Good morning. Today is Sunday, February 3, 2013. In the United States, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. I’m not sure I can even legally type those words.
Today is The Day the Music Died. Seriously, that’s the “holiday” listed on the Hallmark “Ultimate Holiday Site.” Because it was on this date in 1959 that the plane carrying Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and Jiles Perry Richardson, aka, “The Big Bopper,” crashed, killing all three of them along with the pilot.
Sorry…no time for “history” today.
Today’s birthday is Fred Lynn, born on this date in 1952. Lynn was a centerfielder for the Boston Red Sox, and figured heavily in what some consider to be the greatest World Series game in history, Game Six of the 1975 World Series.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:1-2
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2
Father, I pray that you show me something of yourself this morning. May I seek you today with my whole heart.
Today, I’m reading Isaiah 25, 6-12.
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
10 For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain, and Moab shall be trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in a dunghill.
11 And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim, but the LORD will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands.
12 And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.
This is a beautiful passage of hope for all the nations, as the Lord provides a feast for all those who come to him. He swallows up death forever, wipes away all tears, and takes away his people’s reproach. He also tramples down all of the proud nations like straw, laying low their walls and fortifications.
Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “Praying for Enemies.” That’s a tough topic, isn’t it? The scripture reference is Luke 6:27-28.
7 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
“It is one thing to love a friend, a stranger, or the virtually anonymous mass of humanity and another to love and forgive an enemy who hates and hurts us.” That is a great statement. And I love that phrase, “virtually anonymous mass of humanity.” It is so easy for people to just blurt out, “I love everyone!” But the point of all of this is that Jesus desires that we not be “people who thrive on aggression and retaliation, who return blow for blow, curse for curse, grudge for grudge, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.” He desires that his people, his Church, be on the leading edge of breaking this “cycle of hostility.” It’s easy for us to work on protecting those who are victims of abuse. But how many of us get to the point where we can pray for the abusers, “having mercy on them, visiting them in prison, or bringing them a gift to express [our] love and forgiveness.” That is exactly where Jesus is telling us to go. “This is loving an enemy. This is turning the other cheek. This is Christianity.” It’s not easy…but then Jesus never said it would be. In fact, he pretty much said the opposite.
I’m challenged to spend some time thinking on the quote below, and think of someone who has abused me, and pray for Jesus to grant me forgiveness for them.
“Whose name should come first [in prayer]? Perhaps the name of our enemies. The injunction of Jesus is plain: ‘Pray for them which despitefully use you.’ He told us that worship is vain if we are embittered; that we should be wise to leave our gifts before the altar, go to make peace with our neighbor, and then worship. Only then can we truly worship. So the first intercession is, ‘Bless So-and-so, whom I foolishly regard as an enemy. Bless So-and-so whom I have wronged. Keep them in Thy favor. Banish my bitterness.”~~George Buttrick, A Simple Regimen of Private Prayer
Father, I pray that you would bring to mind people whom I have regarded as “enemies.” As far as I know, no one wants to harm or kill me. But there are people from my past who have harmed me emotionally (some even monetarily). Grant me complete forgiveness for these. Give me the ability to pray for your blessings on their lives. Teach me your ways in praying for my enemies, that I might have no enemies. Make me fully yours, possessing your heart completely. I would be wholeheartedly seeking after you, Lord, and I realize that I cannot do this while harboring ill feelings toward anyone. Those feelings will always hinder my worship. So I pray today that you take them away. Remove any feelings of reproach that I might have toward any other person. Cause me to meditate on this throughout this day, especially timely since today is the day that we worship together.
I pray for this morning’s worship celebration. I pray that all who attend may seek you with all their hearts. I pray that our worship to you would be acceptable. I pray that all of our technology will work right. I pray that Joel’s message will come straight from your heart, and that he will preach words that come from you, not from him. Fill all of us in the worship band with your Holy Spirit this morning.
I dare say that all of us have someone in our lives that we might consider “enemies.” May we try, with all of our hearts, to find it in ourselves to pray for them and forgive them.
Grace and peace, friends.