• In gratitude that Nadine’s baby boy, Pliya Aneal, born at 25 weeks, is now home from the hospital! Lord, please keep him healthy and strong!
• For the ministry of prayer that continues to develop at Elizabeth Ministry International.
• For the financial needs of Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM Sexual Health, and for generous benefactors.
• For a greater respect for all life, from conception to natural death.
• For couples whose children have died, that we may comfort their sorrows with understanding, support and love.
• For couples who are trying to adopt, and for the mothers who will surrender their children for adoption.
• For couples whose marriages are being destroyed because of pornography.
• For those whose babies will be born this month, that these children would be healthy and strong, and their deliveries be safe and easy.
• That women active in chapters of Elizabeth Ministry might grow in wisdom, grace and service.
• For those who struggle with mental illness, depression, poor self-image and insecurity, that they may obtain the help they need to live healthy lives.
• For our families, that we might grow closer to our Father in heaven and to one another.
• For the nations of the world where death and terror abound rather than life and peace.
• For governmental leaders.
• For all who pray for our needs.
Lord Jesus, You have said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find.” We are asking! We seek! Please hear the needs that plague us in our troubled lives and our troubled world! Help us to respond to the “one thing necessary” (Luke 10:42), to know you and your words that bring us peace! Amen!
“In the beginning, [when] God created the heavens and the earth….” In the beginning, we find only God, the beginning of all that is. Nothing — actually no One — could be earlier or more “beginning” than, greater than, or more Person than God. (Romans 11:36, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16). Although we recognize God as infinite and eternal, un-name-able and un-contain-able, we are blessed to know and experience the Personal Presence of God. God is the Source, the Beginning of Life and Purpose of Life. God is Life Personified!
How is it that we know God, this Person so beyond our experience? Scientists name the beginning of all life, the cosmos, the universe and all that we know as a “beginning-of-whatever-is,” as “The Big Bang,” or a “singularity.” Our human nature is awed by the possibility of a “Land Before Time” and a “Time before Time.” What was there before “The Big Bang”? How do we wrap our minds around something so ethereal as “energy equals mass times the speed of light squared”? I might as well forget that; I’d rather know God!
How truly blessed we are to believe in a personally loving God! And how truly blessed we are to know someone who personally knows God: Jesus Christ! And how truly blessed we are to live in the Person of Jesus Christ!
After a long winter, don’t you delight in watching the trees bud forth? How grateful we should be to believe in the one personal God who causes creation to have order and structure! How reassuring it is to know that spring does come after winter, and that light does come after darkness! (Gen 8:22)
Those who long ago came to know Jesus were amazed with the sense of his personal relationship with God, Someone so totally “Other,” Someone who controlled the sun and the moon, and the waves of the sea. How could Jesus do the things he did? Why was he so certain that God would listen to him and respond to his needs? It is no wonder that the Pharisees criticized him! How could God be his father? Yet, his actions proved his statements. God was someone he knew personally, and so can we!
It was when Jesus’ disciples wanted to experience the close personal relationship with this Totally Other Person, that he taught them the “Our Father.” Jesus taught his followers — that is, us — to relate to God in a personal relationship, with honor, dependence, and mercy. “Our Father.., hallowed.., give us.., forgive us.., lead us..!” Jesus taught us to be brother and sister to one another, to live in mutual interdependence.
Jesus also told us that “No one can come to the Father but through [the Son, Jesus]. No one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27) So knowing Jesus is, even before knowing the Father, the simple be-all and end-all of life. “I [Jesus] am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The disciple John used a “simple” image to identify the relationship of Jesus with his Father and with us. John referred to Jesus as the Living Word of God, expressed from the Father’s heart, and breathed forth in the Spirit. John tells us that it was on the cross when Jesus “breathed his last” or “expired,” that he gave to all humanity his “breath,” his Spirit. It was on Resurrection night that Jesus “breathed on them,” (John 20:21ff) that they might receive the Holy Spirit. It was at Pentecost that the wind of the Spirit was inhaled, as the apostles were “inspired,” to go forth and continue the work that Jesus had begun.
It is equally necessary that we as Jesus’ disciples today “breathe out” the Word of the Father through Jesus in the Spirit to those around us! Most of us have no problem speaking to the Father through Jesus: “Lord, take care of our kids!” “Help Cyndi and Ed to have a healthy baby!” “Take care of the orphans and widows throughout the world!” “Lead our country back to you!” The next step is to pray WITH the person who needs to know the Father’s help and care. How bold, willing or comfortable are we to do that? Most of us, not so much!
We know that “wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in your midst.” (Matthew 18:20) As we speak words of love to one another, we become the Living Word of the Father; we become Jesus, living today in us, the Body of Christ, as Jesus is forever the Word of the Father. (Hebrews 7:25) As we receive the Eucharist, and his Living Word comes into our bodies, we are also “inspired” to speak that Living Word to those around us today!
As we become more aware of God-in-us, we become more capable of recognizing a need in the brothers and sisters around us. We can speak God’s Living Word in us in so many ways. For a person we don’t know well, a sincere smile and the words, “God bless your day!” may be a mood-lifter. When we recognize sadness in a friend, we might say, “You’re not smiling today; are you OK?” or, “You look tired or worried; is something wrong?” After sincere listening, we may ask the next question: “May I pray with you?”
Next month, this blog will consider some of the interventions that Jesus had with those around him, and ways that we might become more comfortable doing the same. For now, please pray for us and with us for the previously listed needs of Elizabeth Ministry International and RECLAiM Sexual Health.
May the Risen Lord’s presence spring up in your life this month, and may the gifts of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost refresh your faith life! God is with you!