Friday, March 21, 2003

Friday, 21 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Faith in the general religious sense is the faculty of accepting the unseen as true, and listening beyond the senses. Such a general faith knows what it knows without the empirical evidence ordinarily expected of knowledge of the material, physical world (Luther, Large Catechism).

Saving faith does not require a new faculty of the self. Rather, the preparatory work of grace moves within human knowing, feeling, and willing to draw the person toward the saving faith which knows, feels and wills in relation to God's own personal coming.

We often refer to faith by tying it to seeing and the ability to accept "the unseen as true." I am particularly drawn by the phrase "listening beyond the senses." It is like that voice that is heard by the prophet...under the sounds of the storms and the thunder and the wind...a voice. "Did you hear that!?!" In these days when the voices and sounds of war are all around us, we must remember that the voice of the Prince of Peace continues to speak. It is a voice that comes in all languages and it is a voice that does not settle for warfare but inspires us to press for the things that make for peace. This is not an easy voice to hear. One must keep going to scripture and spending time in prayer...walk with the prophets of old whose words seem to have a fresh ring to them even though they are old. You see, hearing beyond the senses is a gift given to us by our God so that we will be stirred up to new life even when the old ways of our world thrash around with sabers in hand.

Connection: Pray always. Be connected to the One who promises that justice and peace will kiss...and what a union of love it will be. Always ask, are there any other voices anyone else is hearing...and then, have a blessed conversation over what is being heard around the table of God's children.

Creator of all that is, bring together the children of your creation that your will may come into view and we may begin to hear that new song of your gracious reign. We come again to you as those who find life only in you. Praise to you this day, O Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Thursday, 20 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Before the call to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham already believed that all things are possible with God. "What can we say to those who insist that Abraham was justified by works because he was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar? Abraham was already an old man when God promised him that he would have a son and that his descendants would be as countless as the stars of the sky. Abraham piously believed that all things are possible with God and so exercised this faith. God reckoned him to be righteous on this account, and gave Abraham a reward worthy of such a godly mind, viz. the forgiveness of his previous sins....So even if Abraham was also justified by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, this must be regarded as an evident demonstration of a faith which was already very strong" (Cyril of Alexandria).

There are so many ways we can try to evaluate this story of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac. When Isaac and his dad went on a trip and this father of one son was going to a place and time when he would have to put to an end the life of the only son...his beloved...his miracle child, there was no hesitation - for Abraham already believed what God said and what God does. Did Abraham do something that put him in God's favor? He merely continued to trust what God was all less. By faith, he steps off the edge - for by faith there is no edge other than one that leads to the promises of God. So...he goes lifts the blade and is ready to put to an end that which would, by promise, lead to new life...because the God of Abraham is the God of promise. For Abraham it is a "no brainer." In fear and trembling, he goes forward trusting that God will be God. He leaps...blade in hand and fire kindled for sacrifice.

Connection: This God of promise is still the God who calls us and promises life when there is no life and peace when there is no peace and justice when we are witnesses of intolerable injustice. What does leaping...faithful leaping look like in the ordinary days of our lives? Go for it...try it out.

Your promises, O God, stir up our hearts and make for possibilities in the midst of what we are sure are impossible times. Continue to inspire us and move us within our daily lives so that we too may take the leap and live as though we trust whose we are...your Beloved. Amen

Wednesday, 19 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Abraham's faith was implicitly a faith in the promise of God's future deliverance (Gregory of Nyssa). Yahweh promised Abraham that all nations were to be blessed through his son, Isaac. Yet Yahweh commanded Abraham to go to Mount Moriah and offer up Isaac as a sacrifice! Abraham nonetheless trusted God, made his necessary preparations, and immediately set out on the journey. This exemplary readiness to trust in God's promise made him the prototype for all persons of faith in the Bible (Hebrews 11:8-19).

He "nonetheless trusted God." That is quite a statement - quite a life move. The son...the gift...the blessing, and yet he is to offer him up to God. But that is not all. The promise is still there. Abraham trusted that even if Isaac was offered up...Abraham would still be the blessed one...and father of a people. That is hope beyond hope. It is trust that continues in the face of what seems to be the greatest absurdity. It is faith in a promise...a promise given by one in whom your whole life will find rest even as there is no rest in sight. Nonetheless...Abraham trusted God...whew! Beyond comprehension...and yet not beyond living faith - a gift to all God's people for life.

Connection: that face of all that will take place....nonetheless, trust God. In the meantime, gather around others who will be a community of people that will nurture faithfulness in one another.

Lord of the Church, you bring us the great gift of faith in you alone and you send your Spirit to stir up your promise of new life within us. Praise to you for making this a new day that leans on your everlasting promise without compromise. Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Tuesday, 18 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

"What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?" (Romans 4:1)

Abraham is the model of faith in the history of salvation. This is seen in his forsaking the land of his birth upon the command of God (Gen.12:1-4), in believing in the promise of many descendants (Gen.12:7; 15:4-8), and in the readiness to offer up Isaac (Gen. 22:1-10; Romans 4:18-21; Hebrews 11:8-19).

Abraham trusted in God, not in his own doubts. "Since Abraham, without the law, obtained glory not by the works of the law (as if he could fulfill the law in his own strength); since the law had not yet been given, the glory belongs to God, not to him. For he was justified not by his own merit, as if by works, but by the grace of God through faith" (Augustine on Romans).

What a wonderful and yet very simple notion. "Abraham trusted in God, not in his own doubts." How many times do you trust in the many questions you have about life or what will happen next or could happen or should happen - rather than in the one word in our lives in which there is no question? I try to tell that to children every week in the children's lesson during worship. That may be why the adults hate it when I speak softly to the children...they want to hear it too! Everyone needs to be reminded...and then reminded again of the one word we can trust...God's first and last action that is always for us...always promise...always life giving - even when death appears to rule. In the Abraham story, Abraham trusted. And yet, we see it as one of the most amazing stories. In the face of all the things that attempt to woo us, Abraham trusts one thing alone...the Lord, God...and the Lord God delivers life. Let the glory be to God.

Connection: Sometimes it is simply impossible for me to grasp the faithfulness of Abraham. Then again, there is this promise about the Holy Spirit igniting faith in each and every one of us. There is no need to go into an evaluative process to judge how "faithful" we have been. We are simply in the position to begin living as people who trust what God says about us. Do turn back and judge yourself or others, rather...begin to walk by faith. And then...again. And then (without looking back), step again into the promised land of God's gracious reign as it is available to us today.

God of Grace, you mend the world and bring your people together as daughters and sons so that we may enter into the fullness of life within your Reign with a sense of wonder and awe. In our warring world, when the gods of the day attempt to break apart your creation, make us agents of your peaceable reign and witnesses to a love that is always seeking to reunite our broken world. Be with us and with all your beloved children. Amen.

Monday, 17 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Faith frees the repentant sinner to approach God with confidence, by the power of the Spirit. God the Spirit is providing sure and definite means of grace to encourage the reconciled life: the pure preaching of the Word, baptism, the Lord's Supper, daily scripture reading, worship, and pastoral care.

We approach God with confidence because the Holy Spirit has encouraged us to trust that what God says is true...eternally true. Therefore, there is no reason in the world that we cannot approach our God and begin to live within what I often call the Reign of God. To remind us and to keep us nurtured by God's grace, we are invited to take part in a life that will provide us with regular and active encouragement. It will come in the form of one Christian caring for another, public and private worship, the daily reading of scripture (it doesn't matter how much or how little), and what is traditionally call Word and Sacraments (the visible word) that is shared within worship. There is much that takes place in the community of the followers of Jesus that is a part of what the Holy Spirit whips together in order to make sure we are continually hearing God's word of Grace and in that hearing, we are able to stand on the solid rock of God promises.

Connection: There are too many times within this day when we have to hear about conditional acceptance and conditional relationships. Sometimes, people will even try to sell our relationship with God as conditional. And yet, we can be assured that God awaits us and longs to hear from us and is eager to be for us that sold rock without exception.

Lord of New Life, we trust in you for you have promised to be our source of strength for life no matter what might come upon us. By the power of your Holy Spirit, continue to nudge us and woo us so that we will never be afraid to confidently begin and end our day within your peaceful and gracious embrace. Amen.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Friday, 14 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Even a little faith can have great power. Jesus attested the power of faith in dramatic terms: "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).

What does seed have that makes it analogous to the kingdom of God? Readiness to receive the condition of Growth.

The greatness of God's power becomes clear when it brings life from death (1 John 4:7-21). Paul's preaching did not proceed "with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on (human) wisdom, but on God's power" (1 Corinthians 2:5).

I don't like to think of faith as a quantity...a little faith...a lot of faith. For some reason, it always leads into conversations about "enough faith." When people go there, it is as though we are always lacking and if...if...if we had "enough or more faith" this or that would or would not happen. Well, I think the notion of the seed the size of a seed has little to do with an amount of faith. It is faith(period). To trust our God is to be standing in a new place in time. Don't worry about whether it is enough faith, the Holy Spirit is the one who provides the faith in the first place. If it is just a seed size is a gift...and an amazing one at that. The power for new life is as available in such a small notion of faith that it is indeed "enough." So put the "if only" stuff away and live by faith...the faith that is a gift and is the beginning of our lives.

Connection: Do not be discouraged. Even the faith that looks like someone searching for faith enough. Even the faith that is wandering and confused and not sure what to do and where to go enough. So therefore, keep moving...keep searching and wandering and facing the confusion of the day for the Holy Spirit is at work in, with, and under this day so that our God will be trusted in all that we do.

By the power of your Holy Spirit, O God, you touch us and bring us into this day. We face many times within our day that appear to be able to overwhelm us and yet you promise to lift us up and carry us through all that might attack us. Keep us faithful and let the power of your grace be our encouragement. Amen.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Thursday, 13 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Divine pardon is a gift that requires a response. It is a personal gift that must be received by a personal agent.

It is like a costly gift of love that hopes and calls for a response in order that it may be completely given and received.

The benefit of justifying grace can be received only if they are received in trusting responsiveness. Faith's part is simply to acknowledge the rightness of God's act by receiving it trustingly, obediently. Faith praises the Justifier by taking seriously his costly, justifying action.

Receive the is yours! No other power can bring life like the promise of God to love us in every time and in all places of our lives. There is no way to enter that life if we do not trust, have faith, in the one who brings us into a new life. We each have many reason and excuses as to why we are not "suitable" to live a new life or to be forgiven or to reach out and take hold of a direction for life that we have previously ignored...and yet, when we do that, we turn our back on the One who bids us to enter life and take hold of it abundantly. Remember, no event in our lives has the power to diminish our lives when we trust and accept the gift of God's love for us...a love that pardons and enriches us and will not fail us. We are only asked to receive the gift...take it as ours.

Connection: There is this never ending voice that calls to us to "come home." That is, trust what God has done for us and will do for us each and every day. This day may indeed be filled with a legend of demons that pursue us and try to knock us down, but...our God never ceases to bid us to trust in God's peace and love. Today just may be a day to remind ourselves of the "home" that is ours now and forever.

By your Grace, O Lord, we come to this day reminded of a vision for life that is not consumed by the many powers of discouragement and despair that attempt to trip us up along the way. Be for us the steady hand that supports us in the midst of all trials so that we may may learn to receive you promised life even when it is so difficult to see. Amen.

Wednesday, 12 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Faith is the only condition required for a reconciled relation to the Final Judge. Without faith no one can receive God's saving gifts.

Faith is the indispensable condition for receiving every subsequent stage of God's saving activity. It is the inward pivot of the Christian teaching of salvation. At no point is it possible to say that having discussed faith, we can now turn to teach other subjects so as to leave faith behind...

The power to believe is supplied by grace. It does not come by the fallen nature, or the alienated will acting autonomously. Were faith not enabled by preparing grace, then there could be no meaningful call to faith or guilt due to unbelief.

The Final Judge will be the Final Judge. No matter how you may look at that concept, there is one thing that we must hold within our hearts - the Final on our side and judges in our favor. That is what we trust. We have faith in that action to come and therefore we are invited to live as though that judgment has an impact on our living today. Faith each and every day shapes all things. We do not believe once and then it is over. It is not like an agreement signed by is a relationship of trust that becomes manifest in everything we do and all that we are. When we are living in "unfaith" we live differently than as we live having faith in the one who claims us for all time. And yet, in our "unfaith" God's grace continues to pull at us and pave the way for our faithful response to God's gracious reign.

Connection: Our lives of faith grow out of the trust we have in the one who promises us life. It is not a easy as it least not for someone like me. Therefore, I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit moves others around me to be a faithful presence to encourage my faithfulness. In other words, we need the faithful people around us.

Saving Lord, by your power and through the work of your Holy Spirit, we continue to enter the days of our lives as though your promised are true and our lives will indeed be enriched by your gracious love for us. Praise be to you! Amen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Tuesday, 11 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader

God is not a visible object of sense. But by grace believers are made inwardly certain of what they cannot see or quantify empirically.

Faith is distinguished from sight on the one hand, and doubt on the other. Believers walk by faith, which is distinguishable from both empirically certain sight and spiritually uncertain doubt. "We live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith "sees" that which is mostly concealed from the sensory apparatus. It is "a trust in the unseen as though it were seen, in that which is hoped and waited for as if it were present.

Some outcomes of God's promise will always remain partially obscure until the end . Nonetheless, faith relies on the trustworthiness of God's providential love for the right ultimate unfolding of these outcomes.

"Trust in the unseen as though it were seen, in that which is hoped and waited for as if it were present." We trust in a promise. We have faith in that which we are assured will be the end of all things...and therefore the beginning of all things today and every day. The one who makes those assurances is the the God who is the creator of all things and the one who raised Jesus from the dead. I'm sure we all have many things within our lives that we like to trust. And for the most part, it is well placed trust. Trusting that our partner will be faithful has an impact on who I am and how I go about living right now. Trusting that our parents will provide for and protect us as we was grow up shapes how we grow up and how we interact with our world. How much more is our life shaped when we are told that the end of the stories of our lives are secure in God's loving doubt about it! And yet, we all choose to trust the security of what is concrete and visible and touchable over that which is promised and not visible completely. God invites us to take the leap and see how life is when we are moved to see the promises of God unfolding within our lives to make all things new.

Connection: Trusting in our God and what God does through the liberating presence of Jesus, how is our seeing changed? How are the perceptions of the day altered? What difference does it make for us when we look at our world through the lens of God's saving promise?

Lord of the Present and the Not Yet, we await your loving presence within each of our days. You have given us the gift of life and you bid us to walk forward into what is not yet known completely, trusting that you will indeed be the source of our strength and courage. Praise to you blessed Lord. Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Monday, 10 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Faith is distinguished from hypothesis, conjecture, supposition, fantasy, or imagination, because it is based upon the evidences of faith - revelation in history. The task of faithful reasoning is to assess the quality of evidence. To believe without evidence is gullibility. Faith is not gullible, since it does not require belief without evidence.

Faith looks for evidence in the actual fulfillment in history of God's promises. God teaches us by making promises and keeping his promises. This in part is an empirical search, but more profoundly a search for evidence in the flow of history. The evidence sought is more historical than laboratory or scientific in the narrow sense. Hebrews 11 provides a long list of such evidences in biblical prototypes of persons of faith.

Among us, the record of events in the bible give us that "something" upon which faith is built. We could argue that whether a story is meant to be a "historically" recorded event or a metaphorical image, both can be events that provide evidence for our faith. The stories from the book of Daniel, for example, may not be the retelling of events that happened as told...but they are stories of the faithfulness of God for a community caught within days of trial and tribulation. The God who delivers Israel out of the clutches of imperial power is brought to us from a people who did indeed find life and security in what appeared to be an impossible situation. I think what we are also saying is that we must look back. We must look to what has happened so as to be strengthened for what is about to happen or what is presently upon us. So often, during the unfolding of events in which we live, we cannot see God's hand at work among us.

Connection: I would recommend that sometime during the day you read Hebrews 11. It is a wonderful unfolding of the journey of faithfulness. It is also a good way to consider how we as individuals, might add to the "evidence" that is presented there.

Lord of Every Age, you are faithful to your promises and from your faithfulness we are empowered and encouraged to face the days at hand. Let your reign of peace settle our hearts and keep us forever trusting in your alone. Amen.

Thursday, March 6, 2003

Friday, 7 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Today's reading has quotes from Augustine, Chrysostom, Wesley, Calvin & scriptures!

In the classic Christian inquiry into faith one first prays for the grace to inquire rightly into faith. Only if one is willing to risk following Christ by doing what he says will one then learn his doctrine. Without choosing to follow in the Way, to hold to the Truth, and to live the Life, it is not likely that there will be sufficient readiness that saving grace will be rightly received and understood. The meaning of faith is learned only through the obedience of faith.

The religious professionals were astonished that Jesus had such extraordinary learning "without having studied." Jesus made this extraordinary response: "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching come from God or whether I speak on my own" (John 7:17). The implication: Active, risk-taking trust is the required teaching arena in which one learns what faith in Christ is.

Trusting in Christ is not a mere mental exercise. Trusting, having faith, has a life to it. What we have found over the centuries of life in the Church is that we each take a risk to follow Jesus in our own day. To love enemies and trust that this is the way God's shalom/peace comes among us, is not a way of life that is well received. We risk when we love. We risk when we do not turn our backs to the suffering and injured in our world...for we are pulled out of our way of living and called into another way that may not be the most comfortable nor the most popular. To seek truth and to live truthfully means risking what can happen in a world where untruth and half-truths seem to have the advantage and the power. life. Faith is in life. Risky business.

Connection: We are told that we have a place of rest and security within all the travails of our day. That is a promise because when we have faith in Christ and move within this day as trusting what God has done and is doing in Christ, our faithful lives may be met with something less than kisses. At those times, we have been promised a place of rest and a rock, a fortress that will never abandon us.

Faithful Lord, be with us when we walk into this day trusting in your promises for we are often pushed and pulled into other ways of living even as we long to trust in you alone. Amen.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Thursday, 6 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

In apostolic teaching, faith is utterly simple and direct. Christian teaching cannot do better than to convey that profound simplicity. Salvation comes through grace-enabled faith, not the absolute clarity of faith's attempts to define itself. "God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21).

The simplicity of faith makes it almost unbelievable. That may seem odd...but look around. When we speak of God's grace and how our God is eternally for us and that nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ, Jesus, just listen to the "Yeh, buts" that will be lifted up all around you. It is as though we cannot let God be the one who makes the move and acts and redeems and rescues and saves and delivers and embraces us...without one bit of action on our part. It is utter foolishness. Yes, but it is the way God is the way of the is the empty tomb that defies all the rules of life and death.

Connection: K.I.S.S.* and yet let it be for you the most powerful and profound word onto which you hang all day long. (*Keep It Simple Stupid)

Lord of the Promise, you give and you give and you give and you...then find it within your loving grace to give more so as to keep us eternally under your loving care and alive within your gracious reign. Praise be to you. Amen!

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Wednesday, 5 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).

By our living faith we demonstrate in life the reality of the things we cannot see. Our faith brings us to a kind of moral certitude in relation to what lies beyond physical sight. Faith requires laying hold of that which cannot be attained by sense perception or logic alone, but by trusting the person of Christ alone.

Faith is our active, working confidence in and assurance of the truth of what we hope for. Faith itself elicits the evidence and conviction of that which cannot be seen. If revelation is the window to grace, faith is the eye that beholds it.

I have always thought the word "Behold" was such a biblical word. Really, who uses that word in everyday language. But here it is used in way that brings it to life for me. "Faith is the eye that "beholds" (grace)." When angels say, "Behold!" it is an invitation to see what is not all. It is an invitation to begin to see the world and the life and the truth of God's gracious reign all at once. It is one of those words that introduces what God is and has and will do. Some may see nothing. And yet, there is always much to see. Faith is that eye that may not be quite certain of what is being announced and yet we continue to look and move toward that which is revealed. Through the window of revelation, we begin to see the life that is before is a way that includes a bright view of a just and peaceful creation in which our God brings all things into being for the welfare of all.

Connection: Behold, this is the Lord's day, rejoice and be glad in it. It may be like nothing you have ever seen.

Lord of New Life and Ruler of all that is and will be, you set us within this day and call us to trust what you lay before us. No matter what will try to distract us from trusting in you, let your Holy Spirit be our strength and courage to follow you alone. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Saving faith is personal trust - trust in a person, Jesus Christ, the one mediator between God and humanity. The Greek terms that translate faith imply reliance upon, trust in another who is experienced as trustworthy... Faith is less about Christ than in Christ. "Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness" (Acts 10:43).

This personal trust is grounded in the conviction of the credibility of the apostolic testimony to him. "Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his(her) heart" (1 John 5:10). This testimony is the history of his coming, life, teaching, death, and resurrection. Faith in God assumes that God's disclosures about and of himself in the history of Jesus are true and sufficient for faith.

The distinction between "about" and "in" may seem small but they are quite important. We do not simply believe in the various stories that are told about Jesus. That is, we believe that they "happened" or that the events did occur in somewhat the manner in which they are recorded. Rather, we believe that the story has power for our lives. For example, we trust that the word of forgiveness, as is noted above, is a word that comes to us and has a saving impact on our lives. We are not simply agreeing with some data, we are trusting that what happens in the story of Jesus as the the Christ of God has an impact on my life. We have faith that our lives are shaped and moved and renewed through that story. So...when we "testify" we are speaking of what life believing in Christ has been for us.

Connection: It is good to share with other what has come to life from our trusting in Christ has done and is doing within our lives. It may be the most simple word to share.

Lord, as you are present with us this day, remind us of the power of your love for us and make us a courageous witness to that power so that others may come to trust in you. Amen.

Monday, March 3, 2003

Monday, 3 March, 2003

From the last section of Thomas Oden's book The Justification Reader.

Faith is the firm conviction of the grace of God. Such faith is accompanied inwardly by the Spirit's assurance, and outwardly by works of love in relation to the neighbor. It is a firm "confidence (fiducia) of the heart, by which we securely acquiesce in the mercy of God promised to us through the gospel"(Calvin). Faith elicits a sense of trusting respose in God who enables this conviction.

Faith is the primary condition set forth in scripture for receiving justification.

In other words, faith is like buying it "hook, line, & sinker." We hear of the gracious reign of God and we hear God's invitation to come and live within this gracious domain...and we trust that what we hear from our God is something we can trust - completely. In the above quote it says that "faith is the primary condition set forth in scripture for receiving justification." This does not make God's justification a conditional matter. Before faith can even come into being within our lives, God has already acted for us...even to the point of creating the faith that enables us to trust what God has said and done. If someone serves you a meal and places it in front of you, it does you no good if you don't trust the cook and dig in. The only "condition" on being fed and nourished is whether or not you take fork and knife in hand and begin the feast.

Connection: Be confident that our God makes things new and is always the merciful Lord of all even if it doesn't appear to be the case within our day. From that point we begin to face all that comes our way.

Merciful God it is your will that we would come and stand within your Reign and begin to live as though your love for us can create new life and bring us peace. Let the Spirit of Life pull us into the Good News we hear in Christ, Jesus, that we may have rest and peace and be ones who courageously face this day. Amen.