“Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5, Common English Bible)
Excerpts from Max Lucado’s God Came Near:
Have you caught a glimpse of His Majesty? A word is placed in a receptive crevice of your heart that causes you, ever so briefly, to see his face. You hear a verse read in a tone you’d never heard, or explained in a way you’d never thought and one more piece of the puzzle falls into place. Someone touches your painful spirit as only one sent from him could do . . . and there he is.
The man. The bronzed Galilean who spoke with such thunderous authority and loved with such childlike humility.
The God. The one who claimed to be older than time and greater than death.
Have you seen him?
Those who first did were never the same.
“My Lord and my God!” cried Thomas.
“I have seen the Lord,” exclaimed Mary Magdalene.
“We have seen his glory,” declared John.
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked?” rejoiced the two Emmaus-bound disciples.
But Peter said it best. “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
What greatness of Jesus have you seen? What majesty have you been an eyewitness of? How are you an eyewitness of the Christ?
This quote from one of my professors at Union seminary in Richmond was helpful to me this past week. Not just as something to quote in my sermon, but for me personally. I know it means something to you.
“The word for us in this text [Mark 6:1-13] is that we are not held responsible for the response to our ministries in Christ’s name, but only for our own faithfulness. With such assurance, we can witness boldly and faithfully.” (Beverly Zink-Sawyer)
Today is a day we celebrate and remember St. Francis. Francis left his wealthy family and life to embrace a simpler life that lived out what he understood to be depicted in the gospels. For Francis this meant living a life in poverty and humility just as Christ did.
“We should not think of coin or money having any greater usefulness than stones. The devil wants to blind those who desire or consider it better than stones. May we who have left all things, then, be careful of not losing the kingdom of heaven for so little.” (Saint Franics of Assisi)
This holy man has fascinated me for years. A church history class in seminary sent me on a library raid to read as much as I could about Francis. I’ve used his writings as a devotional. I’ve pondered his lifestyle and writings and what they mean to me. Above all, Francis challenged me to do something – to put my faith in action.
Let them [the brothers] love one another, as the Lord says: “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” Let them express the love they have for one another by their deeds, as the Apostle says: “Let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.” (Saint Francis of Assisi)
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve . . . . You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve . . . You only need a heart full of grace.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
A few years ago one of my former youth shared this with me from “Gombe” by Jane Goodall:
There are many windows through which we can look out into the world, searching for meaning. There are those opened up by science, their panes polished by a succession of brilliant, penetrating minds. Through these we can see ever further, ever more clearly, into areas that once lay beyond human knowledge. Gazing through such a window I have, over the years, learned much about chimpanzee behaviour and their place in the nature of things. And this, in turn, has helped us to understand a little better some aspects of human behaviour, our own place in nature.
But there are other windows; windows that have been unshuttered by the logic of philosophers; windows through which the mystics seek their visions of the truth; windows from which the leaders of the great religions have peered as they searched for purpose not only in the wondrous beauty of the world, but also in its darkness and ugliness. Most of us, when we ponder on the mystery of our existence, peer through but one of these windows onto the world. And even that one is often misted over by the breath of our finite humanity. We clear a tiny peephole and stare through. No wonder we are confused by the tiny fraction of a whole that we see. It is, after all, like trying to comprehend the panorama of the desert or the sea through a rolled-up newspaper.
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” Maya Angelou
Evangelism is deeply relational. It begins with an invitation by someone who loves God enough to love another person so that there is a genuine invitation to the other to love God also. (Scott J. Jones)
The hope of Easter is directed toward God who is able to bring life from death. At the resurrection, the community comes to life again, the scattered are reassembled, the disillustioned become full of faith, the frightened become fearless, and those who denied and deserted are forgiven. The hope of Easter is that some day time will be shot through with grace upon grace, and God’s promises will shape creation’s great conclusion.