaginable, and the lake’s waters are so still there are no ripples… just calm serenity, with a brief breeze or a snowflake fluttering down….

A bit different than life lived on the 91, 5 or 605 freeway.

We need to note that God isn’t saying He will craft serenity later, that this peace will be made at some future point.  It’s not happening in some undefined period labeled “soon”.

It is a tense that originate in the past – and keeps going – that crafting serenity, that making peace hasn’t stopped for a moment..

But that raises the question….

Why doesn’t our spiritual life seem more like that serene day standing at the edge of a beautiful calm lake, and why does it too often seem like I am standing in the middle of that freeway at 5 p.m.?

Who is this?  Who are We not?

That peace is the creation of God, created as Christ’s blood was shed on the cross.  The Christ we worship and praise, the Christ who is the visible image of our invisible Father. He’s been there forever, in Him everything – including us is created.

He created it all – everything in heaven and on earth!  Everything we see and can’t see, and He is supreme over all creation holds it all together.

And that is where we struggle, and often why we don’t know peace.

That He is Creator, we don’t have a problem with, it is that we want to be supreme, we want to be in charge, we want to make it all work out.  That is the root of all sin, the idea that we think for a moment, or we are tempted to think that we know what is best for us.

And so we go off on our own, we walk away and do what we want, what we desire. Even today we struggle with this idea that Jesus is not only our Savior but our benevolent, loving Lord.

Rather than learning what He desires, rather than seeking Jesus first. we choose what we want, what excites us, what we think might quench our cravings, or what we think might lead us to comfort or peace, or rest.

That’s why Paul goes back over – it through Jesus God created this all. From the beginning, He was in charge, not us.  For if we look to our own efforts to find the rest we desire, all we will do is find the consequences of our sin, of our rebellion, our throwing off God’s desires.

We have to set our desires aside and hear Paul’s confession – Christ is the head of it all, everything that was created was created for him, and for Him,

Which means all things, everything was meant to be defined by it’s relationship to Christ.

For He is God, in everything. Over life and death, over the new resurrected life that we have been given, as Christ drew us back to Himself.  For that is what reconciliation is, retuning that which was changed beck to its original – apokatalsso- to bring back, to restore, to make right.  To take us out of the darkness we entered and bring us into the light of His glory!

And that is what Christ did and is doing – making everything in heaven and earth the way it should be….you see that, even as He hands on the cross and reconciles the thief to Himself.

The work that was planned before creation, that was revealed at the cross!

That’s why we are in awe

That is why we are here, to see this work of God revealed.  As He calls us to Himself, as He reconciles us to Him, recreating us in His image, recreating in us His righteousness, guiding us.

It is why we listen to people read the bible, why we confess what we believe, reminding ourselves of His return, it is why we listen to a sermon, that forces us to consider our struggles, and know He is the answer to them.

It is why we know we can pour out our burdens here in prayer, and then come here to be given the Body and blood to eat and drink, to know that He has crafted for us a serenity, that He has fashioned this place where everything is set aside and we see what heaven will be like, where He gives us this peace, a peace that passes all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Jesus.  AMEN!

Prayer: The Required Grace…?

Devotional Thought of the Day:
11  Just as [under] shorts fit tightly around the waist, so I intended all the people of Israel and Judah to hold tightly to me. I did this so that they would be my people and would bring praise and honor to my name;  but they would not obey me.” Jeremiah 13:11 (TEV)

To pray, as the Second Commandment teaches, is to call upon God in every need. This God requires of us; he has not left it to our choice. It is our duty and obligation to pray if we want to be Christians, just as it is our duty and obligation to obey our fathers and mothers and the civil authorities. By invocation and prayer the name of God is glorified and used to good purpose. This you should note above all so that you may silence and repel any thoughts that would prevent or deter us from praying.  (1) 

For those familiar with Luther, and the Lutheran understanding of Law and Gospel, the words in blue may sound strange and confusing.  This sounds like a harsh use of the law, something that would lead to condemnation, something that is so demanding that all it can lead to is guilt and shame.

For many do not pray as they should! It is overlooked, dismissed as activities that are based in pietism. And if these words were not in Luther’s Large catechism  they would be dismissed.  Instead, I think they are simply ignored.

There is a part of us, the part that doubts God is listening, that doubt God cares, that finds prayer, whether prayers  laying burdens down or hearing from God as we listening in prayer, as we meditate on His word, as burdensome and boring.  We see them as something that saints might do, but by no means required beyond the prayers that are read at church.

Luther realized the necessity (so did Melanchthon – see his comments in Article XIII of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession! ) of prayer.  But that necessity isn’t borne just of pleasing God.  God didn’t commission us to use His name just so He would be glorified.  The glory comes when we respond to His hearing, to His answering the prayer.  Praise issues from our lips when we realize the comfort and peace the world cannot give, the comfort and peace that is possible only as we realize the merciful serenity that can be experienced in the presence of almighty God.

It is the answer to the cry of our heart that brings us to worship.  This is why prayer is a requirement – because we need this means of grace, we desperately need what it delivers.

It is serendipitous (always wanted to use that word) that on the day I encounter Luther’s words, I encounter the words of the prophet Jeremiah.   For indeed God wants us to know how close to us He is, how close to Him we are!  This is the life of prayer – to cling to God like we are his underwear, as bizarre as that metaphor sounds!  (and oh the comments that could be made…)

We need to be that close, we have to, in order to survive mentally, spiritually, even physically.  For our life begins to spiral out of control as we separate ourselves from our Lord who is our life. We  replace knowing God with knowing about Him, then we replace that knowledge with our own speculation and desires, as we make an idol in our image.

Cling to God, stalk Him, be persistent, wrestle with Him.

For He is our God, our Father.

And a great place to begin is with this little prayer of St Josemaria…..

383      Dear Jesus, I do want to correspond to your Love, but I am so feeble. With your grace, I will know how to!  (2)



(1)  Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 421). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

(2)  Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1501-1503). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Because We Were Raised From the Dead with Jesus, We Dwell in Peace

Alleluia! He is Risen! And ThereforeWill new camera 12 2008 167

We Have Risen and Live Joyfully in His Peace!

John 20:19-31

In Jesus Name

May the God’s desire to make us His own, proven to us through the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, be revealed more and more and therefore may we live in His peace!

The 371 picture….

One day driving up the mountain to Anza, I took what has become the best photo I have ever taken.  It is there on your prayer insert/sermon notes.  There has been nothing done to the picture, there was a fierce and I mean fierce mountain storm that was coming over Thomas Mountain and Mount San Jacinto.

Yet this tree stood as a beacon, the sun breaking through the clouds so gloriously lighting up the tree as if the tree itself was glowing. It stood, unaffected by the storm, unaffected by the clouds.

Completely at peace….

I have so longed to be like that tree – able to withstand the threat of any storm in life. To be able to dwell in God’s glory, to be able to reflect it like that tree, even in the face of such overwhelming storms.  Yet that is not to be….

As I looked at the picture yesterday, it reminded me of the upper room, the storms that threatened the disciples, that raised their anxiety levels to their maximum.  Enough that doors were shut, people weren’t allowed in, as they mourned, as they grieved, as they struggled.

In the midst of their storm… Jesus was revealed in their presence.  Jesus the crucified one, Jesus the Passover sacrifice, Jesus who had been born of Mary, who had taught, who had healed.

Jesus, who was no longer dead, whose glorious resurrection was revealed by His presence! The relationship they had was not over, it had become even more glorious, as they realized, Praise God, He is Risen!  (He is risen Indeed, Alleluia1)

And therefore…. (we have risen Indeed! )

Like the tree in the picture calls our attention, so too He calls our attention, our presence for in His presence we know His peace.

How often must we hear these words?

Jesus appears in the presence, like the tree appears along the side of the road, and the words resound, “Peace be with you!”  Even as their hearts were so flooded with joy that the anxiety was drowned, the words would resound again – “Peace be with you!”

We need to understand that blessing, and its equivalents, “fear not”, and “the Lord is with you!”  We need to hear them, to understand them.  We need to taste them, digest them, to bring them into the very core of who we are.

The problem is that these words can become the church equivalent of “How are you doing?” with the quick response of “And also with you” or “with your spirit”.  We too often reduce a powerful blessing to a greeting and polite response.

Why is that a problem?

We need peace.  Satan would rob us of it constantly. He does it through encouraging our sin, and the shame and guilt it will cause.  He does it through the sins others commit against us, as we allow the resentment to build, as we try to justify our sinful responses.  Satan would use grief and despair as well, even as he did with Thomas.

It can be so easy to take Thomas’ position, to cry out Lord, unless I see you, unless I know you are there, I won’t give up my doubt, or my anxiety, or my pain.  I won’t let you deal with it.

And then, when someone tells us, as we shall moments from now, “God’s peace is with you,” we quickly answer back – even mumble back a suitable response.

My friends, we can’t do that anymore.  We need to hear those words, we need to know as we approach this altar that God will take those anxieties, those pains, the guilt, shame and resentment away from us.

An example of Christ’s ministry

That is exactly how Jesus dealt with Thomas….

“Peace be with you!” He exclaims to the room again, not just for Thomas, but for all of the brothers.

Thomas, you needed these hands?  I am here, in the flesh.  My side? I will offer it to you, the side from which my blood poured. Now, can you live in peace?

I think we read this passage sometimes, without seeing Jesus’ love for Thomas, We want to hear Jesus’s words without compassion, simply going, okay Thomas, here you go.  Now get back to work.

But Jesus knows him, knows his brokenness, knows how much Thomas wants to believe.  He made Thomas, he walked with him for years.

This is the same God who inspired Solomon at the dedication of the temple, to pray,

32  And don’t forget the foreigner who is not a member of your people Israel but has come from a far country because of your reputation—people are going to be attracted here by your great reputation, your wonderworking power—and who come to pray to this Temple. 33 Listen from your home in heaven and honor the prayers of the foreigner, So that people all over the world will know who you are and what you’re like, And live in reverent obedience before you, just as your own people Israel do, So they’ll know that you personally make this Temple that I’ve built what it is.  2 Chronicles 6:32-33 (MSG)

That’s the God who answered Thomas, the Lord who would listen to prayers of people who aren’t even His… as far as they know.  Who would gather them, and encourage them to pray to Him.

Thomas, being ministered to by a Jesus who was real, found the peace he needed to believe.  To declare that Jesus was his master, the One who was in charge of His life! And His benevolent, merciful loving God….

In other words, He knew peace.

What can you do, knowing that peace?

But Jesus didn’t leave the apostles just in that place of peace.  He wanted them to take that peace out of the upper room, even as he wants us to take it outside the walls of this church, and off this property.  Even as the Father in heaven sent Jesus to bring us that peace, we now have to take that peace to the world.

Impossible?  Not if we realize that God is with us. That the Holy Spirit, breathed out on the 10 in the upper room was given to us at our baptism.

How?  In the mercy displayed as we forgive sins, even as we know our sin are forgiven. That peace is found there.  Nothing new about this – for while God answered prayers of those foreigners, Solomon also noted the prayers of the people of God.

18  Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I’ve built. 19  Even so, I’m bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O GOD, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I’m setting before you right now. 20  Keep your eyes open to this Temple day and night, this place you promised to dignify with your Name. And listen to the prayers that I pray in this place. 21  And listen to your people Israel when they pray at this place. Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive. 2 Chronicles 6:18-21 (MSG)

Sound familiar?

That is what Jesus authorized the apostles to preach – the forgiveness of sins, the freedom given in our baptism.  Whatever you forgive here… is forgiven….

These are the words heard in a few moments, the blood of the New Testament, shed for the forgiveness of sin.  And as you take and eat, and take and drink, what is the blessing the end of communion?  Until we are before His throne in glory, know you dwell in His peace…..

Be at peace, all sin, every sin committed against you is forgiven. Go and share that peace, the peace we know because sin was dealt with at the cross, and while it cannot rise, we know this.

Alleluia!  He is Risen!  (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

and therefore?

(We are risen indeed! Alleluia!)


How life is Built, or How a Temple is… the oft overlooked secret

devotional thought of the day:The Pantheon, a place once dedicated to worship of idols but reborn to host the worship of God.  May our lives tell a similar story as we realize what God does to us in baptism!

7  The stone blocks for the building of The Temple were all dressed at the quarry so that the building site itself was reverently quiet—no noise from hammers and chisels and other iron tools. 1

2  “About this Temple you are building—what’s important is that you live the way I’ve set out for you and do what I tell you, following my instructions carefully and obediently. Then I’ll complete in you the promise I made to David your father. 13  I’ll personally take up my residence among the Israelites —I won’t desert my people Israel.” 14  Solomon built and completed The Temple. 1 Kings 6:7, 12-14 (MSG)

74         You are not happy because you make everything revolve around yourself as if you were always the centre: you have a stomach-ache, or you are tired, or they have said this or that… Have you ever tried thinking about Him, and through Him, about others?  (1)

It is ithe plan of the Masterbuilder that all of the business of making rough rock into perfectly fitting, polished stone be accomplished in the stone quarry.  There, beyond this place, beyond that door, is only the assembling of what has been done here. (2)

I have read of Solomon’s building of the temple many times, the dedication of that temple is one of m favorite portions of all of scripture. The gathering of God results in God’s presence being so manifest, that smoke fills the temple, and no priest can offer any sacrifice.  The people of God pray, and are forgiven.  Others come and pray, and God makes Himself real to them.  God and people.

Yet in the midst of the work, verse 7 gets overlooked, it gets lost in the details, in the glory, in the imagery. I never even bothered to ask why the work was done in the quarry before.  

Thinking on it now, as the son of a man who build tons of stone walls (literally) it amazes me.  To so carve the rock as to be sure of its fitting, to so care for the work as it is transported to the temple mount, to then be fitted into place, perfectly.  It is mindblowing to think of this with lasers and high power saws and polishers, but this work was done with chisels, and hammers, carved lovingly by hand. And in the temple, even as it is being build, reverent silence…It is built in peace, the joining mortar laid, the stones carefully put in place. Peace, quiet, solemnity.

No wonder the building of the temple of God in its fullness happens outside the walls, outside even the city, the noise of the hammers pounding not heard within its walls.  The only noise to be heard there, the tear of a thick curtain….as the Holy of Holies is revealed without its glory.  Without the ark, for that which fulfils the covenant, that glory is hanging, nailed to a tree.  The Body given, the Blood poured out, the sins forgiven, forever.  And peace reigns as the shadows come, and darkness falls…….

To often we don’t wait to get to the silence, to see the glory of God – to know His peace.  We are too busy with our issues, with our ailments, with that which pounds and shapes us, Fr. Josemaia is right, we focus on the now, and we don’t see the temple being build, we don’t see God put each one of us in place.

We don’t see the plan, the beauty, the glory coming together because we choose to live back in the quarry, rather than to see where God has put us in His living temple. To trust Him at His word, at His promise. To realize that we aren’t in the quarry, really, Hear how Paul says it…

1 Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. 2  Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on the earth, 3  because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. 4  But when Christ is revealed—and he is your life—you, too, will be revealed with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NJB)

Though we may think we are not finished yet, those who believe have in many ways left the quarry, and are sitting here, in the temple, just waiting for Christ to put us in place.  That is where our life is, and we are encourage to see it that way.  Our life, shaped and designed and lived out in Christ. We’ve taken some pounding – He has taken more for us. We are in His presence, in a place where the pounding has already been done. We have been delivered and saved… and my prayer for you, is that you realize this more and more, and live in the peace and serenity that is found in Christ.  For be assured,

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)

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 531-534). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)  Northumbrian Community, Celtic Daily Prayer  (devotions from Finian readings for April 5th

What Kind of Peace Are You Looking for?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 15  But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, 16  but do it with gentleness and respect. Keep your conscience clear, so that when you are insulted, those who speak evil of your good conduct as followers of Christ will become ashamed of what they say1 Peter 3:15-16 (TEV)

“No, what I meant was to wish you a good evening,” Arthur would say, or rather, used to say. He soon learned to avoid these conversations. “I mean that I hope you have a good evening,” he would add. More puzzlement. “Wish?” the Bartledanian would say at last, in polite bafflement. “Er, yes,” Arthur would then have said. “I’m just expressing the hope that …” “Hope?” “Yes.” “What is hope?” Good question, thought Arthur to himself, and retreated back to his room to think about things. On the one hand he could only recognize and respect what he learned about the Bartledanian view of the Universe, which was that the Universe was what the Universe was, take it or leave it. On the other hand he could not help but feel that not to desire anything, not ever to wish or to hope, was just not natural.  (1)

One of the reason I love Douglas Adam’s five book trilogy (besides the obvious – it is a five book trilogy) is that it makes us question our thoughts and desires, and the framework in which we live and love.  A great example is the passage above in blue, which I was reading this morning at breakfast.

There are times where I wonder why things cant be simple – can’t be easy and smooth sailing through life without a concern,  My idea of peace – just walking down shore road at Lake Ossipee with my wife and son, pushing a stroller with the new baby.  Rather than me sitting here, writing a blog, thousands of miles away from them, while the baby is at risk. Can’t anything ever be easy, simple – without a desperate desire for things to be better?  Is that my expectation of heaven?  A placebo of existence?

As I sit here – learning things from God, with the help of Douglas Adams and others that I am reading… I wonder.

The people Arthur Dent encountered had it made – life was a breeze – they had no desire, no hope,, everything was peaceful and idyllic on their little planer.  Dent was someone who had saved the universe, sort of – been through all sorts of hell and trial.  So this planet he idealized and searched for, this life of peace and contentment?  Living in a situation without hope, without desire, without,Dent would discover, life. His judgement, one philsophers and poets could state, boiled down to this.

It sucked.

The more I consider God’s peace, the more I realize it is a peace known throughout every aspect of life, the good, the bad, the painful.  It is, as Jesus tells us, a peace the world cannot give – even if we were to have a lifetime vacation in the Bahamas (or preferably Osippee, NH)  The reason we treasure it isn’t because of the lacks, but in view of them, even as we walk with Jesus.  This isn’t some twisted praise of pain, suffering or lack.  It is instead of the realization that those situations can help build a hunger.

The question is hunger for what? Change? The kind of peace that seems desiable but sucks?  Or the presence of God?

One of the other books I’ve been reading (was dared to read actually) I found these words in,

“But the most serious problem with the spirit of sadness is that it bears within itself the sin against hope. Bernanos says it well in his Diary of a Country Priest: “The sin against hope … is the most mortal of all, and yet it is the one most welcomed and honored. Much time is needed for us to recognize it, so sweet is the sadness that announces and precedes it! It is the most precious of the devil’s elixirs, his ambrosia.” IN RESPONSE TO THIS, Paul VI states: “Joy which is properly spiritual, the joy which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 14: 17; Gal 5: 22-23), consists in the human spirit’s finding repose and a deep satisfaction in the possession of the Triune God, known by faith and loved with the charity that comes from God. “Such a joy henceforth characterizes all the Christian virtues.”

A complext thought there, but one that resonates with me.  It is when we lose hope, when we lose the expectation of God’s presence, that trust (faith) is deteriorated, when we stop looking to God, when we stop expecting Him to take our burdens, when we stop finding ourselves as His posession, and that we poessess their presence.

Exclude hope, and the need for it and Life changes – the desire for peace becomes a search for nirvana, a search for nothingness.  Yet our hope – our expectation, our desire to be in the presence of God is what sustains us. It is what gives us life in Him, it is what builds our faith.  Serenity, deep peace we can avail ourselves at in any time, any situation,   Deep peace that comes – not from absence but presence.  A peace that is ours, because we are in Christ.

It is when we cry “Lord have mercy…” and wait…knowing the answered will be revealed, even as it has been revealed in Christ.

(1)  Adams, Douglas (2010-09-29). The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (p. 709). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

(2) Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (p. 16). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

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