Thu, 31 January 2019
(Heb.10:32-39; Ps.37:3-6,23-24,39-40; Mk.4:26-34)
“You need patience to do God’s will
and receive what He has promised.”
Brothers and sisters, “we are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and live.” Whatever “great contest[s] of suffering” may be before us or behind us or upon us even now, we do not “surrender [our] confidence” in the Lord but stand strong, enduring all by our “trust in Him” and so coming by these means to the kingdom of God.
My friends, we know we have “better and more permanent possessions” in heaven, and so “the confiscation of [our] goods” upon this earth, the “insult and trial” we have to endure, and even the prison into which we may be thrown, hold no sway over our souls and do not deter our resolve to follow the way of Christ – in fact, they but increase our firmness in the Lord. For seeing how “He delivers [us] from the wicked and saves” us when we “take refuge in Him” reveals to our souls the firmness of His hand upon us and the passing nature of any vain temptation or torture. We comprehend hereby that we need but “commit to the Lord [our] way… and He will act”; He is the one who preserves us from all harm and sees that fruit is born in our lives.
And so, day by day we come to Him; night after passing night we approach His presence. We grow in His sight even as “the soil produces of itself first the blade, then the ear, [and] finally the ripe wheat in the ear.” Even unto the day of judgment we shall grow so gradually, so blessedly, steadily producing fruit in His glorious light, and thus avoid any condemnation. For He has taken possession of our souls; His hand is upon us now, and from such marvelous grace we cannot turn our faces away.
“A brief moment, and He who is to come will come; He will not delay,” says the Lord; and so, brothers and sisters, let us “live by faith” as the Lord’s “just man,” knowing full well that “He will make justice dawn for [us] like the light,” that on His Day we shall be drawn into the kingdom of God. “Bright as the noonday shall be [our] vindication,” so let us endure all patiently and bravely in this world, ever bearing fruit in His name.
O LORD, help us to endure all persecutions
that we might grow steadily unto your kingdom.
YHWH, let us take refuge in you and there find protection and blessing. Let us grow gradually unto your kingdom, enduring all with patience and faith. Your justice will dawn for the man who remains steadfast in your sight.
O LORD, what should we care if we must suffer persecution, if our goods are confiscated and we are thrown into prison? For what blessed possessions we have in you, those which last forever. And so, increase our faith day to day as we see your hand continually rescue us from all distress, from every trial; let us ever grow unto your presence and make our home in your branches.
If we could but be the man you desire us to be, LORD, for our own sakes! If we could but trust in you and your constant blessings! Then we would forever be sustained, knowing that you will not delay your coming but very soon we will be with you in eternity. Be with us as we wait here.
Wed, 30 January 2019
(Heb.10:19-25; Ps.24:1-6; Mk.4:21-25)
“Since we have a great high priest who is over the house of God,
let us draw near in utter sincerity and absolute confidence.”
Let us shine our light without fear, for it is the light of the Lord and cannot be removed. “Let us hold unswervingly to our profession which gives us hope, for He who made the promise deserves our trust.” Do you think He will fail you in your commitment to Him? No, His love is always first to come; you need but follow.
And let us “encourage one another,” brothers and sisters, even as Jesus does us all in our gospel today. Let us “rouse each other to love and good deeds,” calling one another to shine our light, the light that is in each of our hearts by the grace of our Savior. “Our hearts sprinkled clean from the evil which lay on our conscience and our bodies washed in pure water,” ready we are to do His will in this world; “the blood of Jesus assures our entrance into the sanctuary,” and so, with our place in heaven set firm, we hesitate not to put our love “on a stand” and let it pierce the darkness all around.
“We should not absent ourselves from the assembly,” brothers and sisters. We should not think we need not gather together in His name. For we cannot take strength alone to fight our battles in this world; apart from one another we will be worn down by sin, by pride. Our light is not our own but is meant to be shared; indeed, it belongs to the whole community for it belongs only to the Lord. And it can only grow and increase when given in measure to others; otherwise it will be taken from us.
So let us draw near our Lord as we draw near each other in the sharing of our gifts. Let us be as “he whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain,” and our gifts will be acceptable one to another, and our lives will be acceptable to God. And we shall “ascend the mountain of the Lord” and “stand in His holy place” – the place He makes for us by His sacrifice… “We shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God our Savior,” if we seek His face alone.
Do not be afraid. Hide not your light. Enter His presence, do His will, accepting the grace He imparts to our lives. He calls you to join in His sacrifice.
O LORD, all the world is ours
if we but come to Jesus for the cleansing of our sins.
YHWH, let us be the race that seeks your holy face and to shine your holy light to all around us. This world is your own and we are in your hands, and none of us can ascend to you if we come not through your only Son. Let us come to Him with confidence and joy and seek to serve one another and the salvation of all. Then we shall be seeking you; then we shall be serving you – then we shall be standing again in His stead, and so find your holy blessing and receive it more and more.
O LORD, let us give ourselves as Jesus has done. Let us be His very flesh and blood. Bless your Church, O God, with His love, with His light shining in every member. Let us not hide in fear but freely offer the gifts you impart to each of our lives for the service of the whole Body. The more we give the more we shall receive, for the more we give the more we share in your love. Let us not fail to shine forth your light as you call us to do.
Tue, 29 January 2019
(Heb.10:11-18; Ps.110:1-4; Mk.4:1-20)
“I will put my laws in their hearts
and I will write them on their minds.”
He will plant His seed firmly upon “good soil,” and it shall yield fruit abundantly. Let us be open to receive His word each day.
Today we hear Jesus’ well-known parable of seed sown in four places: “on the path,” “on rocky ground,” “among thorns,” and “on good soil”; and the Lord makes clear that only in the last place will the seed bear a profitable yield. And, of course, the Lord hereby calls each of us to consider what place we make for the seed with our lives. Clearly, “what the sower is sowing is the word,” and just as clearly, our hearts are the ground into which that word is sown. Therefore, the question is: What kind of hearts have we for the word of God, for His love? The seed does not change; in every place it is sown the same. It is only the soil which changes, and thus determines its fruitfulness. Are our hearts barren of the Spirit, or wrought with stones or choking thorns… or do we make a welcome place for the love of God to take root in our lives and grow? Though our tree shall be known by its fruit, only we really know where our heart stands with God, and so this question Jesus would bring to our minds, not to condemn us for our emptiness or hardness of heart, but that we might turn to Him and bear fruit in His light, that He might take away the “sins and… transgressions” that keep us void of life.
Do you know the Spirit at work in your hearts, brothers and sisters, at work in your souls? Is His word taking root in you and being nourished by the waters of the Lord? “To you the mystery of the reign of God has been confided,” and so, what a pity it would be to turn from His instruction, or fall short at all in preparing a place for the Lord to reside. The Spirit burning in our hearts, the blessing of His pure light, is all we should thirst for in our lives. “Like the dew” before the dawn He comes; each morning you should find yourself wet with that dew and set to do good works in His name.
Yes, brothers and sisters, upon the heart of each of His children, the Lord God writes His name, places His law, His love, by the blood of His only Son. He thus makes us one with His infinite presence, ever giving growth to our tree. With His word piercing our souls, our soil is prepared to receive His seed. Let us therefore open our hearts to His light touch – His finger, His breath, His word, inscribing His NAME at the center of our being – and we shall grow in Him even unto the kingdom.
O LORD, let us be cleansed of our sin by your Son
that we might be good soil
to receive the Word He offers
and bear fruit in your NAME.
YHWH, our sins and transgressions remember no more; the blindness of our minds and hardened of our hearts take from us forever. By the sacrifice of your Son this is accomplished in our lives. Let us be good ground to receive His Word and bear fruit in His Name.
Jesus sits forever at your right hand, O LORD; He remains there ever to cleanse us from our sin. His sacrifice is complete and whole; let it be made effective in our lives.
Rule over us, O LORD our God, through the scepter of your only Son. By the power that is His from you, let our days be ordered as holy flowerbeds. Good soil indeed let us be, not choked by the world or weakened by the flesh or robbed of the Spirit by the devil – let our hearts be set on you alone and in you and in your Son find growth and bear fruit. May His blood water us well and His light shine through us always.
Mon, 28 January 2019
(Heb.10:1-10; Ps.40:2,4,7-11; Mk.3:31-35)
“I have come to do your will, O God.”
But what is this will of God? How do we know it? How shall we live it? The will of God is known through the obedience of the Son, in His sacrifice for our sins; and all who seek to do the will of God must follow in His way, offering themselves freely, innocently, to the Lord for the sake of the Body of Christ.
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” Jesus asks the crowd. Who enter into His fold, becoming children of God the Father? “Whoever does the will of God.” Whoever does the will of God is the only answer He could make. Whoever is as His mother and says, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word”; whoever is as His brother apostles and suffers martyrdom for the faith, unafraid to speak out in His name; whoever is like the simple sheep surrounding Him in the gospel today, listening so obediently to the heavenly words He utters… these are “brother and sister and mother” to Him. Oh what a glorious family to be among!
Brothers and sisters, we no longer have “only a shadow of the good things to come” but rather a “real image of them” in the flesh and blood of the only Son. The salvation of our God is abstract and fleeting no more, for the Lord has come in a body to make ever so real for us the glory of God. Our hearts should leap up at His presence; our ears should be “open to obedience” to hear and heed His voice. Our mouths agape, we should wonder at His presence among us and desire only to become one with Him who holds our very lives in His sacred heart, in the Spirit upon the flesh He is.
Oh have we not “waited, waited for the Lord”? And how should we not act now that He has “stooped toward” us, now that He has humbled Himself to become man? A spirit of exultation should fill us, for by His presence with us He “put[s] a new song into [our] mouth, a hymn to our God.” Our hearts are set on fire with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and we can no longer “restrain [our] lips,” but must declare even with our precious Lord: “I have come to do your will,” to join in your blessed sacrifice – to know the glory of kinship with you, my God, by whom we are all called.
O Lord, “I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth in the vast assembly.” I declare it on these pages. Please gather me this day into your holy family.
O LORD, help us to join your Son in doing your will
by laying down our lives in this world.
YHWH, let us do your will. This alone we ask of you. Let us do your will that we might join with your Son, our Brother, and be sanctified by the offering of His body for our sakes. Let us join with Him in seeking to do your will, in offering our bodies as sacrifice, in declaring your goodness to all souls.
Put a new song into our mouths, LORD, one that proclaims your glory. Let us be filled to overflowing with your presence in our souls that we cannot but speak of your kindness and your truth, your faithfulness and your salvation. Here am I; I come to do your will. Let this be our song. Let us be cleansed of sin by the sacrifice of Jesus – let our body be as His own.
O that we might be your holy family, LORD, that we might be as Mary and the apostles, giving our complete “yes” to your call. May your Son open His arms to gather us into your presence.
Sun, 27 January 2019
(Heb.9:15,24-28; Ps.98:1-6; Mk.3:22-30)
“His death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions.”
By his death Jesus has disarmed the devil; the Lord has destroyed Satan’s power by His holy sacrifice. Because of Jesus’ innocent blood, “Satan has suffered mutiny in his ranks and is torn by dissension,” for none of his adversarial accusations can stand before such pure love. “He cannot endure, he is finished”… and with him, sin also dies, for there is no longer anyone to accuse us of our sin. It is as if Jesus says, “Kill me if you will,” and once having done so, Satan has nothing left in his arsenal. Once taking all our sins out of his bag and piercing the Savior through with their cumulative strength, what more power has he to effect death? Death has its day, and life – the life that is the love of the Son – has triumphed over it: our sins’ effects have come full force against our Lord and Maker, and “His right hand has won victory” over them.
And so this great promise the Lord can make, this astounding statement He brings to our ears: “I give you my word, every sin will be forgiven mankind and all the blasphemies men utter.” Though the sin against the Spirit will not be forgiven – for how can he who calls salvation condemnation find the grace of God; how can lies find discourse with Truth? – yet all the sins man has committed in his ignorance and lust will be washed clean in Jesus’ blood when any soul comes humbly to Him. And in consequence of this blessed mercy, “those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance,” for our Savior has “entered heaven itself that He might appear before God now on our behalf.” Yes, He serves as mediator now, interceding before the Father against our transgressions, that He might prepare for us a path to His kingdom. His cross and His sacrifice stand as our ladder unto heaven.
“The Lord has made His salvation known” by the offering of His Son, and to “all the ends of the earth” “His holy arm” is revealed. He has appeared once in weakness to take away our sins, but “He will appear a second time not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.” And so, as we are washed clean of sin in His blood, we must stand ready for His final coming, for our promised reward, “sing[ing] praise to the Lord.”
O LORD, cast all the demons far from us
that we might worship you in faith and truth
and come to your kingdom.
YHWH, we should be offering you and your Son songs of praise, not blaspheming against your goodness toward us. For He has come to deliver us from sin, to cast Satan from our midst that we might enter your kingdom and glorify your NAME – let us not doubt or deny the grace you send us; let us not court condemnation with a hardened heart.
There is a pride from which we suffer, LORD, a pride and a fear. We are unable to humble ourselves before your majesty or receive the love you bring. Our hands are grasping and our hearts impure, and so we do not see how much we need the salvation wrought by your Son. Help us to turn from our sin, to seek the blood of Jesus upon our souls, that we might become pure and innocent as children before you, living only in the truth, and so, joyfully singing your praise.
Sat, 26 January 2019
(Neh.8:2-4a,5-6,8-10; Ps.19:8-10,15; 1Cor.12:12-30; Lk.1:1-4,4:14-21)
“He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it.”
These words are spoken of Ezra the scribe who “brought the law before the assembly” of all Israel as he stood above them preparing to read the word of God, but it surely more distinctly refers to Jesus the Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, who reveals Himself to the souls in the Nazareth synagogue today. As “Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all might understand,” so the Word is perfectly read and interpreted for us in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came “into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage” in Isaiah which speaks of Him: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me…” Thus is “fulfilled in [the people’s] hearing” the salvation promised from all time; the presence of the Word is with us in flesh and bone.
Brothers and sisters, the eyes of all are filled with vision of His light, of His glorious being in our midst; all ears are filled with the sound of His voice, like gently rolling thunder soothing our hearts. And so we see. And so we hear. And so His Church has eyes and ears of the Lord, for we become “Christ’s body and individually parts of it.” Our feet now walk with Christ and our hands serve Him, and all for the blessing and honor and upbuilding of the whole. If I write this to you now and you hear, do I write for myself alone? Is it even I who write at all? Are not all things in the Body in the Lord, taking strength from Him and nourishing in turn all its parts? What are we apart from the Body – we could not stand alone! Does the Lord not reveal these things to us in the opening of Scripture before our eyes? Is He not whole and one with all?
In our first reading all wept at the words come from the mouth of Ezra, and all celebrated together this day of feasting. All stood as one when the book was raised, and all were prostrate as the name of the Lord was praised. The Body is one, as St. Paul tells us, and none go off on their own: “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”
Brothers and sisters, “the ordinances of the Lord are true, and all of them just.” Let us live as one in the WORD of the Lord, “the words of [our] mouth and the thoughts of [our] heart find[ing] favor before” our God, that the world might see the truth and the light of Christ alive in His Body.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Body of Christ" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, your Spirit be upon us
to accomplish your will in Jesus’ Name.
YHWH, your Law is perfect and is perfectly revealed in the presence of your Son. He it is who fulfills in our hearing, in our sight, the glory of your Word. Here is the Word made flesh for us to taste, and so to become as His Body.
High above us Jesus stands to shine the light of your wisdom upon all souls. By His presence in our assembly all eyes are enlightened, for by Him your command is made clear. And what gifts are thus given to your Church, O LORD, by the Spirit upon us now.
How shall our eyes take in the vision you share with us in Him? How shall we hear of the joy He proclaims? How shall we come out of our prisons and embrace the grace of His message, dear LORD, we who have dwelt so far from your will?
Refresh our souls this day, dear God, with the flesh and blood of your Son. Let us become one with Him and declare your truth to the world.
Fri, 25 January 2019
(Heb.9:2-3,11-14; Ps.47:2-3,6-9; Mk.3:20-21)
“Behind the second veil was the tabernacle call the holy of holies.”
To this holy of holies in the temple of Jerusalem only the high priest could come, and only once a year. So holy was it deemed. This tabernacle contained the ark of the Lord with the two tablets upon which the commandments of God were written, and some manna from the Israelites’ travels through the desert. This was truly sacred ground for God’s chosen people, a place they held in awe.
In our gospel the people press upon Jesus; they gather in great numbers at the door of the house where He is staying, sensing that this place is a holy of holies, that there is something inside that makes it sacred. But from this holy tabernacle they are not excluded for its sanctity, but welcomed by Him who is inside, who makes it holy. So much does He welcome those who come to His door that He does not take time even to eat. Better He should feed those who come to Him with His sacred presence than that He should feed Himself, for He will not see any turned away.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus has “entered once for all into the sanctuary, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation,” and He Himself has become the “holy of holies”: He Himself is the sacred sanctuary in which God reposes. And He is with us. To this day He is in our presence. Do you not know that He rests in every tabernacle of every one of our churches on this earth? Do you realize the holy of holies that is in our midst? And when He is exposed upon our altar for all to adore, do you realize that here “God sits upon His holy throne”? And do you come to Him? More than a mere image or reflection of the glory of heaven, truly that transcendent glory is present in this bread the angels consume, and which is offered us here.
And so, should we not “shout to God with cries of gladness” or prostrate ourselves in absolute reverence at this the presence of “the Lord, the Most High, the awesome… the great King over all the earth” here in our midst? Should we not receive Him worthily, realizing that here is the holiest of holies whom we cannot reverence too greatly, whom we cannot worship enough? “God mounts His throne amid shouts of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts,” and we should join in this celebration and “sing praise to our King” before the throne upon which He sits, before the Tabernacle in which He rests.
Come to Him in sacred wonder. In this Sacrament He waits. May “the blood of Christ… cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God!”
O LORD, your Son has ascended into your presence
carrying our sins and washing us clean in His own blood –
how incomprehensible is your great love for us!
YHWH, let us worship you, O living God, through Jesus your Son, who has entered into your sanctuary carrying all our sins that we might be cleansed of them and offer you holy praise. He is your Tabernacle in our midst. Let us come to Him and there find our healing, and there find our salvation.
O LORD, your Son cares only for our salvation, not for feeding Himself. His very body He would make our food and so He offers all His life, every hour of His day, for our salvation. Never would He turn away from us or keep us waiting for your grace. Let us not fail to come to Him to find the blessing He imparts.
The blood of the Christ cleanses our consciences and provides for our eternal redemption. It carries us to the Holy of Holies where you dwell, O Most High God. In awe let us sing your praise with Him who mounts His throne this day. Reign over us with your love; through the blood of your only Son may we stand unblemished in your presence.
Wed, 23 January 2019
(Heb.7:25-8:6; Ps.40:7-10,17; Mk.3:7-12)
“Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through Him,
since He forever lives to make intercession for them.”
Oh how the people approach Him today, seeking healing, seeking grace: “a great crowd followed Him from Galilee, and an equally great multitude came to Him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Transjordan, and the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon” – from all around they came to press upon Him, to press upon Him… “All who had afflictions kept pushing toward Him to touch Him. Unclean spirits would catch sight of Him, fling themselves down at His feet, and shout, “You are the Son of God!” So great were their numbers He needed to take refuge in a fishing boat. Oh “the press of the crowd against Him,” the press of the crowd. They could not resist drawing toward Him who stood at the center of the universe, Him who stood in the place of God, Him who was God. Greater than the pull of gravity was the pull of their hearts toward salvation.
And do you think He has left you, brother? Do you say, “Where is He now that I need healing, that I may press upon Him myself?” He has not left you alone; He has multiplied His presence and increased His grace through the ministry of His apostles. They now go out to those who would press upon Him, and through these priests they find the high priest, He who is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens.” Indeed, He is not on earth anymore and His ministry is not earthly – yet He is ever present to all who stretch forth their hands to Him. Do you not know the immense mercy available to you in the Sacrament of Confession? Do you not realize the heavenly food you eat in Holy Communion? Press upon Him this day; approach the priests who, despite their imperfections, hold the power He has left in our midst, and to your loving God you will come.
“Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry now,” and “He is mediator of a better covenant,” an eternal covenant. Brothers and sisters, “we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in heaven, minister of the sanctuary and of that true tabernacle set up not by man but by the Lord.” What greater gift could we ask for? How much more exalted could we be called to be than to receive mercy from Him who dwells in the heart of the Father, than to take food from the hands of Him who holds the hand of God?
O Lord, “may all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, ‘The Lord be glorified.’”
O LORD, your Son has taken on our flesh
that He might draw us
into the sanctuary of your presence
O let us join ourselves to Him!
YHWH, your Son is able to save all those who approach Him, for He sits with you in the heavenly sanctuary having offered Himself for our sakes. And so the crowds press upon Him, and so the devils cannot but recognize His power over them… and so we are saved from our sin by our faith in Him and offering ourselves to you through His hands.
O LORD, may we be an acceptable sacrifice to you, joined well to the sacrifice of Jesus. May we say with Him, “I come to do your will,” and think of nothing but obedience to your call. Write your law within our hearts that we might transcend the darkness of this place as we align our lives with your Son’s and die to all that keeps us from you. He is made perfect forever in your presence and intercedes for us to be made perfect with Him. O let us press upon Him this day that we might ever glorify your NAME.
Tue, 22 January 2019
(Heb.7:1-3,15-17; Ps.110:1-4; Mk.3:1-6)
“Without father, mother, or ancestry,
without beginning of days or end of life,
like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.”
We hear today more specifically about “Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God,” whose name means “king of justice” and also “king of peace,” who is therefore so like our King Jesus; it is in his line the Lord takes His place.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor,” King David declares of his Lord and our Lord. Indeed before the dawn of light upon earth, Jesus is King: He is the only-begotten Son of God whose rule is from everlasting to everlasting; and His priesthood, like that of Melchizedek, is “in virtue of the power of a life which cannot be destroyed” – not by physical descent but by spiritual ascension. From God Himself He receives His kingship and His priestly anointing.
In contrast to the eternal priesthood and princely headship of our Lord and Savior, we see in our gospel those whose power comes only by “virtue of a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent,” and which is, therefore, passing away. Indeed, before their eyes it passes this day as Jesus stands before the Pharisees at the front of the synagogue and calls them to acceptance of the greater glory now in their midst. But they “closed their minds against Him” as they refused to realize the limitations of their own calling as leaders of the people, choosing to cling to a dying law and a power which is being taken from them even as a greater is offered, rather than stretching forth their hands to the Lord, in whom the law takes life and finds fulfillment, through whom all power comes…
Yes, the Lord “stretch[es] forth” “the scepter of [His] power” even as the man stretches forth his “shriveled hand” here at the front of the synagogue, before all the people and their teachers on a sabbath day, and finds it “perfectly restored.” The same He would do for each of them and for all of us, if we but recognized His transcendent power and glory, if we but realized He is the Son of God.
O LORD, your Son is of the Spirit
but we are of the flesh;
help us to offer this poor flesh
through His eternal priesthood.
YHWH, in the line of Melchizadek your Son comes to us, without beginning of days or end of life, for by you He is begotten before the world was brought forth. And so His power is like your own, and so in Him we shall not die but be healed of all evil upon us.
We praise you, LORD, for your justice toward us, for the presence of your Son. For in Him we take our refuge; in Him we find our salvation. O let us freely reach out our hands to the grace He offers that He might stretch forth His scepter toward us and we be made whole in your sight!
The Day you make is one of peace, O LORD, and so the Son you send brings to us that peace. Let us give to Him our possessions, even our very body and soul; for all He touches He sanctifies, and so we will thus be blessed by Him.
No hardened heart could ever destroy Him or His love. Let us sacrifice ourselves with Him, LORD, that we might join Him at your right hand.
Mon, 21 January 2019
(Heb.6:10-20; Ps.111:1-2,4-5,9-10; Mk.2:23-28)
“I will indeed bless you, and multiply you.”
God promised to bless Abraham, to make his descendants numerous as the stars; and “He swore by Himself,” “by oath,” to carry out His promise, thus giving an unshakable, “unchangeable” “firmness to [the] promise.” God does not go back on His word. And so, “after patient waiting, Abraham obtained what God had promised”; He became the father of many nations, of all those of faith.
Now if God is so faithful, should we who are “heirs of His promise,” who are children of Abraham in the faith and so the sharers of the same blessings promised to him, should not “we who have taken refuge in [God]… be strongly encouraged to seize the hope which is placed before us”? For we, “through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises”; and greater promises than Abraham do we receive at the hand of our Lord now, for our “hope extends beyond the veil through which Jesus, our forerunner, has entered on our behalf.” As David “entered God’s house… and ate the holy bread which only the priests were permitted to eat,” and “even gave it to his men,” so Jesus enters His Father’s house, passing through the gates of heaven into the sanctuary, into the holy of holies, and there partakes of bread at His Father’s hand… and indeed shares it with us, His brothers.
Oh brothers and sisters, each day we partake of the bread of the angels from the hand of the Lord; it surrounds us like the “standing grain” around the disciples. And does it not prove to us that “great are the works of the Lord, exquisite in all their delights”? Doesn’t it reveal to our souls that our hope in Him is “a sure and firm anchor,” that His love for us is strong and all His promises are fulfilled in our midst, before our eyes? “God is not unjust.” No, “gracious and merciful is the Lord.” “Holy and awesome is His name,” and He shares the glory of His presence with all His children: “He has given food to those who fear Him.” So, let us “not grow lazy” in faith but take strength in this food He supplies. “He will not forget [our] work and the love [we] have shown Him by [our] service.” But let us continue to serve Him in our brothers; let us “show the same zeal till the end,” that all His promises we may taste. Indeed, the more we eat His bread, the more we accomplish His work, the more His blessings are multiplied, in us and in the world!
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” The gift of God’s rest is ours, releasing us from slavery. Freedom we find in His name, blessing we find in His promise – His rest is upon us as we remain in Him. And “He will forever be mindful of His covenant”: His blessings shall ever increase in our souls.
O LORD, your Son has entered into your presence
that we might be fed with the Bread of Life –
let us hope always in Him.
YHWH, if Abraham’s cause for hope was great, how much greater is our own, we for whom Jesus has passed through the veil of death that we might enter your presence? Now that your Word has been made flesh and been given to us as food for our journey, how much stronger should our faith be, and so, how much surer our work? We should not bend in the wind like standing heads of grain but know the glory to which we are called as we reach up to you through the grace that is with us by the sacrifice of your Son.
O LORD, you are indeed gracious and merciful; you look upon our needs and answer them. You promise to be with us always and increase and multiply our works, so long as we remain faithful to you. Let us trust in your Word to us and find hope always that you are near. In Jesus your Son, you have walked among us – your great love for man let us never forget.
Give us the food we need even this day, O LORD, the Bread that is our very life.
Sun, 20 January 2019
(Heb.5:1-10; Ps.110:1-4; Mk.2:18-22)
“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Without beginning or end is the holy priesthood of our Lord; high above all sacrifices reigns His own.
“Taken from among men” is Jesus our high priest “and made [our] representative before God.” Like others He is in this respect; yet the “gifts and sacrifices” He offers are infinitely greater than any that have ever been, for it is Himself He lifts up for our sins. “He is Himself beset by weakness,” though not His own; He is Himself pierced for transgression, though not of His making – and in the cross of our condition He bears “in the flesh,” in the crucifixion He suffers at our hands, does the high priest become the victim whose blood covers the earth with redemption. Yes, “Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered; and when perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” What other high priest can boast as much?
And yet the people would limit the grace that pours forth in the blood of His sacrifice, in the sweet-smelling flesh He offers, to a dying law which has been corrupted by the hands of man. They fail to see that the old is subsumed by the new… and so the Lord seeks to teach them to receive the “new wine” He would pour into their hearts with minds open to the light of God. They do not yet know the joy His disciples experience just being in the presence of the Messiah, the bridegroom of all faithful souls; as yet their hearts have not been circumcised by the nails of the sacrifice He makes in their name. But soon their time will come, we pray. When He is lifted up, perhaps they shall see.
And in our psalm we have David’s verse of Jesus: “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool.’” Jesus is David’s Lord even then, for Jesus our Savior has always been. Beautifully does David speak of this as well, in the voice of God: “Before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.” As the dew covers the earth unseen before the sun rises, so before the Father pronounced the words “Let there be light” – first bringing the universe into being by the power of His Word – Jesus was eternally present, even as the water the Spirit moved upon.
And so He has “princely power,” seated at the right hand of God. And so He “rule[s] in the midst of His enemies,” His sacrifice destroying the death which seemed to take hold of Him. And so, like the order of Melchizedek, which came well before the institution of the Israelite’s priestly line, from all eternity His salvific priesthood is – and shall last until the end of time.
O LORD, you sent your Son to offer Himself
in our stead;
may we be clothed anew in His grace.
YHWH, the priesthood of your Son is from all eternity and will last until the end of time for the expiation of our sins. And the sacrifice He offers is Himself in the suffering and death He endures in our midst. Though He rules forever at your right hand, He humbles Himself to suffer at our hands that the evil in our hearts might be washed clean by the blood He freely sheds. O let us be made as new wineskins able to receive the grace He pours forth.
Jesus is our Prince who fights our battles and puts all our enemies under His feet. He crushes the head of the devil and destroys all the weakness by which we are beset, and He does this by the weakness He endures and the death He suffers for our sakes. O LORD, let us know the glory He would bring to our poor souls, the salvation wrought by His holy sacrifice, and let us join ourselves to that sacrifice by fasting and doing penance in His stead as long as He is apart from us, until the Day He returns.
Sat, 19 January 2019
(Is.62:1-5; Ps.96:1-3,7-10; 1Cor.12:4-11; Jn.2:1-11)
“As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.”
“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the wedding.” And it is here Jesus “revealed His glory”; here the beginning of His signs would take place in His changing water into wine.
But why? Why here at a wedding? And why this transformation as His first miracle? He would have begun His ministry some twenty years prior, in the temple at Jerusalem at the age of twelve. Would this not have been a more appropriate place, and a more marvelous age? But His Blessed Mother drew Him from there then, and He was obedient to the wisdom she offered by gift from her Spouse, the Spirit. She would teach Him of our human condition, and lead Him to bear His own patiently, that our high priest might be able to sympathize with our nature. Indeed, to all He seemed an ordinary man.
And now it is she who leads Him to accept His station as the Son of Man. Here at that most blessed, most cherished of human events – one which St. Paul tells us mirrors Christ’s own union with the Church, one spoken of repeatedly by the prophets of old (as does Isaiah today) to demonstrate the Lord’s great love for His people, and one which at the end of time (a time so marvelously depicted by John in his Book of Revelation) will be fulfilled in our midst in the descent of the New Jerusalem, the Bride, the Holy Church, from Heaven to earth… here at this feast so human and yet so divine, He simply changes water into wine. As Eve the wife of Adam once offered her husband the apple he would consume to produce our fall, so here the “Woman,” Mary, the Mother of the Lord and Spouse of the Spirit, offers Jesus His ministry, which will lead to the death that redeems us all.
And the water becoming wine indicates the transformation we all undergo, baptized in the Spirit of the Lord, wed unto heaven. And this transformation produces in the Church the “spiritual gifts,” the outpouring of knowledge and prophecy and healing St. Paul speaks of today: our marriage to God cannot help but produce blessed fruit in us, even as God’s espousal of Mary has produced the only Son.
And, of course, each day we drink the spiritual wine, the wine become blood, poured forth upon our table, upon the altar of the Church. And this primarily feeds our spirits, sustains us human beings with food from heaven, not of earth. One with the Lord do we become by the consumption of this sacred fruit; in this Sacrament our Bridegroom rejoices in us His Bride and calls us to rejoice in Him, to “sing to the Lord a new song” of the purest love as we “worship [Him] in holy attire,” in the finest, the purest of wedding garments – in His flesh and blood. Sing alleluia to our God!
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Miracle" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, no longer forsaken,
we rejoice and sing praise
at the revelation of your Son.
YHWH, we should sing as at weddings for your Son has revealed your glory to us here on this earth. You rejoice in us as a bridegroom in his bride, and should we not rejoice all the more at this great grace you bestow upon us? You make us as your own and place your Spirit within us. O make your Spouse fruitful in your sight!
In holy attire let us worship you, O LORD, clothed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pure and spotless let us be that we shall be desolate no more but know the blessing of your presence among us and partake of your surpassing wine. The hour has come to join ourselves to you by uniting ourselves to the flesh of your Son, and to proclaim such a wonder to all peoples.
Give us wisdom, O LORD, the wisdom to know that we are your own and to do your will in all things. Let us forever praise your NAME by the power of the Spirit upon us.
Fri, 18 January 2019
(Heb.4:12-16; Ps.19:8-10,15,Jn.6:63; Mk.2:13-17)
“Nothing is concealed from Him.”
In God’s eyes all men are sinners; this is what His penetrating vision cannot help but see. Yet it is just such sinners as we He has come to call, to call away from our sin. The Pharisees cannot bear this sword of truth to pierce their soul, and so they take up the sword of anger against those who are being redeemed, and He who is redeeming them. Let us not be as these hardened hearts, brothers and sisters, but expose our sin to the Lord’s sharp gaze, that He might heal us by His grace.
That Jesus Himself sees all that is in a man is indicated by His “overhearing the remark” of the complaining Pharisees today, and more clearly elsewhere in His reading their and His disciples’ thoughts without a word being spoken (e.g. Mt.17:25). As nothing is concealed from the Father, so nothing is concealed from the Son: “The reflections and thoughts of the heart” are open to Him. And He knows the troubles that affect each of us. And these, even of the Pharisees, He would heal, even as a wise physician – but we indeed must come with our souls exposed and prepared for surgery.
And though this process can be painful, and though we might say to ourselves, “We are not deserving” – though the questions of the Pharisees might be our own – yet we must witness Jesus’ attitude toward Levi and his fellow tax collectors/sinners. Yet we must see how He defends these from attack, not bringing their shame before them as the Pharisees would, but with a heart set only on forgiveness. For indeed “we have a great high priest,” one who takes our sins upon Himself, one who suffers with us our weakness in order to save us from its consequences. And so with Levi and his friends we should “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor,” both in the confessional and at the Eucharistic table, for our need He has come to fill with His love.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul”; Jesus is this law made flesh. “The command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye”; to remove the darkness of our vision, the all-seeing God has come. “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever,” and as long as we come before Him, trembling for our sin, we shall live on in His love.
Shine your light upon our souls, O Lord,
and remove all darkness from them.
In your grace you make us whole;
with you let us be holy.
O LORD, your Son has come to save us from our sins;
may the light of His Word dispel all darkness
from our souls.
YHWH, let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor in your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer. For you see into the depths of our hearts; you know well the sin that is within us – yet you are merciful in judging us, desiring only to heal us of our sickness. O let us always come humbly before you to find your blessing upon our souls, that we might ever serve you well with our poor lives!
O mighty God, O all-seeing and all-knowing LORD, let us treasure your Word, your Law, which is as balm for our troubled spirits. Let us welcome your Son to our table that He might feed us with your truth, that we might find wisdom and learn by your grace to live forever in joy in your presence.
How we need your Son, our high priest, as our physician, He who gives Himself to take away our sin. O LORD, may we indeed find your favor through Him, obediently answering His call to salvation.
Thu, 17 January 2019
(Heb.4:1-5,11; Ps.78:3-4,6-8; Mk.2:1-12)
“The promise of entrance into His rest still holds.”
But only those with faith in Him shall be made whole.
Paul says of the Israelites in the desert, “The word which they heard did not profit them, for they did not receive it in faith.” Though they had seen “the glorious deeds of the Lord and His strength and the wonders that He wrought,” they yet became “wayward and rebellious, a generation that kept not its heart steadfast nor its spirit faithful to God.” Yet they disobeyed and disbelieved. And so they entered not into His rest; they received not the grace of union with the Lord in His peaceful kingdom, but rather died in the desert in their sin. Thus does Paul warn us not to “fall in imitation of Israel’s unbelief,” but ever to “strive to enter into that rest” God holds for all His faithful.
And the faith necessary to enter God’s rest is illustrated clearly in our gospel today, as is the woe of unbelief. It is “when Jesus saw [the] faith” of those who lowered the paralytic through the ceiling to Him that He said to this poor soul, “My son, your sins are forgiven”; and it is upon hearing these grace-filled words from the Savior’s mouth that some of the scribes, those faithless souls so much the descendants of their faithless fathers, grumbled against Him and accused Him of “blasphemy.” And as the Lord here makes clear the equation of forgiveness and healing (“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk again’?”), commanding indeed the paralyzed man: “Stand up! Pick up your mat and go home,” so does this healed soul, washed clean of all his sin, with his companions and all those of faith who stand “awestruck” as they look on… so do these enter God’s rest – even as the scribes gnash their teeth.
Brothers and sisters, “God rested from all His work on the seventh day,” and that rest awaits all at their completion of the Lord’s work in this world. This truth Jesus reveals in our midst even this day. And so we “should put [our] hope in God, and not forget the deeds of God but keep His commands”; for “it is we, who have believed, who enter into that rest,” so long as we keep faith in Him.
O LORD, let us enter into your rest,
that we might rise and carry souls to you.
YHWH, how shall we have our sins forgiven if we have not faith in you and in your Son; how shall we enter into your rest if we turn away from you? We must come to you and to your Son, believing in the salvation wrought by you and letting nothing stand in our way… and you will bless us and gather us into your arms.
O Lord Jesus, forgive us all our sin this day. Cast far from us all that keeps us paralyzed, all that prevents us from rising and following you. Take away our rebellious souls, our unfaithfulness before you – O may we hear your gracious words calling us to stand and walk with you! O may we know the peace of your forgiveness!
O LORD, you are our God, and in you alone we find our rest, we find healing from all our sickness and sin. Help us to be strong in faith ourselves and serve to bring others to you as well. You await our coming to you; let nothing else matter to us at all.
Wed, 16 January 2019
(Heb.3:7-14; Ps.95:6-11; Mk.1:40-45)
“Today, if you should hear His voice,
harden not your hearts.”
Today we see Jesus continuing His healing ministry, and we see how it becomes “no longer possible for [Him] to enter a town openly” because of the public proclamation of His wondrous and powerful works. We see also how, though “He stayed in desert places… people kept coming to Him from all sides,” for His work must be accomplished. But we see most particularly the way we must come to Him to find our own healing.
“Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us,” David sings, calling all to their proper place before God. And this the leper in our gospel does today, indicating indeed to all the attitude we must have toward Jesus, the place we must find at His feet. With soft hearts we must come before our Lord in tears for the sin upon our souls. Not like those in the Egyptian desert can we be, those who “saw [His] works for forty years” yet “tested and tried” Him constantly. This generation indeed He “loathed” in His anger, calling them “a people of erring heart” who “know not [His] ways.” On the contrary, our hearts must burn with a tender love of God and one another as we approach the Lord in the desert where He waits to save us from our sin. He will match any tenderness of our own. “Moved with pity” we shall find Him, ready to gather our broken spirits into His arms.
“Take care, my brothers, lest any of you have an evil and unfaithful spirit and fall away from the living God.” See that your hearts are never “hardened by the deceit of sin.” It is always “today” and the Lord is always calling to your soul, always requiring your life from you – always offering His love to you. Offer your own in return, that you shall not be cast from His presence, that you shall not be ostracized like this leper from the community, but remain ever in His holy fold as “the flock He guides” with His gentle hand… and finally that you might “enter into His rest.” He calls you to healing at His hand; hear and answer on your knees.
O LORD, make our hearts soft and our spirits loving,
as your Son;
let us bow down to Him.
YHWH, let us not be of erring and unfaithful heart but let our love match your own and that of your Son, for He looks on our poor condition with pity and reaches out His hand to heal us of our sin, of our weakness before you. Why should we harden our hearts against Him when all He wishes is to save us? Let us accept and treasure such blessing which comes only from you.
So blind we can easily become, O LORD, so blind to your presence among us and your works done for us. So easily we are led astray; so easily we become deaf to your Word speaking to our hearts. O let our hearts not be hardened! but let us come humbly before you to worship you and call on your holy NAME. This is what brings life to our souls. In this worship alone do we find our rest.
O LORD, set us free from all pride, from all failure to remember your presence before us…. Be not angry with your wayward children but gather us into your loving arms.
Tue, 15 January 2019
(Heb.2:14-18; Ps.105:1-4,6-9; Mk.1:29-39)
“Since He Himself was tested through what He suffered,
He is able to help those who are tempted.”
And help them He does. Die for us He must. Each healing is a move of love which takes His life as sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus died on the cross for us, yes. He opened His arms and let His healing blood pour forth for all “the children of Abraham,” all those of faith. But His whole life, and especially His ministry of preaching and healing, is a dying, is a robbing of “the devil, the prince of death, of his power.” We see clearly in our gospel today how Jesus “free[s] those who through fear of death had been slaves their whole life long,” how He lays down His life for “the whole town [which] was gathered outside the door” of “the house of Simon and Andrew.” After healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a debilitating fever, He cures all who press upon Him, all “who were variously afflicted”; from them “the demons He expelled.”
And in these cures, in these expulsions of demons, do we not see our “merciful and faithful high priest” who has come “to expiate the sins of the people” at work in “blood and flesh,” dying for the nation’s salvation? Has the Lord not equated such healing with salvation, declaring there is no difference between forgiving sins and saying “be well” to the troubled soul (Mk.2:9)? And do not these demons desire to cry out that He is the Christ even as He gouges the life from them as He Himself dies? Does their rule not escape them now with every word of the Spirit He speaks? But He does “not permit the demons to speak,” for they would reveal who He is only that He might be tempted to become ruler on earth of these people who would certainly seek to crown Him king. But the salvation He brings rises beyond this dying life, and the Son of God has no relations with the prince of darkness and his lying rule.
And so our Lord “went into [the] synagogues preaching the good news and expelling demons throughout the whole of Galilee.” So He went forth robbing the devil of His reign, suffering and dying all the while, all the way to the cross, where His ministry is accomplished. And we, brothers and sisters, do we not continue His ministry to this day? Has the Lord not left the dying to us now – a cross upon each of His disciples’ backs to fill up what is yet lacking in His sacrifice? Is this not the great gift He gives us? And in His steps, by the apostles’ instruction, in union with His Church, do you walk through the suffering and darkness of this world to the Lord’s eternal light? For your sake has He died. So “seek to serve Him constantly” as He does you.
O LORD, in flesh and blood your Son has come
to drive all demons away from us
and save us from the power of death.
YHWH, your Son has come to heal us, to cast all our sin far from us, releasing us from all power of the devil. Death itself He conquers for our sakes, suffering all the weakness of our human condition that He might free us from its bonds. He has made Himself captive to flesh and blood that we might fly unto the kingdom with Him. And so, let us glorify His Name!
O LORD, how your Son lays down His life as He walks among us, taking our sickness upon Himself. How much He suffers as we come to Him to find our healing – how brokenhearted He is to witness our travail. But He does not turn from His mission or rest in His accomplishments; on He goes from place to place, redeeming all who come to Him. And this path leads inevitably to the Cross, to His death and our freedom from all sin. Let us praise Him for the sacrifice He makes, for His offering His life for our sakes.
Mon, 14 January 2019
(Heb.2:5-12; Ps.8:2,5-9; Mk.1:21-28)
“A completely new teaching in a spirit of authority!”
Thus do the people exclaim at the power of the word which issues forth from the mouth of Christ, into whose hands “all things” have been subjected. The devils see Him and shriek: “I know who you are – the holy one of God!” They know Him and they fear Him, for He has indeed “come to destroy” them and whatever authority they seemed to have. He it is who has come to return man to his rightful “rule over the works of [God’s] hands.” God has “crowned [man] with glory and honor, and put all things under his feet”; and though “at present we do not see all things thus subjected” because of man’s sin, because he has subjected himself to the works of the devil, yet Jesus has come to bring “many sons the glory,” to reveal in His own person the power of God present in all mankind.
And how does the Lord Jesus Christ destroy the devils? How does He redeem man from their clutches, from their possession? By suffering. By dying. Yes, even now we “see Jesus crowned with glory and honor” – the glory and honor to which we are all called – “because He suffered death.” By suffering death He conquered death, and thus any power the devil wielded by its weight upon our souls. And we are free! The devils are cast from us because He has walked among us; He has come into the synagogue and “taught with authority.” And so the pride of the devil is broken, and we see the angels’ place as servants to man as we see the dignity to which men are called in this Son of Man.
And the Lord “is not ashamed to call [us] brothers.” Though by our weakness, by our sinfulness, our disobedience, certainly we merit shame – and so, rightly does David cry to God, “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?” – yet He does care for us, He is mindful of us… He suffers and dies for us, taking our shame upon Himself in His only Son. And what the Lord has earned we should not spurn, but treasure the grace that is ours through our Brother’s sacrifice. Let us put ourselves under His authority that His authority might be our own, and the devil shall be gone.
O LORD, all things are under the authority of your Son,
who came to save us from all evil.
YHWH, what authority is upon your Son! Your own authority, your own glory. He has power over all the earth, and the unclean spirits are subject to His command. There is nothing outside his rule, for His rule is your own.
And through your Son, and through His suffering, this rule, this glory, becomes our own. Since He has come as our Brother, we become your sons with Him. And so, great authority you place upon your children, LORD, upon the men you call forth; for you call us to share in the work of your Son and in His consecration.
Greater than the angels is Jesus, our Savior. O LORD, only He leads us to your glory this day. May we know the blessing that is ours through the Holy One of God and listen to His teaching. Let all men to the ends of the earth hear of His fame and believe in Him, that all might praise Him in the great assembly.
Sun, 13 January 2019
(Heb.1:1-6; Ps.97:1-2,6-7,9; Mk.1:14-20)
“This is the time of fulfillment.”
Brothers and sisters, no longer does God speak to us “in fragmentary and varied ways”; this is “the final age,” in which “He has spoken to us through His Son, whom He has made heir of all things and through whom He first created the universe.” With full voice does He make Himself known now, for “this Son is the reflection of the Father’s being, and He sustains all things by His powerful word.” Jesus is the Christ, and in Him the will of God is fulfilled.
And is it any wonder the disciples “immediately abandoned their nets and became His followers,” that at once they joined Him in “proclaiming the good news of God”? For here is the One they have been waiting for, the voice they have been longing to hear, and what can they do but heed His call to join in speaking the very Word of God? James and John even “abandoned their father Zebedee,” a good man, for the greatest of men, the Son of Man, God Himself, had come to them: their hearts could not resist for here indeed was the pure reflection of their Father in heaven, whom even Zebedee desired above all. (With his blessing we can presume they go, the “nets in order” they leave behind.)
O brothers and sisters, do you know who this is has come into your midst? Do you realize who has joined your race? This Jesus whom the Father deems His Son sits at “the right hand of the Majesty in heaven,” “far superior to the angels,” far superior to all creation, for indeed all creation has come to be through Him, who is one in being with the Father. Here is the heart of our creed, this Jesus, this Christ, who is God Himself, and yet also Man with us. Of His Son the Father says, “Let all the angels of God worship Him,” and indeed “all gods are prostrate before Him.” He is “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” who are no gods at all, unable to stand before the glory of His majesty.
And so should we not bow down to Him? Should we not follow when He calls, “Come after me”? Do we not wish to join with Him who is our salvation, who has “cleansed us from our sins,” on the way that leads to “the reign of God”? Yes, the kingdom of God has come to us in the Person of Jesus the Son; there is nothing more to wait upon. The time has come. Let us now follow Him.
O LORD, let us worship your Son in His glory;
let us follow Him unreservedly this day.
YHWH, let us abandon all things to follow your Son; with the angels let us bow down and worship Him. For He is the pure reflection of your Being all our hearts have been hoping to see, and so let us answer His call for our lives.
O LORD, you are the Most High over all the earth and your Son has joined you at your right hand. His glory is far above anything of Heaven or earth, for His glory is your own – and that glory He would bring to each of us, if we would but turn from our sins and set our hearts on His reign. O let us worship Him!
Speak to us this day, O LORD, through your only Son; call us to His side that we might do your will and rejoice in your glory. Let us not be deaf to His powerful Word but be transformed by its proclamation and find the time of fulfillment at hand. Alleluia!
Sat, 12 January 2019
(Is.40:1-5,9-11; Ps.104:1-4,24-25,27-30; Ti.2:11-14,3:4-7; Lk.3:15-16,21-22)
“Heaven was opened
and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him
in bodily form like a dove.”
“Beloved: The grace of God has appeared.” Here we see its clear evidence in the Baptism of our Lord. Here He who “baptize[s] [us] with the Holy Spirit and fire” has the Spirit descend upon Himself. In our stead He places Himself (as He shall on the cross), and by the Spirit’s presence upon Him, we ourselves are made clean. This Jesus, this Son of God, shall “save us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” the Spirit which is united with His own, which is His own.
And so does He who “rules with a strong arm” enter our midst. And what does He say? “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.” He who is “clothed with majesty and glory,” who has “constructed [His] palace on the waters” and made “the clouds [His] chariot”; He who “travel[s] on the wings of the wind” and “make[s] the winds [His] messengers, and flaming fire [His] ministers”… He comes begging the prophet: “Give comfort to my people.” O brothers and sisters, “the kindness and generous love of our God [has] appeared” and our souls have been “justified by His grace.” And now we are “heirs in hope of eternal life,” life that is in His gentle hands alone.
O Lord, “when you send forth your Spirit, [we] are created and you renew the face of the earth.” And so this day you send your Spirit forth; upon your Son your Spirit rests, and remains. His prayer – which is no other than our own – you answer, and witness to us that He is the Chosen One. Upon us, too, let your Spirit rest. As “in [your] arms” you gather “the lambs,” so let us be gathered with your Holy Lamb and know the Spirit’s power upon us, that to us, too, heaven will be opened, and we may enter there in the wake of our Lord. Let the waters of heaven pour upon us. Alleluia!
Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.
Music is "Audio Track 8" by Carie Fortney; used by permission.
O LORD, be pleased with us as you are with your Son
that we might be blessed with the Spirit as He.
YHWH, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. The Spirit has descended upon your Son and through Him has come to all who are cleansed in His blood. By His grace we are made whole; because of your love, all our crooked ways are made straight, every valley filled in and every mountain made low, and we are called into your kingdom with your beloved One. O let be fulfilled in us the Good News you bring this holy day!
Our salvation is at hand, for Jesus has come to John at the Jordan and made clean the waters in which we find rebirth. Now with the Holy Spirit and fire we are baptized. And coming up from the waters we hear your voice, O Father in Heaven, calling us to your side, calling us to share your glory with your only Son.
O let us give thanks to you, dear God, for paving our way to eternal life! Though you are clothed in majesty, to us poor creatures you come to pour your Spirit upon us through Christ our Savior. Alleluia!
Fri, 4 January 2019
(1Jn.3:11-21; Ps.100:1-5; Jn.1:43-51)
“We should love one another.”
In our gospel, “first [Jesus] came upon Philip” – whose name means “love” – and invited him to follow Him. Love brought with him one in whom “there is no guile,” and he (Nathanael) declared openly to the Lord: “You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” And so we must all be of love, and be without deceit. We must all “know that the Lord is God; He made us, His we are; His people, the flock He tends.” The Lord must find us all at peace “under the fig tree” with consciences that have “nothing to charge us with.” And great things wrought by the hand of God we shall see before our eyes.
“The Lord is good,” and we must be like Him. The Lord is of love, and loving as He does we pass “from death to life”: “The way we came to understand love was that He laid down His life for us; we too must lay down our lives for our brothers.” How well John speaks of the love all need in our first reading today. Here is the voice of a man, an apostle in the Spirit of Christ, who loves “in deed and in truth,” and since he does “not merely talk about it,” but lives it, his words are alive with that truth. Love. This is “the message [we] heard from the beginning.” This laying down our lives is our guiding light leading us to the eternal life of heaven.
And so we should “serve the Lord with gladness.” We should “come before Him with joyful song.” We should declare openly that He is God, as our love leads us to do. His “kindness endures forever”; yes, His love is for eternity, and we must come to share in that great gift of love. “The man who does not love is among the living dead,” but he who loves lives forever. The world will hate us because it is not of love; but all the more we should be encouraged to love, to die to the hatred the world brings and find our place in peace under our fig tree with the Lord who is love itself.
Let us love and be of love, brothers and sisters, and we shall live forever with our Lord and the angels of heaven.
O LORD, let us pass
from the death wrought by this world
to life with you in Heaven.
YHWH, may our consciences be clear before you; may we be of love and so be of you who are love. May we be without guile, seeking only you and the peace you bring to our souls. Then we shall praise you in joy forever, for then we will be your own.
O LORD, let us be true to our call to love you and one another. Let it not be only in words that we love but in truth, with our very lives. If we do not act as your Son, how can we call you ‘Father’; how will we know you at all? You dwell in ineffable light with the angels of Heaven, and only by love do we come to that light, only by laying down our lives as Jesus.
LORD, let us know your goodness in our lives that we might enter your gates with thanksgiving for all the blessings we share with your saints. In freedom may we bless your Name, you who look upon us with kindness. To your side let us be guided by our desire to love.