DayBreaks for 5/19/20 – It Was/Is Good

Creation | Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

DayBreaks for 5/19/20: It Was/Is Good

Genesis 1:31 (CSBBible) – God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

Sometimes we may think that some of the things God made aren’t so good. To wit, rattlesnakes, spiders, reptiles, and from time to time we’re likely to think that some of the people God made aren’t all that hot. We may think gravity isn’t good if we fall and get hurt. But Genesis says that all that he made is good.

So the problem isn’t with what God made. It’s with how the things he made are used and what they do. God made us with hands that can be turned into fists to beat others or to hand food to someone who is hungry. He gave us mouths to sing his praise and bless him and others, but far too often we use our mouths to say hateful, bitter, petty things or hurt others. Our minds are amazing and can lead to create the Sistine Chapel,  Mozart’s symphonies, Michelangelo’s David, create cures for diseases and put people on the moon, or they can be used to create things like the Holocaust – unhuman and ungodly abominations.

You see, it’s what we do with God’s good things that create sin.

We should never blame God for evil, but ourselves. As GK Chesterton put it once when asked to answer a question in the newspaper, “What’s wrong with the world?”  His answer was two words? “I am.”

I can be part of the pollution or the solution. So can you. Choose you this day what you will do with God’s good creation!

PRAYER: Let us this day make the best possible use of all your glorious creation and realize that it is us, not you, that is the problem! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/18/20 – Time and the Lord’s Plan

Whose Plan is Better: GOD'S Plan or YOURS? —

DayBreaks for 5/18/20: Time and the Lord’s Plan

As earth-bound creatures we are also bound by time. We have watches and phones and computers and sirens and even the sun and moon mark the passing of time for us. We can’t get away from it. We often feel there isn’t either enough, or there’s too much of it. But have we really considered how it is the servant of the Most High?

We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the day of this writing, in our county alone in Illinois 5,904 persons have tested positive and 298 have taken their last breath. We are all anxious for time to pass and this to be over. We hope for a vaccine to put it behind us.

What does all this have to do with time and God’s plan? Consider this: imagine taking a 3 year old to the doctor and the doctor says it’s time for the child to have a vaccination. And just before the needle is inserted into the child’s arm, there is great weeping, fighting against the invasion of the needle into the tiny, flailing arm. The screaming is heartbreaking. Does the child than the doctor for that shot? No! Even the mother or father are heartbroken for what the child is going through.

But imagine, years or decades later, an outbreak of the disease sweeps across the face of the earth. People are sick and dying. But the one who was that young child does not get the dread disease because of those few moments of pain as a child. You see, the vaccine protected the child and it was only through the passing of the time that the child can appreciate what the parent and doctor did years before.

There are many things that happen to us that are painful. Like that young child we wonder why our Father put us through them, why he led us bear the pain in our lives. But know this: He never causes pain except to prevent greater pain for us. Only in hindsight can we see how these things may have saved us even greater pain and loss. Time has been the servant of the Lord in such cases.

The present pandemic, well, it is painful. But we are being taught lessons, lessons we may not even be aware of at the present. Yet there is a purpose – a far greater purpose that we cannot envision – and we have God’s promise that ALL His plans for us are for our good. Find comfort in that promise!

Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG) – I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

PRAYER: Lord, we are impatient and have such limited sight into the reasons for all that happens. May we trust you so much that we can endure with patience the present pain to know that there is purpose for all that happens to us. And give us the wisdom to wait for the understanding with faith in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/15/20 – The Problem with Legalism

Legalism

DayBreaks for 5/15/20: The Problem with Legalism

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes many shocking statements that take our breath away.  For example, he equates hatred/anger with murder and lust with adultery.  Those are not messages that we like to hear, because we’ve been guilty of both hatred and lust if we will be honest enough to admit it.  But he just keeps spinning such statements off non-stop.  And, he finally tops them all when he says, “Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Ah, thanks for that one, Jesus…that one’s simple (NOT!)”

Many who heard him that day were the Pharisees and scribes who were always spying on him, trying to learn more about him and his movement – not so they could join in worshipping him – but so they could put an end to it.  The Pharisees and scribes seemed to have a competition going between the two groups to see who could be the most holy.  They REALLY took holiness seriously!  They committed themselves to keeping the Law, to obedience.  They documented every law (613 according to them, with 248 commands, 365 prohibitions and 1521 “flavors”), wrote dissertations on the nuances of each one.  Why?  Because they wanted to be sure that they knew what the Law required so they could obey it and not break it in any way.  They were fanatical about holiness…even if they were misguided and proud of their fanaticism. 

And, in a crowd surrounded by such people, Jesus makes his bold statement: “Be perfect, even as you Father in heaven is perfect.”  Most of us would say that is not possible – in fact, we’d say it was impossible.  But the Pharisees and scribes would have loved it. 

The problem should be clear.  The problem isn’t that the Pharisees and scribes were fanatical about holiness with all their definition of the Law and what it meant and required.  The problem is that they were not fanatical enough.  They needed to reach a state of perfection in their legalism (both in terms of what the Law really meant and taught) and in their obedience to it.  In short, they could never be legalistic enough if they wanted to be saved that way.  They just didn’t want to admit it.

Those who insist on legalistic formulas for salvation today are just as misguided – and just as confused.  Anyone who says, “If you can’t obey better than that, you’ll never get to heaven” has totally missed the point.  Is obedience important?  Sure…but it is not the mechanism of salvation – never has been, never will be.  Want to disagree with me?  Let me ask a simple question: if obedience is that important to salvation, how many times can a person be disobedient before they are doomed?  100?  1000?  10,000?  If there were a number, Jesus would have told it to us and we’d be able to keep track.  But another part of the problem is that sometimes we sin without being aware of it: I offend through some careless words, I fail to give thanks when I should, I set up an idol in my heart that I’m not even aware of as an idol.  Legalists are fond of saying that one unforgiven sin is enough to send a person to hell.  And I’d agree with that.  The key has to do with the forgiveness of Jesus and God’s grace.  Jesus paid the price on the cross for every single one of my sins – past, present and future.  That’s why Paul could say that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Jesus doesn’t have to go back to the cross and die again each time I sin for the simple reason that he paid the price, “once and for all” for sin.  My salvation is not based on any level of obedience, but on my acceptance, by faith, of the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus.

The motive for obedience is to please God and be a blessing to others.  It is not for salvation – or we are all doomed because we can never be legalistic enough in our obedience to achieve it. 

PRAYER: Lord, we want to honor you with our obedience, but help us understand that we will never be good enough, wise enough, obedient enough, to be saved unless we are perfect like the Father is perfect.  Thank you, Jesus, for applying your perfect holiness to us through your blood! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/13/20 – The Poor in Spirit

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit - New Boston Church of Christ

DayBreaks for 5/13/20: The Poor in Spirit

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. – Jesus

It is easy to get confused about what Jesus is saying here.  He’s not saying that poverty is blessed…nor is he saying that we need to necessarily sell all we have and give it to the poor – to become materially poor – in order to receive this blessing given to the poor in spirit.  Throughout the centuries, there have been Christian men and women who chose to become materially poor in order to minimize those things that may have distracted them from spiritual commitment and whole-hearted following of God. There’s some virtue to that!

But the poorness that Jesus is describing is a poorness in spirit – the person who recognizes their despondency and depravity before God.  We all want to think that we realize how dependent we are on God, but I think that more often than not our instincts try to tell us that we can do pretty well on our own and that our dependency on Him is limited to spiritual things.  Philip Yancey suggests some questions which can help us evaluate our “poorness in spirit”:

Do I easily acknowledge my needs?

Do I readily depend on God and on other people?

Where does my security rest?

Am I more likely to compete or cooperate?

Can I distinguish between necessities and luxuries – and do my actions in this regard support my answer?

Am I patient?

Do the Beatitudes sound to me like good news or like a scolding from the lips of Jesus?

How did you do with those questions?  Was there one – or two – that caused you pause or which was difficult to answer?  If not, go back and read them again and ask God to help you to more honestly evaluate your responses.  If you couldn’t find even one where you are falling short, let me suggest that it might be because you are not poor in spirit.  As Yancey again put it: “The poor in spirit don’t have the arrogance of the middle class, who can skillfully disguise their problems under a façade of self-righteousness.”

God can only bring His kingdom (His rule) to our hearts when we realize how desperate our need is and we surrender in our poverty of spirit.

PRAYER: May we, Lord, learn as did Isaiah that we have no righteousness of our own, nothing to commend us to You.  May we throw ourselves in total brokenness of spirit into Your arms!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/12/20 – The Compassion of Jesus

Widow of Nain -

DayBreaks for 5/12/20: The Compassion of Jesus

Luke 7:11-15 – Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Like most people, I have always been fascinated by the stories of Jesus raising the dead. I suppose that it’s partly because it shows power beyond anything I can imagine, but maybe even more because it builds confidence that when I will need him to do the same for me some day that he’s up to the task.

The grieving mother was in desperate straits without a husband or a child to care for her. The villagers knew it, but so did Jesus.

There are three things I’d like to focus on here:

FIRST: Jesus’ attention is fixed on the mother, not the dead son. It is her that he approaches, her that he addresses in the depths of her sorrow.

SECOND: it is worth noting that Jesus doesn’t require a confession of faith from the woman before he takes action to ease her anguish. Her bone-shaking sorrow and fear was enough to trigger a miracle from the Lord.

THIRD: immediately after encouraging her to not cry, he walks to the bier and speaks to the dead man. That alone would seem strange enough – for dead people can’t hear, right? Wrong. On multiple occasions the dead hear the voice of Jesus and there is an immediate response.

What should we make of all this? In the midst of our fear, confusion and sorrow, Jesus notices. His compassion doesn’t require earth-shattering faith statements – and in some cases, apparently doesn’t require faith at all. And finally, if you are a Christian, Jesus spoke to you when you were dead in sin and you heard. And the day is coming when you will be dead in body but even that won’t block out his voice. You, too, will hear and rise even as the young man in this passage!

PRAYER: I am so grateful that you have such compassion on us even when we have weak or no faith at all. Help us to hear your voice, not only when we are dead, but while we are alive! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/8/20 – The Hunger and the Thirst

Early Morning Showers | 1788 Blessed are those who thirst after ...

DayBreaks for 5/08/20: The Hunger and the Thirst

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. – Jesus

Just prior to my traveling to Haiti, I was getting ready to preach on the Beatitudes as part of a series I’ve been doing on the teaching of Jesus.  As I anticipated what I would see in Haiti, I had an intellectual and spiritual question: would the statements Jesus made in the Beatitudes hold up in the crucible of suffering in Haiti, or would they be found to be nice platitudes, but rather “leaky” when put to the test?  I wrestled with the questions posed by the Beatitudes while I was there, not the least of which was: do those who mourn in Haiti feel “blessed”? 

So as I contemplated the Beatitudes both before, during and after my time there, my curiosity traveled through the realm of skepticism and finally wound up in the land of confidence in the truth of Jesus’ statements in spite of conditions that many would think would show his words to be nothing more than nice-sounding oratory. 

How, for example, are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness filled?  Consider this story: an Albanian nun spent 16 years of her life teaching world geography to the wealthy daughters of British and Bengali parents.  A time came when she was on break from her duties.  She took a train trip to the Himalayas, and as the train carried her closer and closer to her destination, she heard a voice that called her to change the direction of her life – to stop teaching geography to the daughters of the rich and to start caring for the poor and hungry.  She not only heard that voice, but she yielded to it and began the ministry that would consume the rest of her life.  She is better known to the world as Mother Theresa. 

What does that have to do with hungering and thirsting after righteousness?  Everything.  Those people who spend their lives in caring for the orphans, the widows, the poor and hungry, do so not because of the material goods that they accumulate along the way, but because they are hungering and thirsting for righteousness itself.  They understand, deep in their souls, that Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27 Caring for such persons is at the heart of hungering and thirsting for righteousness for all of God’s creation. 

How are the selfless people who hunger and thirst after righteousness filled?  Ask yourself this question, and I think the answer will be obvious: do you think Mother Theresa was more filled during the later part of her life as she cared for the poor and outcast, or when she was teaching world geography?  It is pretty obvious, isn’t it? 

Are you hungering and thirsting for righteousness?  Do you want to see righteousness not only in your own life, but in the world?  Are you doing anything to join with God as He labors on behalf of the world’s “rejects”?  Are you tired of being empty?  Get hungry for real righteousness – and you will be filled!

PRAYER: Lord, increase our hunger and thirst for the things that you long for and that move your heart.  Fill our longing for a life that truly matters!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2010 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/04/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #25 – The Last Tear

Haiku – Flow & Tear | radhikasreflection

DayBreaks for 5/04/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #25 – The Last Tear

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. Today’s musical pairing: a simple version of “Give Me Jesus” by Sara Watkins. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. – Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

Meditation 25. 3,305,595 confirmed cases, 235,861 deaths globally.

The Bible ends with an ecstatic vision. A new heaven and a new earth—and a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Rev. 21:2). A voice cries out from the throne of heaven and declares, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev 21:3–4).

The heavenly proclamation includes an allusion to Isaiah 25:8: The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.

It easy to forget how astonishing this is. The Jews had come to recognize that God is far greater than any other god people had ever imagined. They did not worship many gods and spirits. They worshipped a single God who created all things simply by speaking them into being. And yet that God, a God of transcendent power and ineffable majesty, also cares about the most minute sorrows of his people.

I live in a high and holy place, God says in Isaiah 57:15, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit. We may be tempted to dismiss it as a poetic sentiment. We shouldn’t. There is nothing more true than this. The immensity of the love of God is in the intimacy of his care. No sorrow is so small it escapes his attention. The God of the universe, the same God who set the span of the cosmos and rules over all time and space, gathers our tears in a bottle. For each of us. Our sufferings are remembered in God. Even the sorrows we never disclose to any person on the planet reside in him eternally…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: There will come a day when the last tear is shed. Then, O Lord, we will live among you forever. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

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DayBreaks for 4/29/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #24 – The Last Enemy

An Unearthly Child — The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death…

DayBreaks for 4/29/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #24 – The Last Enemy

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, “Song for Athene” by Sir John Tavener. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. … The last enemy to be destroyed is death. – 1 Corinthians 15:20–22, 26

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51–54

Meditation 24. 3,094,829 confirmed cases, 215,461 deaths globally.

In the days preceding my grandfather’s death, he was wholly unresponsive. A heart attack and a belated resuscitation had left his brain without oxygen for an extended time. Though we were told he was no longer really there, we brought him home and the family kept watch by his bedside. The silence was leavened with hymns and prayers.

Death, for my grandfather, did not come like a violent plunge. It was more like his soul was water on the shore and it slowly receded into the sand. The beating of his heart, the pulsing of his blood, the rise and fall of his chest all grew gentler until they were almost imperceptible.

Then, in the last possible moment, his eyes opened. His arms rose off the bed and extended toward the ceiling, toward the skies, toward the heavens. Stunned, the family whispered encouragement. “It’s okay to go,” they said. His arms fell. And he was gone.

Mortality is much on our minds these days. Here in the United States, we have surpassed a million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. It began on the far side of the planet and has left a ruin of death and devastation wherever it has gone. More Americans have died from the disease than from the entire Vietnam War.

Grandfathers and grandmothers. Brothers and sisters. Parents and children and grandchildren. Friends and colleagues. Countless Americans are grieving their loss, and countless more are grieving overseas. How many will lose people they love before the virus is defeated?

When we lose a loved one, our souls strain against the veil. We come to the end of ourselves and our powers to see. We may wonder whether we will ever really see them again. How confident are we, really, that we will find one another again on the far side of the veil?

We do not, if we are honest with ourselves, really know what happens to the souls of the dead. Not, at least, in the same sense we know the names of our children or the number of rooms in our home. But that does not mean we cannot be confident. Trust can be stronger than knowledge when it is rooted in the being of God…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

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DayBreaks for 4/28/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #23 – This is Your Soul on ZOOM

Intel Is Building the World's Most Powerful Supercomputer

DayBreaks for 4/28/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #23 – This is Your Soul on ZOOM

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we suggest “Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor)” from the film Sunlight. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.’” – Exodus 35:30–35

Meditation 23. 3,029,452 confirmed cases, 210,374 deaths globally.

Most of the summers during my childhood in California included backpacking in Yosemite National Park with my family or with the men from my church. We found ourselves at the feet of majestic waterfalls, on peaks in Tuolumne Meadows that stole our breath, or atop Half Dome or El Capitan when shooting stars were falling from the sky. Our souls were transported and we were moved to magnify God.

We tend to think differently of the artifacts of technology. We do not hold up our mobile phones, gaze at a supercomputer, or contemplate a PET scanner and find ourselves moved to sing praises.

In this pandemic, when so much of our experience of the world is mediated through technology, perhaps we need to shift our mindset. Many of the same technologies we cursed months ago for driving us apart we now bless for holding us together. Families keep close through social media and mobile apps. Schools convene over e-learning platforms. Small-group Bible studies pray and praise over Zoom. The church that streams together stays together.

There are reasons for caution when it comes to the uses of technology. The glowing screen can so captivate our attention that we have little left for matters of the soul. The constant consumption of entertainment can dull the deeper senses and atrophy the musculature of the spirit. Technologies can serve in so many ways for trafficking sin or delivering death or impoverishing our years of the full height and depth of life.

And yet, technology is a tool, and God himself gave us the gifts to devise it. The same technology that delivers depravity can also carry the gospel. The technology that lays cities to waste also empowers the world. The technology that broadcasts hatred and ignorance can also encourage love and coordinate its actions. The church has made use of countless technologies to spread the word of God, to heal the sick, and to serve the poor. Should we not give thanks for these things?

Monastic practices filled the lives of monks and nuns with habitual reminders of the lordship and love of God. The cross above the doorway. The ringing of the bell in the chapel. The daily offices serve many times a day as a sort of rhythmic remembrance to practice the presence of God…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: If our hours are to be filled with these technologies, O Lord, let them carry our thoughts toward you. Let us thank you now for breathing intelligence and ingenuity into your children, giving them dreams and visions and talents, so we might use these technologies to maintain our fellowship and continue the work you give us to do. And when at last we have tests and treatments and vaccines, may we thank not only the technologists behind them but the Creator behind the technologists who filled them with such immaculate skill. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 4/22/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #20 – The God of Small Things

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DayBreaks for 4/22/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #20 – The God of Small Things

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, try Anastasiya Petryshak’s performance of Schubert’s Ave Maria.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?’ – Zechariah 4:8–10

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. … See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is throw into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? – Matthew 6:25–26, 28–30

Meditation 20. 2,544,769 confirmed cases, 175,621 deaths globally.

It was midnight when I made my way into the center of the Old City of Jerusalem. The clouds were low and impenetrable. Golden light flooded the Western Wall Plaza, which was filled with Jews in all manner of dress chanting and singing in lament. It was a day of mourning, written into the Jewish calendar. Surrounded by the intensity of their cries and weeping, beneath the mount where the temple and the Holy of Holies once stood, it felt as though I stood at the beating heart of the universe.

I wonder how it felt to the Israelites when they returned from their exile and found their city and their temple in ruins. When they began to rebuild, when they set the foundation, it must have seemed so paltry and miniscule compared to the temple that was remembered in the collective consciousness of their people. Some were glad to see a beginning made, but others groaned that the beginning was too modest. Do not “despise the day of small things,” God tells the prophet Zechariah. Unless you place the first stone, you cannot place the last.

The prophet heard right. Zerubbabel restored the temple. It stood for nearly six centuries, expanded by the Hasmoneans and most famously by Herod the Great. By the time Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount in the hills over the Sea of Galilee, it was one of the most renowned structures in the entire world.

Do not be anxious over your food or over your clothing, Jesus taught upon that hillside. God cares about these things for you. He cares about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. How much more will he care about your needs, even those that seem small and insignificant in the grand scheme?

Two thousand years later, we may find ourselves wondering whether God still cares for the flowers and the birds…(Click here to read the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: Help us, O Lord, to exercise that particular expression of faith of believing you care about even the most minute matters. They matter to you when they matter to us.  Help us also to have faith that even the small things can become great things in time. Even the most monumental works are modest at first. May we find those small beginnings now, where we can build stone upon stone until we have constructed something that will endure to your glory for generations. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Until then, O Lord, may our season of solitude bear fruit in the lives of those we love, even those we cannot be with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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