God does not expect that we look upon the horror of our inhumanity and find Him. He calls us in the unrelenting horrors of our world to find Him in the singular horror of His: at the cross on Calvary. And in looking unto that old cross we find that the horror of Deicide—God crucified by His own creation—, sacrificially accomplished, defeated once and for all time the everlasting consequences of our death-wish. When we look there we will find an empty cross. More spectacular still, we discover an empty tomb. And hope once assaulted and thought to be dead is alive forevermore. The more deeply you contemplate these things and enter into prayer with the Father through the Person of Jesus our Lord the more peace you will know in these tumultuous times.
[pullquote]The more deeply you contemplate these things . . . the more peace you will know in these tumultuous times.[/pullquote]
Will you enter into a time of Christian meditation with me? “Consider how to turn your heart from what is seen to what is unseen” (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, 5). Will you seek Jesus the Lamb of God on that cross in prayer? Will you look unto Him who, having lived a righteous life for you, also died for you, to take away your sins? Will you look upon that cross by faith, in prayer, and say,
“I am an unworthy sinner, Oh God! Save me from the deadly sentence upon me. Save me, also, from sin’s ominous corruptions which are, even now, eating away at my life, my love, and my mind. I look to the cross of Christ and see the mysterious instrument of Your blessed covenant of grace! I see that You offer to me what I can not present for myself—and, yet, I must, when I stand before You: a righteous life. I see a sentence of execution upon the Son of God that breaks the spell of my own damnation. I see a ‘Great Transfer’ enacted throughout time as I believe: So, I receive Jesus’ life and He, O wonder of wonders and unimaginable injustice and grace, receives my sin nature and my actual sins. He is the ‘scape goat’ so that I go free. He is the ‘Lamb of God’ sacrificed so that the angel of death will pass over me and my house. I look at the cross and I cannot help but look to the tomb. You are not there, for you are risen! Risen and ascended Christ, I pray to You, now! I pray to You in this sacred moment! Forgive me, even me, and make me Your very own child. I believe, help my unbelief. I pray in the name and through the power of the name of Jesus Christ the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, my resurrected and living Lord.”
My child, it is the Spirit of God within you who already is causing you to pray. For the Spirit Himself speaks within us and through us that “Jesus is Lord.” You have prayed because God the Holy Spirit has wooed you to Himself. He has chosen you before the foundation of the world. You ask me how? You should as easily inquire about the number of stars in the universe! If you pray He hears for He is the One who moves you to pray. Yes, and He shall save you from your sin. He shall send that same Holy Spirit into your life to begin His divine gardening work in your life. You will begin to change from the inside-out. Weeds and thistles will be pulled up (and that is not without its pain). The soil will be improved. New seeds will be planted. New fruit will emerge: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).
[pullquote]He has chosen you before the foundation of the world. You ask me how? You should as easily inquire about the number of stars in the universe![/pullquote]
And you will be a child of God with a new life, a new family name, and a blessedly new future. If you have never been baptized, Christ calls you to enter into this life with the sign of His promise: baptism. If you were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a Christian church, then you must, now, profess Jesus Christ openly as your Lord. The inauguration of this new life requires that you find a place of Christian fellowship, where the Sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, the Eucharist as it is also called) are administered and the Word of God is preached by an ordained minister of Christ, yoked in submission and accountability with both the people (the congregation) and the officers (the duly elected leadership of a local, regional, and national church body), and the fellowship and prayers are maintained and opened for all to come and hear. This is the God-ordained incubator for faith. This is also the place of mission from whence you may be strengthened in order to bear witness to Jesus Christ to others. The fellowship grows, centrifugally, as the Body of Christ (St. Paul’s description of believers gathered as one) is fed and strengthened in Word, Sacrament, and Prayer, and witnesses to the power of Jesus Christ in their lives, enfolding others into this local parish ministry.
Let us pray the a portion of Psalm 63 appointed for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost:
O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name. (Psalm 63:1-4 NRSV)
Kempis, Thomas à. The Imitation of Christ. Edited by Mary Lea Hill. Boston, MA: Daughters of St. Paul, 2015.