Monthly Archives: December 2013

Tabula Rasa

black madonna and child

In in this post-Christmas season, anticipation of a new calendar year in which we symbolically turn a page” on our journey /life  may be lackluster.  Feeling this way, some of us  may be anticipating, dreading, longing to quickstart, wanting to skip, the next 365 days.  In this case, I suggest that we walk around in Job 23:10 in order to regain our Godly swagger. Praying in the spirit of this scripture will transport us to a position of power:

       He knows the way that I take;

       when he has tried me,

       I shall come forth as pure gold.

In the recent pre-Christmas season, we focused on the birth of Jesus, i.e., on Joseph and Mary’s stable drama.   After three days’ travel by donkey over mountainous terrain from Nazareth to Jerusalem,  Joseph and his espoused wife, Mary, settled for a space in a stable because they found no room available in the inn.  Apparently, Joseph and Mary’s child was born into the world under circumstances where stable animals were the only available witnesses.  Their stable drama ended joyously with their showing off their new baby to  some shepherds.  Having received the annunciation and then been directed by the angels,  the shepherds  got to the stable- –  actually a cave Joseph and Mary  shared with the animals  – – and saw Baby Jesus.  These first recorded visitors  left to tell the story and spread the good news of the miraculous baby, born to be the Prince of Peace.

Now, I want to tell you “the rest of the story,”  as radio personality, Paul Harvey, would say.

TABULA RASA:  MARY’S MUSINGS about the FUTURE OF HER CHILD

According to Luke 2:12-20, Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  2000 Years later, we know as much of the rest of the story as is recorded in the Bible.  We know what future events will occur in the life of this child.

WE KNOW THAT  –  When this baby is eight days old, he will be circumcised and named Jesus [Luke 2:21].   A few weeks later, his parents will bring him to the temple to present him to the Lord [vv. 22-27].   Two witnesses at his confirmation, Simeon and Anna [vv.  28-30 and 35-37],  will confirm his divinity.

WE KNOW THAT   –  wise men  from the east will bring gifts of gold, frank incense and myrrh [Matthew 2:11].  Myrrh, a special sign of royalty, will be involved on three significant occasions in the life of Jesus.  First, the gift of myrrh at his birth suggests divinity also because this well-known gum resin extraction was used as an ingredient of the holy anointing oil.   The second gift of myrrh will occur when Jesus is suffering on the cross and is offered a  drink of wine mixed with myrrh [Mark 15:22].  Women offered this pain-killing narcotic to prisoners who were crucified.   Jesus will refuse it.  The last incident  will occur when Pilate grants the unusual request of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea for the body of Jesus after his death by crucifixion.  They will provide seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes, customary for royal burials, to embalm Jesus [John19:38-40].

 WE KNOW THAT     – At the age of twelve,  Jesus will be found in temple,  confounding the rabbis  [Luke 2:41-43]

WE KNOW THAT     –     Eighteen silent years will elapse when we can infer his normal progression from childhood into adulthood [Luke 2:52].

WE KNOW THAT     –     Jesus will begin his ministry at the age of thirty.  Between the ages of thirty-one and thirty-three, he will experience a year of inauguration, then a year of  ministry/popularity, and a final year of opposition [The Gospels, passim].

WE KNOW THAT    –   After a passion-filled week,  Jesus will be crucified on an old, rugged cross to accomplish atonement for sin and reconciliation between God and man.  He will bring peace.

Yes, we now know the rest of the story, BUT  Mary could only ponder  in her heart the events surrounding the birth of her first child [Luke 2:19].  She may have renewed her vow of submission to the angel’s annunciation [Luke 1:38].

A MOTHER’S PRAYER FOR HER NEWBORN

LORD,  I thank you for this child whom I cradle before you.  I ponder in my heart as did Mary  about  my child’s future.  Yet you assure me that this baby is fearfully and wonderfully made [Psalm 139:14].

 Teach me how to implant that same assurance in her.

Help me to keep that confidence strong in myself so that I may show  her how you will strengthen her  steps from childhood to tweenhood,  , and  through her doubting teenage years  on into adulthood.

LORD,  please let the unconditional love I lavish on her lead her to trust, then rely on the love of her heavenly Father who will not let her go—NO MATTER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES OR PEOPLE IMPINGE ON HER LIFE.

FATHER,   at the set time, cause/help me to confidently let her begin fulfilling the purpose for which she has been born.  May I have the assurance of Mary:  Whatever she says to you, do it [John2:5].

LORD, please let me me be a reliable/nourishing   asset in her life all her life—a loving, /concerned /supportive mother from this cradle for as long as we live on earth.

Father ,I thank you for your faithfulness.

Amen

God bless you on your journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

S&S Call Encounter Notes: THE Christmas Story

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Today  we focus on THE Christmas story:  The birth of our Lord and Saviour,  Jesus the Christ as recorded in Luke 2:1-8:

And it came to pass in those days,

that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus,

that all the world should be taxed/registered.

And this tax was first made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And all went to be registered, everyone into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth,

into Judea,unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,

(because he was of the house and lineage of David),

To be taxed with Mary,

his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was that , while they were there,

the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,

and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Where do you go to hear this familiar Christmas  story?  What memories do you have of special “Christmas story time?”  I remember how my family began each Christmas morning at the 5:30 Mother Mary L. Shannon Christmas Sunrise Service at St. James Church.  We had to get up, wake up, and stay up!  We went to church to hear the Christmas story and to say happy birthday to Jesus at the live nativity on the church grounds.  [The scene was a re-enactment based on Luke 2:16]  Baby Jesus came into this world over 2000 years ago to live a perfectly sinless life and die an excruciatingly redemptive death – – for us.

Just as we observe the birth of famous/influential people like presidents, heroes humanitarians, scholars and probably Nelson Mandela the future, Christians around the world have adopted December 25 – -whether historically accurate or not – – as the chosen time to celebrate the birth of Christ – –  the entry of the Son of God into human history.

Think of someone you have met who has become a dominant force in your life:  influencing your thinking, your actions, your desires, your wishes, your likes, your dislikes.  Someone whom you trust unreservedly, who shows you unconditional love and understanding.  Someone who is available to patiently hear your “pity parties,” yet be available and ready – -without your coaxing, pleading  or cajoling – -to help you when you are ready to “quitcherbellyaching.”

I think of a church ritual from my childhood, girlhood and early adulthood when Christians reminded each other of such an encounter in their individual lives.  This monthly/quarterly event was called “testifying meeting” and was especially inspiring at Christmas time.  It was a time of worship when every believer in attendance had the opportunity –which many eagerly used -–to face the congregation and tell her/his “determination.”  That was the high point  of the liturgy for that particular worship service, which consisted of these  four parts:

  1. devotion  –  spiritual songs, lining hymns, prayers – -usually conducted by deacons.

2.   testifying time  –  a.  each person would sing her favorite  song/hymn

b. tell about the specific time when she first

met/encountered Jesus, when he came into her life to

stay

c.  express a “determination” to follow him for the rest of

her life through happy and sad times and to tell others

about the birth of the Savior. Hear the determination in

this song:

While shepherds kept their watching

o’er silent flocks by night,

behold, throughout the heavens

There shone a holy light.

Go, tell it on the mountain,

over the Hill and everywhere,

Go, tell it on the  mountain

that Jesus Christ is born.

                                  d. ask the congregation  to “pray my strength in the Lord, so

                                         that I will hold out and be the among the ones he is calling

                                        for in these last days”

3.  invitation to joiners, a time to encourage others to experience meeting this wonderful Saviour [ For persons were as zealous as were the shepherds at the Annunciation who heard the “First Noel” in Luke 2:8-18.]

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,

keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them,

and the glory of the Lord shone round about them,and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold,

I bring you tidings of great joy,which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,

who is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you:

Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host.

praising God, and saying,  Glory be to God in the Highest,

and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass,

as the angels were gone away from them into heaven,

the shepherds said one to another,

Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see that thing

which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph

and the babe lying in the manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad

 the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things

which were told them by the shepherds.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” also captures the holy exuberance the shepherds heard:

Hark! the herald angels sing,  “Glory to the new born King;

Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies;

with the angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the new born King!”

4. benediction  – a blessing upon the congregation, releasing them to

                             proclaim the birth of Jesus the Christ

Now, you and I are modern shepherds who must herald the significance of the birth that generates our enthusiasm for this season.  For us, there is no Christmas without CHRIST.   Let us pray that our heavenly Father will fill us with the Holy Spirit who will, in turn, unloose our stammering tongues to the glory of God so that we may proclaim the significance of the birth of Jesus .

My friend, may God speed you on your journey through this Christmas season and may he redeem the time you spend with and for him!

M e r r y   C H R I S T m a s !

READ   –  LUKE 2:8-18 for this familiar precedent

READ   –  P 115  – “Hark! The herald Angels Sing”  #115

They vowed to “Go, Tell It on the Mountain,”   #122  [verses First]

LET US DO LIKEWISE.

BENEDICTION- A Blessing upon the congregants/poeple

LET US PRAY THAT OUR FATHER WILL FILL US WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

BE  PLEASED AS HE UNLOOSES OUR STAMMERING TONGUES TO  PROCLAIM THE BIRTH OF JESUS THE CHRIST.

May God speed you on your journey through this Xmas season and redeem the time you spend with him!

S&S Call Encounter Notes: Childhood Faith

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CHILDHOOD FAITH

. . . a little child shall lead them . . . Isaiah 11:6

We are moving increasingly into the Christmas season.  Christmas is simply about children.  Think about the children in your life and what Christmas means to them.  How will they celebrate Christmas?  What is important to them during this season that is observed worldwide?  Think about yourself as a child growing up – –  your young, pre-teen, pre-adult years.   What did you expect to do?  What did you do?   Was it a time of family?  Fellowship? Faith?  Whisper a prayer for a recall of  your childhood Christmas memories – – no matter  whether especially pleasant or especially painful. Ask God to bring them back to your remembrance.  Then ask him, appropriately, to recapture the happiness  or/and  to release the hurt.

God is surely able to make all things work together for your good and give you some memories  to share.  [Romans 8:28 and Psalm 45:1]  Yes, Christmas is about children, for they  are an heritage/blessing from the Lord.   [Psalm 127:3]

Note, again,  . . .  a little child shall lead them . . .

Know that in our family, we believe that the infant son who was born in Bethlehem over two thousand  years ago to the young virgin Mary and her espoused husband, Joseph, was actually the son of God who came to earth to bring reclamation, reconciliation and restoration to the broken bond of love between God and his beloved creation.  Therefore,  in the spirit of Proverbs 22:6 and in terms that she could understand, we trained our daughter from babyhood in this belief.  We told her the story of the birth of Jesus.  we sang such songs as these:

Jesus, Jesus!  O what a wonderful child! Jesus, Jesus! So tender meek and mild.

New life, and hope to all he brings.. Listen to the angels sing:

Glory!  Glory!  Glory to the new born King!

And this one:

Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;

things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here!

Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,

stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

First let me hear how the children stood  ’round His knee,

and I shall fancy His blessing resting on me.

Words full of kindness, deeds of grace

all in the lovelight of Jesus’ face.

Into the city I’d follow the children’s band,

waving a branch of the palm trees high in my hand.

One of His heralds, yes, I would sing

Loudest hosannas, “Jesus is King!”

Yes,   we wanted her to know that Christmas is about the birth of a special child.  Still, we were happily surprised about two weeks before Christmas when our probably seven year-old daughter created a nativity scene – – right there in our family room!  Such a precious memory!  Hear now about a time she put her childhood faith into action.

A Christmas Story  –  Daughter’s First Nativity Scene

“Daddy, Come and see the place I have made in the den to represent the birth of the Baby Jesus!”  she said, tugging on her father’s arm.  Curious, her daddy obligingly went and looked.  “See Baby Jesus, on his blanket?  He’s smiling at us!”  Her daddy looked.  What he saw was Phillip, her beige teddy bear, lying on her favorite yellow baby blanket.  What he said was, “That’s nice, sweetheart.”  “Stay here, Daddy.  Sit down for a minute.”

Daughter ran to the kitchen.  “Mama, come and see how I have helped you this Christmas.”  Mama lowered the fire under her pots and followed her excited daughter into the den.  “See, Mama, I have made the creche for you so you won’t have to make it this year.”  “How very helpful of you, Baby,”  her Mama said,  smiling widely.

“Wait right here, Mama.  I’ll be right back.”  Daughter ran to her Grandmother’s room, where she found her reading her giant print Bible.  “Grandma,  bring your Bible into the den for a minute.”  Then, she gently helped her grandmother walk slowly to the den where her Daddy and Mama were still waiting, chatting about their daughter’s creativity.  “Grandma,  look at Baby Jesus!”  she exclaimed.  Grandma looked then hugged her grandbaby and kissed her on both cheeks, pronouncing Phillip “the best Baby Jesus she had ever seen in her life!”

Pleased that her family endorsed this place of honor that she gave to her most cherished companion, Daughter was proud of her effort – -why she had even brushed Philip’s  fur, polished his eyes and smoothed the wrinkles in his plaid bow tie to get him ready for his special duty station.  Finally, the kiss she had given him seemed to leave his face fixed in an innocent smile.

She said, “Let’s sing Silent Night!”   Next, came the highlight for her first nativity scene:  «Daddy will will you read the story of the birth of Jesus from Grandma’s Bible?”  Of course he complied, reading from the second chapter of Luke with special emphasis and humility.

Then she said, knowing how they all would be blessed, “Grandma, will you pray a Christmas prayer for us and for all the children everywhere?”   Grandma cleared her throat in a second and began talking to her dear Lord.  She thanked him for her family, especially her precious granddaughter, and she pronounced blessings on children everywhere.  All eyes were misty by the time she said,  “Amen!”

This experience  deepened our “grown-folks” understanding that Christmas is about childhood faith.  Because of our daughter, that same nativity scene- -Phillip and all – – became a part of our Christmas observance each year, even when the family moved to a city over six hundred miles away.  After we established the tradition , anyone and everyone who came into our home at Christmastime must pay respects to the nativity scene.  Our faith is in God.  We nourish our faith by standing/meditating  on the word of God.  As David asserts [Psalm 119:105] the Word of God  guides our footfalls on life’s journey and God is always available as our refuge, strength, and help in times of distress. [ Psalm 46:1-2]

Most of all , Christmas is about love:  God’s love for us and our love for him.  A little child knows God loves him:   Yes Jesus loves me!   Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so!  [Luke 18:16]

Because we all are children of God [Romans 8:16 and 1 John 3:10], we  should praise  Him with the same devoted enthusiasm as little children:

I am so glad that my Father in heav’n

tells of His love in the book He has giv’n.

Wonderful things in the Bible I see – –

this is the dearest, that Jesus loves me. 

Tho I forget Him and wander away,

Still He doth love me wherever I stray.

Back to His dear loving arms I would flee

when I remember that Jesus loves me.

 

O if there’s only one song I can sing

when in His beauty I see the great King,

this shall my song in eternity be:

O what a wonder that Jesus  loves me.

 

I am so glad that Jesus loves me!  Jesus loves me!  Jesus loves me!

I am so glad that Jesus loves me!

Jesus loves even me!

As you think of the depth of your love for Jesus the Christ, whose entrance into human history we celebrate duringt this season, I invite you to adapt the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s  poem,  “How Do I Love Thee?”  Think of Jesus and say to him:  “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”  Finally, I invite you to listen to our playlist  during the next days and re-kindle your own love for Jesus the Christ.

May the Holy Spirit  make your journey through this season melodious!

 

S&S Call Encounter Notes: THE X – FACTOR

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At this time on our annual cultural calendar, we collectively—secular and Christian alike, — recognize a special season.  For secularists, it is Xmas, i.e.,   a satiating time of astute  commercialism,  hedonic consumerism and gormandizing consumption.

For  Christians, it is  Christmas, i.e.,  Christ – mass:  a designated  time for special worship service –“mass”—to focus upon Christ.    Christians see  great and constant reminders of  “Christ”  in the word  “Xmas” that  appear prominently in media. For Christians, the X, of course, represents Christ. The  “X”  was commonly used  an abbreviation for Christ  because it is the first letter of the Greek spelling of his name : Χριστός.  Repeated use by media of  “Xmas” re-enforces the representation.

Do you have someone in your life to whom you intimately refer by the first letter of his/her name?  Dee, Kay?  Jay-Z ?  This practice suggests an intimacy that soothingly coddles the friendship between you.  It is a direct line /short cut to intimacy with a friend/loved one.  Consider the following Christmas story as a memoir of such an intimacy.

Momma’s Last Christmas

Stricken by a major stroke seven months earlier, Momma lay motionless in her home hospital bed.  She was queenly resplendent in her turquoise silk bed jacket.  Only her mouth and eyes could communicate the strength of her eighty-year old soul.  Her eyes spoke to her nine  year- old granddaughter.  They said:

I love you.  I have lavished my love upon you since your first day on earth because I know I will not see you/ help you grow into the fine young woman that you will become.  That is why I have taught you precious lessons:  how to love your parents, how to love God and rely on him in every THING that happens to you.  Because God has shown me that you will handle money, I have taught you to be my  personal banker, and  had you depositing my social security checks—all by yourself.   The tellers know you and ,  despite your youth, they respect your serious, business-like demeanor.  I have taught you to respect and obey your parents—even though sometimes behind your back I pleaded/argued/threatened for their leniency.   Behind your back, mind you!    Yes, I have spoiled you—lovingly, as is the duty of all  conscientious  grandparents.  After all, I am spoiling you for two, since your granddaddy never got to hold you in his arms before he died.  I love you, baby girl.

Momma’s eyes spoke “Thank you” to her handsome son-in-law who quickly and dutifully responded to her every need—even before her last stroke.  His caring attentiveness made some people opine mistakenly.  “No,”  they said .  “She must be HIS mother because she sits in the FRONT seat beside him in the car.  No mother-in-law would have that honored seat while the wife sat in the back seat of the car.  No way!  She’s HIS mother, not the wife’s!”  Her eyes said to him:  You are such a good son.  I could not love you more if you were my natural son. I thank God for your presence in my waning years.  I am satisfied that you will protect/provide for my daughter and my granddaughter with your very own life.

Her eyes said to her dear daughter:  I don’t want to leave you, but my Father is just about ready for me to come home.  The glimpse I have of my new home is beautiful.  Soon I must go, and I will cheer you on your journey to meet me there.  We will be together again, never to part.  I will be leaving you very soon, but my love will remain and will sustain you for as long as you live.  What I have told you will not fade from your memory, and it will help you as you face the challenges of life.  I will always love you wherever I am, even when I go to be with my Father.

Momma’s last Christmas was filled with song.  Although her mouth could not speak to us, not even to her beloved granddaughter, she sang extemporaneously with a seemingly phantom choir.  Her voice was angelic:  liltingly loud.  “Come quickly, Momma’s singing!” someone would  say.  Members of her church family, whom she had mentored so spiritually, called intermittently hoping, requesting that the telephone be placed near her bed,   just to hear her singing.

One precious family memory is that of the St. James Church Christmas Carolers who came to her home to sing for her.  The family was used to going caroling with the group:  for shut-ins, at nursing homes, at designated locations in the community.  This time the carolers came to the family’s house, gathered outside Momma’s raised front bedroom window and serenaded her through the screen.  She heard them, and her eyes smiled as they sang familiar tunes.  A playlist of Momma’s favorite songs keeps the memory fresh.  Psalm 34 reflects Momma’s Testimony.

Hear her voice:

I bless God every chance I get;

my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe God;

if  things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy.

join me in spreading the news,

together   let’s get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,

he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile.

never   hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,

and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle

of   protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – –

how   good  God  is.

 Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best,

Worship opens doors to all his goodness.

Young lions on the prowl get hungry,

But God- seekers are full of God.

Come,   children,  listen closely;

I’ll give you a lesson in God-worship.

Who out there has a lust for life?

Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

Guard your tongue from profanity,

and  no more lying through your teeth.

Turn your back on sin; do something good.

Embrace peace – -don’t let it get away!

God keeps an eye on his friends,

his ears pick up every moan and groan.

God won’t put up with rebels;

he’ll  cull them from the pack.

Is anyone crying for help?  God is listening,

ready   to rescue you.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;

if  you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Disciples so often get into trouble;

still,  God is there every time.

He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;

not even a finger gets broken.

 The wicked commit slow suicide;

they waste their lives hating the good.

God pays for each slave’s freedom;

no one who runs to him loses out.

– – Message

 

S&S Call Encounter Notes: ThanksgivING

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THANKSGIVING DAY IS A DAY OF AGREEMENT. Culturally speaking, we “eventualize” this day with activities that are natural/physical, intellectual/mental, and – -sometimes— evanescent/spiritual. We observe a schedule of activities on this one day of the year that is unduplicated any other day during the year. However, what we do once per year , we duplicate every year. It becomes a tradition., simply making the un-usual usual. A day of Agreement.

THANKSGIVING DAY IS A DAY OF SENSORY EXPECTATIONS  It involves the sense of movement, kinesis, and we travel blocks or miles to get to and be where we need to be I order to participate in this cultural soiree. We want to see family and friends, touch, hug ,and kiss in the “group hug” of endearment. We imbibe traditional smells and condiments , like thyme, that we associate with the uniqueness of this day. “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go!” Of course, our greatest gratification comes as we partake of the meal, the repast – – -the eating! We give ourselves permission to satiate our sensibilities with abandon – -and without eater’s remorse! Happily we shout, “Carpe diem!” Seize the day! Eat, drink, and be merry! What we hear often – -especially as we gather at the table where a lovingly prepared feast titillates our sensibilities—is “I’m grateful for . . . .” Yes, the “T” reminds me of our collectively and culturally endorsed traditions.

The “T” also reminds me of “thanks.” What’s on your mind? Are you thinking of things that you are grateful for? Life? Health? Strength? Family? Career? Yes, such thinking brings with it the realization that “every day is a day of thanksgiving , take the time to magnify the Lord today.” Are you thinking “what shall I render for all He’s done for me? [Psalm 116:12] for my family? for my ? for my friends? For my BFF? Are you thinking of people you know? What about the people you don’t know? Those who will not have a special meal, who may have no meal. This is the day that the Lord has made; let’s ask him now to let us all rejoice in it. [Psalm 118:24]

Father God, in the name of Jesus:

Let the hungry be fed. [John 4:32]

Let the weary be rested. [Matthew 11:28]

Let the lonely be cheered. [Proverbs 18:24]

Let the hopeless be hopeful. [Psalm 43:5]

Let the burdened be made glad. [Isaiah 61:1]

Let the mourners be comforted. [Isaiah 61:2-3]

Let me be your instrument, my dear Lord.

– -Amen

Continuing in the spiritual mindset, note that the letter “G” begins and ends the second part- – “giving.” Our thanks begins and ends with God, for it is he does give us seed to the sower [2 Corinthians 9:10] and then rewards us for giving. [Mark 9:41] It is he who has made us in his image as givers in the first place. [Psalm 100:3]

Note further that the letter “i” appears twice In “giving.” This shifts our focus to the individual. I think of myself. I am wrapped up in his love. The first “I” reminds me that God goes before me, opening up the way. He begins my daily adventure /rendezvous with life. Therefore, nothing can happen that he and I cannot handle. The second “i” is followed by “g”. This reminds me that God’s “got my back.” Certainly goodness and mercy will follow me today and every day of my life. [Psalm 23:6]

Another aspect of this rumination: Giving is other directed. It is not so much about receiving.

What can I give to God and to others?—Whoever “others” may be.

                      What can I give? – – expecting nothing in return but accepting whatever good is returned to me.

Notice something else: The “ing” ending suggests the progressive tense, an ongoing action.

I Need to Give. Is there something you need to give to someone? Some special one? Do need to give some special thing?

My friend, I am thankful for your presence on the journey. May you be blessed today.

More importantly, BE a blessing to someone!