Sat, 24 November 2018
(Dn.7:13-14; Ps.93:1-2,5; Rv.1:5-8; Jn.18:33b-37)
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
“The Lord is King, in splendor robed,” our psalmist cries. “King” is our word for our great Lord; it is the best our imperfect thoughts and pale vocabulary can utter. But much more than king is our Lord Jesus Christ, for kings do come and go but “His kingship shall not be destroyed”; His “throne stands firm from of old” – it is “from everlasting” to everlasting. More than a king… He is God.
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.’” He has no beginning or end but is Himself the beginning and end of all things. He “came into the world to testify to the truth,” and now His truth is spoken, and His kingdom is coming. “Behold, He is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. All the people of the earth will lament Him. Yes. Amen.” None shall be able to hide from the Truth, from the King of “all peoples, nations, and languages.” And the same vision as John has Daniel had so many centuries before: “I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven,” He whom the Ancient One gives “dominion, glory, and kingship.” And the testimony of two witnesses holds truth, cannot be broken. He is coming, and all are called to “serve Him.”
Brothers and sisters, He “loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood,” which He offers without a fight before Pilate this day. By His sacrifice He “has made us into a kingdom, priests for His God and Father.” And the kingdom we are is not of this earth, is “not here”; and the sacrifice we offer now is heavenly – it comes down to us from above… this miraculous blood we drink and shed ourselves in His Name.
Here our King stands before us, standing in the hearts of all His holy ones. He who lives forever now draws us into the kingdom where He ever remains. Not of this world, we come before His radiant majesty. “To Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.”
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Vision of Children" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Son’s kingdom is not here,
is not of this world, but remains forever in Heaven –
let us meet Him in His reign.
YHWH, from you Jesus has received dominion, glory, and kingship. From all eternity He is your Son. To Him be glory and power forever, and may we join Him at your side.
To testify to the Truth He came into the world, to reveal your presence unto us, dear LORD. And so that we might become holy as He, as you, He died to take away our sins. May our hearts be set upon the Truth you are, the Truth He declares by His very presence among us, and may we follow Him through this world on His way to Heaven.
To this world He does not belong, and so should we transcend this place. Its honors and its power are as the dust, but with Him is life everlasting. He is the One who is and who was and who is to come – He is all things, dear God. And with Him we shall be made into a kingdom, and share in your eternal glory.
Sat, 17 November 2018
(Dn.12:1-3; Ps.16:5,8-11; Heb.10:11-14,18; Mk.13:24-32)
“He will send out the angels
and gather His elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”
On that Day “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky.” On that Day we “will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory.” “It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress,” but “everyone who is found written in the book” of Life “shall escape”; all His chosen He shall rescue. For He will not “suffer [His] faithful one to undergo corruption,” but “show [him] the path to life” and give him “fullness of joys in [His] presence.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has taken “His seat forever at the right hand of God; now He waits until His enemies are made His footstool.” Though “He has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated” and “there is no longer offering for sin,” the time is yet to be fulfilled for all His chosen to partake of His “one sacrifice for sins” – He who is our “allotted portion and [our] cup” must be drunk to the full by all His elect, must be made perfect as He by joining in His sacrifice. And though “He is near, at the gates,” ready to break in upon our world in His time and according to His ways, yet “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place”: all the tribulations must come upon this earth, and all His children must be made ready for His Day.
Brothers and sisters, He “hold[s] fast [our] lot” and “with Him at [our] right hand [we] shall not be disturbed.” “Heaven and earth will pass away, but [His] words will not pass away,” and it is in His word we trust. So let your heart and soul rejoice and your body abide “in confidence” for “the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament” on the Day of the Lord’s return. We shall not join those who “shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace” but “shall live forever” in the light of His face. Hear the word the Lord speaks to your heart; see the signs before your eyes. Join yourself to His holy sacrifice, and you shall know “the delights at [His] right hand forever” in heaven where He now reigns.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Salvation Army" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, let us shine brightly in Jesus’ presence
when He comes.
YHWH, how could we escape the judgment coming upon the face of the earth and stand in your presence forever except that Jesus has offered His sacrifice for our sins and now waits with you in Heaven for us to turn to Him and join you there? He is our assurance of your blessing. When He returns again may we be found ready to be gathered to you.
Send your angels forth, O LORD, to save us from all tribulation, to strengthen us to stand in peace even as the stars fall from the sky. The darkness let us not fear; rather, let us be purged by it of all our attachment to this forsaken place. O let us not be counted among those who have forsaken you! Abandon us not to the nether world, but let our souls rejoice in the light of your face – let us shine with you forever.
The path to life you show us, LORD, that we might find the fullness of joy in your presence. Open our eyes and hearts to your glorious coming.
Sat, 10 November 2018
(1Kgs.17:10-16; Ps.146:1,7-10; Heb.9:24-28; Mk.12:38-44)
“She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”
Jesus sits in the temple and watches as “the crowd put[s] money into the treasury.” When He sees “a poor widow… put in two small coins worth a few cents,” He calls His disciples over, and speaks the truth to them: “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.” Whatever wealth anyone else might have stuffed into the box cannot begin to compare to her whole sacrifice – it mimics His own.
And in our first reading we find another poor widow sacrificing her livelihood to the Lord and His prophet. It is the time of a great famine upon the land (called down from heaven by Elijah himself) and the widow has nothing left to eat but “a handful of flour in [her] jar and a little oil in [her] jug.” She tells us her situation: “Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” A last supper. Straits most of us can only imagine. Yet when the prophet Elijah asks her, “First make me a little cake and bring it to me,” invoking the name of the God of Israel and promising His blessings, this woman who is not even of the house of Israel does not hesitate to give first to this stranger of the only sustenance she has for herself and her son. Another sacrifice mimicking Christ’s own.
Both widows’ sacrifices shall be blessed by the Lord; we can be assured of this. For “the widow He sustains”; it is He who “gives food to the hungry” and “protects strangers”… and any offering made in His name can only be multiplied. Indeed, Elijah proves himself not to be as the Pharisees who “devour the houses of widows,” for by his presence with his benefactor “she was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well,” the flour and the oil remaining until the rains returned. “The Lord keeps faith forever.”
Brothers and sisters, Christ “has appeared at the end of the age to take away sins by His sacrifice.” He does this “once for all,” and so does not “offer Himself repeatedly.” But we, brothers and sisters, we must join with that sacrifice – it is for us to offer ourselves as He has, as these widows have, if we are to partake of its graces. As it is manifested on our altar each day, we renew our commitment to be sharers in the blood He shed. As we drink from His cup let us remember always that it is our very lives that we are giving up. And the Lord will bless us as His own. And with these widows we shall sit at His table in heaven.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Under God" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, we must give what we have to you
or we shall have nothing.
YHWH, help us to give our whole livelihood to you, to join in the sacrifice of your Son. For you will not abandon those who hunger for your love but bless them with all they need for their journey to Heaven.
The widow you sustain, dear God; those who believe in you, you indeed bless. And we must show that we eagerly await the Second Coming of your Son by not being attached to the things of this passing earth. We must rather make known our faith in you by entrusting all into your hands. For Jesus, who has entered Heaven on our behalf, taking our sins with Him that we might be purged, will not abandon us on the last day if we offer ourselves in union with His sacrifice.
All we have let us give to you, O LORD, even our food for the day, and you shall feed us from Heaven with the Bread that sustains all poor souls unto eternity. Our jar of flour shall not go empty nor our jug of oil run dry, for in them are the Body and Blood of your only Son.
Sun, 4 November 2018
(Phil.2:1-4; Ps.131:1-3; Lk.14:12-14)
“Let all parties think humbly of others as superior to themselves,
each of you looking to others’ interests rather than his own.”
The key to Christianity is to see others, even the blind and the lame and the crippled beggar, as superior to ourselves, and place ourselves at their service in love. As Christians we can never look down upon another individual; if our heart is proud and our “eyes haughty,” we are certainly set up for a fall, for the Lord who sees all and humbles Himself before all will certainly humble our proud souls. Rather, we must maintain the “fellowship in spirit, compassion, and pity” of which Paul speaks, “possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals” and thus always giving one another the “encouragement” we owe in Christ.
Jesus would teach this humility and unity of spirit to the chief of the Pharisees today. He would have him adopt a truly Christian attitude, expecting nothing in return for his feeding of the sheep, concerned only for the welfare of the poorest in his midst. Thus He would convert him to the faith by wiping the mocking smile from his face in a spirit of genuine compassion. He tells him, “Whenever you give a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or brothers or relatives or wealthy neighbors.” He should not be concerned simply with those of his blood and the people of means, for certainly these would “invite [him] in return and thus repay” him. No, quite a novel idea has the Son of God for the head of the Jewish Church: expect your recompense at “the resurrection of the just,” not on earth. Set your heart on things that are above, not below. And go beyond your blood to invite all into the hall of the Lord, especially those most in need, those most outcast. Such a call must have been shocking to the sensibilities of this Pharisee, as indeed it remains shocking to most even today. But He only calls us to do as He has done – empty ourselves completely for the good of others.
“Make my joy complete by your unanimity,” Paul begs the Philippians; and unanimity in the Lord encompasses all. In it there can be no “rivalry or conceit” because in it there are no factions: all are one in the Lord. To this unity, found only in humility, the only Son does call us all, for He knows it is there we shall find our peace; in such humble service we find our eternal rest upon the lap of our Father.
O LORD, let us not seek our reward
in the things of this world or follow in its ways;
rather, in all humility let us find our peace in your arms.
YHWH, help us to look to others’ needs and not our own, to seek to serve you in all things, not looking for reward. How shall we be humble as your Son, placing ourselves entirely in your hands? How shall we become as your children if you do not bless us? For we are selfish and self-seeking and need your grace upon our souls to save us from such vain pride.
To sacrifice your Son calls us, LORD, to unity with all our brothers and sisters. He would have us empty ourselves as He has done in coming among us and dying on the Cross. This great blessing He would make our own, if our desire were for Heaven.
Give us, O LORD, true wisdom and peace of soul to see and know the glory to which Jesus calls us by His holy sacrifice, to share the love that exists between you and Him alone. O let us be your children! free of all snares of the flesh and the world and the devil, desiring only to sup with you.
Sat, 3 November 2018
(Dt.6:2-6; Ps.18:2-4,47,51; Heb.7:23-28; Mk.12:28-34)
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
If you “fear the Lord, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all His statutes and commandments,” you will have “long life”; the Lord will “give you a land flowing with milk and honey.” The promise spoken by Moses to the people stands true, and truer, today. If we “take to heart these words which [both Moses and Jesus] enjoin on [us] today,” the kingdom shall indeed be not far from us. For these words are life-giving, they are the heart of the law, the heart of God’s love, and so breathe the breath of life upon the obedient soul: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (And the seconding of the Commandment is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”) This Command, this word of Truth and Life, the ancient Israelites inscribed upon their doorposts and lintels, and wore upon their person, never to forget what wisdom had been imparted unto them.
And now we, where shall we wear this essential Command, which silences even the hardest skeptics…? It should be inscribed upon our hearts. It should pour forth as praise from the mouth of all, all the faithful exclaiming with David in song, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” “The Lord lives! And blessed be my rock!” Our hearts indeed should overflow with love of God, who is so near us.
Oh brothers and sisters, do you not know how near He is to you now? Do you not know that Jesus “is always able to save those who approach God through Him, since He lives forever to make intercession for [us]”? Do you not know that you have a high priest who is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens,” and that He draws you unto the Heaven where He dwells? No longer do we turn to weak men, as even Moses was, but to “a Son, who has been made perfect forever.” And His Sonship we share even this day when we love as He has loved.
Love God, brothers and sisters. Love Him with heart and soul, mind and body. Let the four corners of the universe declare His praise and honor His Name in unending love of all. It is Jesus’ blood, Jesus’ love, which courses through our veins now. How much closer can we come than this Bread of Life? Heaven has come to earth in flesh of love, and raises these earthen vessels we are unto the gates of the kingdom. On the doorstep you stand; only enter in.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Love, The Meaning Of (Liars Don't Love, Lovers Don't Lie)" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, if we love you and our neighbor,
indeed we draw close to your kingdom.
YHWH, if we but keep your Word, we shall be blessed; if we but love you, O LORD our God, we shall know your love. If we worship you alone, we shall soon come to Heaven. O let your love fill us with praise of your NAME! And may that love overflow to all souls.
We love you, O LORD; we praise your holy NAME. You are exalted above all gods and your reign endures forever. And that reign you would share with all who are obedient to your Word, to your call to love.
And so your Son has come among us as our high priest; as priest and victim He stands in our midst and calls us to your kingdom through His holy sacrifice. Once for all He offered Himself that we might be saved, that He might live to make intercession for us all our days – that we might learn to love as He loves, as you love, dear God, giving all our lives for your sake and that of our neighbor. Alleluia!