Friday, February 11, 2005

Friday after Ash Wednesday (2/11/05)

Readings from the Daily Lectionary

New Testament: Matthew 8:14-22

Epistle: Galatians 3:6-14

In the ninth verse of the thirty-fourth Psalm, we read, “O fear the Lord, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that

“This is the first commandment, the entire gospel: ‘Fear God.’ Forget the many things which you do fear.

“Do not fear the coming day, do not fear other people, do not fear power and might, even if they are able to deprive you of property and life; do not fear the great ones of this world; do not fear yourself; do not fear sin...

“But fear God and God alone; for God has power over the powers of this world; the whole world must fear God--God has power to give us life or to destroy us; everything else is a game--only God is in earnest, entirely in earnest. Fear God’s earnestness--and give God the glory.

“God demands it as the creator of the world, as our creator, and God demands it as the reconciler, who made peace between God and humankind in Christ. God demands it as the Savior, who will liberate us in the end from all sin and burden.”

Let us pray:

Lord, we confess that many of our daily fears are centered on our selfish concerns. Help us to look to you with the profound respect and honor due you as our Creator and Savior. Amen.

In the eighth verse of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah, we read,

“Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”

Henri Nouwen writes that

“While visiting the University of Notre Dame, I met an older experienced professor who had spent most of his life there.

“He said with a certain melancholy in his voice, ‘You know, my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work.’

“Don’t we often look at the many events of our lives as interruptions? But what if our interruptions are in fact challenges to an inner response by which growth takes place? What if the events of our history are molding us as a sculptor molds his clay, and if it is only in a careful obedience to these molding hands that we can discover our real vocation and become mature Christians?”

Let us pray:

Lord, You come secretly into our lives in so many ways. This Lent, give us a new sense of vision to notice your ways we had overlooked before. Renew us with a special sense of Your presence. Amen.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Thursday after Ash Wednesday (2/10/05)

Readings from the Daily Lectionary

New Testament: Matthew 8:1-13

Epistle: Galatians 3:1-5

In the second verse of the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we read, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that

“Loving God means rejoicing in God, being eager to think of and pray to God. It means being glad to be in God’s presence and to be with God alone. It means waiting for God impatiently, waiting for every word, every request.

It means not grieving God, but rejoicing in God simply because it is God who is involved, and because we are permitted to know and have God and to speak with and live with God. Loving God--yes, and loving the brothers and sisters out of love for him.

“Are we still able to hear that without saying right away: ‘That is pietism after all?’ And what if it were? Don’t these words continually stand over us all, even those of us who preach about faith alone: ‘but if I have not love, I am nothing’?”

What is the state of our love for God? Are we eager to pray? Does it bring us joy to be in God’s presence?

In the twenty-first and -second verses of the ninth chapter of the gospel according to Luke, we read that

“He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’”

Henri Nouwen writes that

“The deep truth is that our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire, but can become, instead, the means to it.

“The great secret of the spiritual life, the life of the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God, is that everything we live, be it gladness or sadness, joy or pain, health or illness, can all be part of the journey toward the full realization of our humanity.

“It is not hard to say to one another: ‘All that is good and beautiful leads us to the glory of the children of God.’ But it is very hard to say: ‘But didn’t you know that we all have to suffer and thus enter into our glory?’ Nonetheless, real care means the willingness to help each other in making our brokenness into the gateway to joy.”

Let us pray:

Dear God, when we are tempted this Lent to worry about anything, help us instead to trust you to redeem everything in our daily lives. When we feel trapped, we will turn to your mercy for release. Amen.

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