Seeing the Lord

Scripture: Colossians 4.2-3
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

Reflection: Seeing the Lord
By John Tillman

Seeing the Lord—finally seeing him truly for who he is—is a huge part of the resurrection story. Perhaps seeing him truly as Lord is why so many did not, at first recognize him. He is not just a gardener. He is not merely a traveling scriptural scholar. He is so much more than a sea-side campfire chef.

May we see the Lord fully in this season of Easter. May we celebrate his mercy and take on the challenge of telling others what and who we have seen.

I Saw the Lord
By Matt Tullos

In the year of disappointment, loneliness, fear
in the year of confusion, desperation and chaos
I saw the Lord.

My eyes had been blinded by amusement, toys,
by savings and wealth
dreams and aspirations in the midst of the
sandcastles of my own self-importance.

My eyes were blinded by the temporal, until an
eternal God shook the doorposts of my soul.
He came to me. And I saw myself for who I
was outside of Him, naked, dying, cold,
starving, and helpless. He didn’t come in the sanctuary.

He didn’t come in the crowds.
He didn’t come in the ceremonies,
in the shifting dance of the day-to-day.
He came into my deepest closet of
hopelessness.

He didn’t come with four laws.
He didn’t come with three points and a poem.
He visited me at midnight when I least
expected to hear His voice. He came to me
at a time when my hopes were dashed, when
my future appeared bankrupt.

He came to me when every solid foundation
seemed to collapse. He came to me in the
wilderness of my own destitution.
He came to me in the poverty of my own
understanding.

He came to me when I laid down my toolbox
My first aid kit and my cookbook. He came to me!
Hallelujah! With a quick fix? No.

He came to me… with a list of seminars and
books to read?
No.

He came to me and there was nothing,
absolutely nothing, I could offer in my own
strength.

The masks, alibis, and diplomas faded under
the light of His passionate gaze.
He didn’t need me. He didn’t need my talents.
He didn’t need my knowledge, my money,
or my influence.

On the contrary, He came to me because for the
first time in my life, I knew that I was
utterly helpless. I didn’t have the answers.

For the first time in my life I knew that no
word, no thought, no event would change
me. Only God. Christ alone could change
my heart.

He came to me. He wrapped His arms around
me and said,

“My beloved, I’ve been waiting for you.”

(From And Now You Know the Rest of His Glory 1999)

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show us the light of your countenance, O God, and come to us. — based on Psalm 67.1

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

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 21 (Listen – 3:12)
Colossians 4 (Listen – 2:21)

Waking up to Easter

Scripture: Colossians 3.1, 17
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above,…And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Reflection: Waking up to Easter
By John Tillman

In Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright questions how we approach and celebrate Easter.

I regard it as absurd and unjustifiable that we should spend forty days keeping Lent, pondering what it means, preaching about self-denial, being at least a little gloomy, and then bringing it all to a peak with Holy Week, which in turn climaxes in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday…and then, after a rather odd Holy Saturday, we have a single day of celebration.

… Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom? It’s long overdue that we took a hard look at how we keep Easter in church, at home, in our personal lives, right through the system. And if it means rethinking some cherished habits, well, maybe it’s time to wake up.

“Waking up” to Easter may be a disruptor to our ordinary lives. If we are honest, we’d rather get on with the world now. We want to go back to eating whatever we surrendered to Lent. Go back to doing. Go back to achieving.

We want to go back to winning at life and move past all of this gloomy suffering and servanthood. We want to go back to Emmaus with Cleopas and his companion and back to business-as-usual fishing with Peter.

But the truth is that Easter is a season, not a day. Christ’s appearances, spread over 40 days after his resurrection were leading and preparing the disciples for Pentecost and the birth of the church.

As we move through the season of Easter, may we continue to “throw our hats in the air.”

May we find ourselves interrupted on the road to Emmaus by Christ, our unexpected guest. May we break bread with him and find our mind opened to the scriptures.

May our business-as-usual days of fishing be interrupted by unexpected advice as Christ’s voice calls from the distant shore. May we shed our business-as-usual attitude, abandoning our work to swim to shore.

Let us see what the risen Christ will say to us today.

Prayer: The Cry of the Church
Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again!

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

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 20 (Listen – 3:19)
Colossians 3 (Listen – 3:09)

Walking the Way of Pain

Scripture: Colossians 1.17-20
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Scripture: Luke 23:46
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Reflection: Walking the Way of Pain
By Jada Swanson

Poetry has a way of putting into language that which we are unable to speak on our own. It communicates poignant, intentional thoughts, feelings, and expressions of all that we hold dear, but, perhaps, have never uttered aloud.

On this Good Friday, we are sharing Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Way of Pain”, which shares a perspective of sacrifice and grief and pain.

Although our world tells us that we are to be in a constant state of motion and busyness and productivity, the season of Lent has been a time of preparation of remembering and waiting. Lent leads us and points us towards Holy Week, which culminates in the celebration of our Savior’s resurrection.

However, may we not be too anxious to move past the mourning and the grieving of what took place on Good Friday. For in this remembrance, we are able to grasp the magnitude of all that our Savior, Jesus Christ, willingly sacrificed on our behalf. As Wendell Berry so eloquently states, “Unless we grieve like Mary at His grave, giving him up as lost, no Easter morning comes.”

The Way of Pain
By Wendell Berry
1.
For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.
2.
I read of Abraham’s sacrifice
the Voice required of him,
so that he led to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared
that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.
3.
I read of Christ crucified,
the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary
at His grave, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.
4.
And then I slept, and dreamed
the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole.
––Wendell Berry, 1980

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Know this: The Lord himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. — Psalm 100.2

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

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 17 (Listen – 2:58)
Philippians 4 (Listen – 3:20)

This Weekend’s Readings
Proverbs 18 (Listen – 2:23) Colossians 1 (Listen – 4:18)
Proverbs 19 (Listen – 3:09) Colossians 2 (Listen – 3:27)

The Enemy of Pleasure

Scripture: Colossians 3.2
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

The pilgrim is not to despise the comforts which he may meet with by the way, but he is not to tarry among them, or leave them with regret. — John Eadie

Reflection: The Enemy of Pleasure
The Park Forum

Only when a person is not dependent on an object or experience for pleasure are they truly free to enjoy it. We know this, of course, because things we’ve built anticipation for regularly find a way of letting us down. On the other hand, things for which we have little—or low—expectations find ways of impressing us greatly.

In response, some people cultivate perpetually low expectations toward everything and everyone. It’s a compensatory mechanism in which they seek to avoid life’s disappointments and, if all goes well, find themselves “pleasantly surprised.” This soothes the symptoms, but leaves the cause to fester.

The problem is not in the objects and experiences themselves, but our dependence on them to cultivate joy and happiness. It is another manifestation of the root of pride—our desire to derive primary satisfaction, pleasure, and identity from our personal experiences and achievements.

“True humility,” says Timothy Keller, in summary of C.S. Lewis, “is not thinking less of yourself or thinking more of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” When our lives take on a posture of humility it affects not just our relationships with others, but our relationships with the objects and pleasures of this world.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all. — C.S. Lewis

The Christian posture toward the objects and pleasures of the world is neither asceticism nor hedonism. Instead, our attention, passions, and desires have been so captured by the gospel that we are free to enjoy the many pleasures of this world without falling in love with them. Boasting in the cross makes us humble toward the world.

The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. — Psalm 90:12

– From 
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 16 (Listen – 5:31)
Colossians 3 (Listen – 3:09)

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 17 (Listen – 3:14) Colossians 4 (Listen – 2:21)
1 Kings 18 (Listen – 7:08) 1 Thessalonians 1 (Listen – 1:27)

Choosing Christ

Scripture: Colossians 2.6-7
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. — C.S. Lewis

Reflection: Choosing Christ
The Park Forum

The words, Christ, Jesus, and Lord, in Colossians 2, were written with the intention of provocation.

  • To the ancient Jewish elite, accepting Christ in the person of Jesus demanded a radical reorientation of how they understood faith.
  • To the Docetists, believing in Jesus as a man required an intellectual transformation. (They denied God would humble himself to the nature of a man, a view deemed heretical at Constantinople in 325 C.E.)
  • To the the secularists, submitting to Jesus as Lord—the one who holds authority over heaven and earth—would confront their illusion of control over their own lives.

Although the names of the groups have changed in today’s world, many of the confrontations of choosing Christ remain the same.

Though it is fairly palatable to accept Jesus as a man, or even an inspiring moral teacher, choosing him as Christ and Lord comes at a cost—socially, professionally, and otherwise. The path of least resistance is to settle for inspiration while maintaining functional control over our own heart, mind, and strength.

This dilemma famously provoked C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

This confrontation is not without an invitation, however. In accepting Jesus as Christ, our Lord, we find the richness and full depth of the human experience—a reality the rest of Colossians 2 explores in depth.

A Reading
…Heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical form, like a dove. And a voice came down from heaven, “You are my Son; today have I fathered you.” — Luke 3:21-22

– From 
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 15 (Listen – 5:30)
Colossians 2 (Listen – 3:27)

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