Season After Pentecost: The Epistles Passage – The Reign of Christ established! (As if there was any question that it would be!)

This week, beloved reader is the last week in this Revised Common Lectionary year. Or to put it another way, after Thanksgiving we start a new lectionary year, and so this Sunday is the last Sunday before we start Advent. I don’t know about you, but this last few months have gone quickly, and it is hard to believe we are coming to the end of another lectionary year. Gone will be lectionary year C, and we will be starting on year A, which is actually the beginning of the cycle of the lectionary years.

This Sunday is the Reign of Christ Sunday, and special attention is given to the inauguration of the Christ’s reign which is actually the reign of God also. This is the God who sent Christ, as opposed to other understandings of God. Paul does well when he says of this God . . .

. . .that God will strengthen you with his own great power, so that you will be patient and not give up when troubles come. Then you will be happy and give thanks to the Father. He has made you able to have what he has promised to give all his holy people, who live in the light. God made us free from the power of darkness. And he brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son. The Son paid the price to make us free. In him we have forgiveness of our sins.” (Colossians 1:11 – 14)

Of course, it is not exactly my place to commend or critique what Paul says about God (I have however critiqued what Paul says according to his own understanding!) What I meant in a truer sense is that Paul’s view of God and his theology concerning God is liken to my own.

No one can see God, but the Son is exactly like God. He rules over everything that has been made.
Through his power all things were made: things in heaven and on earth, seen and not seen— all spiritual rulers, lords, powers, and authorities. Everything was made through him and for him.” (Verses 15 – 16)

Paul does, however have a “unique” way of phrasing things, and connecting ideas. It can be hard to follow and parse out. Basically, the God who sent Jesus sent an aspect of the God-self, and what Jesus was/is is what God was/is/will be. I don’t know is that easier to understand.

The Son was there before anything was made. And all things continue because of him.
He is the head of the body, which is the church. He is the beginning of everything else. And he is the first among all who will be raised from death. So in everything he is most important.” (Verses 17 – 18)

I am reminded (don’t ask me how/why beloved reader, just go with the metaphor) that the Spirit of God is perceived as breath or wind. It is everywhere, bringing life and going as it will. God has always been known that way, both in the Old Testament/Hebrew and the New Testament/Greek. That is why as a tenet of faith, one should accept that God is Christ and Christ is God.

God was pleased for all of himself to live in the Son. And through him, God was happy to bring all things back to himself again— things on earth and things in heaven. God made peace by using the blood sacrifice of his Son on the cross.” (Verses 19 – 20)

The reign of Christ is then the reign of God – the God that was revealed through Jesus Christ and returned to being the Lord God who is over all things. Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Substitute Psalms Passage – Just plain praising for praising’s sake

Some weeks in the Revised Common Lectionary the “Psalms Passage” is not actually from Psalms but an alternate passage thematic to the day or theme. To be honest, I am not sure this week is not a psalms passage. But it does seem to fit the theme or praise or worship.

“You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me.”(Isaiah 12:1)

Just yesterday we had Veteran’s Day. I did not mention it at the time because if November 11 had not been on a Friday you would not have heard from me. It is just coincidence that one of the days I write was also Veteran’s Day. Also a coincidence is that yesterday’s scripture passage addressed a particular day and time, just as today’s passage does. I do not think however, beloved reader, that yesterday’s passage that alluded to end times and today’s passage referring to a certain day are the same days.

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Verses 2 – 3)

Every day God is our salvation, and we trust in God not being afraid. So I have to wonder, what day is the writer of Isaiah referring to?

“And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.” (Verse 4)

I looked back at chapter 11 of Isaiah and saw that passage was referring to the “small tree that will begin to grow from the stump of Jesse” and that these things will happen on “that day.” It is, in other words, a day to cling to hope and look to the future. To praise the Lord for what the Divine has done and will do.

“Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Verses 5 to 6)

Every day is a good day to praise the Lord, for there is something to praise the Lord God for every day. May you find reason to praise the Lord God this day. Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Gospel Passage – What will come will come, and what will go will go; but what’s important will remain

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Luke 21:5-6)

The beauty that comes from this world does not last. Possessions and ornamentation do not last. Structures, architecture, and infrastructures do not last either. All the things that are made by humanity, ultimately, do not last.

Now these people could have accepted this philosophical statement, but for their own reasons, they did not. Maybe they we aghast that such destruction would come upon the temple. Or maybe they wanted to know in order to protect the temple. Or maybe they were testing Jesus, to see how far he would go with it. Whatever the reason, they did not let the statement rest.

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.” (Verse 8)

This starting to sound more like end time predictions rather than just the end of the temple. Maybe the end of the temple felt like it would be end time predictions. Jesus continues with this line of thought; and for generations to follow, this becomes the template for what the end times will be like.

When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” (Verse 9)

There was the World War, because never before had the entire world been at war – on nation against another. And that became World War I, because the world became at war again. What followed were “smaller wars”, but no less devastating to humanity. Jesus says to expect these things to come; but it does not signal the end. Humanity has come to know that tragic lesson, and now “wars and rumors of wars” no longer raises the alarm nor the eyebrow.

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.” (Verses 10 – 11)

I wonder if by this time Jesus’ listeners were becoming nervous. They had experienced wars and the consequences of those wars. They were devastating to the nations of Israel and Judah. And there had been famines and plagues, portents and signs of the things to come. So yes, I am sure they were becoming afraid.

But we, beloved reader, have the advantage of knowing that humanity has lived through all that, and survived to look back and tell and retell the stories that have come out of those times. In brief, the portents and signs have not been great enough or dreadful enough to mean the end is coming. But what might come from heaven? That we do not know as yet.

But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name.” (Verses 12 – 17)

And suddenly, when our imaginations were spiraling out of control . . . we are grounded again by the realization that Jesus is not talking to us in the present, but to the people gathered around him – his disciples and others. Yes, there are those whose belief in Jesus and the Lord God who sent Jesus have resulted in arrest, persecution, and prosecution. They were targeted because of their beliefs. And they have been put to death. But the important aspect of these believers, the vital-ness of their lives, was never lost.

But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (Verses 18 – 19)

So what is the greater importance? That the artifacts and edifices of humanity will not last? That the world will come to an end? Or that the things that are most important about us, as people, as believers – will be preserved. Selah!

The election is over; now we start on the days to come

Throughout the day I have been logging into my Facebook page and generally checking in with everyone I connect with on social media for their reactions and responses to the surprising results of the election. I do not chose/use the word “surprise” as my own description but as it was described by others. For some it was a pleasant surprise and for some it was not. Amongst the circle of people I connect with through social media and face to face, the majority feel it was not a pleasant surprise but something they feared and continue to fear. And is so often the case, when one fears, one lashes out. And I have heard/read a lot of lashing out. But I have also read/heard voices of hope and determination to make the best of it and work towards compassion, acceptance and unity.  And that is good.

But . . . but . . . these voices of hope and determination also tell me there is great pain and fear underneath. That they have not turned to anger but love and caring is a good and positive thing. It still, however, speaks and indicates the presence of pain and fear.

I have written a time or two about fear and that God does not call us to a life of fear. Not that the Divine does not acknowledge that we fear, but that the Divine does not wish us to live in fear, but in hope and courage. And not because we fear, are afraid and act out of fear but that we banish fear and replace it with trust in God/the Divine.

This is not the first time the nation, individually or as a group, has feared for itself and others. And without being a pessimist or doomsayer, it will not be the last. We, as a nation have lived in fear and through fear. Fear may be out hope, determination and courage – but it does not always bring out the “best” of us. That is what I hope in the days, weeks and months to come we can do – bring out the best of ourselves and bring out the best in others. We can do that by not letting our fear spread and multiply; no, our fear must be set aside in favor of traits that lead to care, compassion, acceptance, understanding, and unity.

This is not “new” exhortations or encouragements. In fact, this sort of encouragement is pretty biblical. I do not have any bible verses to back this up, and these are not reflections that come from the Revised Common Lectionary. Indeed they are kind of extemporaneous in nature. But written from the heart. And these are comments not just from a national perspective, but global. While this election took place and directly impacts the United States, the U.S. is part of the global community and what happens has impact in other parts of the world. The days, weeks, and months to come will be played out against the backdrop of the global community, and the global community will also impact us.

Living in the United States but being a Canadian citizen means I did not have a part in the election process but I still live in the outcome of the election. It has been a interesting position to be in. I feel both a part of the global community and a resident of the United States – not having a voice but still being a presence. In other words, my opinion did not and does not much matter. So I have not shared much as to what I have felt inside.

What I hope has come across is hope in the Divine, and a desire to see love, compassion, caring and peace spread to all people. In the grand scheme of things, a very simple desire. It is my hope and pray that those traits are what fill our nation and the global community. And I hope and pray, beloved reader, that is your desire too. Selah!

 

Season After Pentecost: The Old Testament Passage – Looking ahead to the new, while remembering the old

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)

My memory is an interesting construct. Many things I do not remember well – to my regret. But I make lists and make notes, so I do okay. Some things I remember well, and well enough. But somethings I remember vividly; when I remember them, they splash across my mind, and I feel the exact same emotions I did when the event first happened. Having such a vivid memory is not necessarily and advantage. Sometimes it seems like no time has past since the memory was made; whether that be a memory of many years ago, a memory of yesterday, or a memory that I cannot place but I know it happened!

There are some things I wish I would not remember – some unpleasant things. But it seems like the unpleasantness and the feelings/emotions are burned into my memory. And some things I do not want to forget – ever.

So, we come to the first verse of this passage, and God stating that the Divine is creating new-ness. And I have to pause, wonder and consider . . . am I willing to release the memories I have in order to be a part of this new heaven and new earth?

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD– and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Verses 18 – 24)

You may say, beloved reader, I would be a fool not to give up my former memories in favor of this. But who of us, beloved reader, would gladly leave this earth for the live to come? Who wants to be shed of these earthly and experiences and memories in favor of the eternity beyond? Are there not many people who cling to life, squeezing every second for that it holds? Is not living many decades a goal of so many?

Now, you may interpret this passage from Isaiah as being things on earth, in this world. But where are such things happening? Where is there joy and delight as the writer of Isaiah describes it? In what day and age did such things occur? For all the “utopia” that is recorded in human history, it did not last. This is our future, beloved reader, as sure a description of the new heaven and new earth that the return of the Lord will usher in. The question is often asked, will you be ready? What I am asking is, will you be ready to let go of this world?

“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent–its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD. “ (Verse 25)

Who are we to be worthy of the Lord’s holy mountain? Who are we to insist on remaining in this world? We live between two realities beloved reader. The sweetness that we do find in this life. And the promise that is yet to come. If I must make the leap from one world to the next, I need to remember clearly why that leap is worthwhile and what I must do to earn it. Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Epistles Passage – The good of good work

Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us.
For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you.
This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.
For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.
Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6 -13)

One of the things my mother was quite insistent on when I was growing up was that I did not “laze around” as a teenager. I remember after my first year of high school she was pretty insistent that I not just sleep in and be a “do nothing.” So she made arrangements for me to volunteer somewhere – I don’t remember if it was at a preschool or at a nursing facility. What is ironic is that later in life I did work at both a nursing facility and at a preschool. And that I am now an administrator for an in-home care agency. The seeds of some of my jobs were planted in my teen years.

And as an older adult, I find it hard to just remain idle. I like to be thinking or doing something. That is part of the reason I think I have been writing this blog for so many years, and took it up as a single person pursuit several years ago. I wanted to be doing something – writing and contributing in some way to spiritual thinking and pondering. I am not sure if that is what my mother intended all those years ago. But something eventually clicked in me and said “it is good to keep mind and body active.”

May you, beloved reader, be open to how God calls you to serve and may you not be idle when there is God’s work to do! Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Psalms Passage – Praising God for just everything!

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”

(Psalm 145: 1-5)

The week in which I wrote this was a difficult and challenging week for me in may ways – physical and emotional, work and home time. But that does not matter to the Lord. I do not mean that the Divine does not care – our Lord and God cares very much! But the Lord God is not challenged and depleted by our hard times. The Lord is able to overcome any challenge, and if we reside in the Lord we are carried along by the Lord’s strength and not our own. I am convinced that is the only way that I have been able to get through the things set before me.

And that is good reason to bless the Lord – that I have gotten through such things. But as I said, my challenges and difficulties do not impact the Lord God much. No, if I were only to bless and praise God because of what I have gotten through, it would not mean and result in much. It is my suffering and your suffering, beloved reader, and the suffering and challenge every other person and creature in this world has gotten through, AND the suffering and challenging that every other person and creature since the beginning of time has gotten through, AND that we were created, AND!!!!! that there was not only survival but joy and success and compassion and forgiveness and mercy and love that has carried and surrounded all of this since the beginning of ALL THINGS!!!!! That there is reason to bless and praise the Lord God in all things! And the Lord God, the Divine, the Mighty in all ways . . . . did this without breaking a sweat!

The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.” (Verses 17-21)

Praise God! Selah!

Season After Pentecost: The Epistle Passage – The end is NOT near; Paul then, and me now

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?” (II Thessalonians 2:1 – 5)

Over the years there have been many events thought to be the “rebellion” and many people thought to be the “lawless one”. Even in the midst of the elections in the United States, that has not been suggested. And if at other times, at other places, and in other situations someone or some situation was thought to be a clear sign of the end of all things, it was not. So while the times and the people in them may cause us fear and disturb our thoughts and lives, it is but a passing thing and not the end of all existence. Or at least not while I was writing this, and not if you were reading this. So be a peace beloved reader.

But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” (Verse 13)

Each time I check to see how many people are following this blog, I am thankful for each of you. Whether you have come out of interest in what I have to say, or some other reason that seemed to good to at the time, I am glad you are here. I would write these even if there was only one person who was interested in reading it. And would continue writing in hopes that two or more might join. You, beloved readers, number over 1,000 and I am honored that each one of you is interested in what I have to say.

I want you to know, Paul does NOT speak for me when he says, . . .

For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.” (Verses 14 – 15)

I do have to wonder, though, what it would be like to know that someone came to faith because of what I wrote. I think quite honestly, it would scare me. I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone’s faith hanging on what I said. But Paul was not speaking his own wisdom, but teaching his reader and those who came to faith by speaking about God. I assume all of you beloved readers are people of faith . . . already. And for this reason I consider myself one of you under God. So I quote Paul on behalf of all of us . . .

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.” (Verses 16 – 17)

Season After Pentecost: The Old Testament Passage – When things look a mess, God is at work!

In actuality, beloved reader, verse 15b of Haggai concludes chapter one by saying that those things happened on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the six month. The events in chapter two started soon after.

In the second year of King Darius, in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 1:15b – 2:9)

These are verses I could have used a few weeks back, when events in my life were coming “ungyved” and I was not sure how things would be resolved. Actually (again) if truth be told, things are a little ungyved now, but having weathered the past few weeks, I am feeling better about coping with what is in my life now.

And that often seems the way of things; a little unrest prepares you for what may be coming. And God through Haggai says, “in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations”, but the results will be good. I shall trust that this shaking currently in my life will bring good things too, although I cannot see it just yet. But as God through Haggai advises, God’s spirit abides with me and I shall not fear.

And maybe that is good advise for you (who live in the United States), beloved reader, in the days leading up to the U.S. Election. And those of you who live in other countries, when change and unrest comes to where you live, you too can depend on God to see you through. It may not be the resolution that you want, and perhaps the unrest has negative outcomes rather than positive ones. But God’s presence does not rely on the outcome being positive; no, God is where God’s people are, in whatever circumstances. The promise that God gave to the Hebrews when they came out of Egypt that the Divine would be with them is still active and ongoing. In fact, God has always been with us; we sometimes do not have eyes to see it, or minds to understand it completely. These are promises we can hold on to in uncertain times when things look as dismal and ungyved as the temple looked when the Hebrews returned to Judah.

Season After Pentecost: All the Passages on All Saints Day 2016

This will be a long posting, so hold on beloved reader. The first passage is from Ephesians, the author, of course, being Paul. The passage for today picks up a little ways into the first chapter of Ephesians, where Paul is past the opening portion and starting into his exhortation and teaching.

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 11 – 14)

Remember the focus of today’s passages is the celebration of All Saints Day. It seems apparent then to read/hear Paul talk about the taking of the Christian life.

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.” (Verses 15 – 19)

While it is not explicitly said here, those of us who are living in the light and wisdom of Christ’s example will someday be grouped among the saints who have passed on. If that surprises you, consider that the audience that Paul is writing to might have felt the same surprise and humility that you do. And that Paul himself would not have considered himself a “saint.”

“God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Verses 20-23)

Just as God raised Jesus, we too shall be raised. And while the right hand of God may not be our place, we will most certainly be numbered among those who have been welcomed into heaven. One might rightly ask however, how can we be sure we will be welcomed into heaven? The passage from Luke 6:20 – 31 might well provide the answer to that question.

“Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:20 – 23)

It is not easy being a “saint” and no where is it promised that it will be. Jesus does not say it. Paul does not say it. And neither do the other writer of the New Testament. I do not say it either, beloved reader. But it is easy to slip from that path.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.” (Verses 24 – 26)

One of the reasons the Christian church sets aside this time of thinking and meditating on the lives of the saints is to remind us what it takes to follow and be faithful to our Lord God.

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Verses 27 – 31)

I was thinking and meditating on the last verse of Luke chapter 6 today; it is not enough to do to other as you assume they might do to you – that is, that the other will do only the bare minimum of civility and respect. You should do for others according to what you hope in your deepest heart and spirit will be done to you. And do not wait until the other has shown who and what they are; be the first to offer care and compassion. This brings blessing and glory to God, to the name Jesus Christ, and to the name “Christian.”

Let us close by praising our Lord God, who has called to the Divine Self all the saints.

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.” (Psalms 149:1 – 5)

Oh, but beloved reader, how we struggle to set aside the image of God that is vengeance and judgment. We too often see life and living from just our side, and fail to recognize where our own code of living and expectations does not take into account the Lord God’s mercy upon confession and penance.

“Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters and their nobles with chains of iron,
to execute on them the judgment decreed. This is glory for all his faithful ones. Praise the LORD!” (Verses 6 – 9)

There is one more passage cited for today, but I had chosen not to include it. But in light of the last few verses of the psalm passage, it may be illuminating – Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18.

“In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream:

I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me. I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter: “As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever–forever and ever.”

We need to remember, beloved reader, that evil is in our world and we must stand against it. But those who seem to personify evil are as much a victim of it as we are who consider ourselves “holy ones” and future saints. May we continue our journey to “sainthood” remembering that each saint was once a sinner in God’s eyes but was redeemed through the power of Christ. Selah!