Good morning. It is post-Monday, December 9, 2014. 16 more days . . .
Today is Techno Day. So put on your red shoes and dance the blues . . . Well, that’s not techno, but it’s about dancing . . .
Nothing much happening around here. I have my Huddle group tonight, so I’ll be doing that. Otherwise, it’s just been pretty normal, run-of-the-mill, whatever that means. So I guess I’ll move right on into the devotions for the day. I keep forgetting to write up my random stuff the night before. I’ll try to do better at that.
(From The Divine Hours)
Second Week of Advent
“Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Luke 1:57-66, 80
I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare
the way for our salvation: Grant us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Today’s Gospel Reading
“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”
While this passage, and others like it, may cause some interpretational difficulties, one thing is clear. We are responsible for our actions. Temptations will happen; they are necessary. But we had best be sure that we are not the source of them. The seriousness of this is illustrated by Jesus’s hyperbole in the next couple of sentences.
Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “The Peace of Christ.”
In order to fully realize the “grace of Christmas,” we must know that “when we are in right relationship with Jesus, we are in the peace of Christ.” It is important to know that this is regardless of how one feels. Unless one is in the midst of deliberate rebellion, “the presence or absence of feelings of peace is the normal ebb and flow of the spiritual life.” We must not blame ourselves when things are “plain and ordinary, when we live on the plateaus and in the valleys.” This is where the majority of the Christian life takes place, you must realize. Yes, there are “mountaintop” experiences. But these, truthfully, are few and far between, and we must not fall into the trap of thinking that our relationship with Christ is collapsing, just because we are not currently on a mountaintop. “Frustration, irritation, fatigue, and so forth may temporarily unsettle us, but they cannot rob us of living in the peace of Christ Jesus.” Read that sentence again; it is of utmost importance.
“Frustration, irritation, fatigue, and so forth may temporarily unsettle us, but they cannot rob us of living in the peace of Christ Jesus.”
A playwright (why isn’t “playwright” spelled “playwrite??”) named Ionesco once declared, as he was in the midst of a depression, “Nothing discourages me, not even discouragement.”
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration,
comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace;
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Father, we love the mountaintop experiences! But help us to know in the deepest part of our hearts that we cannot stay there. Father, teach us that, if we are in right relation with Christ, peace is there. Let not the absence of feeling disturb our peace, or make us think that our peace has been stolen. I praise you for the peace of Christ that floods my soul, like a river. When I meditate on this peace, I feel it. I acknowledge that there are plenty of times when I don’t feel it. Keep me aware of that peace, even when I don’t feel it.
I pray for this day, Father, that we will have safe passage to and from our jobs. I pray that work will go smoothly today, and that, as we work, we will display your Kingdom to those around us. I pray for Stephanie, that she will feel your great love today.
All of this talk of mountaintops made me think of an old Chris Christian song.
May we experience the peace of Christ today, and even if we don’t, may we know that it is always there.
Grace and peace, friends.