Pastor’s presentation on abundant life – excerpt:

They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. from Jeremiah 31

The question we reflected on together: “salvation” in the Bible isn’t just “afterlife,” but “abundant life” here and now – the gifts of:

Rest – Joy – God – Home -Human connection – Direction

Which of these do you think people in our society have a special need for today? Can churches help provide these gifts? How?

Reflections on REST: Rest isn’t just a nap; it’s freedom from anxiety. “the people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away.” (31v2-3) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.” –Psalm 22

Rest means having land; the end of travel. “Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit.” (v5) Implies work, but connected to your own labor, your own food, the land.  “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘the LORD you God is providing you a place of rest, and will give you this land.”-Joshua 1:13

Rest is Sabbath – entering God’s rest.

“For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his habitation:
‘This is my resting-place for ever;
here I will reside, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless its provisions;
I will satisfy its poor with bread.
Its priests I will clothe with salvation,
and its faithful will shout for joy.”
– from Psalm 132

Reflections on Joy  – in the Bible – inward joy and outward expression go together.  “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, raise shouts for the chief of the nations, proclaim, give praise…” (v7)  “People seem to have forgotten a Luther who taught that a Christian has a duty to be glad and thankful for God’s grace, while the devil is the … evil spirit of depression and an enemy of all true joy.”  Birgit Stolt, “Luther’s Faith of the ‘the Heart’” in The Global Luther, ed. Christine Helmer.

From Luther’s Catechism: In the morning, as soon as you get out of bed, you are to make the sign of the holy cross and say:

“God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit watch over me. Amen.”

Then, kneeling or standing, say the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.
If you wish, you may in addition recite this little prayer as well:
“I give thanks to you, my heavenly Father through Jesus Christ your dear
Son, that you have protected me this night from all harm and danger, and I ask you that you would also protect me today from sin and all evil, so that my life and actions may please you completely. For into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.”

After singing a hymn perhaps (for example, one on the Ten Commandments) or whatever else may serve your devotion, you are to go to your work joyfully.

says Rowan Williams, “ultimately, joy is about discovering that the world is more than you ever suspected, and so that you yourself are more than you suspected.  The joy of  the resurrection has a unique place in Christian faith and imagination because this event breaks open the shell of the world we thought we knew and projects us into the new and mysterious realm in which victorious mercy and inexhaustible love make the rules.  And because it is the revelation of something utterly basic about reality itself, it is a joy that cannot just be at the mercy of passing feelings.  It roots itself in the heart and remains as a foundation for everything else.

God the living stream… …helps us understand our past, find hope for future –
“the LORD appeared to me from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”(v3)

…. hears us in our time of need – “Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘Save, O LORD, your people, the remnant of Israel.’”(v7)

…. is with us as a parent guiding us.  “I will let them walk by brooks of water … for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” (v9) –

Image, above – By Ben (Flickr: DSCF3268) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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