Devotional thought for your day:
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT)
718 If only they could see the good things I do!… But don’t you realise that you are carrying them around like trinkets in a basket for people to see how fine they are? Furthermore, you must not forget the second part of Jesus’ command: “that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Nearly a year ago, I did the memorial service for an incredible lady.
The bulletin of that service still resides on the little refrigerator in my office, a reminder of our very simple, very special relationship.
Every Tuesday at 9 am, I would travel about 500 yards from my office, enter the house she had a bedroom in, and talk a moment, then pray for her. No more than 15 minutes, more likely ten or so. On occasion, I would bring her the leftover flowers from church on Sunday,
And every time I left, even when she was too tired to talk, I felt lifted up. She ministered to me far more than I ministered to her.
I knew she had a couple of incredible jobs in her life. The executive assistant to a seminary president, the producer of a mega church pastor’s television ministry. She didn’t talk about those things. Rather it was the joy of hearing from this friend or that pastor. It was about reading the sermons of those she knew. It was always about someone else,
Given the honor of officiating at her service, I realized that day how much of an honor it was. Men who served the church for decades and trained thousands of preachers were there. They told me of the things my friend did, and how she ministered to them for decades. How she helped and raised money for seminarians and worked for equity among the staff. How she interacted with world famous preachers ( I still love the story of her moving a bicycle rack to protect a parking spot for Billy Graham – and how he helped her move it back where it belonged when he got there! )
Yet I knew none of this as I visited her, as I prayed for her, as we looked at Roses and carnations and lilies and marveled at the hand of God that created the beauty we observed. I simply knew a lady whose bright eyes ministered to me as I prayed for her, a lady who lived so simply, so beautifully that I looked forward to visiting her each week.
I think she got the passages above and the incredible things she did in life weren’t paraded around, for her reward was to hear Jesus welcome her home. Looking back on a life full of incredible service to God wasn’t her style, it wasn’t what she counted as important. Rather it was finding God’s peace, as a neighborhood pastor stopped by, and she could fill his life with God’s peace, even as she rejoiced in a small time of prayer.
I miss my friend – but thank God for what she taught me about ministry and walking with God, watching Him at work.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2995-2999). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion/Devotional Thought of the Day:
“544 The Communion of the Saints. How shall I explain it to you? You know what blood transfusions can do for the body? Well, that’s what the Communion of the Saints does for the soul.” Escriva, Josemaria. The Way
As a pastor, one of the things I do is to bring the Lord’s Supper to those who cannot make it to church, to those too weak or sick, to those who were once quite active, but now are counted as shut-ins. In doing so, the discussion always includes their asking about how things are going at church, it never fails to astound me, how concerned they are for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Often they talk of their desire to get well, to gain strength, just so they can once again commune in the sanctuary, with their friends, the people they love, with whom they have walked through their lives, even if they only knew the people at church for a small while.
We are on their hearts and minds.. and in bringing communion to them, they are reminded that they are part of the community. It is bittersweet, for they realize they are part of the community that Christ has established.
How I wish we were in the future, and we had transporter units like in Star Trek. Then we could beam them into the sanctuary, and fulfill a desire that they would have. (It would also be cool if upon “reassenbly” their ills and pains and weaknesses could be quarantined and separated from them!
St Escriva’s words hit home a lot today, as I consider one of the people I visit, who I can’t anymore. I know how much visiting him meant to me, how in many ways it was like the transfusion spoke of in this quote. Yet in bringing him communion, he two received a transfusion I am learning. The very life of the church was shared, the life we share in every time we gather and we eat together and drink together. For sharing in the Lord’s Table, kneeling at the Altar together is a community, thing, just as our life as Christ’s body is a community thing.
It is tragic that we don’t comprehend this blessing we have in sharing in the feast of Christ – that we would relegate it to less important than other things we do, that we place limits on its time, both the time we spend preparing for it, and the time we spend celebrating it. That we reduce the precious words to a formula, a incantation, rather than savor them, listen intently, and hear and absorb them. It is tragic that the gathering of God’s people is an afterthought in many lives.
As a pastor, I am partially responsible. If you know not why a priest, or a pastor, could describe the gathering of God’s people together around His sacrament as a spiritual transfusion, we haven’t done our job as those who proclaim the world well enough. If we haven’t taught you to treasure this incredible time, we have, in large part failed. If we don’t keep you in prayer, and help your prepare for this incredible gift, then perhaps we need to reconsider what our job is, to preach the word in its fullness, and to administer the sacrament – that those who are broken can encounter His healing, His mercy His presence.
Keep us, all the pastors and priests – and the deacons and elders and worship leaders who stand alongisde us, ready to serve, to minister to you… in your prayers. That we would feed you so richly that your heart would long for the next gathering the next time His people gather around His word, and His table.
“Lord Have Mercy!” we cry, and as we kneel and take and eat… and drink of the Blood shed that sins would be forgiven, we realize how much He has had the mercy we pray for!