Today is Thursday, the thirty-first of March, 2022, in the fourth week of Lent.
Peace be with you!
This will be my last Thursday to be off from work, as my schedule will officially change, beginning tomorrow. Going forward, I will be off on Fridays and be working from 11:15-8:15 on Thursdays, in the Computer Center. This is all happening because one of our CC aides got a second job, which is being rather uncooperative in regard to his schedule in Hurst, and the other CC aide really didn’t want to work on Thursdays. She is very grateful that I was able to step in and work on Thursdays.
For me, it’s only a mild inconvenience to switch, as it means I will be working two evening shifts a week, and three consecutive days, every other week. This mild inconvenience is offset by having a four-day-weekend every other week. Actually, it is virtually five days, because I don’t go to work until 4:15 on Tuesdays.
I have my vein clinic doctor appointment, this morning, at 10:15. I got an email from them, yesterday (actually Tuesday evening, I think), that outlined what this visit will cost. I’m not sharing it here, but I almost canceled the appointment when I saw it. However, my wife (have I mentioned she’s an angel?) said I should go ahead and do it, because it seems necessary for my health and well-being.
After the appointment, I plan to have lunch with C, since the doctor’s office is in Arlington, which is also where C works. We will probably go to Fred’s Downtown Philly.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Turn your eyes upon Jesus Look full in His wonderful face And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace In the light of His glory and grace
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
(Luke 9:35 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. for the many blessings in my life, too numerous to count 2. for the preeminence of Christ in all things 3. for celebrations that call to remembrance the things that God has done in our lives 4. for the "chutzpah" of the woman in Matthew 15, that shows us that we don't always need to be prim and proper when we pray 5. that God listens
Today’s word for prayer is “celebrate.” There is a lot of that in Scripture, actually. While the word, itself, only occurs in the Bible about a dozen times, the sentiment is there more frequently, especially in the Old Testament, as the people of Israel are commanded to observe various festivals throughout the year.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance.”
(Exodus 12:14 NIV)
Of course, the number of occurrences of the English word depends on which translation you are reading. It occurs more in the NIV than in the ESV, and only three times in the KJV. The writer of today’s reading, known only as “Michelle,” claims it appears sixty-eight times. I’m not sure which version she is reading, because the NIV only shows it around fifty-five.
All of that is irrelevant, of course.
Celebration is even considered one of the classic spiritual disciplines. The reason for celebration is remembrance. All of the festivals that the ancient Hebrews were expected to observe were to commemorate something that God had done for them. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas (which is commanded, nor even suggested, nowhere in the Bible, by the way). We celebrate His resurrection at Easter (also not commanded or suggested, but the first century Christians shifted their day of worship to the first day of the week, because of Jesus’s resurrection). When we celebrate birthdays, we remember the day that a loved one was born.
Michelle suggests celebrating God’s abundance in our lives, “in a way that would strengthen my journey of faith.” And, while the discipline is considered a “corporate” discipline (one observed by a group or gathering), I believe we can easily celebrate on our own. All that is needed is to have a little “Thank You, God” party.
(From Pray a Word a Day)
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
(Isaiah 49:13 ESV)
That sounds like a celebration to me! And here’s the ultimate celebration, one that I cannot wait to participate in.
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:11-14 ESV)
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
(Revelation 7:9-12 ESV)
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying out after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." And he answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28 ESV)
Eugene Peterson says, “the woman had chutzpah.” I like that. That is a word that means, “extreme self-confidence or audacity.” She got Jesus’s attention.
“Maybe we don’t have to compose ourselves into postures of reverence before we pray. Maybe we don’t have to know very much about the strategies of salvation before we appeal for help. [Remember yesterday’s prayer word?] Maybe when we feel excluded from the rich banquet of life that everyone else seems to have such easy access to, we need to push our way into the room – elbow our way to the head table and demand at least a portion of the leftovers.
“This is not the polite approach to Jesus that we are taught by our pastors and parents, but it worked once.
“Maybe it will work again.”
(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)
Father, I thank You for these words today, especially “celebrate.” I know I need to celebrate more. All of Your children (well, most, anyway) need to celebrate more. There is too much whining and complaining going on in the midst of Your people. One looking in from the outside might question whether we have any faith in You at all! Help us to celebrate, to remember the great and marvelous works You have done in, through, and for Your people, throughout history.
You parted the Red Sea as You delivered Your people from Egypt. You split the Jordan River in half so that Your people could enter the Promised Land. You made water come from a rock, and manna appear out of nowhere. You dropped the walls of Jericho like they were made out of paper mâché. You made an axe-head float. I could go on and on and on, and that’s what celebration is all about; remembering those things.
Most importantly, You gave us Jesus, and You displayed the most awesomely wonderful power ever when You raised Him from the dead and lifted Him up to heaven, right in front of His disciples.
Celebrate. I just want to celebrate. Help me to do that today. And I pray for things in my life that will remind me to celebrate. Should I go walking outside, in the midst of nature, put something in front of my eyes that will cause me to remember and celebrate. But also keep my eyes open so that, when You do that, I will see it.
I look forward to joining those multitudes depicted in Revelation and shouting/singing glory to You for all of eternity. That’s the ultimate celebration.
And Father, please give me the “chutzpah” of that woman from Matthew 15. Not that I want to ever be rude or presumptuous in prayer, but also to know that, sometimes, all I have to do is cry out, “help!” Thank You for listening.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
"Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (The Book of Common Prayer, Morning Collect for Daily Devotions)
Grace and peace, friends.