"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves ... " - Philippians 2:3
Our pastor tried hard to ensure the faithful received the sacraments on a daily basis by offering them outdoors last spring during the pandemic. We were told to walk single-file, pace ourselves along six foot markers placed in the school parking lot, and took turns to ensure social distancing as we crisscrossed through the crosswalks. It was a beautifully orchestrated procession that worked with the finest military precision.
But it didn't come without its share of scolding, snapping, and correcting when we stepped out of the well-calculated route. The gentleman who monitored the crowd was there every day in his school crossing guard attire, keeping an eagle's eye on everyone's movement, offering correction when needed.
You couldn't help but notice this man's presence. He was very intent and purposeful in keeping the lines moving and flowing without interruption. Every day, day in and day out, seven days a week, he was there. "He must be a good school crossing guard," I often thought to myself, thinking that this was probably his real profession under normal circumstances because of the great care and concern he showed for the people and the process. One day I stopped to thank him for his continual daily service. He gratefully acknowledged me and stated that "some days are better than others."
I was humbled to learn a few months later that the good gentleman in the school crossing guard attire was actually the school principal; but the greater humility was shown by the gentleman who humbled himself to do the work that needed to be done at that time.
O God, thank you for showing me the humbleness of others, and guide me to be more like them. Amen.
"... the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' " - 1 Corinthians 11:23-24
The priest held the Host in his hands. He bent over the paten to get closer to his Beloved. He lovingly gazed at Him, caressed Him with his fingers, and slowly and gently uttered the words of consecration. "This IS my body ..."
Then the priest took the Chalice in his hands. He peered into the depths of the cup. He fixed his eyes on His blood, which had been shed for him and for us. He intently spoke the words of consecration as he swirled His blood within the cup. "This IS the Chalice of my blood ..."
Witnessing this priest during the Eucharistic Prayer was a powerful, life-changing experience. He was no longer "present" to the congregation, but was supernaturally elevated between Heaven and earth. He was One with Jesus, and Jesus was One with him.
And we were all beneficiaries of the encounter.
Lord Jesus, sanctify Your priests. Amen.
Do you feel as though we're in some pretty turbulent times right now? It's like the country, and the world, are spinning in a downward spiral. A walk in the park helped to put a lot of what's going on into perspective.
The sign pointed to a "steep grade ahead", and yet it feels as though we're already sliding down a big hill. Between the pandemic, the election, losing a job, educating the kids, and visiting family, could the grade really get steeper? As it says in Mark 5:13, "... and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned." Are we going to drown in this misery?
But yet, we've been here before. The sign said "prehistoric earthwork", and it was hard not to chuckle. While it seems like these are bad times, other generations have suffered through many, if not worse, pandemics, elections, social changes, and even wars. We can look back at history and know that we are here today because others survived it before. We can also look at our faith and see "... we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:7). We are God's "earthwork"; we've been around since prehistoric times, and God has always prevailed.
Further along, the sign questioned whether this was a "fort or sacred site?". Are we singularly building up a defense or a plan of attack so we can plow through these tough times? "Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?" - Luke 14:31. Perhaps instead of erecting a fort on our own so we can conquer these enemies, we should instead choose to be a "sacred site", relying on our good God to make all things right, for it says: "The one who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.'” - Revelation 21:5.
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.
"When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God ..." - 1 Corinthians 2:1
The GPS led us to a used car lot. It was not the building, nor the business, we were looking for. Yet the address of the used car lot, and the surrounding buildings, were in line with where we wanted to be. We drove around the area and around the area again. The business we wanted was nowhere to be found.
One more time around the area. "There it is! We found it!" A nice little building in this dingy little town with a brilliant neon sign welcoming us in. It wasn't there before, but now it was there. Once inside, the workers were so helpful and friendly. They seemed like a band of angels.
We've been to that area a number of times since then. We've driven up and down that road on various occasions. We can't find that building or that business again. It was there before, but now it isn't there. What happened to that nice little building in this dingy little town?
It's a mystery. It's unexplainable. It was a miracle. It was a band of angels.
And with that call, the SpaceX rocket blasted off into the atmosphere. A decade of preparation, research, and testing culminated in the successful launch of a new era in space travel for the United States.
The plan, in the not-too-distant future, is to open up the heavens and the stars as a vacation destination for those seeking an out-of-this world travel experience.
Not sure if I would want to step on the moon or go to Mars, but perhaps it would be intriguing to visit Heaven for a bit in order to "check it out". Wonder if that would be a locale you could select when flipping through the time-share brochure.
What about you? Have you booked your reservation yet?
PHOTO: REUTERS/Thom Baur
"Again his voice roars, his majestic voice thunders ..." - Job 37:4
The cacophony of noise drums in my head. The medical term for it is "tinnitus"; I simply call it "aggravating". While some refer to it as "ringing" or "buzzing" in the ears, I wish it were only a "ring" or a "buzz".
I have read of some people who patiently pray for the noise to stop so that they can sit silently and listen for the voice of God. There has to be a different approach.
Maybe this is God's way of getting my attention. Perhaps He is speaking, loud and clear; I just refuse to listen to it. I see it as "aggravating noise"; He sees it as a still voice speaking thunderously to me.
"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." - 1 Samuel 3:9
"... For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say." - Luke 12:12
I visited my friend on a Monday. He had brain cancer for 14 months. He told me the doctor recently told him there was nothing more they could do for him. He said he no longer cared about work, sports, or anything else: "those things aren't important anymore," he remarked.
I held his hand, kept silent for a bit, and then tried to convey encouraging, uplifting, positive thoughts. "It is all in God's hands," I told him. "Yeah ... God," he said. When I left, I told him I would see him again in a few weeks.
My friend died five days later. I guess I didn't get it. It didn't seem like he would die that soon after I saw him. I was planning on seeing him again. Should I have said more? Did I say the right thing?
Yes. I will see him again. At some point in time.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
OMG! The butterfly landed on my hand in the backyard. How cool is that!! I could feel it tickling the back of my hand. And, then, in the blink of an eye, it was gone.
Do you have a moment when God was so close to you, you could touch him and feel His tickling deep in your soul?
O God, come close to me. Enable the Holy Spirit to come alive in my soul. Amen.
"Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures ... God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems ... God saw that it was good, and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas ... " - Genesis 1:20-22
It was a breathtaking sight. Two dolphins swimming in and out of the wake of the boat. They were playing and dancing and just having fun! All of this took place against the backdrop of a beautiful golden sunset mirrored in the calm water of the sea. It was indeed a breathtaking sight.
God saw that it was good.
And so did I.
(Photo taken in the Gulf of Mexico by Fort Myers Beach, Florida)
"As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' " - Luke 9:57
Many years ago when I was learning to drive, my dad went with me for a ride through the park. Along the route, he pointed out some nice houses on the right side of the road. I don't remember what happened next, but there was a ditch, and it wasn't pretty! I do, however, remember the lesson learned that day: the steering wheel goes where the eyes lead.
So where are your eyes leading you? What are you steering toward? What corrections do you need to make in order to stay on course?
Holy Spirit, lead me along clear paths and do not let me stray from the plan. Amen.
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."