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Ministry in the Shadows…

St Aiden on Holy Island

Devotional Thought for our Days

6  Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; he rescued them from their distress. 7  He led them by the right path to go to a city where they could live. Psalm 107:6-7 (CSBBible)
13  Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; he saved them from their distress. 14  He brought them out of darkness and gloom and broke their chains apart. Psalm 107:13-14 (CSBBible)
19  Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; he saved them from their distress. 20  He sent his word and healed them; he rescued them from their traps. Psalm 107:19-20 (CSBBible)

Aidan’s statue, Holy Island
Aidan stands. His head is close to the heart of the cross.
His eyes, far-seeing, scan the horizon, the joyous venturing of little boats.
A torch burns clearly in his grasp, a faithful challenge in his generation, meeting, listening, heart-connecting.

In his shadow is a place I covet, a challenge in a present time and confluence of cultures.
Aidan, let me lie down in your shadow. While I live may I be the shadow of a Rock in a weary land, a shelter from the heat.

When our Bohemian interrupted to say that he still had doubts about baptism, he [Martin Luther] replied gently,“When you first came here you were not at the stage which you have now attained. Continue to be patient. Give our Lord God time. Let the trees bloom before they bring forth fruit. Who was I before? I used to worship saints who hadn’t even been born! The time hasn’t come yet for me to speak otherwise [about baptism], I should now say, but wait and you’ll see what the Word of God is and can be.”

To embrace the cross, courage and endurance are needed. There are some “strong” Christians who undertake apostolic work but falter when faced with difficulty. They don’t know about patience.

What requires patience also requires the ability to endure exhaustion. Whether a marathon, or a long journey in a car, or the ministry, one must be able to endure the shadows. One must endure the times where you aren’t sure you can make it another mile, another hour, another day. Life is filled with such shadows, as we work through a world that has no direction and no ability to see where we are going, and yet we strive to define progress in so many areas.

Most of the people we minister to live there, in those shadows of exhaustion. Not quite in spiritual darkness, but neither are our lives always filled with the glorious light of Christ. We are not patient; we want our life on earth to be heavenly. When we cannot see that perfection, the shadows form, and tired and weary, we are anxious, not knowing when the next storm will hit or this one will subside.

We need to embrace the cross, not just with strength but patiently. We need to, as Luther advises, be patient and give the Lord time. (this not just with those we minister to, but with ourselves!)  We need to see what the Word of God is, and what it can be.

That is why I find so much hope in my reading from Psalms this morning. There we see people cry out to the Lord, those lost in their wandering, those imprisoned by gloom and shame, and those whose foolishness caused their own suffering. The eventual response was to cry out to God to have mercy, and His response was to rescue them. In those times in the shadow, it is good to find the Aidans of our time. Those whose lives point us to Jesus. Those who keep close to the cross and draw us there. They dwell in the shadows as well (why else would they need torches?), and as they are in the presence of Christ, their shadow is a place of rest, a place of peace. As Jesus delivers us, slowly, we too become like Aidan, or Paul or Peter, and we dwell in Christ! Others will come, and we will learn to deal as patiently with them as God deals with us. Aidn’s image is so powerful, in the shadow of the cross, he provides light to others!

This is life in the shadows; this is ministry in the shadows… be patient. Find those who help you keep your heart and head near the cross, and then look for those who need to be drawn into His presence, and provide them the rest, the sanctuary they need, in the shadows.

Andy Raine – https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/meditations/meditation-day-16/ (text reformatted to fit the page)

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 92.

Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 132.

We Could Not…So He Did! Part 2 – Guard this Treasure

a lenten series from concordia

We could not…so He Did!
Guard this Treasure!

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace and peace of God our Father help you to recognize the treasure given to you in your relationship with Jesus Christ!

The Dark Night of the Soul

As we walk with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we have the opportunity to witness the darkest night that has ever occurred spiritually. The night when evil was more powerfully present than ever when that evil created despair so powerfully it assaulted Jesus. It created a dark night, the darkest night, even for Jesus.

He would cry out to His Father, our Creator, in the depth of His despair, he would be so physically overwhelmed by anxiety and the darkness that He would sweat blood. The emotional and spiritual trauma was greater than anything ever experienced by mankind.

The Darkest Night of the Soul…

And perhaps a night of unshakable beauty…a night to not only remember… but to be in awe of the beauty of the darkness.

You see, we need to look at Jesus, the one Isaiah identified as the man of sorrows, and be in awe of the beauty. We need to treasure these moments.

Can We Keep the Watch? Can we stay aware of what Jesus went through?

Or will we be like the apostles… and fall asleep on our watch?

Keeping Watch…

It had been an emotional week, with many ups and downs.  Preparing for the feast was an enormous task for this traveling band of homeless missionaries.

The feast itself was a challenge, with two of the brothers fighting, with Peter nearly ready to walk away rather than let Jesus wash his feet. Then the comment by Jesus, about someone ready to betray him… a question that caused them all to question themselves, none of them confident in that moment…

The fiery scene with Judas, the long walk to the garden in the dark… and Jesus so serious, so perplexed.

It was draining.

We need to experience Jesus there; we need to pay careful attention to what He went through that evening. Our point of focus during these weeks of lent is a few hours described in just a few sentences… What will get in the way?

Will it be sleep? Will it be our own weariness? Will it be our own dark nights of the soul?

Will we be able to stay awake, to keep watch, to guard the truth of this night in our hearts, meditating on Jesus, being with Him there…

I am going to be bluntly honest.  You will fail during this time… You will have the same level of t

You will sin…you might experience despair, and you might forget about the hope you have.

You will know the feeling that the 12 apostles had, as Jesus woke them up for the third time. There will be times where you will feel as guilty and ashamed as they did. As they witnessed His arrest, to follow Him at a distance as he was tried and beaten and crucified.

There have been times and will be times where you could not keep watch…where you did not treasure this suffering of Jesus.

We could not… so He Did…

I never want to tell you that it is okay to fall asleep on God, to fail to treasure what God is giving you in Christ Jesus.

But where we can’t keep our focus on Him, when we can’t guard the treasure of what He’s given us because of His passionate embrace of suffering, we find out He did.

He treasured that night, He suffered through it, He didn’t fall asleep.

And while He was disappointed that they could not treasure it, while Jesus is disappointed in our failures, He continues to come to us, to wake us up.

We have to realize the love that drives Him to do this is beyond our ability to understand. He doesn’t just love us if we fall asleep 7 times, or 70 times,

He loves us.

So He kept the watch that night. He treasured the relationship He has with you and me. 

He kept watch over them, treasuring them, and not one of the apostles would die with Jesus because Jesus was faithful.

This is what we need to know in our dark nights, in our moments where anxiety and doubt take their toll when evil seems to have Jesus and obliterated God.

He is still there; Jesus treasures us. Because of that fact, we know a peace that passes all understanding, as He guards our hearts and minds.. in Him.  AMEN!

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