1 To you, O Lord, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,
when I cry to you for help,
when I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.
3 Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with the workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors
while evil is in their hearts.
4 Give to them according to their work
and according to the evil of their deeds;
give to them according to the work of their hands;
render them their due reward.
5 Because they do not regard the works of the Lord
or the work of his hands,
he will tear them down and build them up no more.
6 Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Blue, blue Christmas?
The radio station Air One in Houston is having a Christmas Season of picking Joy. We cannot always chose the emotion of Joy, however, in reality, we largely are able to do this. Sometimes just by praying the Lord's Prayer.
I've volunteered for two and half years in the community and I'd like to recall this particular person who decided to choose joy. The Gospel of John begins with a promise given - John is speaking of the Glory and Light of God he has promised not to disclose of Jesus' transfiguration. Luke 1 begins with the life story of a barren Priest of God. And in leaning into God - faith, hope and Love are discovered to change lives.
A young boy of sixteen told me his story. At age 12, his family, who had a lot of experience with the slum situation of prison institutionalization had his parents tell him - they were permanently done with him. He was cast aside. He spent the next two years in and out of juvenile detention centers. And he recalled with me that his grandfather advised him to become one of the people who like to be in prison where meals and shelter are provided. As the grandfather had done.
And the system began to give him strength in counseling to see - no one deserves to be abandoned by their parents. Nothing he could ever do would earn that as a punishment. And he said this with strength of truth on his side. I marveled at him. And did see that he had held this truth to his soul. I saw the beginnings of a man who would understand love and commitment building the framework, the hard work, of where happiness could dwell.
He was beginning to understand where God held him in his life.
Why? The institution. No. Just like the Gospel of Luke there was a barren Priest. A man who had had the calling of God Almighty to begin a Church and had failed, twice. This minister of God arrived at Juvenile Detention because his calling had failed. And he began to visit and know a 14 year old boy. And to preach the Gospel without words.
The homeless boy was given a sofa because that was available. And introduced and taken to GED training where he earned his GED at age 14. And a job was found. Not many jobs are available to young men with a record and a GED at age 14. A job was found cleaning construction sites at night, 5 nights a week. The construction company began to like the boy. The boy found an apartment.
And when this young man found violence in his new home life - he learned to walk away. Go for a long walk to find the others he lived with agreed with this stance and approved. The Minister who had failed was learning - that his failure was saving a dear life.
A new life was being created. And the new life worth living called for commitment and self-denial, stamina, thinking, and trust in God for Hope. And a man of sixteen was looking very pleased that he knew a few profound things to set his life in order. The minister and the boy found that when he turned eighteen, he was going to have a job with the full-time job of the minister in a career he could earn a living in the rest of his life. How? The Minister knew a few things that pertain to being blessed by God.
Giving back to the community? Sometimes - the community gives a whole lot back themselves just in the Hope their soul brings forth.
Thank You God for the Reason for the Season. Even in fish, You were known to put Your hands in there and feed us!
We thank You in Jesus Christ for our blessings of Strength and fire in the Holy Spirit. A fire millenniums ago Mose found to be a sustaining fire of infinite beauty. Blessed are You Lord God. In Jesus. Amen.
One of the most ancient of Christian inscriptions, God fishes among the Living