Today is Sunday, July 5, 2020, beginning the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time. Peace be with you!
45 days until S’s birthday!
As predicted, we watched the Downton Abbey movie during our brunch, yesterday. It was quite entertaining, and felt a lot like an extended episode of the now-concluded series. In this movie, the main plot story is that the King (George V) and Queen (Mary) decided to stay at Downton on a tour of the area. This, of course, creates a buzz (of all different kinds, as there are people among the family and staff that aren’t too keen on the King and Queen), especially when it is discovered that their entourage includes their own chef, housekeeper, footmen, and
butler “Page of the Backstairs.”
There is plenty of comedy, a good bit of which is provided by Violet Crawley (the Dowager Countess), and her “frenemy,” Isobel Crawley. Of course, much of the comedy is also provided by the staff, as they deal with what most Americans would consider to be a few days off. Being British, I suppose, they are most offended that their services will not be needed. They also rebel a bit. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
The next paragraph is spoiler-ish, so if you don’t care and want to read it anyway, you will need to highlight the paragraph.
There is also some drama, as an assassinator shows up. I know. It should be “assassin.” That was tongue-in-cheek. Ish. And Tom Bransom gets to save the day. Good on him. Tom also discovers a love interest, which he has not had since his wife, the other Crawley sister, Lady Sybil, passed away.
After the movie, I went and got Sonic drinks, along with a few grocery items from Albertons (most importantly, the “no sugar added” Fudgsicles that Kroger was out of). The rest of the day was resting.
I will report on my “official” WW weigh-in, yesterday. I lost another three pounds, putting my total loss, since the first of February, at fifty-five pounds! The My Fitness Pal app, which I have been using for about seven years, says I have lost 77.8 pounds. Since it goes back so far, it has a higher weight as my starting point, than what I was this past February. So, if I am asked, I just say I’ve lost over fifty pounds since February.
We will have our virtual worship gathering of The Church at Brandon and Kristin’s, this morning. I don’t believe our “hosts” will be attending, as they are out of town for the weekend. Either they won’t have wifi access, or they will be with some people that will not make it possible for them to spend an hour or so on Zoom. Originally, we had planned to meet at our house, but then things got wacky again, and we went virtual again.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
“Enter, Lord Christ– I have joy in Your coming. You have given me life; and I welcome Your coming. I turn now to face You, I lift up my eyes. Be blessing my face, Lord; be blessing my eyes. May all my eye looks on be blessed and be bright, my neighbors, my loved ones be blessed in Your sight. You have given me life and I welcome Your coming. Be with me, Lord, I have joy, I have joy.” (Celtic Daily Prayer)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. (Traditional Doxology)
Today I am grateful:
- For another opportunity to worship, read Scriptures, and see/hear what God has done in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ
- For the technology that allows us to continue to “meet,” even through a pandemic
- That You satisfy my desires with good things
- That You renew the strength of those who wait on You
- That You give us “play”
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
(Psalms 80:1 ESV)
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”
(Psalms 70:4 ESV)
A Song. A Psalm of David.
My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!
(Psalms 108:1 ESV)
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
(John 4:23-24 ESV)
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah; a love song.
My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever. Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
(Psalms 45:1-9 ESV)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
(Isaiah 9:2 ESV)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
"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 Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen." (The Divine Hours, The Concluding Prayer of the Church)
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalms 103:1-5 ESV)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)
In this morning’s reading from Our Daily Bread, Sheridan Voysey writes about “renewed strength.” She cites a psychiatrist, Robert Coles, who noticed a pattern in people who experience burn out while serving. “The first warning sign is weariness. Next comes cynicism about things ever improving, then bitterness, despair, depression, and finally burnout.”
My opinion, while I recognize that the phenomenon of burnout is real, is that there is no excuse for a follower of Christ to ever experience this. But we do, don’t we? Why is that?
I can identify some of those characteristics in my own life, right now. Granted, a lot of those have been brought on by the state of pandemic in which we find ourselves in, along with the political maelstrom it has brought with it.
What is the answer? What is our remedy for burnout? One is found in the verses from Isaiah, above. These are somewhat famous verses. Here is how Eugene Peterson paraphrases those:
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 MSG)
What, exactly, does it mean to “wait upon God,” or to “wait for the Lord?” There are differing opinions on that, even. But I like what Sheridan says in the reading. “I needed to rest in God, trusting Him to work, rather than pushing on in my own dwindling strength.”
We see another kind of remedy in Psalm 103, also above. Verse 5 says that God “satisfies you with good.” The NIV says that He “satisfies your desires with good things.” And The Message says, “He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.”
We can certainly include redemption and forgiveness in this array of “good things.” But there is more. Some would argue that we need nothing more than redemption and forgiveness. That’s a nice Sunday School answer, and in the “Big Picture,” that may be correct. But here on earth, in these week, feeble, jars of clay, we need more. We need joy. We even need play.
Yes, people. We need to play. That comes in different forms for different people. For some folks, “play” consists of putting on camo gear and sitting in a deer stand for hours, hoping for that perfect buck to come along. For others, it means putting on a headset and staring at a computer or TV screen for a few hours, playing some kind of game. For even others, it might mean sitting in a rocking chair on a porch of a cabin in Glen Rose, reading a book.
Dallas Willard once said that creation was “play” for God.
So, when I’m feeling defeated, weary, cynical, bitterness, despair, or depression, I need to find a way to “rest” in God. That can mean a lot of different things, but one thing it does not mean is continuing to serve in that condition.
My job requires me to serve, though. Therefore, I need to make sure and “schedule” some times of rest and reflection, some times of waiting on God, so that He can renew my strength, and satisfy my desires with good things.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
(Matthew 6:5 ESV)
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 ESV)
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
(James 4:6 ESV)
He let loose the east wind from the heavens and by his power made the south wind blow. He rained meat down on them like dust, birds like sand on the seashore. He made them come down inside their camp, all around their tents. They ate till they were gorged— he had given them what they craved. But before they turned from what they craved, even while the food was still in their mouths, God’s anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel.
(Psalms 78:26-31 NIV)
“Lord, I confess I often find prayer to be boring and sin to be fascinating. But that is because my mind is distorted by sin. You alone can satisfy the deepest longings of my soul. Only You are eternally interesting. I commit myself to encountering You afresh in prayer and the Word. Help me keep this promise. Amen.”
(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)
Father, I have experienced weariness. I have been guilty of cynicism, which tends to express itself in sarcasm, for which I firmly believe there is no place in Your kingdom. Therefore, I beg forgiveness and ask You to renew my strength, to satisfy my desires with Your good things. Help me to wait on You, to wait for You, to make time in my life (which truthfully isn’t all that busy) for worship, meditation, and prayer. Remind me that there are some things that are more important than others. In fact, some of those “others” really aren’t important at all.
I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)
Grace and peace, friends.