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Mission Devotional - January 7, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord God, thank you that you are an intimate God. And thank you that because of that you chose to speak to us in an intimate, personal way - through your Son Jesus. Help us to listen closely to that Word. Help us to know him intimately, that we might know you intimately. Amen.

Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-4

Journal: How has God spoken to you through his incarnate Word, Jesus, lately? What is he saying to you today?

Reflection: God in Himself is the transcendent One. As such he exceeds and explodes all of our human thought categories. No human mind can capture Him. He who is light in himself is darkness for the human mind.

How, then, can he communicate himself to fleshbound human beings in a way calculated to grasp us and grip us and lift us up into a lifegiving personal relationship with him?

The first way God chooses to bridge the gap is creation. He creates our universe, the bewildering variety of touchable, seeable, hearable, palpable beings, so that we can stand before star-studded heavens, before sunrise and sunset glories, before Yosemite and Coldwater, the might of the Pacific in storm, before the complexity of the atom and DNA and the human body, and know something of that Maker: his majesty, his intelligence, his beauty, his power. In a real sense, "the world is charged with the grandeur of God." Creation is the first preaching of the good news. The universe is truly a sacramental universe, disclosing Him. He is the radical secret at the heart of the universe. And so it has been for me in my experience.

But he chooses to bridge the gap in a more significant, personal way. He chooses out of many nations one people and in the years of their history discloses - progressively from Abraham and Moses on, but most specifically in Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Hosea - his holiness, his desire for human beings, his longstanding, faithful love for his rational creatures.

And yet this is not enough. He must say it in a way no one can miss. He must lay his heart open to us and give us the supreme argument of love. He must pour out his inmost identity in an ultimate symbol worthy of himself which would convince us even in our cynicism.

Thus the final way he gladly chose to reveal himself is in his own Son, existing before the stars, who would become a limited human being with a body like me, an emotional life like mine, a thinking loving spirit, and a developing identity - consciousness like mine. So Jesus began life as an infant and grows up in a backwater town, takes up the carpentry trade, is called at the Jordan ford and teaches and heals and forms a small group of followers, dies and rises. And precisely through this short life of carpenter and teacher, God the Father is revealed to the world in stunning clarity. Jesus then is the great sacrament, symbol, revelation of the very depths of the incomprehensible God. What Jesus reveals is the Father's love for us humans: a self-giving love unto death, an unconditional love accepting our flawed condition, forgiving endlessly our weakness and malice. (A Traveler toward the Dawn by John Eagan, S.J.)

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

JJ & F live and work in one of the poorest and most heavily populated states in their country. They are seeking to make a difference in this state in both physical and spiritual realms. They have launched a micro-finance business that is creating self-sustaining means of support for churches and church plants as well as continuing to provide funds for the installation of hand pumps to provide clean water to needy areas of the state. Pray today for J & F as they prepare for an annual conference this month.

The Bible Society of Egypt is the largest Arabic Bible publishing operation in the world. They are publishing the Scriptures in a variety of formats and media (print, audio, visual), with each product designed for a particular social, economic, age, and cultural interest group. Pray today for the staff as they perform the day to day tasks required to publish the Bibles.

Closing Prayer: Let the Word, I pray, be to me, not as a word spoken only to pass away, but conceived and clothed in flesh, not in air, that he may remain with us. Let him be, not only to be heard with the ears, but to be seen with the eyes, touched with the hands and borne on the shoulders. Let the Word be to me, not as a word written and silent, but incarnate and living. - Bernard of Clairvaux