Reclaiming the Mission

“Just for a moment, in your prayer and meditation, try to enter in this enormous mystery: that you, like Christ, are God’s beloved child. In you, god is well pleased. Your belovedness precedes your birth. It will follow you all the days of your life and beyond death. You are fully loved of God before your father and mother, brother, sister, family or church loved you or didn’t love you, hurt you or helped you. You are fully loved because you belong to God for all eternity. That’s the truth you of your identity. That’s who you are. And you can reclaim it at any moment.

If you believe that you are beloved before you were born , and will be beloved after you die, you can realize your mission in life. We are sent into this world to be people of reconciliation. We are sent to teach and heal, to break down walls that divide people into different categories of value. Young, old, black, white, gay, straight – whatever divisions you can come up with – Serb, Croat, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist – beyond all those distinctions that separate, there is a greater unity. Out of that essential unity you can live and proclaim the truth that every human being belongs to God’s heart, which beats from eternity to eternity. The mystery of God’s love is that when you know in your heart that you are chosen and blessed, you also know that others are chosen and blessed, and you cannot do other than embrace all humanity as God’s beloved.”

Henri Nouwen
Spiritual Formation, page 110-111

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Where, O death, is your sting?

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 

Sunday morning at about 12:45am, my pastor from my home church passed away. It wasn’t unexpected, necessarily. We knew he was dying for a few months . . . but it all happened so quickly. One week we were emailing back and forth to see if he and I wanted to meet over Christmas break, the next I was around a table on New Year’s Eve with other members of my church asking “Do you think perhaps that was his last sermon?”

I was at home this weekend, celebrating my long weekend with those I love most. It was supposed to be relaxing, stress-free and a break from all problems. And now, Sunday morning, I was on my way to a church who had just lost their pastor.

Can I be honest? It stung.

I was there watching those who loved Archie, those who I love as well, weep for the loss of an excellent man who deserved a better finale to his life. He deserved to retire and spend time with his family. He shouldn’t have gotten cancer. It’s unfair. And now the church needs to start figuring out how to move forward. It hurts, and it’s tough reading the words in 1 Corinthians 15.

I went back and re-read my journal from December 28th, his last sermon. I didn’t take very good sermon notes; I would have written down every last thing he said if I knew it was the last sermon I would hear from him. But I look at what I did write down, and I see that Archie left us with an extreme amount of hope.

His sermon was from Psalm 91, emphasizing on verses three and four:

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Archie explained that evil will still come, and fears will come along with it. But he said “Our fear activates the promise of God: we don’t have to be consumed by fear. We’ll still have it, but we won’t live in it. God’s wing takes off the venom on the poison arrow, wiping off the worst of the evil with his wings.”

So looking at 1 Corinthians 15 again, I had to remind myself to continue reading.

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is certainly still pain; evil’s arrow may pierce us, but God has wiped all the poison off. He takes us in and shelters us under His wings. We still have fear, but we need not be consumed by it. Death doesn’t have the victory anymore. It is won. It is done. The Lord is my refuge; I shall fear no evil, for I know He is with me.

Rest & Satisfaction

a66ca4aa0333c5e0b3b68e671e4f9969I have been so tired, looking for refuge and safety in things other than the Lord. May I remember that only Christ satisfies. Every single day, I must remember that I was created for the Lord, and I will not find a sense of wholeness anywhere other than His presence.

Father I am waiting,
I need to hear from You.
To know that You’re approving
Of what I say and do.

Cause nothing really satisfies
Like when You speak my name.
So tell me that You’ll never leave
And everything will be okay.

In Your presence, all fear is gone,
in Your presence.
In Your presence, is where I belong,
in Your presence.

Father I’m returning
To the things I used to do.
Cause somewhere on the journey
I think I lost hold of the truth.

But nothing really satisfies
Like when You speak my name.
So tell me that You’ll never leave
and everything will be okay.

In Your presence, all fear is gone,
in Your presence.
In Your presence, is where I belong,
in Your presence.