“Permit us not, O Lord, to hear your word in vain. Convince us of its truth, cause us to feel its power and bind us to yourself with cords of faith and hope and love that never shall be broken. We bind to ourselves today, you our God: your power to hold us, your hand to guide us, your eye to watch us, your ear to hear us, your wisdom to teach us, your word to give us speech, your presence to defend us, this day and every day; in the name of the blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to whom be the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and forever. Amen.” — St. Patrick*
I confess doing too much over the course of the past week (dare I confess a longer stretch). No doubt a significant part of the effort has been to prove myself not only to others, but to myself on campus (as a campus minister) and in the classroom (as a seminary student). Are you experiencing a day, week, month, year like that? To return focus, I’ve spent significant time in the current week of Ancient Christian Devotional: Lectionary Cycle A, for which the Theme is…
God looks at our hearts, not our outward appearances, as he showed when choosing David as king, prefiguring Christ (I Sam 16:1-13). Like David, we trust God, we have confidence in his protection even when we are in the midst of great difficulty (Ps 23). The light of Christ’s grace and forgiveness dispels the darkness of sin (Eph 5:8-14) — he is the light of the world (Jn 9:1-41).*
How about this apt word taken from Tertullian?
You are human, and so you know other people only from the outside. You think as you see, and you see only what your eyes let you see. But “the eyes of the Lord are lofty.” “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” So “the Lord knows them that are his” and roots up the plant which he has not planted. He shows the last to be first, he carries a fan in his hand to purge his floor. Let the chaff of light faith fly away as it pleases before every wind of temptation. So much the purer is the heap of wheat which the Lord will gather into his garner. — Prescriptions Against Heretics.*
Father, Forgive me for when I have not only judged by outward appearance and accomplishments , but also sought the praise of others for my outward appearance and accomplishments. Bind me (by your Word and Spirit as part of your Body) to Christ and Christ alone in every aspect of my life. Grant your mercy and grace to start afresh even as I complete this post and sing St. Patrick’s Breastplate. In Christ, Amen.
As you are led, join me and encourage others to join in prayerful examination followed by singing/reflecting upon St. Patrick’s Breastplate.
More Lenten Wrestling w/God, Natural Disaster, Suffering, Good, Evil coming. …
*Week 16: Light Dispels Darkness (March 11-17/Fourth Sunday in Lent). Ancient Christian Devotional: Lectionary Cycle A. Ed. by Cindy Crosby; General Ed of Ancient Christian Devotional Set, Thomas C. Oden. InterVarsity Press. 2007. p.86.
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!