Daily Devotion for December 3, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
JJ Heller is amazing. Control is so complex and full of meaning that it would take the full column to discuss it. If interested, you might want to visit this interview with her, where she discusses the song.
The cut is deep, but never deep enough for me.
It doesn't hurt enough to make me forget.
One moment of relief is never long enough
To keep the voices in my head
From stealing my peace.
Oh, control -
It's time, time to let you go.
Perfection has a price,
But I cannot afford to live that life.
It always ends the same; a fight I never win.
I'm letting go of the illusion;
I'm letting go of the confusion;
I can't carry it another step.
I close my eyes and take a breath;
I'm letting go, letting go.
There were scars before my scars,
Love written on the hands that hung the stars;
Hope living in the blood that was spilled for me.
Music and Lyrics by JJ Heller
Prayer to Find God in Nature
Morning and evening, Lord, I beseech Thee,
suffer my cry from this wood to reach Thee;
these are Thy presents, Thy heart I find
in the dark forest in sleet and wind.
As on the sea Thou sailest before,
a cloud, that our ship might see this shore,
so now Thou walkest, these trees Thy feet,
and in this brook Thy heart doth beat.
Lord, I am fearless, Thy mercy shown,
for where Thou art there is nought unknown;
what are these seemings save Thine own?
O grant Thy servant his grace of days,
whose hours shall all be filled with praise:
here Thy new works must numb’red be
and fair names fitted to beast and tree.
All to be learned, all to be loved,
thus ever fresh Thy kingdom proved.
(based on The Kid by Conrad Aiken, 1947)
For Married Persons
Father God, you have consecrated the state of matrimony between men and women to represent the spiritual marriage and unity between Christ and his church. Look with mercy, I pray you, upon those who are married, that they may love, honor, and cherish each other, and so live together in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and of peace for them. Let your Holy Spirit dwell with them, and guide them from pride and selfishness, and into the spirit of service for one another, and any children they might care for, as Christ humbled himself to serve us. This I ask in Jesus' name,
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
How to Get There
The safest road to hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
~ C. S. Lewis
Matthew 13:47-50 (ESV)
The Parable of the Net
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Notes on the Scripture
The parable of the net returns to the theme of the earlier parables, especially the Parable of the Weeds, the theme of the final separation at Judgment Day. Having given a parable using agriculture, Christ turns to fishing, and it is easy to see why. In this area, and among his disciples, were many fishermen: He was speaking their language.
The percentage of the population engaged in feeding the population was hugely higher than it is today, comprising a majority of the working class. (In 1790, 90% of the population of the United States was engaged in food production; today, it is about 2.5%.) So, He speaks parables that use farming, fishing, and baking as their metaphor. The third great source of food (and also clothing) in Canaan was herding, especially of sheep, and it should come as no surprise when this becomes the third great metaphor for Jesus' teaching.
Ancient mosaic, Tabgha, Israel
The parable itself is readily understood from the reading. The lesson is almost identical to the Parable of the Weeds, but the repetition of the same theme is significant in itself. It shows the importance to Christ that people understand the Day of Judgment completely. He wanted to engrain it so completely in his listeners' hearts that it would become their basis for understanding the world.
We live in the age between the ascension of Christ and the Day of Judgment, rather like a student in a school or college. There is a lot going on in the day-to-day world of a student aside from his studies, only marginally connected to the fundamental educational purpose of a school. There are sports and clubs; romance, friends, cliques; people must eat and drink and sleep, get to and from school and so on. A student might think that the most important thing in his life is whether he rides a school bus or drives a really cool car to school.
But eventually a day will arrive when a very sharp distinction is made: Either you get a diploma, or you don't. All of the effort put into being the class president, being popular, wearing some specific kind of clothing, etc., is utterly irrelevant. Like the fish in Jesus' net, or the plants in the farmer's field, either you pass the requirements and have succeeded at the basic task, or you have not and are “discarded”.
In our religious life, the stakes are quite a bit higher; for when graduation day arrives, those who have heard and lived Christ's word will find eternal life and joy, while those who don't will be cast into a fiery hell. “The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Christianity has a very hard edge. Once we really understand and incorporate this parable into our thinking, it radically changes the way we see the world.
We look ahead and prepare for the future, so that when it arrives, we find ourselves rewarded. How things change when on graduation day, suddenly a person — who might have been a nobody, ignored or even despised by the cool kids — is standing in valedictorian robes giving a speech, and the most popular boy or girl in the class is gone. How wonderful it will be for Christ's children, to find that He has fulfilled his promise of forgiveness and enter a world more beautiful than we could imagine; and how terrible for those who denied God during their lives.