Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Heart (or the Hand, or the Eye) of the Matter

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Commemoration of Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture
September 30, 2012
There can be a tendency in making use of the liturgy and being a little too formal, as if there’s no place for any human emotion. The fault is not with the liturgy but rather if you just go through the motions. It’s easy to do. The liturgy can seem rigid and unfeeling, formal, with no room for individual expression.

But at some point the liturgy meets every person right where they’re at, even if they may be going through the motions and at the moment miss it. Somewhere along the line, as you make your way through the liturgy Sunday in Sunday out, through a lifetime of the back and forth of the liturgy, there is a realism and a relevance there that really is missed only if you are looking for something else.

And so today the liturgy offers us a bit of comic relief even if the matter at hand is deadly serious. And we will see that ‘deadly serious’ here is not entirely symbolic in meaning. We’re so used to hearing the response upon reading the Gospel for the day, “This is the Gospel of the Lord,” that the response to that is almost automatic, “Praise to You, O Christ.” We have just heard the words of the Lord, the very Gospel itself. Praise to You O Christ! There’s nothing better that we could hear!

And so it’s moments like these that we experienced a short time ago that give us a little comic relief and then a chance to ponder, what exactly is the Gospel of the Lord? Today’s Gospel reading sure sounded a whole lot more like a lot of Law. Judgment, doom, warning. But there was the liturgical response, “This is the Gospel of the Lord.” Even so, comic relief aside, there is a method to the madness, so to speak, of the liturgy. Why is it that the liturgy would have us think of a Gospel reading as Gospel that is largely Law?

Because there’s some Gospel in there and it can therefore be said to still be Gospel? That’s not the way the liturgy works. It’s more along the line of, Christ is in there, and where you have Christ you have Gospel. We most certainly have Christ here in the Gospel reading for today. And it is therefore most certainly the Gospel of the Lord. That the words He is speaking are a heavy dose of the Law doesn’t negate the blessed Gospel that Jesus incarnates and gives.

That fact is, there is no Gospel without Law. With no judgment, no conviction of sin, no going to the heart of the matter of where you are at and who you are as you stand before Him, there is nothing bringing you to repentance. Without His gracious work, although difficult to receive, of Him calling you on the carpet and calling you to repentance, there is no work of Gospel He can do for you.

Of course, your Lord Jesus Christ can do anything. But His forgiveness and salvation He gives to you is without benefit to you if you hold on to your own comforting notions of your own peace of mind, or your understanding of yourself as a decent and kind person, or your satisfaction with your spiritual life to the point where you become complacent.

This is why Jesus uses such startling imagery. Do not be the cause of a brother or sister Christian stumble in their faith to where they lose it because the consequences for you are dire. So much so that it would be better if you were shackled to a large weight that pulled you down to the bottom of the sea. Cut off your hand if it is the cause of your sinning against the Most High God because being in heaven without your hand is preferable to being in hell with all body parts intact. Pluck out that eye that roams in the hopes of finding something that isn’t yours for the taking because it’s better not to have full sight in eternal glory than to fully see the terrors of eternal agony.

The only problem with immediately jumping to the fact that Jesus is speaking metaphorically here, and He is, is that it’s all that easier to dismiss it. Thank goodness, He’s just using imagery here. He’s not speaking literally, so I don’t have to worry about getting to the sordid work of hacking into myself and leaving body parts behind.

The sordid truth is, there is no imagery that could change the sinful condition of your heart. Because that is what Jesus is really getting at here—the heart of the matter. How many body parts would you have to cut off before you would be able to stop sinning and finally enter into eternal life? You’d have to hack everything away and then you would still have your heart. And your beating heart, the one that’s pumping blood to all your other body parts isn’t what Jesus is getting at here either.

What is in your heart of hearts? Good things? Pleasant things? Things you’re proud of? Things you would be perfectly at ease sharing with your Lord Jesus if it were just you and Him face to face with each other? What is deep in your heart that keeps you awake at night? All those missed opportunities where you failed to help someone in need. All those times you convinced yourself you need to take care of yourself and your children would have to wait. All those moments where your words of conviction of trusting in God betrayed your thoughts and your worries that you really weren’t sure if God was on your side. All those times where you were the cause of someone to stumble in their faith, a fellow Christian who was struggling in their faith, and you didn’t take the time or effort to sympathize with them, to be there for them, to listen to them, to not just say you care for them, but really care for them by showing them that you would not judge them because they were struggling in their faith.

There’s too much in there, in that heart of yours, to fully do justice to just how much sin and guilt there is. If Jesus can’t drive the point home by using potent imagery of cutting off your body parts, I’m not sure what else will work. The heart of the matter is that it’s not your hand, or your foot, or your eye, that causes you to sin. It’s your heart. All those sins you commit against others, all those times you failed others, all those times you caused others to stumble; they bring out your deepest problem, and that is that you call the shots for yourself rather than trusting that your Lord’s way truly is the best way.

Even though we confidently say, “This is the Gospel of the Lord,” and “Praise to You, O Christ,” always remember that the Law must do its work. You will squirm when the Law nails you to the wall, but give thanks that your Lord does this to you. Without it you would be enduring far worse than chopped off body parts. His Law is designed not to nudge you but to nail you to the wall.

Recently there was an article in the Union-Tribune on human trafficking. No to go into the awful details of what people to do to often underage children, but human trafficking, forcing others against their will to do sordid things for money, is a very real problem. And it’s not just ‘over there’ in those third world countries where things like these are easily done. It’s right here in our own city and in our own backyard in Mexico. It makes your heart go out to those who are used in this way. One striking thing mentioned in the article was from a person who is trying to help these innocent children who have basically become slaves. She said that the greatest enemy of children is indifference.

Think about that for a moment, about indifference. If you ignore the problem you are part of the problem. If you don’t do something about it you are promoting it. Indifference is deadly. Jesus said something in a similar vein, I would that they would be hot or cold rather than lukewarm.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s hard to be indifferent when met with Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel reading. They nail you to the wall and you either repent or rebel. Ignore them at your peril.

The Gospel in all of this is not so much in Jesus’ words, as we have said that they are significantly Law, but in the Word made flesh; in Jesus Himself. He didn’t come simply to blast you out of the water, to nail you to the wall. He certainly didn’t come to get you to break out the large kitchen knife and start hacking away at yourself. He came to call you to repentance. He came to bring you life. There is no life, there is no doing away with that guilt and sin heavy on your heart, without hitting it straight on.

A much easier to digest Jesus would be preferable, wouldn’t it? Much easier. But also deadly. So don’t get caught up in the, Oh good, it’s all just metaphorical stuff from Jesus today. Rather, get caught up in the Jesus who loves you so much that He comes to do the hard work of calling you to account, of nailing you to the wall. The Jesus who loves you so much that He would never be indifferent to you and your plight. But rather who would come to you right where you’re at and rescue you. Yes, who would come to you not just to say, Hey cut out all that stuff in your life that’s going against My sovereign Law, but also to say, My Father, if it be Your will, let this Cup fall on Me. Let it be to Me instead of the precious people who are our joy and delight.

And there, my friends, is truly the heart of the matter. It’s not just about your hand, or your eye, or whatever body parts causing you to sin, and the sins you’re struggling with. It’s about your Lord who loves you and lets you know that by not leaving you in the Law. It’s your Lord who is nailed to the wall Himself in your stead, nailed, in fact, to the cross. It’s your Lord, whose heart is pure, who is convicted and suffering the wrath of the holy God so that you may live in righteousness and purity forever.

And the heart of the matter is this as well, as with Jesus there is always more, that you may use your hands, and your feet, and your eyes, and your whole being to praise Him and serve Him. And if that all sounds wonderfully spiritual, well, it is. But it’s also immensely practical, because what do you use your hands, and eyes, and your body for? To serve others. To get down in the dirt with them, right where they’re at, to love them, and cherish them, and serve them. Praise to You, O Christ, that this is all accomplished by You, in Your precious Gospel. Amen.


Commemoration of Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture

 Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around the year A.D. 345. At a young age he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament . After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. From the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of his time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the western Church world for over 1,000 years. Considered one of the great scholars of the early church, Jerome died on September 30, 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem but his remains were eventually taken to Rome. [Commission on Worship of the The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod]

Collect of the Day
 O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Commemoration of Michael and All Angels

 The name of the archangel St. Michael means “Who is like God?” Michael is mentioned in the Book of Daniel (12:1), as well as in Jude (v. 9) and Revelation (12:7)… Tradition names Michael as the patron and protector of the Church, especially as the protector of Christians at the hour of death. [Kinnaman, Scot A. (2008). Treasury of Daily Prayer. Concordia Publishing House.]

 John Gerhard said of the angels: “What is the [angels’] attitude toward men? This the Lord Christ reveals with one word when He calls them “their angels,” that is, the angels of the little ones, the servants of the children and all believers… They render this service to every Christian in manifold ways. While we are children, God assigns our angels to us, as Christ tells us in the holy gospel. When we grow older and go our own way, that is, walk in the ways of our calling, God also assigns angels to us (Ps. 91:11,12).” [Kinnaman, Scot A. (2008). Treasury of Daily Prayer. Concordia Publishing House.]

The Collect of the Day
 Everlasting God, You have ordained and constituted the service of angels and men in a wonderful order. Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship You in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Daily Prayer

Daily devotions. Quiet time. Whatever you might like to call it, being daily in the Word of God and prayer is vital to being a Christian and growing in the new life God gives us. That I’m writing about daily prayer doesn’t mean that I’m an expert or have it all figured out. It means that it’s important to me and I want to share the wealth. I’ve grown tremendously in my devotional life because others have taken the time to share their insights and offer help in this matter. So if can help in even a small way that will be a blessing.

This blog is ‘a place to sit down and talk theology’. It’s a virtual tavern of sorts. There hasn’t been much ‘talking’ of theology around here. But perhaps there shouldn’t be without talking about what’s at the heart of theology. It’s prayer. It’s devotion and worship. The ancient Church said that as we pray so we believe. I had always thought that backwards but in actually being in prayer and devotions I have come to learn that it’s exactly right. Of course we need to believe correctly. But belief is not somehow disconnected from prayer and worship and devotions. As you pray you will learn to believe and you will grow in faith. The one who looks at this intellectually will miss the point. And I’m not discounting the intellect and understanding doctrine. It’s where I’d rather spend my time. That’s why devotions are so hard for me. It’s hard to just pray. To be in the Word and be in it as one who hears it, not just as one who thinks about it and studies it and prepares to teach it and preach it.

The first thing to say about daily prayer I suppose is simply to do it daily. If you’re not in daily devotions today is the day to start. And if you need to start off slowly, making it short and sweet, you have permission. Take five minutes. Read a Psalm. That’s probably as good a place to start as any. It’s the Word of God and it’s prayer. Read the Psalm. Take your time reading it. Pray it. As you’re reading it, make the words your own, even if they don’t seem to say what you’re thinking or thinking you need to pray.

The peace of the Lord be with you as you take time today to be in prayer and each day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The First. And the Last.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 23, 2012
It is the preoccupation of man to think first of himself and not of His God and Lord. It is an eternal fact that the Lord is the First and the Last. He truly is greater than all, above all.

It is the mystery and paradox that the One who is First has become the last, the greatest has become the least. When Jesus taught His disciples He didn’t just teach them stuff that if they were to take a test they’d be able to get a decent grade on it. Jesus taught them by being among them. He who is the First became the Last and that is how He was teaching His disciples who more often than not were too dense to get the point.

Perhaps that was because Jesus’ teaching seemed so impractical; predicting all this stuff about how He would be suffering and dying and rising. Perhaps it was because they were at times preoccupied with themselves, as with this time here where they each made their case to each other—but notice not to Jesus—of why they were the greatest among themselves.

If it weren’t so deadly of a thing it would be comical. I can imagine Jesus laughing upon hearing their pathetic attempts to outdo one another with their supposed greatness among each other. Did they really forget that God Himself was among them and that He was their teacher, their Rabbi? Yeah, Jesus is the greatest, of course, but it’s obvious that I’m second in importance.

So when Jesus teaches them it’s not just that He’s with them, among them, God in the flesh, it’s that He’s being clear with them why exactly this is. It’s that I’m going to be delivered over. Betrayed. Handed over. It’s that I will be suffering, and being killed on a cross. It’s that when that has been accomplished I will be raised from the grave.

It’s a sad commentary that we often, and it’s probably more like all the time, hear this and react in the same way those pathetic disciples did. As if it doesn’t matter. As if we hadn’t heard it in the first place. As if we really don’t understand what He’s saying; what He’s really getting at.

Don’t you see? We do the same thing they did. We act and talk as if we’re so much greater than those disciples were because we really get it, unlike them. We know exactly what it means that Jesus suffered and died and rose. But we really aren’t any better than they were. We really don’t understand it any better than they did. Just because you don’t hear conversations in the fellowship hall as we’re chomping on donuts about who is the greatest among us doesn’t mean we haven’t done exactly the same thing they did. When you hear the Gospel, who Jesus is and what He has done for you—suffering, dying, rising—and then you begin thinking how some of your fellow congregational members just aren’t up to snuff as you are, Jesus’ question to you is, what are you thinking about on the way?

Jesus had taught them. It is hard to get clearer than what He had told them: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” It is the glory of the Lord, who is the First, to become as the one who is last. Jesus came, the one who is the greatest, the Lord of all, in order to become the least among us.

But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. That’s what Mark says as he’s recounting this event. Jesus makes this amazing prediction, prophecy, teaching. But they didn’t have a clue. Oh, and they were afraid to ask Him. And I suppose if my Lord and master were telling me He was going to be betrayed and killed I’d be a little hesitant to ask Him for clarification. Instead, I’ll go back into my comfort zone and build up myself. When those other guys try to convince me that they are better than me I’ll show them exactly how they’re wrong, because it’s clear that I’m the greatest among them.

It is the preoccupation of ourselves to dwell on ourselves. But Jesus has come among us as one who serves. It is the astonishing fact of history that the true God has revealed Himself not primarily as the Almighty, Powerful, Glorious God of all, but the humble servant of all. The First who chose to be the last. The greatest who humbled Himself as the least.

So that’s what all that being delivered over and suffering and being killed is all about. They didn’t get it. But in time they would. We often don’t get it. But upon hearing it again and again; upon receiving His gracious word of the Gospel, the forgiveness of our sins, lifting us up from our lowly state; we slowly begin to get it.

It’s not about us. It’s about Him. It’s not about ourselves in relation to our brother and sister Christians insofar as we are greater than them but rather about ourselves in relation to them in regard to how we may serve them. It is the preoccupation of Christians to consider what they need, when Jesus comes in considering what we need—blessing us and lifting us up so that we may be preoccupied with others’ needs; serving and loving them.

Things aren’t all that different from what Jesus did with His disciples to what He does with us. He was teaching them, He teaches us. He was the First, but became the last among them. He was unquestionably the greatest among them but became the least. He taught them, yes, but He wasn’t just imparting information. He was really teaching them. He was serving them. He was being among them, He was giving them what they needed.

He cut them down to size, and notice how He did it, with simple question: Oh yeah, hey guys, what were talking about on the way? Silence. Embarrassment. Conviction. Heads drooping a little in shame. It’s at this point that Master Jesus, the greatest of all, the Lord of all, once again teaches, humbly being among them instead of once and for all giving up on these self-absorbed nobodies. He brings a child among them.

Imagine this scene. The God of the universe taking a child and putting him before the disciples. Taking this child in His arms. Jesus doesn’t teach in a manner in which He’s got information to get across, and oh good, now they’ve gotten that information. He really teaches. He serves. He comes among us. This child before them must have sliced through their consciences as their attempts at proving who among them was the greatest came to the forefront of their minds.

A little child. One who is in need of being received. One who is in need of being received in the name of Jesus. Who are you to think anything of yourself when there are those among you who are in need? Who are you to ignore the servant work of Jesus by considering yourself over your brother or sister in Christ who is more in need than you are? When you receive such a one in the name of Jesus, you receive Jesus. And whoever receives Him, receives not Him but Him who sent Him.

It is the eternal joy and delight of God the Father to send His Son. It is His delight because it is His eternal joy to love us, to bring us what we need. And that is why we prayed in the Collect of the Day “O God, whose strength is made perfect in weakness, grant us humility and childlike faith that we may please You in both will and deed.” It was the prayer of our Lord to suffer and die and rise on the third day. It continues to be His prayer that His serving us brings about more joy as we serve others.

Jesus said, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” It is the eternal gratitude we have for Him that He didn’t lay this upon us without first having done it Himself. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. He who is so is the First, and the last. He, the First, having become the last, and He the greatest having become the least and the servant of all. Amen.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Life of Faith Is a Life of Prayer

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Commemoration of Cyprian of Carthage, Pastor and Martyr
September 16, 2012
It’s a pipedream to think that everyone in the Church is going to see eye to eye on everything. That there will never be arguing or dissension. This is what Jesus came upon in the Gospel reading for today. “What are you arguing about?” He asked them. The point of today’s Gospel reading, however is not that we shouldn’t be arguing, because, what if Jesus shows up and He finds us disagreeing with each other? It’s not even how we are to deal with each other when we have disagreements or don’t see eye to eye.

There are plenty of other passages in the Bible that deal with that sort of thing. What Jesus is dealing with in today’s Gospel reading is something far more important. He gets at the heart of things. There will be times we feel all warm and cozy with each and times we’re ready to go out one another’s throats. But through all of that there is faith. Or perhaps there is through all of that the lack of faith.

This is what Jesus is getting at here in today’s Gospel reading. It is the heart of the matter. And you might say He is doing it by going for the jugular. He’s not exactly being all warm and fuzzy with those people now is He? “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?”

Wow. Just think for a moment being in the presence of Jesus and hearing those words come out of His mouth. If the arguments we have with one another don’t always make us squirm, the Lord calling into question an entire generation their faith, or lack of it as the case may be, and finishing it with the rhetorical question, “How long am I to bear with you?” will certainly cause some squirming.

It’s not that they’re arguing. It’s not that they’re having trouble seeing eye to eye and they just need to learn to get along with each other. It’s faith. Or rather, it’s the lack of it. It’s being a faithless generation. What’s striking in today’s Gospel reading is how utterly ordinary the setting of the argument is. This boy was afflicted with an unclean spirit. I have talked with people who seen firsthand demon-possession and the effects of witchcraft and other satanic activities. It’s not something I personally want to experience or witness. I have a hard time comprehending it when I live in a world where it’s ordinary to turn on a TV and witness images and sound coming from it and if I really think about what is happening I can only marvel at the amazing technology that produces something that I’d have to describe as magical. But in our society it’s ordinary. It’s the things like the spiritual world and spiritual forces that seem foreign and incomprehensible to us in twenty-first century America.

Jesus was going for the jugular in their lack of faith. And He is doing the same of us. We don’t really understand what it is. We cling to our own notions of being able to overcome our own weaknesses and sin and doubts, just as the disciples in the Gospel reading did, baldly asserting they were capable of exorcising that unclean spirit only to find out how powerless they were. And were those who were so secure in their own denunciations of the disciples any different? No, they didn’t believe it could be done but Jesus showed them differently.

The poor man whose boy was ravaged by this demonic spirit was caught in the middle of all this. “Lord, if you can, please help. Please drive the evil spirit out!” Let’s just say that there are a lot of people, and if we’re really honest, we might include ourselves here to an extent, who would be very uncomfortable to have Jesus as their pastor. The man pleaded to Jesus for compassion and in response what he got was: “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Well, who knows what the man was feeling at that point. But against all odds, he cried out, “Yes, Lord, I believe. I do believe. But you’re right, I also struggle. I have doubts. Sometimes I even wonder if I do believe. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

And here’s where Pastor Jesus again shepherds His flock, giving the man the very compassion he asked for. He rebuked the unclean spirit. He spoke to the spirit, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” There was no more rebuking of the man. There was no more crying out to the crowd of their lack of faith. There was action. Action by Jesus. Jesus, in His power and even more so His grace and His compassion, rebuking the unclean spirit. Do you find it amazing that Jesus drove out an evil spirit simply by speaking to it? We shouldn’t. When Jesus speaks, His words bring about what they say. Jesus isn’t driving out this unclean spirit by His power but by His salvific work. What Jesus is doing here in today’s Gospel reading concerns faith, not, “Oh look!, Jesus is really powerful, He even drives out demons.”

Jesus wants to put faith into those faithless people. And how does He do that? By speaking. By speaking His Word. It is the word that brought into being the universe and all that is in it. It is the word that also brings into being salvation for you. It is the word that creates faith in you. Those people were arguing, not because they just couldn’t figure out this demon possession thing and how to help this poor little boy. They were arguing because they didn’t have faith. Jesus came in and spoke, creating faith. Helping the man in his unbelief, just as he had asked.

The thing about Jesus as a pastor though, is that His ways are unorthodox. He does things in ways where we look at the result and we say, “Well, now it’s worse!” He drove out that spirit and the boy laid there lifeless. People began stating the obvious, “Now he’s dead.” The poor man, after all he had been through, now looked down on his little boy and saw that Jesus’ work of driving out the demon resulted in his son’s death. This was no accident. Jesus works that way. He doesn’t derive pleasure from seeing the man struggle with the emotions of his son now being dead, He simply works in the way He works because otherwise we would keep arguing amongst ourselves how we’re going to accomplish what needs accomplishing in saving ourselves—whether it’s from an unclean spirit or our sin. Jesus doesn’t just help. He gives new life. The way we have new life is by dying. Jesus took the boy by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. He now had new life.

And so did the father. The father was given faith by Jesus. What had Jesus said to him? “All things are possible for one who believes.” The man said he did. He also confessed he needed help because of his unbelief. Notice what his words were. They were prayer. He was speaking to Jesus. He was praying. This is what faith is. It is a life of prayer. Faith is not, “God, I have it all figured out, here’s what You need to do for me.” Faith is a life of prayer. Of humble submission to the Lord and what He gives. The disciples later on asked Jesus, “So Jesus, what’s the deal, why couldn’t we cast out that unclean spirit?” And Jesus said, “Here’s the deal: it’s all about faith. This is kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” The life of faith is a life of prayer. If you’re under the assumption that it’s up to you you are not living the life of faith. If you’re under the belief that you believe, but Lord, help my unbelief!, then you are living the life of faith.

The life of faith is not arguing with God. It is rather trusting in Him, resting in Him, being at the receiving end of all His blessings, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation. The life of faith is not so much something you do—as in, you have faith, you believe, you pray—but rather something that your Lord speaks into you; that your Lord brings about by sending the Holy Spirit to produce and sustain faith in you. What it really is is what that man and his little boy experienced—Jesus coming into their lives in their need and bringing new life to them. The life of faith is a life of prayer.

What that means is that it is life in Christ. It is life united with Him in His death and His resurrection. It is life in which your prayer is not so much, “Lord, here’s what I need,” so much as it is, “Lord, I am Baptized, I have new life in You and my entire being, my entire life, all my needs are entrusted to You.” The life of faith, which is nothing else than a life of prayer, is really a lifelong calling upon your Lord, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I believe You give me Your very body in and with the bread I eat at Your Table. I believe You give me Your very blood in and with the wine I drink in Your Holy Supper. In this Meal, in Your Holy Supper, through Your very body and blood, help my unbelief. Give me faith. Strengthen my faith. Give me new life.”

He’s pretty good at that you know. He did it Himself. He died. He rose. He does the same for you, now and forever. Amen.