The Face of Jesus

It is Monday, the twenty-fourth of May, 2021, in the first week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,083

Seven days until Memorial Day.

I’m struggling with WordPress, this morning. For some reason, the page to write a new blog post would not load on MS Edge browser. It does work, however, in Google Chrome, so that’s what I’m using, this morning.

Needless to say, this has put me way behind, this morning, so I need to move on in to the devotional. I will reiterate what a marvelous weekend we had, and that our piece of pie was totally worth the extra points, yesterday. We must not have done too badly, because I was about four pounds down from last Wednesday, when I stepped on the scale, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

It makes no sense.
Why should this happen?
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your plan.

My prayers are so dry.
It feels as if you're not there.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your faithfulness.

I have been hurt.
I am so bitter.
And I fall . . . 
into your arms, and I learn of your humility.

I make the donation.
I cannot afford it.
And I fall . . . 
into your arms, and I learn of your generosity.

It is so beautiful.
I am filled with awe.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your beauty.

I read of your Word.
I sit in your silence.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your love.

I lend a hand to my brother.
I see the smile on his face.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your joy.

Your body is lifted up before my eyes.
I say amen.
And I fall . . . 
into your arms, and I learn of your passion.

I cherish my memories and regret my mistakes.
I close my eyes at last.
And I fall . . .
into your arms, and I learn of your glory.
(Daryl Madden, "And I Fall," cont., from On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

I will thank the LORD because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the wonderful weekend we had, the refreshing and renewal that took place
2. that we have jobs to which to return, this morning
3. that You have given me a thankful and generous heart
4. for the church community we have
5. for Your care for me, that I might care for myself, and then care for others; help me to see Your face in everyone I meet today

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – DAY 1

INVITATION

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
(Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV)

I pause briefly to contemplate the “new heart and new spirit” that I believe I have received over the past four days, and pray that it was a permanent transformation, to be carried over into this week of work.

BIBLE SONG

The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD— small and great alike.

May the LORD cause you to flourish, both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 115:12-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:42-47 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I pause to remind myself that I am in God’s sweet presence, I re-read these passages, asking, inviting, the Holy Spirit to point me to any particular word, phrase, or thought in them, to teach me something about my life in Christ, this morning.

In truth, there is nothing “new” that I find in today’s readings. This is not always a negative thing. It doesn’t mean that I am not paying attention or “listening.” What I do see is reaffirmations. The reading in Acts affirms what our current church model consists of. We meet together, in a home, and we are devoting ourselves to the Word of God, the fellowship, the breaking of bread together (the Supper) and to prayer. Each of those elements of worship is represented every Sunday morning.

Sometimes, there is more fellowship than Word. Sometimes, there is more prayer than anything else. And sometimes, the precious Word of God takes the bulk of the time. But each one happens every time. And this, regardless of the setting or place, is what worship should be. This is what the community of faith should look like. We could, honestly, do better, during the week. We don’t see each other very often, outside of Sundays. Perhaps we need to pray for the Spirit to help us with that.

Father, I thank You that we have this model to follow in our worship times. I thank You for a group of people who believe in Your Church, and want to observe Your commands as simply as possible. Help us to be more of a community outside of the Sunday morning event. Help us to reach out more to one another, to seek out needs to meet, and help one another with whatever is needed. I believe you have given us all thankful and generous hearts, Father. May Your blessings fall on us.

God of wind and fire,
whoever would have guessed that a ragtag band of Jewish Jesus-followers could be bound together into a movement that would turn the world upside down?
Only because of your Holy Spirit,
who is fully God.
Do that work again in our day,
take wildly diverse people who don't naturally fit together,
and make a peculiar and compelling community,
beautiful because of Jesus.
In his name we pray,
amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 53)

BLESSING

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
(Matthew 25:40 ESV)

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”
(Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
(Matthew 9:35-38 ESV)

While I realize that the passage from Matthew 25, the “least of these” passage, speaks of caring for other people, there was an interesting quote in a book I finished over the weekend. The book is called Embracing the Love of God, by James Bryan Smith.

The epigraph for chapter 8, which is called “Caring for Ourselves,” went like this: “What if you discovered that the least of the brethren of Jesus, the one who needs your love the most, the one you can help the most by loving, the one to whom your love will be most meaningful — what if you discovered that this least of the brethren of Jesus . . . is you?” (Carl Jung)

Just something to think about. How can we care for our brothers and sisters if we do not care for ourselves?

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
(Isaiah 60:1-3 ESV)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
(Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)

Today’s mission: “Live like the sun today, as the light. Shine God’s love on all, regardless of people and circumstances. Shine rather because you’re the light.”

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Oh, yes, Father! Help me to shine with Your light, today. Help me to see Your face (the face of Jesus) in everyone today, regardless of the circumstances. May I care for others as I care for myself, and may I care for myself (and others) as You have cared for me. Thank you, O my Father! All glory to You!

Lord, give Your people a capacity to see You in all things, “every creature a word or book” from You. I pray for the Spirit to work a mighty work in me, in my brothers and sisters, and in the world. I specifically pray, this morning, for all who are “in the forefront of caring for creation.”

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends. Shalom Aleichem!