Another Day, Another Struggle, but that is why there is Hope.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 Our LORD, how long must I beg for your help before you listen? How long before you save us from all this violence? 3 Why do you make me watch such terrible injustice? Why do you allow violence, lawlessness, crime, and cruelty to spread everywhere? 4 Laws cannot be enforced; justice is always the loser; criminals crowd out honest people and twist the laws around. 5 Look and be amazed at what’s happening among the nations! Even if you were told, you would never believe what’s taking place now. Habakkuk 1:2-5 (CEV)
We still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the world among people who sorely vex us and give us occasion for impatience, wrath, vengeance, etc.
87 Besides, Satan is at our backs, besieging us on every side and, as we have heard, directing his attacks against all the previous petitions, so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a ceaseless conflict.
88 Here again there is great need to call upon God and pray, “Dear Father, forgive us our debts.” Not that he does not forgive sin even without and before our prayer; and he gave us the Gospel, in which there is nothing but forgiveness, before we prayed or even thought of it. But the point here is for us to recognize and accept this forgiveness.
223 Along the way to personal sanctity we can at times get the impression that we are going backwards instead of forwards, that we are getting worse instead of better. As long as there is interior struggle this pessimistic thought is only an illusion, a deception to be rejected as false. Persevere and don’t worry. If you fight with tenacity you are making progress and are growing in sanctity.
I came across the Luther quote this morning, and it resonated with me.
We stumble and sin far too often. We want to use other people for the reason, but it is still our weakness that allows us to sin. Luther was right, it is not possible always to stand firm in such a ceaseless conflict. Every fall seems highlighted by Satan, emphasized to cause us to grow in despair, and even to doubt God’s presence and work in our lives.
My reaction to the passage from Habakkuk is that I don’t have ot look out into the world to see the brokenness he describes. He could be looking at me, prophetically. Maybe at you as well. I resonate deeply with the question of why do we have ot watch this all? Why do we have to see the sin and brokenness in the world, and then realize it is just a reflection of our own lives?
I missed out on other things in those passages, and it took St Josemaria to see what I was missing.
It is the impression that I am going backward, not necessarily reality. It is a deception of Satan, much as he did when he took Peter’s eyes off of Jesus while he was strolling on the waves. (I just realize the winds and waves weren’t the issue to be scared of – drowning was!) St Josemaria urges us to keep struggling, don’t worry about the progress, for the struggle is proof of it.
The struggle is proof of God at work in us.
God is still doing what He promised Habakkuk – He is at work, and if we look at Him and see it, we should collapse in awe. God is at work, and even the passage from Luther notes that – we need to recognize and accept the forgiveness God already provided. He forgave us already! He took care of it!
I didn’t see that beforehand but reminded of His promise, I remember He is there. Perhaps that too is understandable, for God says, “Even if you were told, you would never believe what is taking place now…” We just have to trust Him that He is at the world, and depend on His view, for He is at work in us.
Mercifully, lovingly, compassionately comforting and healing broken sinners like you and me.
Even before we cry out, “Lord have mercy on me, a poor sinner!” God has, and our healing is beginning and guaranteed to be completed!
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 432.E
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
The Prayer I Am Not Comfortable with… but need to pray!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
41 Then he went off from them about the distance of a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed. 42 “Father,” he said, “if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, however, but your will be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
Luke 22:41-43 (TEV) .
Imploring God in his own words, sending up to his ears the prayer of Christ, is a friendly and familiar manner of praying. When we make our prayer let the Father recognize the words of his own Son. May he who lives inside our heart be also in our voice, and since, when as sinners we ask forgiveness of our failings we have him as an advocate for our sins in the presence of the Father (1 Jn 2:1), let us set forth the words of our advocate.
The New Testament and the lives of the saints are chock-full of the joy in suffering. How can this be explained? Only by love. Only love willingly endures suffering
Thought the words in purple are about the Lord’s prayer, my mind went to Jesus’ other prayer, in the gospel of Luke. A prayer Jesus must have shared with them later, even taught them, because we know the apostles were all asleep when Jesus was praying.
I had already read Kreeft’s words, the ones highlighted in green when I read these. So perhaps that is what set me thinking this way. Or perhaps it is having another 8 major prayers added to my list this week. People who have lost loved ones, people who are worried about friends and relatives with COVID, people who are struggling with work loss, people struggling with family issues, people who…can’t even explain what is troubling them, but they know life just isn’t right.
In the midst of this, we learn to pray as He did. We have to if we are going to survive. We need to admit that we don’t like what is going on, that it is crushing us, even begging God to take it away. Paul did, as he experienced his own “thorn in the flesh”, and yet, we need to realize God can make it work for good – for we love Him, and we are called by His name.
Knowing His love, and depending on Him because we do, we can learn to embrace the pain, the stress, the anxiety. For we know He will fulfill His promises.
More than that perhaps, in the moment
Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 66.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 196.
How You See the World (and Yourself) Needs to Change
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 For this reason, ever since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I remember you in my prayers 17 and ask the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you the Spirit, who will make you wise and reveal God to you, so that you will know him. 18 I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people, 19 and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength 20 which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world. Ephesians 1:15-20 (TEV)
283 A little diversion! You’ve got to have a change! So you open your eyes wide to let in images of things, or you squint because you’re nearsighted! Close them altogether! Have interior life, and you’ll see the wonders of a better world, a new world with undreamed-of color and perspective … and you’ll draw close to God. You’ll feel your weaknesses; and you’ll become more God-like…with a godliness that will make you more of a brother to your fellow men by bringing you closer to your Father.
There is a vision problem in this country, and in the church.
The way people see the world, their communities, their churches and their own lives, well, lets put it honestly, sucks.
This includes me, perhaps mostly me.
That view point can lead to anger, to frustration, to putting hope in people, who are frankly, no better than the people who have let us down in the past. They are sinners, they are broken, they will at some time or another, let you down.
We look for change, but we look for it in the wrong place.
We might even look at the need to change in ourselves, and try to force it, trying to make ourselves into an image that is not necessarily what or whom we are supposed to be.
And so, maybe in desperation, we hear the voice of saints who knew enough self doubt. One whose words are simply his own reflections on the matter, and one whose words are divinely inspired.
We have to be careful to hear exactly what St Josemaria is saying, and not hear what we think we hear. When He talks of an interior life, He is talking about our walk with God. He is not talking about a brutal self examination where we focus on our own brokenness, our own sin, our own perception of who we are, god or bad.
He’s talking about seeing you as God knows you, (see Colossians 3:1) the real you. Theone loved enough that Christ died for them, and had planned to from before the foundation of the earth. He’s talking about the very thing St Paul writes to the church in Ephesus about – to know the glorious hope, the amazing promises that comes as God is revealed to you, and you realize who you are in relation to God.
It is then, knowing we are beloved, that the world changes in our sight. From being hopelessly broken to seeing the redemption and reconciliation going on, such that we become so confident of it, we patiently wait for the return of Jesus. We begin to see the beauty God created, both in nature and in others, and we see the potential of what it will be like, when it is renewed.
When we see the power of God, that raised Christ Jesus from the dead, at work in us, then everything changes, and our prayer, “Lord, have mercy!” goes from a begging plea of desperation to a cry of confidence…assured of His presence, His promises, His love.
And it can all start, by closing our eyes, picturing Jesus on the cross, and with a growing confidence praying, “our Father, who art in heaven…”
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 749-753). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
I Will Live! (and the Rest of the Story…)
Devotional Thought of the Day:
17 I will not die; instead, I will live and proclaim what the LORD has done. 18 He has punished me severely, but he has not let me die.
Psalm 118:17-18 (TEV)
It is in the wounds of Jesus where we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of His heart.
To better evangelize the adorer must first be evangelized. He must let the merciful love of Christ heal him, liberate him, enlighten him, raise him. To the question ‘What does Jesus do in the Blessed Sacrament? ‘the Cure of Ars replied, ‘He waits for us’. There, Jesus veils His majesty so that we might dare to go speak with Him, as one friend to another. He tempers the ardour of His Heart for us to experience its sweet tenderness. On the Cross, Jesus turns hate into love and death into life. Similarly, in the Eucharist, Jesus performs the same wonder in us: He changes evil into good, darkness into light, fear into confidence. Pauline-Marie Jaricot, an untiring Apostle of charity, living in Lyon in the nineteenth century, sums up this personal transformation that takes place in the heart of adorers who allow the Spirit to change their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh:
I have heard verse 17 proclaimed with great power many times. It is a wonderful verse, and it should be proclaimed.
I think it is even more powerfully proclaimed when it is proclaimed from a point of recovery, a time when one is healing, but is so weak it is barely heard. It is the most powerful when said in the context of verse 18, as the realization dawns that I can get through this.
And I can speak of what the Lord has done! Not I can, but I will, I have to, for I didn’t think I would make it.
Several times in my life I have been there physically. After a cardiac arrest that killed me 5 times. Another time when I had two heart valves replaced, and again once when undergoing a procedure I didn’t think I would survive. ( Not a major one comparatively) But I know the feeling of waking up from anesthesia, and realizing, I am alive. It is shocking, for it is unexpected.
Spiritually, this happens when God has to circumcise our hearts, cutting away the sin which clings to our heart. This is easily seen as the punishment the Psalmist describes, as God has to subdue us, as He has to cleanse us of the sins we too often cling to, that we too often run to. As we refuse to see the damage that sin does, and how it leaves us broken, shattered, unable to relate to others, or find any comfort or peace.
But as the Holy Spirit has to “wound” us, we find another set of wounds, the wounds of Jesus. It is in those wounds that we find our how much we are loved, it is there we find security and peace, even as God removes the sin, and our healing begins anew.
That is why communion is so incredible, so needed in this broken world of ours. Go read the words in green again.
No, i meant it, I didn’t want to retype it all!
Go re-read it!
We need to find Jesus waiting for us, ready to begin again our healing. Ready to see us transformed, the power that raised Him from the dead at work in us.
Therefore we live, and will not die, and can tell what God has done….
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), 266.
Florian Racine, “Spiritual Fruits of Adoration in Parishes,” in From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization, ed. Alcuin Reid (London; New York: Burns & Oates, 2012), 202.
The Missing Piece in Missional Thinking: D_____ !
Devotional Thought of the Day:
When John the Baptist heard in prison about the things that Christ was doing, he sent some of his disciples to him. 3 “Tell us,” they asked Jesus, “are you the one John said was going to come, or should we expect someone else?” Matt 11:2-3 TEV
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a place of safety in times of trouble. 10 Those who know you, LORD, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you. Ps. 9:9-10 TEV
When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In ev’ry high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
from the hymn THE SOLID ROCK by Mote and Bradbury (in public domain)
Mission springs from the certainty of faith that coexists with the thousand
questions of a pilgrim. Faith is not a matter of ideology, existential security, but of an irreplaceable encounter with a living person, Jesus of Nazareth.
Modern renditions of The Solid rock often change the verse above ever so slightly, changing “veils” to “hide”, and robbing the poet of the tie in the second occurrence of the veil.
I picture the sailing boat, anchored but with a thick fog, unable to see where its anchor rope even enters the water, unable to see what the anchor has grasped, but sure of its security, the people on the boat find rest, I also picture the rope, tied to the high priest, who moves from the Holy Place into the Holy of Holies, all hope of Israel tied to him, and the offering which will cover our sin.
And in my reading in the gospel today, we see the prophet John, weary and brutalized, sending word to his cousin, for his own strength no longer sustains him. He sends his men to ask for the words which will sustain him, the words which will assure him of the promise.
And so we can take refuge in the promises of God. We see hope revealed in His providing hold on us that will protect us in the storm, calming us amid the brokenness, even amidst the mess our sins have caused in our lives.
The Lord is with you… He is your God….He changes not, and so you know the love and mercy you experienced once is still there, even when you can’t see it.
Pope Francis, a man who has known a storm or two, takes this a step further. He notes that the pilgrim, the one who God has sent on a mission, can know a thousand questions, can be overwhelmed by them, and even struggle with doubt. Been there, done that, have the scars to prove it. ANd those questions are a form of doubt, I don’t know the answers, os how can I cling to what is so…spiritual?
His answer is because faith is not just a list of doctrines or even our identity based on our beliefs. It is more than that, it is a relationship, formed from encountering the living, resurrected, crucified Jesus. It is that relationship that withstands the questions, the foggy times in life, the times we can’t see the God who holds, protects and preserved us. But we can know He is there… and as we focus on His love, which word and sacraments refresh our experience of daily, we are free….
Free to reach out to those likewise broken, likewise struggling with sin, likewise wrestling with a thousand questions of doubt, and share with them, whether ancient believer, newly baptized, or those yet to encounter Him, that He is with you all. Doubt drives us from our own self-sufficiency to realize we need something…not someone more.
And He is here… for all.
Being missional is not about being happy and positive about everything. The missional Christian isn’t one who exudes confidence in himself or depends on her charisma. The missional person is one whom simply knows that God is holding them, while they cling to Him, for in Him there is hope, in Him there is healing, and as we encounter Him, we experience life as the ones He loves.
So the next time you struggle, the next time the fog hides His face, hold on to His promises, hold on to those encounters, as you realize He holds onto you, the one He loves. And grab hold of the next person floating buy in the fog, for that is your mission.
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 366). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Having one of “those” days? You aren’t alone…..
Devotional THought of the Day:
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby moved within her. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and said in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me? 44 For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. 45 How happy you are to believe that the Lord’s message to you will come true!” Luke 1:41-45 (TEV)
2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” 4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6 And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’” Matthew 11:2-6 (NLT)
32 And John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on him. 33 I still did not know that he was the one, but God, who sent me to baptize with water, had said to me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and stay on a man; he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen it,” said John, “and I tell you that he is the Son of God.” 35 The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, 36 when he saw Jesus walking by. “There is the Lamb of God!” he said. John 1:32-36 (TEV)
106 You wrote, and I well understand: “Every day I spend my ‘little time’ in prayer. If it weren’t for that …!”
As I was reading the 3rd reading about John the Baptist this morning, (part of my daily routine) I thought of the other two readings.
John, before he was born, and while Jesus was even younger, recognizes the presence of God. (not to mention what happened to John’s mom must have been cool!) Incredible experience!
Move to the second reading, and now John is in prison, he is having one of “those” kind of days. Miserable, depressed, anxious and afraid, he needs to be encouraged, he needs to remember that what he devoted his life to, actually was worth it.
A bad day to say the least.
A day where even he, a prophet, doubted the very prophecy he was meant to give.
John, who had pointed to Christ, who knew him well, who proclaimed he was Israel’s hope, doubted and struggled with trusting God.
Just like we do!
There is a lot of hope in this realization, that John the Baptist could have one of those days, and apparently more than one. That he could be so caught up by his own situation that he needed to know God was at work, that God’s promises are true.
And God responded to his query, John wouldn’t die without knowing for sure Jesus was the Messiah, that John’s ministry was validated, it was good, it was needed. That Jesus was still there, doing what John knew he would do, even when he didn’t know.
And Jesus is here for you and I, His promise is that we are never alone. ( Read Psalm 139 sometime – David realized God couldn’t be outrun either)
Even when we struggle, even when we doubt, God is there…. and will respond to our cries, our cries of despair, our cries of doubt, even our cries of anger and frustration. He hears you and I and responds. As St. Josemaria notes, if it weren’t for those little times of prayer, where we listen, where we vent, …
This is the lesson of John the Baptist, the lesson that even the greatest stumble and struggle, and are ministered to by God. For He hears us…and loves us. AMEN
Does it help you to know the prophets and apostles struggled and doubted? That they ahd bad days as well?
How do you feel when you realize God was there, working behind the scenes? Can you accept that you won’t always be able to see Him at work?
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 397-399). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Why We Need the People that We Struggle with the Most!
The devotional thought of the day:
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,
” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 1 Corinthians 12:14-21 (NLT)
666 You insist on doing your own thing, and so your work is barren. Obey: be docile. Each cog in a machine must be put in its place. If not, the machine stops, or the parts get damaged. It will surely not produce anything, or if it does, then very little. In the same way, a man or a woman outside his or her proper field of action, will be more of a hindrance than an instrument of apostolate.
A long time ago, as I was working at a major university and preparing to leave for my first pastoral position, the president of the university gave me some advice on leadership in ministry.
He told me that among the people I want on my leadership team would be those who opposed me. That the best ideas and advice would come from them, and often, they would stop me from shooting myself in the foot.
This runs a bit contrary to what most management and consultant types will tell you. They will say you want all the people pushing on the same side of the box, sharing the same vision, people who have all bought into the plans.
And while this can be helpful in management or in ministry, you also need that person who will question you, who will keep you humble, who will be there, faithful to the church, faithful enough to say when you’ve messed up.
Of course, you may find this a challenge, having people around who oppose you is never easy. Loving them and caring for them may be difficult, but they are part of the Body of Christ, they are a necessary cog in the machine, and if you would see it, they are a blessing from God.
We can’t just do our own thing, we can’t always get our own way, often we don’t have the knowledge or the wisdom that together are needed to make things work. If we try to be, getting rid of the people that don’t conform to our system, we are the one who is hindering the apostolate, the mission of the church.
So next time someone gets on your nerves, the next time they question your idea, take a breath, thank God for their presence in your life, and consider what they say.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2450-2454). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Struggling with Life? With relationships? Try This….
Devotional Thought for our days:
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)
817 The heart! From time to time, without your being able to help it, your all too human memory casts a crude, unhappy, “uncouth” shadow on your mind. Go to the tabernacle immediately, at least in spirit, and you will return to light, happiness and Life.
It seems like everyone is getting one everyone’s nerves the days. People are either ticked off at someone or getting ticked off at those who are ticked off at someone, or perhaps hurt that someone they care for is ticked off.
Or perhaps we are dealing with just our own brokenness, the fact that life isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Finances may be tight, work seems impossible, family demands/needs are being left behind and we can’t keep up. And the stress we are under causes us to struggle with those around us.
Life simply isn’t supposed to be like this.
St. Josemaria mentions this morning that our heart can cast shadows on our mind. He notes we are helpless to stop these shadows, our memories, as our brokenness affects our thoughts and how we live.
St Josemaria directs us to go to the tabernacle, a place where we are reminded of CHrist’s love, of His sacrifice, of His presence. Luther would have you go to your baptismal font for the same, my preference is the altar rail, where you receive Christ’s body and blood. where you are told your sins are forgiven because Jesus loves you enough to die for you.
These sacramental places, even if we only spend time there in our thoughts help us get our lives back on track, as we think about our Lord, His love, His mercy, His promise to never leave us or forsake us. It is at those places where our burdens are lifted, that the glory of God enlightens our soul, removing the darkness and all that the darkness it casts. These moments of sacred time are anchor points in our lives, the places
This is what Paul is talking about when he urges us to think about true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable. excellent and praiseworthy. It gets back to realizing that those things in life come to us because God is with us.
He is with us….
And nothing can separate us from Him…..
So go there, to the places where you know you will encounter His grace. Even if you cannot physically go, remember the last time you were there, and knew God’s peace. He’s still with you, wherever you are at…You just need ot know that!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3371-3374). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
An Everlasting Sign: A sermon on Isaiah 55
An Everlasting Sign
† I.H.S. †
As we walk though this life, may we continually see the everlasting signs of God’s power and love, at work in our lives, and in the lives of those around us.
Walking by the lake… you can’t take it all in…
Walking by the side of Lake Ossipee in New Hampshire, I learned a lesson about photography, and perhaps about life.
Simply put, the camera can’t take all that we experience with our eyes. They can’t take in the gentles waves, little more than ripples, and the beautiful homes across the lake, never mind the mountains that are visible on the horizon. You can’t take in a 360-degree panorama of beauty, never mind the feeling that occurs when you walk down a road with your son, that you and your dad walked down before.
Likewise, even our eyes can’t focus on everything at once.
There is so much more than we can see and hear, never mind the stories that give the story more depth, and the experience that goes beyond words.
Either because the experience is so full of joy, or so full of the pain of being broken, or sometimes, because the experience is both, and how do you concentrate on the joy, when you are struggling with tears?
And if that is simply trying to process a vacation, how do we catch what is really important about life?
Maybe we need a sign or two to help us along the way, to help us focus on what we need?
Do we see the fruit God’s word accomplishes?
One of the things I don’t often see is what Isaiah recorded God telling us,
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
This illustration might be harder for us to understand here in California than it is sitting beside a lake in New Hampshire. After all, like looks little different at first today than it did a year ago when we are in a drought. Yet there is still snow in the high Sierras, the depleted reservoirs are again full.
We can’t see those signs, but we do know of the snow and rain from the crops that provide us food, from the grain that gives us bread to the grapes that provide us wine!
But like the camera view that cannot pick up everything, sometimes it is hard to see the blessings of God. They are there, just like the water that sits up in the High Sierras and the reservoirs. We may not regularly note the benefits of the blessings, but the blessings sustain us, none the less.
Again, do we see the rain and snow here? Not so much, but the evidence of that blessing we share see in a moment, just as we do every we eat, and with every sip we drink. His work is there, providing for us, even if all we can “see” are the end results of the blessings.
It is the same way spiritually, as God works through means, and delivers us grace and comfort, as He reveals His compassion and peace.
It will accomplish what God desires it to accomplish, and that is an incredible blessing.
The change is real – let’s see it!
So if in the physical life we see the end product, the food and drink that nourishes us, is there something similar spiritually.
Is there an eternal sign that proves God is at work, that He is blessing us?
Is there something that changes dramatically as a land that was once filled with thorns and weeds being filled with towering cypress and abundant colored myrtle trees, as verse 13 describes?
Yes indeed, we can see the effect of the blessing of God’s word, for the growth and change it does cause. The lives that do change, the lives that hear and know God’s peace in the midst of trauma, the lives that are reconciled.
I started this sermon by talking about the pictures that can’t take in everything the eye can see, and the eyes that can’t take in everything we experience.
Bu those eyes can take in a cross, and contemplate it’s meaning as we are joined to Christ’s death on the cross in our baptism. Those eyes can rejoice as we are welcome to feast on Christ’s body and blood, even as we try to meditate on that incredible feast. Our ears can celebrate as we heard our sin is forgiven, and rejoice as we hear that God is with us.
And as we know this peace, and share it, for so many need to know God’s gift of peace, given through His Son. That peace is the sign of His everlasting power and love, a peace bought for us at the cross and delivered to us in word and the sacraments. The word and sacraments used by the Holy Spirit to change us, for God is with us! AMEN!