Friday, June 5, 2015

Remember these things

Good morning, sunshine! Good morning, bright Friday! The second and last Bright Friday of the year of our Lord, twenty fifteen, and the next we shall not see till next New Year’s Day, the Bright Friday of Christ’s Nativity. Yes, for this is the Bright Week of the Holy Spirit’s descent, the Day of Pentecost lingering for a week-long Sabbath, a prolonged day of rest for His people, that we may pre-rest for the labors the lie ahead in the Apostles’ Fast, setting on the evening of the next Lord’s day.

I rested in meditation on my restoration. Christ restores me, though once for all as He hangs on the Cross, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, He restores me daily, now and always, halting to save me when I fall, helping me keep pace with Him when I rise, fleeing with me as we run together from this world, the City of Destruction, toward His Father’s House in the Heavenly Jerusalem. This is not mere poetry, but the New Creation that bursts forth from the Word of God who He is.

Die daily to the world does not mean to abandon the world anymore than in His Ascension He abandoned it, for He is with us as He promises, to the end of time, and so we have to work, we have to eat and drink, we have to procreate, we have to sleep, we have to wear out our bodies of death, so we can be awarded our resurrection bodies on the Last Day. As Christ says of Himself, ‘My Father continues working, and so do I,’ we too continue to work, to do what we see our Heavenly Father doing, in Jesus.

The last meat I have will sometime today be eaten, making room for the provision of fruits, vegetables, roots and seeds that will sustain me for the next several weeks of the Fast. As summer arrives, while the world gathers around the barbecue pit, the saints are praying, fasting, giving alms—What! And waste all that great weather, those sunny skies and the long, bright evenings of the Northern hemisphere? Well, I like to think so, but I know that it will not be done exactly as the Church decrees. I will do my best.

Hospitality can be an excuse for indulgence, in spite of all the good it does, and we weak humans take the long way Home, knowing, or rather trusting, that the Lord will be waiting for us there, mercifully and not scolding, when we finally come Home after our earthly entertainments—I mean, toils. Salvation for Christ may be the work of a moment, for us sinners the labor of a lifetime. That’s why He commissioned the Holy Apostles—and us!‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,’ and why we fast.

I remember the words of an old English hymn I used to sing,

Come, labor on.
Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain,
while all around us waves the golden grain?
And to each servant does the Master say,
‘Go work today.’

Come, labor on.
The enemy is watching night and day,
to sow the tares, to snatch the seed away;
while we in sleep our duty have forgot,
he slumbered not.

Come, labor on.
Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fear!
No arm so weak but may do service here:
by feeblest agents may our God fulfill
his righteous will.

Come, labor on.
Claim the high calling angels cannot share—
to young and old the Gospel gladness bear;
redeem the time; its hours too swiftly fly.
The night draws nigh.

There are two more stanzas, but the crescendo is reached in the fourth, and the remaining are religious filler. I stop and meditate on the closing line, ‘The night draws nigh,’ reminding me of Christ’s words, ‘Night is coming, when no one can work.’ This day, the Bright Friday of the Holy Spirit, of Pentecost, is just beginning. To go forth and gather not the nations into discipleship but my next week’s groceries into my shopping cart, that is my morning mission, even before my morning coffee, even before breakfast.

‘Isn’t this how life in Christ is?’ I ask myself. It is like it was when as a young man I worked on the farm. If I didn’t wake up on time, the cows would wake me by thumping my bed room window with their bulky heads. Then I would quickly wash and dress and go in the dark pre-dawn to milk them. Only after the first job was done was the table laid. We rise. We work. We fast. Then we go to the Table of the Lord. He feeds us with Himself, and then opens the Door He has set before us, our life, and says, ‘Go work today.’

I greet you, beloved brethren, as we approach the bright Feast of All Saints this coming Lord’s Day, when we shall begin the next leg of our Journey, in the company of the Holy Apostles and all lovers of Jesus, with the words, ‘Claim the high calling angels cannot share,’ because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4), and because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Remember these things.

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