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

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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 4/27/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

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DayBreaks for 4/27/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic from Christianity Today. Today’s installment comes from Daniel Harrell, editor in chief. For our musical pairing, we introduce you to Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel and her compilation of joy from fellow fiddlers worldwide, “Pure Dead Brilliant Livestream Finale.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. – 1 Thess. 4:13–14

Meditation 22. 2,761,121 confirmed cases, 193,671 deaths globally.

When you’ve lost someone you love, the grief books say to make plans for holidays and birthdays and other important dates. Be ready to be overwhelmed by emotion and memories and the throbbing pain of loss.

When it came to my first wedding anniversary after my beloved wife, Dawn, died of pancreas cancer, I wanted to mark it well. Dawn and I differed on how to do this when she was alive. I was always a “celebrate the actual date” person while she was more of a proximity celebrator: Wait for the weekend and the babysitter to do it right. At the same time, right did not necessarily mean extravagant. Dawn was both Scottish and the daughter of missionaries. Doing it right usually included doing it cheap. Not me. I liked to splurge. Fancy dinner out. A show, a trip, something new, flowers and earrings, rent a convertible, dress up, make it memorable.

Dawn was usually game and always a good sport—but deep down she longed for more than any singular moment would provide. She craved continuity, integration, connection, emotion, and internality. As I read through her journals after she died, I saw she wrote and wrote about her passions and core loves, her spiritual crests and crashes—but not one single sentence about our “memorable moments,” no mention of an anniversary, birthday, or holiday. The deeper places were where the significance lay.

I remember a sermon on the Israelites crossing the Jordan in the Book of Joshua—a moment in time with potential for either transformation or tragedy. Bewildering is how much the Promised Land on the other side of the river can look just like the desert side left behind. (This is true, I’ve seen it while in Israel. It’s desert on both sides of the Jordan.) The sermon went on about our need to move forward despite the lure to turn and go back. With death and loss, there is no going back, no matter how much you’d give for just one minute more of the way life was.

Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Our life can only be understood backwards, but it has to be lived forwards.” In contrast to dreams and ideals, Kierkegaard (as an existentialist) emphasized existence: What is real and painful is more important than any ideal.

Though disposed toward despair, Kierkegaard nevertheless saw life’s hard reality as an invitation to faith. Not faith in the positive thinking or even the doctrinally coherent, but faith as that passionate commitment to Christ in the face of uncertainty, a risk of belief that demands loss of self for love’s sake. True love aims at the actual people in your life, not imaginary conceptualizations of how you believe or might wish these people should be. True love earnestly absorbs disappointments and overcomes faults as Christ has done in his love for us.

This requires a constant discipline of forgiveness. My wife wrote, “Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. You are going to live with those consequences anyway whether you like it or not, so the only choice you have is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness. No one truly forgives without accepting and suffering the pain of another person’s sin. That can seem unfair and you may wonder where the justice is in it, but justice is found at the foot of the cross, which makes forgiveness legally and morally right.” … (Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway through the Sea #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we return to Ezio Bosso for “Bitter and Sweet.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. – Job 1:20–22

Meditation 21. 2,682,225 confirmed cases, 187,330 deaths globally.

A friend and I had arrived at the monastery in upstate New York as the sun was setting over the fields and into the rustling woods. We joined the brothers for their evening meal. A little more than five years had passed since I had broken my neck in a gymnastics accident. I was still learning how to live with chronic pain.

“Don’t say that God gave you pain,” one of the monks advised over dinner that night. “Say that God can bring something good out of it.”

I thanked him for his thoughts, but I wrestled with those words for the length of my stay. In fact, those words have led me over the decades since to ask countless questions into the dark.

Part of me wanted to agree. God doesn’t make beautiful things broken. He makes broken things beautiful. God is not the beginning of suffering but its end. We have filled the world with affliction and we stumble into it ourselves; God did not make that path, but he carves a path through suffering and from suffering into embrace with him.

Another part of me differed. Does not Job ascribe both his blessings and his sufferings to the hand of God? Of course, readers of the Book of Job are privy to the heavenly deliberations preceding the calamity that falls upon his head. We know the question of causation is more complicated, and perhaps we shouldn’t build our theology around the outcry of a broken man. But there’s something bracing in Job’s directness and courage. The Lord gives. The Lord takes. He charged God with doing. He just didn’t charge God with wrongdoing.

Also, perhaps it was wrong of me, but I wanted my pain to come from God. Then it would not merely be that a purpose could be extracted from the situation. It would be that it had a purpose in the first place. In an odd way, my thorn in the flesh had become precious to me. I wanted it to be the same all-loving God who set the stars in their places who also, at just the right time, in just the right way, set my thorn in its place, too…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: As we walk through a season of suffering, O Lord, we thank you for the example of Job. You love the seekers, the askers of questions, the men and women who stand before the whirlwind and press for answers. We know there is truth in the proposition that you do not will these sufferings, but they flow from sin and from a world broken by it. Yet we also know there is truth in the opposite. Sufferings arise in the order you ordain, the world you sustain. You willed all of time and space before it came to be.

Help us, O Lord, like Job, to sit down and mourn and lament. Help us not to shy away from seeing your hand at work in this moment. Help us to make peace with the thorns in our flesh, to weep over them, to learn from them, and always to praise your name whatever may come. 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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DayBreaks for 4/20/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #18 – The First Gift Ever Given

What Gifts Are You Giving This Year? – Doug Sterbenz

DayBreaks for 4/20/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #18 – The First Gift Ever Given

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, listen to Peter Gregson’s recomposition of the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” -Genesis 1:1

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

Meditation 18. 2,127,873 confirmed cases, 141,454 deaths globally.

Christian doctrine refers to the creative activity out of which God brought forth the cosmos as creatio ex nihilo. The universe we inhabit has not existed forever, in other words, nor was it refashioned from preexisting matter. It was created “out of nothing” (ex nihilo) through the intention and the will, the intelligence and the love of God.

One cannot be a Christian very long without hearing the classic Latin phrase. A lesser-known phrase from the theological canon is preservatio ex nihilo. God’s will is not only creative but preservative. He both brings and sustains all things in being. The moment God no longer wills for all things to exist, they will not.

The insight is fundamentally the same, and the logic is compelling. God is the only necessary being, the only one who contains the principle of his existence within himself. All other things are contingent upon his will.

The biblical narrative begins with the beginning of the temporal order we inhabit. It does not fold back the curtain of time and show us any deliberation within the community of the Trinity or within the throne room of heaven before God chose to create the universe. What it does make evident is that God is perfect and sufficient unto himself. He was not compelled to create by any imperfection or need. It also makes clear that we serve a God who is defined by love and grace. It is “from him and through him and for him” that all things were made (Rom. 11:36).

When I was a gymnast, I built up enormous callouses on my hands until I could scarcely feel the high bar in my grip. When those callouses were ripped away, suddenly the raw skin felt every grain of the bar. Many of us feel that way now. The layers of distraction and numb routine have been ripped away, and the raw skin of our souls feels the nearness of death more keenly than ever.

Confronting the possibility of our death, however, brings a startling appreciation for the fact of our life. That we need not exist illuminates the wonder we do exist.

It is a part of God’s unchanging nature since before the beginning of time that he is a giver of good and perfect gifts. And if our existence is neither necessary nor earned, then it is a gift. The God who is love creates in love. Although he did not need to create us, evidently he desired to do so. God willed for us to be so we could be in relation to him.

Creatio ex nihilo and preservatio ex nihilo may sound like the kind of dusty Latin phrases that echoed in stone churches centuries ago. Yet they actually tell us something incredibly vital and relevant in this season. They tell us that everything is a gift. Every day and every hour and every moment we exist is because God generously wills it so. All of creation, all throughout time, is the overflow of the love of God.

We may feel vulnerable to know that our very existence is contingent in every moment upon the will of God…(Click here to read the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: Help us, O Lord, even in the midst of this time of anxiety and mortality, to remember that every moment we are is a moment when you will us to be. We thank you for the gift of this life, this day, and this hour. May we never take for granted the good and perfect gifts you give. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 4/17/2020: The Hallway Through the Sea #17 – Lift Your Eyes Up

SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (SERPENT ON A POLE) | JESUS WAY 4 YOU

DayBreaks for 4/17/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #17 – Lift Your Eyes Up

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, consider Andrea Bocelli’s “Amazing Grace” in Milan. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” – Numbers 21:8–9

Meditation 17. 2,016,020 confirmed cases, 130,528 deaths globally.

The journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan could have been short and swift. Instead, because of their own persistent disobedience, it extended over 40 long and arduous years. The people often inveighed against God. In Numbers 21, they are afflicted with serpents in the wilderness. They cry out for mercy. God tells Moses to lift up a bronze snake on a pole and invites them to look for this sign of his provision and healing whenever they are bitten.

It’s a puzzling story. Why a graven image? Why a snake? What message was God sending his chosen people?

Consider for a moment something simpler: the physical posture this required of the sufferer. Imagine a young woman dragging her weary body across the sun-scorched earth of Edom. The snake bites. Where does the young woman look? What would be, in that moment, the most natural thing she could possibly do? The answer, of course, is to look down. To fix her eye on the snake, or on the wound, or to look for more snakes concealed among the rocks.

In order to receive healing, the sufferer has to turn away from the object of her affliction and turn to the object of God’s provision…  (Click here to see the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: In this season, countless anxieties and agitations clamor for our attention. Help us, O Lord, to discipline our powers of attention. Help us to lift our eyes away from our passing troubles and to fix our eyes on the one who was lifted up for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 4/10/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #16: On the Cross and the Kingdom

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DayBreaks for 4/10/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #16 – On the Cross and the Kingdom

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/09/20:

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, as we enter Good Friday, consider this unhurried version of the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem. 

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53:3–6

Meditation 16. 1,536,979 confirmed cases, 93,425 deaths globally.
There are four passages in Isaiah often called the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The longest and most renowned is Isaiah 52:13–53:12. Jews read these passages and hear the story of Israel itself, as God redeemed the sufferings of his chosen people to bring blessing to the world. Christians, of course, hear the story of Jesus and his suffering on behalf of humankind.

Both can be true. As Holy Week makes excruciatingly clear, Jesus was “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” He was “pierced for our transgressions,” “led like a lamb to the slaughter,” and “cut off from the land of the living,” an “offering for sin.” “After he has suffered,” says verse 11, “he will see the light of life” and “will justify many.”

As we discussed in a recent meditation, Jesus seeks not only admirers but imitators. Time and again he defines following him as dying to ourselves and taking up our cross. Even as he is a Suffering Servant, he calls his church to be a fellowship of suffering servants.

In the words of Henri Nouwen, we are all called to be wounded healers. “The great illusion of leadership,” he writes in The Wounded Healer, “is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” Or, better, “The beginning and the end of all Christian leadership is to give your life for others.”

The Cross is our key to the kingdom. It shows us all the truths we would rather forget. That the kingdom of God is not about power and triumph, because all the might of the world cannot heal the hearts of men… (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

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The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise. If you wish, you can follow Timothy Dalrymple on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

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DayBreaks for 4/09/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #15 – The Resurrection Has Not Been Cancelled

Divine Intention of the Resurrection from Romans 6 - Redeemer ...

DayBreaks for 4/09/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #15 – The Resurrection has Not been Cancelled

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/08/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” commonly played on Easter Sunday but here rendered in a distilled, outdoor version.

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10–11

Meditation 15. 1,495,051 confirmed cases, 87,469 deaths globally.

Sister Benedicta Ward produced the most widely used translations of Sayings of the Desert Fathers and Lives of the Desert Fathers. I studied those works with her at her home in Oxford over the course of a beautiful spring. The books recount the practices and teachings of early Christian hermits and monks who made their homes in the most barren parts of Egypt.

I found myself in those discussions frequently referring to “dying to oneself.” Eventually she lifted her head and held up her hand. “We die to ourselves, yes,” she said. “But only so we can come alive to who we were really made to be, Christ within us.”

It was a gentle rebuke and it passed in a blink. But I have never stopped hearing those words.

In this season of affliction and this Holy Week, we approach the day on which we remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. With so much suffering around us and within us, it’s natural and right to reflect on the suffering of our Savior. But even in the darkest of times, we should never stay there. Jesus didn’t.

The Cross by itself is an extraordinary act of love and self-sacrifice. But it cannot be separated from the empty tomb. Apart from the empty tomb, Jesus is not a savior at all. Apart from the empty tomb, the story of the cross would be a story of the death of hope and the defeat of God.

This is not unknown to those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ. We have already experienced a foretaste of the resurrection. We have experienced Christ bringing new life—bringing his life—forth within us. We are, each of us, living proof that God brings life into the dead places. We only truly live when we die and Christ lives in us.

Church doors are closed. Schools are no longer meeting. Businesses are shuttered. Restaurants and cafés are empty, cinema screens are dark, and concert halls are silent. Countless meetings and gatherings, weddings and funerals, conferences and events have been canceled.

The resurrection is not canceled…(Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: We implore you, O Lord, bring life out of death again today. Let it start in us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise. If you wish, you can follow Timothy Dalrymple on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA MEDITATIONS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

 

DayBreaks for 4/08/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea, #14 – The Price of Faith in a Pandemic

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DayBreaks for 4/07/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #14 – The Price of Faith in a Pendemic

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/07/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to this from Bach’s “Concerto in D Minor by Víkingur Ólafsson.

“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’
“‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’’”
Luke 14:25–30

Meditation 14. 1,412,103 confirmed cases, 81,103 deaths globally.

There are times and places when the church lives in such peace and abundance that faith becomes an inexpensive thing. What cost another generation their lives and livelihoods costs us Sunday mornings and a modest tithe.

The temptation for those of us who wish to invite everyone into the fold of the faithful is to lower the cost of faith even further. Perhaps, we say, faith no longer requires so much sacrifice. Perhaps the time of suffering is past. In fact, there may be no cost to faith at all. Perhaps it’s the opposite. Perhaps faith paves the way to greater health and wealth.

Jesus was never so eager to keep a crowd that he minimized the costs of faith (see John 6:60–66). He could not have been clearer that following him requires enormous sacrifice. “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Every person should count the cost.

Jesus understood something we have forgotten. When we lower the cost of faith, it becomes something other than faith. A cheap counterfeit. An elegant mantle of piety around the shoulders of an essentially secular life. If we lower the cost further still, it becomes something no one values. Eventually no one is willing to “purchase” what seems so common and unremarkable, what requires so little sacrifice.

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote that the church had become filled with “admirers” when what Christ wants is “imitators.” As we enter into Holy Week as so many are suffering and dying in the pandemic, Jesus does not invite us to be mere admirers of the way he carried his cross nearly two thousand years ago. He invites us to be imitators, to carry our own crosses and follow in his footsteps today…(Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: Help us, O Lord, to be imitators and not merely admirers of Jesus. Help us to take up the cross for others, as you took up the cross for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise. If you wish, you can follow Timothy Dalrymple on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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