Not Abandoned :: Worldwide Prayer

Scripture: 1 John 2.12
I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

Reflection: Not Abandoned :: Worldwide Prayer
A Prayer of Thanks for God’s Pursuing Presence and Care from the USA

From my youth, oh Lord, from my
youth you have been my refuge.
In the days of my innocence, you have
Been my place of hiding, my home and my safety.

Then came the times of my rebellion, the days
of my senseless rage, when I abandoned
The ways of God, and followed in the vanity
Of trusting in the strength of men.

Yet you were there, in the midst of my despair,
You did not abandon me the way I did you,
Nor did you treat me with the contempt
I treated you with, the God over all, in my pride.

Instead, you rescued me from evil men, you
Stole me from the houses of the wicked
And planted me among the olive groves of
the righteous, among the granaries of the holy.

When I had lost my way, and grieved at my condition
You took pity on me, and melted the heavens
For my sake. You came down to my place of derision
And took me in your arms.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

Prayer: The Cry of the Church
O God, come to my assistance! O Lord, make haste to help me! — Psalm 69.2

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 24 (Listen – 3:11)
1 John 2 (Listen – 4:04)

Incarnational, Artful Living

Scripture: 1 John 1.4
We write this to make our joy complete.

Reflection: Incarnational, Artful Living
By John Tillman

Madeleine L’Engle’s writings on the incarnational nature of art go beautifully with John’s writing. John focuses heavily on the mystery of the incarnation using some of the most artistic and beautifully poetic language of the New Testament.

In Walking on Water, L’Engle discusses the unique, incarnational nature of artistic work.

The artist who is a Christian, like any other Christian, is required to be in this world, but not of it. We are to be in this world as healers, as listeners, and as servants.

In art we are once again able to do all the things we have forgotten; we are able to walk on water; we speak to the angels who call us; we move, unfettered, among the stars.

We write, we make music, we draw pictures, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing. And during the writing of the story, or the painting, or the composing or singing or playing, we are returned to that open creativity which was ours when we were children.

We cannot be mature artists if we have lost the ability to believe which we had as children. An artist at work is in a condition of complete and total faith.

With the Holy Spirit in you, you are a creator. You manifest Christ in this world. Don’t downplay any creative acts he may inspire you to undertake. The humbler they seem the greater impact they may have for the kingdom of God.

Create a meal for guests. Create a shelter for birds out of broken fence planks. Create a garden in a barren spot of earth. Create space in your community for the outcast and the rejected.

When you create, you are walking in the light of him who said, “Let there be light.

Walking in the light, as John describes, is like walking on water—something L’Engle believes we still can and must do.

We, like Peter, don’t do it because of who we are, but because of who we are with. We move into actions of faith with the childlike belief in our companion, Jesus Christ.

It is no surprise that John, the artistic Apostle, is best able to approach and communicate the mystery of the incarnation. Art is incarnation—an act of love lived out in a specific creative way.

May we “make our joy complete” through incarnational tasks, creating joyful expressions of the gospel in our lives.

Prayer: The Greeting
You are my God, and I will thank you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. — Psalm 118.28

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 23 (Listen – 2:50)
1 John 1 (Listen – 1:28)

The Eighth Day

Scripture: 2 Peter 3.12-13
That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Reflection: The Eighth Day
By John Tillman

Peter encourages his readers about Christ’s second coming with thoughts that closely relate to the Jewish concept of the eighth day that was influential on early Christian belief and practice.

Justo L. Gonzalez writes about this concept in his book, A Brief History of Sunday:

Christians as well as Jews, did not believe that the repetitive cycle of a new week following another, and a new year following another, would be endless. There would be a day when that cycle would be broken, and a new age would dawn. This would be a final Sabbath, an eternal day of joy and rest.

Given their observance of the Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week, and the manner they related that day with the first day of creation, Christians would soon point out that the first day of the week was also the eighth, and that therefore what they celebrated on that day, besides the resurrection of Jesus and the beginning of a new creation, was also the promise of the eighth, the beginning of eternity.

In brief, the first day of the week, most commonly called the Lord’s day—the kyriaka or dominica—was taken as a celebration of the three great events of salvation history.

It was first of all the day of the resurrection of the Lord and therefore the beginning of the new creation.

It was also the very first day of the first creation, and therefore a time to rejoice in the goodness of God’s bounty.

And it was the eighth day of the week and therefore a day of hope pointing to the consummation of all things.

In our vitriolic culture it is easy to picture the second coming like a childish revenge fantasy where our enemies get theirs.

But Peter, despite his description of the violence of the day of the Lord, urges his readers not to gleefully anticipate the destruction of enemies but to dutifully make every effort to prepare themselves for the new creation.

The day of the Lord will be a day of destruction but not annihilation. It will be like the scraping of an old canvas to repaint a new landscape, or the burning and tilling under of a harvested field so a new kind of crop can be planted.

May we allow God’s Spirit to prepare our hearts to flourish, both now and in the new creation.

Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth to an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine into fresh skins!” — Mark 2.21-22

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 22 (Listen – 3:53)
2 Peter 3 (Listen – 3:21)

Looking Back at Good Friday

Scripture: 1 Peter 5.8-9
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Reflection: Looking Back at Good Friday
By John Tillman

Much of the conclusion of 1 Peter echoes words Jesus said to Peter in the week of Christ’s Passion or in the days following his resurrection.

“Your enemy the devil…looking for someone to devour,” recalls Jesus in Luke 22, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” And “Be shepherds of God’s flock…” is passing on Christ’s post resurrection reinstatement of Peter in John 21, “Feed my sheep…”

On this the last Friday of the season of Easter we also look back to Passion week and particularly to Good Friday, remembering that the Spirit that was to be poured out on all flesh came to us through sacrifice. We do this anticipating the celebration of Pentecost this coming Sunday, 50 days after Christ’s resurrection.

In his book, Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross, Richard John Neuhaus writes that Good Friday should be relived and reflected on beyond its place in the Christian liturgical year.

Good Friday is not just one day of the year. It is a day relived in every day of the world, and of our lives in the world. In the Christian view of things, all reality turns around the “paschal mystery” of the death and resurrection of Christ.

As Passover marks the liberation from bondage in Egypt, so the paschal mystery marks humanity’s passage from death to life.

Good Friday cannot be confined to Holy Week. It is not simply the dismal but necessary prelude to the joy of Easter, although I’m afraid many Christians think of it that way.

Every day of the year is a good day to think more deeply about Good Friday, for Good Friday is the drama of the love by which our every day is sustained.

One of the blessings of the liturgical year is that we cyclically return, again and again, to the most important foundations of our faith. But at times we can allow the dates on the calendar to be storage boxes holding holiday decorations that we only look at when the box is pulled down from the shelf.

That should not be. Let the messages stay on our walls year round and in our hearts throughout each day.

May the love we were shown on Good Friday be carried by us not just on Fridays, but on everyday.
May we stay alert, for the same adversary stalks us as stalked Peter.
May we accept Christ’s forgiveness, reinstatement, and commission, as did the Apostle, feeding and caring for the shepherdless sheep of our culture.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Righteousness shall go before him, and peace shall be a pathway for his feet. — Psalm 85.13

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 17-18 (Listen – 3:44)
1 Peter 5 (Listen – 2:11)

This Weekend’s Readings
Isaiah 19-20 (Listen – 4:49) 2 Peter 1 (Listen – 3:06)
Isaiah 21 (Listen – 2:32) 2 Peter 2 (Listen – 3:52)

Called to Unmovable Joy :: Throwback Thursday

Scripture: 1 Peter 4.12-19
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Reflection: Called to Unmovable Joy :: Throwback Thursday
By John Tillman

In today’s Throwback Thursday poem, George Herbert speaks of the joy and love that will come as we answer Christ’s call to feast with him—a joy that cannot be moved and a love that can’t be parted from us even by suffering or death.

The Call
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joys in Love.
— George Herbert, from Five Mystical Songs

Peter says that our suffering will lead to joy as the glory of Christ is revealed to us.

The believers Peter wrote to were familiar with being both socially outcast and with being physically attacked. They had been forced to flee under oppression by a combination of those who opposed their religious beliefs and a government which favored the religions it approved of.

Whether we suffer the dis-comforting loss of social status Christianity is experiencing in the west or the persecutions more common overseas, including physical attacks, imprisonment, and assassinations, our sufferings allow us to participate in the suffering of Christ.

May our sufferings not reveal bitterness and anger in our spirits, but the joy and love of Christ.
May we feast with Christ daily in the Word.
May we be sustained for the work he calls us to.
May the joy and love Christ gives us be unmovable from our hearts.
May we bring others with us to the feast.

*from 5 Mystical Songs, The Call: music by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Prayer: The Greeting
My God, my rock in whom I put my trust, my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge; you are worthy of praise. — Psalm 18.2

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 16 (Listen – 2:32)
1 Peter 4 (Listen – 2:50)

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