Devotional THought of the Day:
16 Then he went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him, so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. T Acts 16:1-3, HCSB
13 Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. 14 If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” Esther 4:13-14 HCSB
524 “Let’s burst into song!” said a soul in love, after seeing the wonders that our Lord was working through his ministry. And the same advice I give to you: Sing! Let your grateful enthusiasm for your God overflow into joyous song.
I have a confession to give. I find most Disney movie music (and amusement park music) irritating. It doesn’t matter whether it is Mickey screeching something, or an ice princess belting it “let it snow” or “it’s a small world after all”, the music is akin to someone rubbing their fingernails down a chalkboard, and the lyrics are worse!
( I know, this confession will irritate some, just as my not liking chocolate or pumpkin spice does others!)
The other day, an old commercial for Disneyland invaded my facebook ap, It was “whistle while you work” Embedded in my mind, it was more predominant than all the news about the Royal wedding. Don’t those characters know how serious work is? Don’t they know how challenging and overwhelming it can be!
Great examples are seen in my readings this morning.
First, Timothy has to pay a horrendous cost in order to become a missionary and travel with Paul. Having another man cut off part of your anatomy that it private and sensitive? Certainly, I can’t see either one whistling or singing during that precise moment! ( my cynical side thinks the “let it go” soundtrack might be appropriate here!)
Then Esther, to take on her role as queen, has to marry someone she doesn’t love. The perks seem pretty okay, and maybe she would fall in love with the king, but then to risk her life, to protect her culture, her people? How do you whistle or sing during that?
Yet they both were able to set aside their frustrations, their fears, the anxiety, their pain, in order to do that which God had called them to do. It wasn’t easy, but they endured. And they served God and the people He sent them to serve.
Then in my devotions, after encountering these two, and the small catechism on baptism and absolution, I come to these words of St Josemaria. “The church sings because just speaking would not satisfy its desire for prayer!” Yet those words are from a man who suffered and sacrificed a lot for the church. Yet the church sings, even in the midst of suffering. You see that in Newton’s Amazing Grace, and in “It is Well with my Soul” Both are songs of incredible pain being worked through because they know the love of God. That connection, so felt in prayer is somehow magnified as the prayer is sung. As our hearts and soul, every bit of emotion is wrapped up in the words and music, as we praise and pray to the God who is here, who is present.
And then the suffering seems to be lost, as we focus in on God. The great laments in the psalms show this, as do the spirituals from the 18th and 19th centuries. Or even the songs people don’t know are really prayers, Like MisterMister’s Kyrie Eleison. SOmething resonates so deeply in those moments, that we sense the transformation the Holy Spirit is making in our lives.
So my friends who are struggling, sing with me, sing even while we are suffering entering into the presence of God, who will comfort us, and redeem the time. And so I close with these words from the Apostle Paul,
Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. 19 Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. 20 Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20 (MSG)
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1267-1269). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought of the day:
I urge you, then, brothers, remembering the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, dedicated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people. 2 Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and mature. Romans 12:1-2 (NJB)
311 Many things, whether they be material, technical, economic, social, political or cultural… when left to themselves, or left in the hands of those who lack the light of the faith, become formidable obstacles to the supernatural life. They form a sort of closed shop which is hostile to the Church. You, as a Christian and, perhaps, as a research worker, writer, scientist, politician or labourer… have the duty to sanctify those things. Remember that the whole universe— as the Apostle says—is groaning as in the pangs of labour, awaiting the liberation of the children of God. ( Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1478-1483). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.)
It is Monday. I am weary, and I have a long week ahead. Have to admit, there is a desire to become the first Lutheran religious hermit. To just sit in a nice comfortable cave, equipped with WiFi, study scripture and write blogs. Engaging the world is the last thing I want to do. Engaging the world means taking on things that are difficult, it often means confronting sin, or if nor, helping people survive th brokenness that sin brings.
Then I think of one of the most remarkable things I have seen in a long time, a 25 year old nun in Italy performed on a reality show called the Voice. You have to take a moment and watch the video of her first performance.
o what the heck, here is another:
I am probably not the first blogger to mention her, she won the entire competition. But I want you to watch again the videos, this time – pay attention to the four judges. They don’t know what to do with her at first, and then they take her into their hearts. Especially J-Ax, the rapper judge who worked with her as her “coach”. As you watch each of her videos, there is something that is happening, her voice, her smile, her joy becomes contagious, infectious. People listen to her simplicity, they are in awe of her work.
A life, dedicated to God, offered up as a living sacrifice, sanctifies a show, it sets it apart. It makes people wonder about her faith. A place that normally shows the darker, more sinful side of music changes.
Most of us won’t ever have the chance to be on television performing. We may not get to see the entire world spin around, and their jaws drop as they realize, oh my gosh – this is a woman or man of God. That’s okay, we weren’t put in that situation, we have been put where we are. With our families, our neighborhoods, our communities, even our workplaces. We are there for a reason, sent into the vocations we hold as the representatives of God, to mirror His glory, to reveal His love and mercy (for that is what is truly glorious about Him!) We have been sent to be living sacrifices, discerning what God’s will is as we reach out to our world. Sometimes that means we go unexpected places, deal with people we don’t think would listen or hear, like a rapper becoming good friends with a nun…..
It’s a matter of faith, this transformed life we live, trusting in God to send us to places which need to be made holy…..
If a young nun can sanctify a Reality show, have literally millions clapping and singing with her, maybe we can see God sanctify our Mondays?