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Lenten Devotional – Day 2 – Here’s Your Sign

jesus-our-hopeScripture Readings:  Habakkuk 3:1-10, 16-18 Philippians 3:12-21John 17:1-8

How often have I asked God for a sign? Have I ever given something to God and then taken it back, only to repeat this over and over? Habakkuk is a reading with such human expression. The timeline is about 610 BC; the time of the exile of King Jechoniah and eleven years before the destruction of the first temple, which was built during the time of King Solomon (son of King David).

It is believed that Habakkuk may have been a Levite and a singer in the Temple. Perhaps this is why this passage appears to be a poem or a hymn. Habakkuk speaks of the battle between the Chaldeans and Jerusalem. “Teman” is translated from the Hebrew in reference to the south area where the Yemenite Jews lived in Yemen or Siberia. This area was noted for the wisdom of its inhabitants.

Habakkuk closes with a confession of faith and trust. He is worried that he will be judged for the actions in Judea (that whole region of conflict). In this reading, Habakkuk asks for a new expression of God’s wrath and mercy, as God had demonstrated so powerfully in the past. Habakkuk acknowledges that he has heard of God’s great saving acts. He pleads that when God judges, he will also be merciful. Habakkuk vows to praise God in the midst of all the chaos of war.

Paul wrote this letter while under house arrest in Rome to update the people of Philippi about his trial and to strengthen them in the hope and joy that was theirs in Christ. About 61 AD, Paul had arrived in Philippi to pursue his mission of planting new churches. Philippi is the only church used in the New Testament as a model for the churches that will follow. Philippi had a Roman colony where retired army veterans were given a grant of land as a reward for their years of service and were settled there.

This located loyal Roman citizen/soldiers at this strategic location along Egnatian Way, which was the main road constructed in 2 BC that connected Rome with the Roman provinces in the east. In this book, Paul has an urgency to express that one cannot achieve the kingdom of God through any other means but through a deep relationship with God. Paul is passionate about spreading the word of God.

The Gospel of John was probably written between 70-85 AD. After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life—that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. (John 17:1-8)

I have heard this prayer referred to as “the dying man’s prayer.” When we are the furthest from human ego, we are the closest to God’s love. Perhaps I need to die to myself every day. Jesus’ whole life had been an experience of the Father. He came to show us the heart of a true servant. His prayers in this reference are to completely surrender to God’s will. Jesus gives an account of his mission on earth. In this scripture, Jesus prays for himself, and then for his disciples. Jesus offers prayers of intercession for his disciples. Through Christ we are promised eternal life, the Father’s word, the Kingdom of Glory. How can I turn my Christian walk into action?

Sometimes the most important things in life are also the most simple. If I live in the moment and surrender to God’s will (not my own will), perhaps all will be well. How can I show the face of Christ to those whom I encounter every day? Am I able to get up each day and ‘begin again’? Possibly, it is in the showing of God’s love that the glory of God will find us. Trust this Holy mystery!



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