Friday, 9 August 2019

The Walking Liturgy

It was time for a hospital call.  I was sitting in my car in front of the building.  I put on my clerical collar and asked the Lord to accomplish His work through me, even overcoming all my weakness as a pastor.  And then He reminded me of something that is true for every Christian – collar or not – pastor or not – “You are my chosen servant.  I am always using you, whether you realize it or not.  You are a walking liturgy.”

Hunh.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I left the car and approached the hospital.  “You are a walking liturgy,” came the echo in my mind.  There were people coming down the other side of the sidewalk, and I found myself praying, “Remind them Father.  Remind them of Your grace.  Make my presence a reminder of Your gracious message to everyone who sees me.”  I noticed my attention was different than normal.  I cared about the people who passed me.  I looked them in the eye.  I greeted them with my presence.  Grace started and ended my perspective with each of them.  I received a lot of smiles.  Many more headnods.  And a certain number of verbal greetings.  I understood I was there on behalf of the Lord, and that I was there for whomever the walking liturgy brought me beside.

This is true because I’m baptized.  It’s true for every baptized believer.  St. Peter says believers are a holy priesthood who offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).  St. Paul says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

The liturgy doesn’t end on Sunday morning.  It doesn’t end with the Benediction.  It continues in your life as you carry it out with your body wherever you go.  This is the liturgical life.  A life that flows in and out of the Divine Service on Sunday, but that carries that eternal kingdom into all the places you are.  

It is happening whether you realize it or not, so why not pay attention to it?  Why not remember it?  Why not benefit from it?  Enjoy it?  The Christian life, the life of faith, is one of growing with the Lord on this walk.  He is always ready to remind you this is what He is doing through you.  Always ready to hear your prayer.  Always ready to tell you, “You are a walking liturgy,” because His Son has created this new kingdom for you by His own blood.  It is a kingdom of grace, rooted in His Word and Sacrament, growing out into every waking moment in which you live and move and have your being.  This is what it means to be part of the holy priesthood.  You are His, and He gives you to others.

Father in heaven, don't let me forget Your promises.  Hold them before me all the time.  Give me Your Spirit that I may give attention to what You are carrying out through me.  Help me remember Your faithfulness in Christ and see those around me as You do.  Always bring me back to Your Word and Sacrament for rest.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Life is all about filters... functioning ones

We bought a fish tank.  You know the story.  The kids wanted to go to the pet store on the way home from the supermarket - and they'd behaved so well...  So off we went - certain - that we would never buy anything.

Hours later we left the store with a fish tank.  Did we know anything about keeping fish?  No.  Did we know anything about how to maintain an aquarium?  No.

It wasn't until we got the tank home and started looking into what we would need that the reality of what we had done weighed upon us.  Creating a healthy habitat for fish is all about the FILTER.  But not the kind of filter you have on your furnace.  Not the kind of filter you have in your BRITA for drinking water, although both of these are also used.  No.  The important filter a fish tank needs is its biological filter.

The biological filter are the beneficial bacteria living in the tank that process the harmful things that are toxic to fish.  Just like the beneficial bacteria we now know live in our gut and help with all sorts of things in our bodies.  It takes six weeks to start to develop these bacteria!

Then it dawned on me.  If this is true for our bodies, and its true for fish tanks - surely this is happening everywhere in living things.  I learned about marshes and how they filter river systems so that lakes don't get ruined (think Manitoba).  I learned about engines and how they require multiple filters to keep running.  I thought about Google and how one of the biggest problems we having so much information available to us is that we are having a hard time filtering.  Social Media needs more filters.  Filters, filters, filters.

The same is true for your soul.  Your soul needs a functioning filter.  Not a biological filter, a spiritual filter.  That filter is God's Word and your faith in it.  It processes reality for you.  It helps remove all the harmful things that are toxic to your soul and keep you alive.  Without it the endless amount of information that goes into your eyes and ears everyday will overwhelm you and carry you away.  God's Word is a living filter too!  It benefits you, and it benefits those around you - like in a fish tank.  It's critical for you to admit it - I need a filter, and I don't know how to make it on my own.  But take heart, that's your heavenly Father's job.

He sent His Son Jesus to be the filter of Sin and Death.  To absorb it all into His flesh.  To force everything in reality to be funnelled through Him and His death on the cross.  Everything harmful to you.  Christ is your filter.  He forgives you of all your sin.  And He shapes your eyes to see reality as He does.  He overcomes your death.  And He fills you with His eternal life.  He is your filter of body and soul.  Make Him your filter, and you will never lack what you need for life.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, use Your Son to cleanse me of all things toxic.  By His holy blood purify my soul.  Shape my view to be Your own.  Help me to process reality according to Your Word alone.  Make me a benefit to those around me.  Filter the thoughts of my mind that they might be pure and holy and beneficial to me.  Filter the movements of my heart that it might want what You want.  Filter my mouth that the only things I say glorify You.  And hold me safe in Jesus forever.  In His Name I pray, Amen.