God bringing redemption through human agents is one of the main themes of Second Isaiah (Isaiah Chapters 40-55). The passage quoted here is from Isaiah 53, and how fitting that Philip appears on the scene just as the eunuch is reading this passage! This reminds us that the kingdom of heaven is to be here on earth and we are called share the gospel with one another. This sounds like an obvious point, but I know I need to be reminded of this over and over again. Notice what happens to Philip after the eunuch is baptized: “the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away.” Philip is called to spread more good news; he doesn’t have time to revel in or celebrate the eunuch’s baptism, nor is there time for self-congratulation.
- Take a moment to reflect on all your interactions yesterday. How were you called to be in those moments?
- Take the opportunity today to be the presence of Christ in all your interactions. Be open to the spirit moving.
I’ve been learning about praying the psalms this last month, and I continue to be amazed at their longevity as a primary form of prayer. Lectio divina – read, meditate, pray and contemplate – is an ancient practice used to study the scriptures. This is a wonderful way to absorb the psalms and allow them to mold us. Take the time to read this section aloud several times (for the Word is performative and it will form you differently than reading silently.) Then take the time to meditate on these words, mull them over.
- How does your awareness of different verses change when you read it a third time? A fourth? Allow your meditation to move you into prayer, flowing to silent contemplation.
1 John 4:7-21
Casting out fear and replacing it with love is easier said than done. Identifying our fears is sometimes difficult because the initial response might not be an obvious fear, yet upon reflection, we identify fear as the source of the reaction.
- Reflect on a time recently when you have been afraid of something. What was driving your fear? How did that fear dictate your response in the situation?
- Picture replacing that fear with love and notice your mental state now when you reflect on this situation. If you encounter fear today (in any shape or size), take a moment to own it, name it. Think about the depth of Christ’s love on the cross. Replace your fear with love.
I can picture the green hills and the workers during harvest season as I read this passage, because this is the topography in my hometown and state. But I also love the hills in the winter when the vines are naked. Their shape is so stark against the wire rows that hold their form as they bud in the spring. Wild vines bear random fruit. Yet those that are planted with a structure for support and pruned on a regular basis, produce fruit in abundance. So it is with our life in Christ. In seeking God, we must seek spiritual disciplines and formation to help us grow, to give us structure and guidance.
- If you do not currently have a consistent personal spiritual practice, take time to reflect on beginning one.
- If you already have a consistent practice, reflect on what works and what doesn’t. Challenge yourself to change a component to make it new again.