True meaning

 

The Son is the image of the invisible God,

the one who is first over all creation,a

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

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

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.

My deepest power

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made know to you everything that I have heard from my Father. ~John 15:13-15 (NRSV)

“The great spiritual teachers are not concerned about domination and power in the sense our culture uses it. Their power is in descent, not ascent. I find, in fact, my deepest power is what Jesus visualizes on the cross as powerlessness. We Christians believe that the crucifixion of Christ- utter powerlessness- is his moment of greatest power. This recognition is at the core of all spiritual teaching. It is a recognition that dramatically turns one’s reality upside down. It is a paradox, a dilemma, and finally becomes a choice.” ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

I know, O Lord, that if I follow close to You nothing shall be able to separate me from Your endless life and love. Give me the grace to make Your word my home, that I may know You more intimately and follow You more closely. Amen.

Moment by moment

These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead. ~Philippians 3:7-11 (CEB)

“The holiest of men still need Christ, as their Prophet, as ‘the light of the world.’ For he does not give them light, but from moment to moment: The instant he withdraws, all is darkness. They still need Christ as their King; for God does not give them a stock of holiness. But unless they receive a supply every moment, nothing but unholiness would remain. They still need Christ as their Priest, to make atonement for their holy things. Even perfect holiness is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ.” ~From “Christian Perfection” by John Weslsey

Moment to moment, breath to breath is not such a bad way to live if it keeps me in God’s light. It helps me to feel better when some of Christian history’s “great’s” speak of having to live just one day at a time. It is the way we were intended to live so that we never think too highly of ourselves and thus take our eyes of the reason we are able to live in the light in the first place.
Thank You Heavenly Father, for the power of the resurrection and the journey towards eternal life. May I follow in the footsteps of the saints that have gone before me always striving for perfection. Amen.

 

God of the living

Some Sadducees, who deny that there’s a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a widow but no children, the brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother .Now there were seven brothers. The first man married a woman and then died childless. The second and then the third brother married her. Eventually all seven married her, and they all died without leaving any children. Finally, the woman died too. In the resurrection, whose wife will she be? All seven were married to her. ”

Jesus said to them, “People who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy to participate in that age, that is, in the age of the resurrection from the dead, won’t marry nor will they be given in marriage. They can no longer die, because they are like angels and are God’s children since they share in the resurrection. Even Moses demonstrated that the dead are raised—in the passage about the burning bush, when he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He isn’t the God of the dead but of the living. To him they are all alive. ”

Some of the legal experts responded, “Teacher, you have answered well.” No one dared to ask him anything else.

Jesus said to them, “Why do they say that the Christ is David’s son? David himself says in the scroll of Psalms, The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right side until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’  Since David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be David’s son? ” ~Luke 20:27-40

“As we practice the Art of Passingover, we begin to personify the truth of this saying of Jesus. Again and again, we willingly die by ‘letting-go’ and ‘letting-be’ only to discover the rich harvest that awaits us in ‘letting-be’ and ‘letting-grow.’

To face death with such willingness is revolutionary in this culture. Our culture is largely based on the denial of death in any of its form. For most of us, death is the opposite of life, so we deny it in order to live in peace. In the Art of Passingover, however, we experience death and life as organically related parts of a larger whole; we experience them as inextricably wedded to one another within the messianic process of growth and creativity. So, rather than deny death, we affirm it by creatively living through it; in order to become what we are not, we willingly die to what we are. That is how it is in the Art of Passingover.

As we begin to experience the on-going interrelatedness of life and death in practice, our whole approach to human growth, and to how life unfolds, changes. Formerly, we may have thought that the cycle of human life begins with physical birth and ends with physical death. Given the bias of our culture, we may even have graded the stages along the way on the basis of how close they came to death. So, we gave youth a decided ‘plus,’ middle age a perplexed ‘plus-minus with a question mark,’ and old age a definite ‘minus,’ if we considered it at all. ~From The Art of Passingover by Francis Dorff

Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Your Son to defeat death. May I prove to be worthy of that age of resurrection. Thank You for being the God of the living. Amen.

Nothing wasted

That’s why all the faithful should pray to you during troubled times,so that a great flood of water won’t reach them. You are my secret hideout! You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of rescue! I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you. ~Psalm 38:6-8 (CEB)

“Everything that is comes alive in the risen Christ- who, as Chesterton reminded, is standing behind us. Everything- great, small, important, unimportant, distant and near- has its place, its meaning, and its value. Through union with Him (as Augustine said, He is more intimate with us than we are with ourselves), nothing is wasted, nothing is missing. There is never a moment that does not carry eternal significance- no action that is sterile, no love that lacks fruition, and no prayer that is unheard. ‘We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all those who love [God]’ (Romans 8:28, emphasis added)” ~ From Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

There are days that what I am going through just can’t seem possible for my greater good. Those days I just put one foot in front of the other and make it to the end of that day to the best of my ability, trusting Christ is walking behind me directing my steps. Even the areas of my life that I have thought dead Christ can take these areas as well and make it fruitful once again. For these times I have hidden Romans 8:28 in my heart trusting that He is the God He says He is.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Your Son to earth to conquer sin and death so that I might have hope. Amen.

A living hope

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish—an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you. Through his faithfulness, you are guarded by God’s power so that you can receive the salvation he is ready to reveal in the last time.

You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials. This is necessary so that your faith may be found genuine. (Your faith is more valuable than gold, which will be destroyed even though it is itself tested by fire.) Your genuine faith will result in praise, glory, and honor for you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you’ve never seen him, you love him. Even though you don’t see him now, you trust him and so rejoice with a glorious joy that is too much for words. You are receiving the goal of your faith: your salvation.

The prophets, who long ago foretold the grace that you’ve received, searched and explored, inquiring carefully about this salvation. They wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was saying when he bore witness beforehand about the suffering that would happen to Christ and the glory that would follow. They wondered what sort of person or what sort of time they were speaking about. It was revealed to them that in their search they were not serving themselves but you. These things, which even angels long to examine, have now been proclaimed to you by those who brought you the good news. They did this in the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven. ~1 Peter 1:3-12 (CEB)

So in all the ups and downs of our life we greatly rejoice (1Peter 1:6), and we can take our cue from Peter, who experienced more than a few ups and downs. Simply saying ‘In this you rejoice’ was not enough, so Peter said it again: ‘Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you so not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy; for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls’ (v.8). This is the meaning and spirit of Easter ~Norman Shawchuck

May the peace of God fill my heart, mind, and activities all this day long. Amen.

Never alone

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”

With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.” ~Matthew 28:1-10 (CEB)

At this very moment when you read these words, you and I are in the presence of the living Christ. To remember this truth is to be shaped constantly by the presence of God in Christ in our lives. We often forget this central truth of the Christian faith, and when we do, we are easily overcome by the troubles of the world.

For me, what I write will pass before the eyes of the One about whom I write. As I write, I hope that my ordinary life and ordinary capacity will be energized, directed, and used by the One who gives me life and has called me to this ministry. If I allow myself to think that this ministry and this project are all up to me, I risk feelings, from despair to arrogance. However if I remember that I am not alone, but think, work, and live in the presence of the living Christ, I remain hopeful that even the most simple and ordinary task carried out in that presence and with the assistance of Jesus Christ is sacred, meaningful, and useful.

For you, what you read comes not from the word processor of someone full of years and short of energy or imagination. For these words are now read and heard in the presence of Jesus Christ who is able to use the most simple and ordinary words and events to enlighten, comfort, heal, and direct the seeking heart.

The risen Christ is with us and therefore we need not fear the events of this day or any day that lies in our future. We know that each day will be lived in companionship with the only One who is able to rescue, redeem, save, keep, and companion us through every experience of this life and the next.

This realization does not take away the pain or uncertainty that life holds. But it does give us strength, wisdom, guidance, and most of all, a Companion to travel through each of these experiences with us. East Sunday and every Sunday are gentle yet dramatic reminders that we are not alone never our own. As followers of Jesus, we walk with God in Christ, and that makes the journey rich in meaning, joy, and peace no matter where it leads. Jesus Christ is alive and reads with you mow words that are intended to turn your eyes, heart, and live more fully toward God. ~From A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Ruben P. Job

Almighty God, you who have sent Jesus into the world to suffer, die, and rise again for our sake, help us to experience your transforming resurrection power within our lives and ministry. We offer our prayers in the name and spirit of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Happy Easter!