God’s peace

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion. Sing aloud, Daughter Jerusalem. Look, your king will come to you.  He is righteous and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt, the offspring of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the warhorse from Jerusalem. The bow used in battle will be cut off; he will speak peace to the nations. His rule will stretch from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. ~Zech 9:9-10 (CEB)

Peacemaking must be the primary focus of all political leaders, whether in or out of power. But the temptations to personal power are too intense to be overcome by our insistently self-centered egos. Therefore, the peace must be God’s peace, a peace that is freely available when we turn inwardly to Jesus. Jesus is the model of the ultimate peacemaker, always pointing to Abba as the ultimate source of peace, justice, goodness, mercy, love, and creativity. In order to claim peace, we must relinquish our own private agendas and let ourselves be claimed by God. ~Robert A. Jonas from Henri Nouwen: Writings Selected with an Introduction by Robert A. Jonas

Heavenly Father, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. May all I do this day point back to you the Ultimate Peacemaker, our source of justice, goodness, mercy, love and creativity. Not my will but Yours be done. Amen.

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The peaceful way

When Jesus and his followers approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus gave two disciples a task, saying to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘Its master needs it, and he will send it back right away.’ ”

They went and found a colt tied to a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some people standing around said to them, “ What are you doing, untying the colt? ” They told them just what Jesus said, and they left them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes upon it, and he sat on it. Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields. Those in front of him and those following were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. After he looked around at everything, because it was already late in the evening, he returned to Bethany with the Twelve. Mark 11:1-11 (CEB)

A prince is identified with privilege, rank, and special benefits, but Jesus, the Prince of Peace, comes into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, a symbol of lowliness. His entrance is greeted with affirmation and acclamation. There is a joyous mood in the crowd as the people anticipated the promise of the prophets before them.

‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth (Zech. 9:9-10)

The promise of peace for a people plagued by war and strife was wonderful news. Perhaps now their long agony would come to an end. The promise of peace is enough to make any suffering people celebrate. Do you suffer today? Sometimes the wars within are a devastating as the wars without. At some time in our lives most of us will know the darkness of loneliness, disappointment, and despair. When the Prince of Peace comes to offer release, redemption, help, and hope, we are also filled with joy and the ‘hosannas’ burst from our lips as well.

Jesus chose the way of peace in a violent world. He taught his disciples to do the same. Just for a moment Peter forgot, and because of that, one in the arresting party lost an ear. But still Jesus rebuked Peter and courageously continued his journey as the Prince of Peace on the way to his own death. ~Rueben P. Job

Help me to continue in Your way of peace O Lord, this day and every day. May I desire to be Your hands and feet in a world full of violence and despair. Help me to shine Your light in the darkness of loneliness and disappointment so that others might know of Your joy and hope, Amen.

Real Presence

The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. ~Isaiah 28:20 (KJV)

“But God is present in reality no matter what unreality our practices and our ponderings imply. He is forever trying to establish communication; forever aware of the wrong directions we are taking and wishing to warn us; forever offering solutions for the problems that baffle us; forever standing at the door of our loneliness, eager to bring us such comradeship as the most intelligent living mortal could not supply; forever clinging to our indifference in the hope that someday our needs, or at least our tragedies will waken us to respond to his advances. The Real Presence is just that, real and life-transforming. Nor are the conditions for the manifestation of his splendors out of the reach of any of us! Here they are; otherness, openness, obedience, obsession.” ~From The Captivating Presence by Albert Edward Day

Thank You Heavenly Father for being a real and a life-transforming Presence. I thank You for pursuing me consistently and guiding me in the ways that I should go. Thank You for never giving up on me. Amen.

Awaken

Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children, you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy. Since you call upon a Father who judges all people according to their actions without favoritism, you should conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your dwelling in a strange land. Live in this way, knowing that you were not liberated by perishable things like silver or gold from the empty lifestyle you inherited from your ancestors. Instead, you were liberated by the precious blood of Christ, like that of a flawless, spotless lamb. Christ was chosen before the creation of the world, but was only revealed at the end of time. This was done for you, who through Christ are faithful to the God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory. So now, your faith and hope should rest in God. ~1Peter 1:13-21 (CEB)

If wakeful Christians harbor a wish for heaven to fulfill, they wish not for an escape from reality, but for a deeper acquaintance with reality. When wakeful Christians lament this life, they grieve this world’s trivialization of itself that obscures the more profound reality of the kingdom of God in our midst. Yet, more often wakeful Christians celebrate life, finding the mark of God’s hand in this world and beginning their praise with the discovery of the holy here. ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory’ (Isa 6:3), the seraphim sang. Wakeful vision of other worldly praise reveal angels singing of God’s reign on earth as it is in heaven.” ~From A Wakeful Faith by J. Marshall Jenkins

Awaken my mind O Lord, help me prepare for action with clear thinking. Help me live boldly in this world for You. May I sing loudly Your praises when I see the work of Your hands. All glory and honor are Yours. Amen.

With imagination and a song

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint ~Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)

“Christian existence… involves a life or incredible rhythms, of highs and lows, whether in a concert hall hearing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or in a Memphis dive trumpeting the blues. Its antinomies include a hunger for community, yet a taste for the silence of aloneness. The yearning is for intimacy, but the embrace occurs on a windswept hill called Golgatha. There is an emptying out of all thought and imagery in order to lose oneself in the Unknown and Unknowable. Yet there is an excitement over the playfulness of imagination and the intensity of mind. Christians are claimed by a past that hopes for the future by drinking deeply of the present. They are daring persons for whom belief is etched with faithful doubts. They hold tenaciously to what has been bequeathed, yet they gamble on the new being born. “~From The Art of Spiritual Direction by W. Paul Jones

Empty me O Lord so that I may be filled with Your thoughts and Your love. Help me to dream Your dreams and to dance to Your tunes. May I lose myself in the “Unknown” today and find myself in its possibilities. Amen.

Reality, Hope and Proof

Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith. By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible. ~Hebrews 11:1-3 (CEB)

“Many of our tame hopes are fulfilled on a daily basis: the hope that the sun will shine, of that the pay check will arrive as planned, or that we will get sufficient nourishment for the day. Though one is disappointed once in awhile, our anticipation of these ‘small’ things though not insignificant, is frequently realized.

By contrast, some of these same issues for people in other cultures are ‘wild hopes.’ Many of our sisters and brothers do not receive a salary nor do they get three square meals a day nor does the sun of freedom shine in their lives. Born into poverty or oppressed by social systems, these people find little joy and peace. If they are fortunate in avoiding violence they still must struggle with resentment and bitterness in their awareness of the consumption and materialism of the wealthy.

We must pray like Jesus that hope might be restored and that the earth might be recast. Only the gift of the Holy Spirit can empower us to trust in the future and to assume our rightful responsibility for the common good. Renewing the face of the earth is the work of the Holy Spirit through those people who say yes to being the Spirit’s agents of knowledge, love and kindness. Our hope, wild or tame, is grounded in God’s promise of presence. Herein is our joy and peace.” ~From Resurrection to Pentecost by Robert F. Morneau

I thank You Heavenly Father, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through Its guidance may we renew the earth. May I be the Spirit’s agent of knowledge, love and kindness. May it embolden me to hope and to dream wild dreams for Your Kingdom. Amen.

Certainty

The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. ~Isaiah 38:20 (KJV)

“It has been said that Charles Wesley’s hymns always begin on earth and end in heaven. So it is with John Wesley’s theology. He was firmly convinced of the coming day of Christ, which is not yet, but toward which humankind, with the whole creation, is moving. For Wesley, it was necessary to stress God’s ultimate victory; but it was also important to affirm the penultimate reality of God’s presence, now experienced as life that is drawn to God in increasingly focused love. John Wesley had a doctrine of final things, an eschatology, in which God’s kingdom is being presently realized even as it points toward a consummating future. The Christian lives with the lively hope that God, who has begun a good thing, will fulfill it in the day of Jesus Christ.” ~From Practical Divinity by Thomas A. Lanford

I am certain that God, who began the good work within me, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Phil. 1:6) And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

Thank You O Lord for the hope you instill in me. I thank You for Your word that tells of Your ultimate victory. Thank You for beginning a good thing… in me. Amen.

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