Week 6 Day 1: Sent into the World
“As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Sent into the World
There are five Gospels: There’s the Gospel according to Mathew, the Gospel according to Mark, the Gospel according to Luke, the Gospel according to John, and the Gospel according to you. What is it that you know in the bottom of your heart of God – of God’s light, and God’s life, and God’s love – that you can give testimony to?
-Br. Curtis Almquist
We’re inspired this week by what we read at the very beginning of the First Letter of John. It’s what we give testimony to based on our own experience of God – what we have seen, and heard, and touched in our own lives which is undeniable, and which may be the most important revelation we’ve had from God, what, at moments when we’re confused and we don’t know what we believe, there’s probably something at the very core of our life which may be what has kept us alive and allowed us to thrive given the revelation that God had brought to us.
There are five Gospels. There’s the Gospel according to Mathew, the Gospel according to Mark, the Gospel according to Luke, the Gospel according to John, and the Gospel according to you. What is it that you know in the bottom of your heart of God, of God’s light and God’s life, and God’s love that you can give testimony to? We’ll focus on that this week.
We hear Jesus say in John chapter 17, “As you have sent me, (you, the Father have sent me) so I have sent them,” and we are ‘them.’ How is Jesus sent into this world? Jesus had a family of origin. I think it’s safe to say that Jesus’ family of origin had as much blessing, and probably as much baggage, as your own family of origin.
Jesus had to grow up. By the time he begins his public ministry, he’s 30 years old, which in first century Palestine could make him a relatively old man. It took him a long time to grow up. We know even when Jesus is on the cross, that Jesus flickers at one moment and is crying out to God whom Jesus calls Father, “Why have you forsaken me?” – this moment of feeling abandoned.
Then Jesus comes into a clearing where he’s able to say to God, the Father, “Into your hands, I commend my spirit.” So for you, what is it that has given your life a shape and distinction? There is no one else like you in this world and there never has been and never will be another you. There’s something to which you can give very particular testimony of who God is and what God does, based on your own life.
So the invitation is to draw on the uniqueness of your person – how you were formed, perhaps de-formed, as you were growing up, what the gifts are that you manifest in your life, and what is your brokenness which continues to draw you to your knees.
If you find yourself as you’re looking to what your life is to be about – how is it that you manifest God’s light and God’s life and God’s love as only you can? – you may get in touch with something which is really significant, something about which Jesus speaks a great deal, and that is fear. You may get in touch with the fear of “How can I do this? How can I face this?”
I would say that that is something that you can give to God. Fear, your fear, is something that God does not have. Give God your fear, which will make space for God to fill you with God’s power and God’s provision. It will fill in. It will fill in the space that fear has otherwise taken.
What is your life to be about? A question for you to reflect on is, given how your life has been shaped and probably mis-shaped, how it has been spent in the best of ways and in the worst of ways, how you have been formed in your life to bring you into this point in your life. What is your life to be about? How can you bear witness to God’s light, and God’s life, and God’s love?
You’re not going to be savior of the world. We have one Savior, Jesus. But your life is to be about something, manifesting Jesus’ saving help and healing and hope. You can’t do everything, but you can do something. What is your life to be about?
We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus
Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. St. Francis.”
This message was in two comments today. I was praying for God to give me direction. I did start by doing what was necessary to function and to help others do so. I looked around and God was showing me the homeless mentally ill everywhere. Earlier in life I organized homeless events and volunteered in many. In the past decade I have edited books. In the course of a week God opened the door for me to edit a book to benefit mentally ill youth, and because I needed finances, the seemingly impossible part of the task, God provided a generous kind patron who donated the cost of publication. St. Francis was right. I am still challenged by the formatting of the book but am seeing this daily devotional as part of the guidance of the Holy Spirit and thankful to Brother Curtis and all of those who commented.
I have, for quite some time, stated that my upcoming stated opinion was the Gospel According to Barbara. I think I said it as a way to offer my opinion and recognize the fact that it was my opinion and possibly it was not authentic. What occurred to me in this meditation was that the Gospel According to Barbara is at least shaped and informed bye my love of Christ and my intent to follow him. I have, because of circumstances in my past, always lacked the trust that I could have something of value to offer. But Christ has been working a miracle in me for many years. I do my best to live into that miracle in my daily life, in my work as a hospice chaplain, in my miinistry in my church and caring for pastoral needs, and now maybe I need to live into it in my own heart and trust that God can work through my offerings and fill in where needed.
I hope you know that part of the Daughters of the King motto, is “I cannot do everything, but I can do some thing. Lord, what would you have me do?” Thank you, Bro. Curtis.
I have made lots of decisions in my life that define who I am today, some of them good, unfortunately many of them bad – but altogether the effect they all had will be the legacy I leave behind when I die. But, Lord, I know you have a way of converting the worst into the best – and I trust in you. One thing I regret greatly was never having had my children baptized after they were born. At that time, I wasn’t connected to the Church, I certainly had faith – but couldn’t see how sprinkling water on a child’s head could affect their life. Somehow, back then, I trusted that you would eventually lead them to you, somehow and someway. But how, I did not know – you have a way of working in and through people that can transcend all barriers and obstacles.
The other day I was busy helping my youngest daughter with a homework project for school. It involved making a memory box – filled with certain objects, that combined, illustrated and told a story – based on a boy’s testimony of his life – from a book. She needed a crucifix, so I gave her a Catholic rosary. Later the next day, without any prompting or explanation she asked if she could keep the prayer beads, and wear them as a necklace, and of course I agreed. Now, until this point she had been positively agnostic – though we have all had quite deep conversations about God, faith, religion and beliefs. It seems that with the Rosary she could grasp something that was perhaps beyond understanding by reason. I explained to her the significance of the Rosary as a means of praying – and together we recited the Apostles Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Glory Be, and Hail Mary. The she asked about being blessed, and so I put my right hand on her head and blessed her in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – and that she might have a good life now and for life eternal. Then, out of the blue, she asked about baptism. I told her that we could do that right now, or I could take her to our Church next week where she could do it – but she withdrew from both these suggestions – but, yet, the Spirit was with us all along, and I know that a seed has been planted in her heart that will eventually bear fruit.
Lord, you used me to explain the profound and unexplainable, through love and the action of the Spirit, I was able to communicate a profound truth – heart to heart. As Br. Curtis suggests, the Gospel continues to unfold in our lives, we put it into practice in our daily lives – responding to challenges, opportunities, expressing itself in and through our relationships with colleagues at work, at home… everywhere.
I thank you and praise You, Lord God Almighty – Creator of Heaven and Earth
Pax Christi – David
The idea of a “fifth gospel” is delightful! Concurrently, and for another purpose, I spent the weekend with Fellowship of AnamChara where a friend was received as a “seeker”. And, I thought of the ‘miracles” which have occurred in my life in answer to my prayers for my grandchildren. I have plans to make a list of the direct, miraculous experiences that have occurred in my life as a testimony of God’s greatness. Thanks be to God!
I remember when I was a hippie zealot for God doing the christian commune thing and believed that we could change the world and that nothing else mattered. All the while my inner life was crashing. I learned an important lesson that its Christ who save us and those around us. I still struggle with what I am about my life has gone through many crisis points. When I look back even though it was wrong sometimes I long for that innocence of faith. the older I get I realize what CS Lewis use to say and that true faith is complex and I would add deep so it can face dark around us.
This morning, a person I know who is imminently facing death comes to mind because my closest experience with God was when I was staring death in the face with an incurable cancer. I was comforted by the words of 2 Cor. 4:17-18, “For these light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporal, but what is unseen is eternal.” I came to the personal realization that the only thing that cannot be taken from me is my faith. We may be separated from our loved ones, we may lose our physical strength, sight, hearing, creature comforts, our favorite places on this earth we may never see and experience again, but God remains and will never leave nor forsake us. God helped me to see in my darkest hour, the promise of life eternally with him is more valuable to me than anything on this earth. By grace he gave me this insight, and as a result, I have no fear of death.
Thank-you. You’re encouraging words came at a perfect time.
As a single person I am afraid every time something goes wrong with my house, my car, my laptop, my health, my dogs…..a woman in my bible study said “Anything you can fix with money is just an inconvenience not a problem” . I remind myself of that when I get scared. And now I have a second strategy – just hand it over to God. I think that will take some practice but if I’m going to be a gospel I’d better have some content!
I love your last sentence. It made me laugh while shaking me up. What is my content?
Thank you for this beautiful and thought provoking meditation.
When I converted to Christianity from Judaism, the one thing I knew for sure, was that Jesus loved me. Some weeks later I had another experience of His presence when the message I received in my spirit was that I would never be alone again. Until I received that message I never realized that I had felt alone my whole life long. Since then (nearly 30 years ago) I’ve never doubted His love for me and I’ve never felt alone. My conversion, transformation and healing journey stemmed from both of those messages. In Christ, I am a new creation! To God be the glory.
God has been with me in every phase of my life. His presence has given meaning to me, in joy and in sorrow. He truly has been my strength and my salvation, and, as the Psalmist said, “Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” I have finished rereading the Gospel according to John and so enjoyed it. It is packed full of the light and life of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I just hope that my life can reflect some of His light and love. Thanks for your message, Br. Curtis.
If I were to write a Gospel, I would emphasize the healing stories in my life where Jesus has lifted me up from physical, emotional, and spiritual deserts, and I’d add that He has always been there even when I didn’t recognize Him. I’d share how my life has been changed by His love. Br. Curtis continues, “We are not to be the savior of the world. We have one Savior, Jesus. We can’t do everything, but we can do something.”
I believe that God is sending me right here, right now, to witness to everyone I meet through personal words and action, and through the internet where the reach is wide.
“What is my life to be about?” Wow, it makes me feel like a great adventure lies before me! I am especially drawn to the suggestion to “give God my fear” and create a space for him to fill with power and provision. It’s never too late to let go of fear. Thank you for the challenging questions and loving support that you offer us, brothers of SSJE.
Wow. As I approach my seventh decade, this homily speaks directly to what I am searching and examining everyday. There’s comfort, too in knowing that I can trust my fear to God in writing these next chapters. Looking forward to this weeks discussion.
Since retirement from a second career a dozen years ago, I have been free to return to church. Before that, I had retired already from the Episcopal priesthood thirty years ago. But my home was with the body of Christ. He is the savior of the world, not me. To attempt to replace Jesus with my worldly ambition was my pitfall. I wanted to be a reformer of the John F. Kennedy type, but I didn’t have the patience and above all the humility to listen to those who differed from me. At my core, I still believe Jesus calls us to worship which is authentic and to justice ministry which speaks truth to power.
I am intrigued with the idea of the fifth Gospel, “The Gospel according to Me.” In fact, I am intrigued enough to start writing. As Br. Curtis suggests, it will tell what my life is about. The one thing I know for certain is that God has called me to pray for people, and that is definitely a God call because never in a million years could I have thought that up myself. Prayer is the special message of my Gospel.
I was pondering the question, “What is it you know in the bottom of your heart of God?”
As I sit and write, the sun is setting, beautiful light dimming through tree branches, and I am spending time in silence with God. I realize when I take the time to notice and see, I witness beauty everywhere. This wonderous God who created the beauty of the earth created me to be part of this beauty. As I see it in nature, God sees it in me. As I sit and watch the sunset, I thought of the lyrics form the Hymn, “For the Beauty of the earth.”
” For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.”
That is what I know from the bottom of my heart of God – I am part of the beauty of the earth and am surrounded by love.
I have no idea. I used to believe I knew. Now I’m “old”. I really don’t know what my life means. I’m trying to give up saving people. Came from wanting to save parents, then husband. Now I have no one who needs saving. I believe God is in me. That’s all.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. St. Francis.”
I thank you, James and Brother Curtis, and every one of you who have taken his (and God’s) words into your own hearts. It comforts me to know that so many of us share a faith and a love that surpasses all understanding.
Considerate listening and truth-telling, for me, in the face of the the confusion (and infusion) of lies during this sad day and age, has become my mantra. It is necessary to first evaluate the truth — Is it ours or is it God’s?
And so we pray…
Once upon a time, I was advised by an Episcopal priest, “There are two truths here.” I responded, without hesitation, “No, Father. There is only one truth. And it is God’s. That is all that matters.” There is where I now live, thanks to the SSJE Brothers, to life and to age itself. There is no longer any fear about speaking the truth to power.
Ours is not a comfortable place in the world, but it is a blessed place in God’s heart. I will be forever grateful for all of my early Lutheran Church catechetical training, as well as for all of my later Episcopal Church experiences, including medical mission service in Kenya — where I first me the SSJE Brothers.
We must “hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21– Paul) and which is God. And to one another.
God’s peace to you all, this Lenten and every season.
I have Soul Thirst which can only be quenched with Lamb Power!
There have been times in my life where I know i was supported by God… I would not have survived if I hadn’t been. My son died and 3 months later, so did his father…. both sudden deaths and both devastating. I was supported by many, thanks be to God, but they were often not the people I thought would support me. My support often came from unexpected sources. I had children in school and a daughter-in-law and a baby grandson that I worried about constantly not to mention the money issues that result of have your income reduced by more than half. But we are all here, doing well, and, I hope we live as God intended us to live. I have told my story many times to many different audiences but that part of my life is over now. And I find it is easy to drift away from “abiding”. My life has been full and rich, not through my own doing but through the grace of God. My family has expanded and I love and worry about each and every one of them. But I need to readdress my self back to God in an “intentional way”. I see I will have to do this as drifting through life is not what God intends for us.
Thank you James, I will keep that quote in mind when in my questioning moments.
I’m no longer that fresh-faced, eager, tireless, and “let’s change the world” person I was when I was in my early twenties. I didn’t know what God’s will for my life was back then and I must admit, I still struggle with God’s purpose for my life. I remember reading a story about Saint Francis of Assisi tending a garden with a young apprentice of his. His apprentice asked him “What would you do if you found out that the world was coming to an end within the next five minutes”? Saint Francis calmly replied “Continue to tend this garden because this is where the Lord has lead me”. Every time I wonder what the Lord’s plans are for me, I recall this story. It comforts me to know that everything that has happened to me up to this time (bad or good) has led me to where I am with the Lord.
Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. St. Francis
Thank you James – this touches me where I am at. Pondering the big questions is hard but remembering that God can use me right here , right now is truly wondrous.
Through God, my parents gave me a sound moral code and patently guided me through the turmoil of my youth, always being there for me. God gave me many gifts: inqusitiveness to explore and record his Creations, the resolve to make molehills out of mountains, literacy and creativity in many forms, humour, the skills of practicality and a drive to make positive contributions to His world. He saved me from death many times in circumstances of my own creation, the misuse of my self-will. He blessed me with a patient and loving partner and two children. My role is to dedicate my abilities to doing His Will, which he gives me opportunities to do daily. The most important of these is to love and cherish my family ; being a caring father through times of great anxiety and disability. I avoid as much as possible looking in the rear view mirror. He has forgiven me. “Living one day at a time, Thy Will not mine be done.” Amen
Brother Curtis’s most challenging observation is that there is a fifth gospel, a gospel according to me, according to each of us. In my life I have encountered two problems in presenting my gospel. The first is the knowledge that in doing so I will sound pompous, “holier than thou”, thanking God for my humility. All of which would cause the hearer to tune me out and thus not hear the good news, very good news, that I seek to proclaim. For the second problem, I will relate an incident. A colleague at work acknowledged the good traits (even some manifestation of God’s help, healing, and hope) that I exhibited but then was completely flummoxed when I tied those good traits to my going to church, to being a Christian. Was I relating my “gospel”? I think not. The question remains: How can I bear witness?.
What do ‘I’ know about God? As I was going down for the third time, He came. His amazing ‘sea of love’ overpowered me, but I knew in that instant that I was filthy, worthless – He spoke to me in my language “Richard, you’re OK. Come to me.”
My life began afresh.