For the lost and the least

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“Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.

“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’

“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.” ~Matthew 25:31-46 (CEB)

I have never felt ashamed to look at the cross until one day when a young woman came with her child in her hands. She said to me she had gone to two or three different convents asking for a little bit of milk for her child.

She was answered, ‘You are lazy. Go and work!’ And so on.

By the time she came to our house, when I took the child it died in my hands. I felt ashamed to look at the cross because Jesus has given us so much and we could not give even a glass of milk to this little child.” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Almighty God, in every age you have called out men and women to be Your faithful servants. We believe You have now called us to join that great company who seek to follow You. Grant unto us today and always a clear vision of Your call and strength to fulfill the ministry assigned to us. We pray in the name of Christ. Amen.

Play we must

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“Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

“Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.

“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.

“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.

“Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.

“Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.

“Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.

“Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

“Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you. ~Matthe5 5:3-12 (CEB)

“Nothing surpasses the holiness of those who have learned perfect acceptance of everything that is.

In the game of cards called life one plays the hand one is dealt to the best of one’s ability.

Those who insist on playing, not the hand they were give, but the one they insist they should have been dealt- these are life’s failures.

We are not asked if we will play. That is not an option. Play we must. The option is how.” ~From Taking Flight by Anthony de Mello

Lord God, Creator and Redeemer, claim my life and ministry for Your high and holy purpose. Help me to remain faithful and steadfast all day long, and when evening comes grant a peaceful rest in Your presence. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

To follow

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“I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.” ~John 21:18-19 (CEB)

“To follow Jesus Christ, who was betrayed, wept, bled, and died before he rose again, is to be at high risk of being taken where we had not intended to go. Eugene Peterson pinpoints the trouble with praying: We are often asked to respond in ways that we never intended when we first began to pray.

It matters little where or in what century we are called to live out our Christian life. The witness of those who have gone before informs my own experience, telling me that we are often taken to places where we receive unwarranted accolades and to other places where we receive unwarranted suffering and pain. A disciple, one who chooses to be student and follower of Jesus, is not a ‘self-made person’ and is not on a personally designed journey.

The key word in this theme is taken. Just as Jesus was taken into the wilderness after his baptism, so we are taken into the experiences  of discipleship that we do not necessarily choose for ourselves. We choose to follow Jesus and then Jesus chooses where we will go. It is that simple.

The saving truth here is not that we are taken where we do not want to go; rather the saving truth is that we are not alone. There is One who leads us and foes with us. Jesus arose from baptism and ;the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness’ (Mark 1:12). But even there the angels (messengers of God) were with him and tended to his needs. While we may not choose the place to go, we can choose to remain with the One who sends us and there find comfort, companionship, grace, peace, and joy.” ~Ruben P. Job

Almighty God, help me this day to present my body as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to you. By the power of Your holy spirit make us strong to fulfill my ministry this day. In the name of Christ. Amen.

Love makes the difference

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When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.”  He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” ~John 21:15-17 (CEB)

“As I drove up the driveway, our children raced out the front door and met me at the car. Before I could bet my suitcase out of the car, they were telling me about Puddles, the dog that had followed them home from the little store a few blocks away. We had talked nearly every day about the dog we were going to get when we were able to move into the country. Everyone wanted a big dog like a Dalmatian or a black Labrador. But as I got out of the car I noticed a dog that was small and scraggly, of mixed origin, very soon to be a mother, and yet very personable. The chorus of affirmation for the dog from our children was compelling. But I gave no clear answer to their question, “Can we keep Puddles?” I did not want to adopt a dog like this, and I knew I had to move quickly to make sure we did not have a dog and a littler of puppies on our hands.

I suggested that after our evening meal and our shores were completed we would talk about what to do with the dog. Later, when we were all settled down in the family room, and with the dog in the garage, I asked each of the children to tell me why he or she thought we should keep Puddles when we could get a beautiful and large dog. Each of them had a good reason. She needed a home. We would enjoy the puppies. She would be a watchdog. Last I turned to our eight-year-old son and asked him what we should do with the dog and why. His eyes filled with tears and he said, “We should keep her.” I asked him for his reason why we should keep this scraggly dog. He responded through his tears, “Because she loves me.” We kept Puddles. She was with us while our children grew up and when they called home form college and career, their first question was always, “How is Puddles?” She lived with us seventeen years because one little boy lover her enough to save her.

Jesus knew that only love was strong enough to keep the disciples faithful in the days ahead. His repeated questions to Pete were meant to clarify for Peter what the real love of his life was. Only love is strong enough to keep us faithful and the question or qualification is first of all about our love. For God knows what we know: Only love is strong enough to keep us faithful . . . and joyful. May our love for God continue to grow in the presence of God’s love for us.” ~From A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, I thank You for loving me so much. Thank You for the adoption into Your eternal family. May the gratitude I feel for Your love strengthen me as I go about Your will for my life. In this time of prayer, come to me. Speak words of life and love into the depths of my being. May I feel Your presence this day, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

True meaning

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The Son is the image of the invisible God,

the one who is first over all creation,

Because all things were created by him:

both in the heavens and on the earth,

the things that are visible and the things that are invisible.

Whether they are thrones or powers,

or rulers or authorities,

all things were created through him and for him.

He existed before all things,

and all things are held together in him.

He is the head of the body, the church,

who is the beginning,

the one who is firstborn from among the deadb

so that he might occupy the first place in everything.

Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him,

and he reconciled all things to himself through him—

whether things on earth or in the heavens.

He brought peace through the blood of his cross.

~Colossians 1:15-20 (CEB)

“Living in awareness of the risen Jesus is not a trivial pursuit for the bored and lonely or a defense mechanism enabling us to cope with the stress and sorrow of life. It is the key that unlocks the door to grasping the meaning of existence. All day and every day we are being reshaped into the image of Christ. Everything that happens to us is designed to this end. Nothing that exists can exist beyond the pale of His presence (“All things were created through him and for him”- Col 1:16), nothing is irrelevant to it, nothing is without significance. ~From Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

O God, who through the grace of Your Holy Spirit doth pour out the gift of love into my heart, grant me health, both mind and body, that I may love you with my whole strength, and with a glad heart so that I may perform the things that I am called to do for Your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Just a little walk with Jesus

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On that same day, two disciples were traveling to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. While they were discussing these things, Jesus himself arrived and joined them on their journey. They were prevented from recognizing him.

He said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?” They stopped, their faces downcast.

The one named Cleopas replied, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who is unaware of the things that have taken place there over the last few days?”

He said to them, “What things?”

They said to him, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth. Because of his powerful deeds and words, he was recognized by God and all the people as a prophet. But our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the one who would redeem Israel. All these things happened three days ago. But there’s more: Some women from our group have left us stunned. They went to the tomb early this morning and didn’t find his body. They came to us saying that they had even seen a vision of angels who told them he is alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women said. They didn’t see him. ”

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! Your dull minds keep you from believing all that the prophets talked about. Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then he interpreted for them the things written about himself in all the scriptures, starting with Moses and going through all the Prophets. ~Luke 24:13-27 (CEB)

“There are times when all of us long for the companionship of Christ. When we are facing some deep loneliness that seems to darken the brightest day, some great sorrow that has broken out heart and changed our lives, or some heavy burden that comes through no action or fault of our own. At times like these we long for the presence of one who speaks our name, understands our plight, and can break the hold of loneliness, sorrow, despair, and burdens we bear.

There are other times when we are at the peak of our powers and all is going well that we want someone to walk with us, to share the challenge, excitement, and reward of the path we have chosen. We desire a companion who can appreciate the challenge and victory of life in the days when all is well.

There are still other times when we need a companion to whom we can say thank you. There are those times when we are overwhelmed with gratitude. We know that the goodness we enjoy is not just the result of our good work but that someone else had a hand in our sell-being, comfort, and success.

At times like these it is good to remember that the risen Christ walks beside us- awaiting our invitation to stay with us, break bread with us, interpret life for us, give us hope, and share in our thanksgiving.

May we, like the disciples before us, have our eyes opened to recognize Christ as he comes to walk beside us this day.” ~Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, You who have sent Jesus into the world to suffer, die, and rise again for my sake, help me to experience Your transforming resurrection power within my life. I offer my prayers in the name and spirit of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

Chosen

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You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear the fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. ~John 15:16-17 (NRSV)

“’I am with you always.’ This is the eternal source of our daily life of prayer: This is not technique. We are in deep waters of the most intimate of all possible relationships that flow to us- forever fresh and new- from minute to minute. And, as with all that lives, open-ended, unexpected, asymmetrical, and unfolding…

You might think of or picture yourself walking with Jesus or sitting across from him. Ask him as you might a beloved friend, ‘What can I do each day to respond from my heart to your presence? What is best and most real for me?’ You may wish to ask these questions of the living Jesus Christ each day: ‘How can I best experience your transforming friendship today? What way can we best share and talk together today?’ How do you feel like responding at this moment?

It may appear that each day will differ. Or you may feel the inner suggestions to have one main way of prayer for a period of time. Whatever suggestion surfaces will be in rhythm with the type of person you essentially are- because that is the person God created and loves.” ~From Feed My Shepherds by Flora Slosson Wuellner

Almighty God, by the power of Your Holy Spirit open my eyes, ears, heart and very life to Your presence so that today I may worship and serve You in faithfulness, be blessing and healing reminder of Your love to all I meet this day. In the name of Christ, Amen.

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