During this time where we all are living differently than usual there may be many questions we would like to ask God.
Why did this happen?
Did you let it happen?
What kind of God would do this?
Is this punishment for our sins?
Some people will give answers depending on their point of view. Some people may decide that if this is the kind of God we have they don’t want it. Some people will blame God. Some people will blame themselves or others.
This is a theological conundrum.
The truth is the answer is a matter of faith. It is, mostly, in your image or idea about God. No one can prove any answer. Answers need belief not proof.
Bad things happen to good and bad people. It has been that way from the beginning of life. You have to decide what that means to you and how you will move forward with what you believe.
Today is Ash Wednesday. I was crushed because things conspired against me getting to the service. I love Lent. Some people find it depressing but I see it as a time to reflect, to read something uplifting and search ourselves. It is a time to think.
Whether you choose to give up something for Lent or take something on or both Lent can bring us closer to God. Have a Holy Lent.
[ The Call of Matthew ] As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.
It is easy to apply the words spoken about “a prophet” to be applied to the words spoken by Jesus. The whole ministry of Jesus is spent telling us and showing us how God wants us to be. How well do we listen? How well do we apply the lessons? It is hard not to see ourselves in the place of the man told to give up everything he had. Could we do it?
How closely are we following the message of Jesus?
I have been doing intercessory prayer for many years. Some times I really feel the anguish of those on my list. At other time I feel as if I am just reciting names. I am sure that God hears every name and I am forgiven for my lack of attention but I can sense the difference when I am present in their pain. I love this statement from Br. Geoffrey
|Intercession True intercession, the sort that Jesus shares with the Father, is not just a detached impassioned shopping list of the needs of the world, nor is it informing God of something God knows already. Rather, it is a profound, loving, and costly holding up of others who are on our hearts before God. True intercession is being with God, with the people on our hearts.
-Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Society of Saint John the Evangelist
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
and was saved from every trouble.
I don’t know about you but I tend to worry. I know that I should turn my worries over to the Lord and let them go but I am not good at it. I will turn it over and then pick it back up again. I do this over and over. How ridiculous this is!
God will hear us when we cry to him. He will answer. Don’t keep picking things back up. Worry is a waste.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12 NRSV
For those of us who are Christian we will be seeing a great deal of this in the years to come. Time was when being Christian and going to church was necessary for social acceptance and a way to get ahead in the world. Needless to say…this has changed.
Things will not change all at once. Erosion will happen little by little in the hope that it won’t be noticed or argued against. If we don’t protest the small things eventually there will be nothing left.
Our culture has changed drastically and we a heading into a time when being Christian will be a detriment.How many of us are willing to be persecuted for the sake of our religion? It will certainly separate the wheat from the chaff. Already Christianity is being removed from areas of life where it has been present since the founding of this country. I think it will continue.
We must be ready to stand up for our beliefs in the face of opposition. Be ready!
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Hope. A word to cling to. I suspect that one of the worst things that can happen to us is to have no hope. But having hope also depends on what we hope for. Writings from those in the concentration camps of the Hitler era show that even in conditions of horror hope was still present.
Hope can be a matter of perspective. Am I hoping that I can be an opera singer (not likely) or that my day will be a good one? It is possible that neither will come true but one is less likely.
If my hope rests with the Lord then I will never lose it. The psalm says his love is steadfast and I believe it with all my heart. I will hope in God no matter what.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
I have always found this verse from the so loved psalm intriguing. Why does it say “he makes me?” There is an easy answer to that. We are so busy…so prone to never stropping that we don’t slow down. God wants us to stop. He wants to us to just rest in the beauty of nature and listen for his voice. He wants us to hear the babble of the brook and dip our hands into the still waters.
Take the time to take your rest.
65 You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
We all need to be taught. We slip so easily into doing the wrong thing. We have to be reminded that we stray from God’s path. There is so much to tempt us. We are bombarded with TV programs that make love of others and kindness seem outdated. Violence is present in computer and video games. The exposure make it seem “normal.” God calls us to turn away from hatred and turn back to love and compassion. We need to be taught God’s ways not those of the world.
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!
Psalm 95:6-7 NRSV
It is so easy to forget to give attention to our God. Church is not the only place to worship God. We should be thanking God and giving praise through every moment. We must stop and be silent long enough to hear God’s voice. We are so good at putting everything else first. Praise, thank, and listen to God at all time.s