The Hope of Glory

“Christmas arouses longing for the Parousia, the Second Coming. It awakens hope in that heralded upheaval, that upcoming earthquake that makes radical discipleship possible, ushering in as it will the ultimate fulfillment of human history.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning. It is Monday, December 29, 2014. Only three more days in 2015. 98 days until Opening Day.

Today’s Word of the Day is “scission.” 1. “Division of a previously united body of people into mutually opposing parties; a split, a schism.” 2. “The action of undergoing division; an instance of this. Also: a rent, a fissure. Now rare.” 3.”The action of cutting something. Now rare.” 4.a. “Chem. Breakage of a bond, esp. in a long-chain polymer so as to produce two shorter chains; an instance of this.” b. “Nuclear Physics. The event of separation of the parts of a nucleus undergoing fission, as opposed to the process as a whole.”

Today is Tick Tock Day, a day designed with no other purpose than to stress you out and put pressure on you to make last-minute efforts to complete you goals for the year.

Yesterday seemed busy, but it was mostly in the late morning, early afternoon. Christi went out to run some errands, including the grocery shopping. She called me at one point, and asked me to help her bring in the groceries at her mom’s place, which I gladly agreed to do. After we got stuff put away over there, I suggested that I take her car and get the groceries brought in at our house while she went to Sonic and the BBQ place for our late lunch (she can stay in the car at both locations, so I’m doing the more physical work while she picks up the food). That worked out nicely. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and watching TV. We watched the finals of the Chameleon Bowling Championship, in which we saw Ronnie Russell bowl a 300 game! I’m pretty sure that was the first time I have ever witnessed that. He lost the final round to D.J. Archer, who finally won his first title match ever. It was a great match that went down to Archer’s final shot in the tenth frame. We spent the rest of the evening watching episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia on Netflix. I probably shouldn’t admit that I like that show.

Back to work today, for three days, off Thursday, work Friday. Last holiday until Memorial Day. I would like to have a serious conversation with whoever thought that up. Why are all the holidays in the last seven months of the year?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Psalm 103:20-22
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
The LORD judges the peoples;

Psalm 7:7-8
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Psalm 115:1
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:14
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,
to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

Psalm 92:1-4
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to
be born of a pure virgin: Grant that I, who have been born again and made your child by
adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through my Lord Jesus Christ,
to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Thoughts for the New Year
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Psalm 51:6
Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Psalm 28:26

Today’s Gospel Reading

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Matthew 22:15-22

At this point, it is possible that Jesus has grown visibly weary of this constant badgering by the religious leaders, as he calls them out on this question. That’s just my speculation, however. His answer to their question shuts them up to the point that they “marveled . . . left him and went away.” But the Sadducees are coming next.

Jesus’s advice holds true for us today. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Coming in Glory.”

“Contemplating the crib (meaning, looking at Jesus while loving him), the Christian’s faith flames into joyous expectation that the Christ who came in history will one day come in glory.” We read Paul’s words in Colossians 3:4, When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Paul is obviously referring to an event yet to come. “Christmas arouses longing for the Parousia, the Second Coming. It awakens hope in that heralded upheaval, that upcoming earthquake that makes radical discipleship possible, ushering in as it will the ultimate fulfillment of human history.”

This goes hand in hand with our recent sermon series at church, in which our pastor said that the fact that Jesus came once, combined with the promise that he will come again, compels us to make disciples.

I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have,
so that no one may seize your crown.

Revelation 3:11

Father, as the new year approaches, that time when we make a really big deal out of starting over (in reality, it’s just another day, isn’t it?), I pray that my thoughts would be drawn to gaining wisdom from you, that I might not be found a fool in your eyes. Help me to not care if the world thinks me a fool, as long as I am doing what is expected of me in your Kingdom. Teach me to number my days, that I might gain a heart of wisdom. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Teach me to commit my work to you and to trust you implicitly.

I also pray that I might look at Christmas in such a way that my faith is indeed flamed into joyous expectation of your Second Coming, and that, in doing so, I am compelled to obey your commands to make disciples. Take away the fear that has crippled me so badly over the years, in this endeavor. Give me the boldness and confidence that can only come from you, that can enable me to share the Kingdom.

I pray for this day, that our travel to work will be smooth and safe. I pray for the work day ahead, that it will not be stressful, and that, in all things, our hearts will be set on you, and that we might love you, follow Jesus, and share the Kingdom. I pray for Stephanie, that you would show your unfailing, overwhelming love to her.

As this new year approaches, look to the manger to excite your faith about the promise of the return of Christ in glory.

Grace and peace, friends.