Yearly Archives: 2016

Speaking Briefly .

Blind Faith (No. 52, 2016)
Weekly Devotional for December 29, 2016
Speaking Briefly .

Brevity! Brevity has to be a most welcome post-Christmas word.
After the hours spent preparing, decorating, shopping, cooking, and digging
out from the post-Christmas-gift-exchange debris, one more gift is called
for! A lull in the talking, then … QUIET … a moment of silence,
preferably alone is itself a precious gift. I don’t want to disturb that
gift. So, I’ll be brief.

Inevitably, the next few days will find us reviewing the year
past and looking to the year to come. Formal resolutions may or may not be
part of your approach to turning the calendar to a new year. I offer the
following criteria and a prayer for assessing where you have traveled and
where you are going in your journey of following Jesus.

Jesus’ words to the crowd on the mountainside provide a clear
and concise measuring stick for our past and future attitudes and actions:

Don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. {32} Why be like
the [unbelievers] who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your
heavenly Father already knows all your needs, {33} and he will give you all
you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God
your primary concern. {34} “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will
bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:31-34
NLT)

That really is the only resolution anyone needs to make: to live for God and
to make the Kingdom of God my primary concern each day. What a magnificently
different year we would find before us, if only we focused our attention and
efforts on doing everything God’s way!

A prayer dating from around 1540 is still one that can prepare
us for living as followers of Jesus in 2017. Ignatius of Loyola was one of
the founders of the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. The stated purpose
of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) is simply to be followers of Jesus.
Their work emphasizes education for the task of proclaiming the gospel,
missionary service, and seeking peace and justice. A prayer of Ignatius can
set our hearts and minds on the proper path for approaching each new day,
let alone the new year:

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve:
to give, and not to count the cost;
to fight, and not to heed the wounds;
to toil, and not to seek for rest;
to labor, and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will.
(Ignatius of Loyola)

Imagine how the workplace, school, neighborhood, family – or even the world
– would be different, if each of us began each day with that prayer and
purpose.

What is your assessment of 2016? What pursuits have occupied
your thoughts? How often have you made following Jesus the organizing goal
of your actions? Visualize yourself consciously striving every day to
understand and to put into action the grace, love, and purpose you receive
through faith in Jesus. If you live this way, what a year 2017 will be!

J. Edward Culpepper

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