Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

James 1:26-27

"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

Would you PLEASE turn down the light, God?!

The trouble with mirrors is they amplify light. The Palace of Versailles has a room called The Hall of Mirrors. The idea of such a room to be a place where the king could host a brilliant party illuminated by only a few candles. Every mirror that caught a candle's flame duplicated the light from that candle and made it brighter to the human eye.

Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

Dickens' Scrooge finds this same problem to be his undoing when he meets the first of the three Ghosts:

"It was a strange figure -- like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white, and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm.

Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered.

"What!" exclaimed the Ghost, "Would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow!"

And when the light of Truth -- note the capital "T". For it is eternal truth both specific and general, revealed and hid from view. God's Truth is embedded deep in his character and written in His Word. It shines from the Lamb (not a typo...) burning within my heart and yet my own dark heart shines out darkness and death. I cringe and try to hide my face from this mirror and the next and the next. Where am I to hide?! (Psalm 139) I am in the Hall of Mirrors and everywhere I turn I meet myself. And because it is Christ who is in me, I meet Him.

I have been quite a talker in my life. Pastors usually are. But I have not been much of a doer. I told you. I'm lazy. Just by the standard of this verse I have failed to live a "religion that is pure". And the things I have invested in? Well... invested wouldn't probably be the right word. My obsessions; my idols; my vanities -- these have threatened to rob me of the Light of Christ altogether and leave me here in this Hall of Mirrors such complete darkness I fear I will run into mirror after mirror in such a way that the glass will shatter and fall to the ground and my spirit will die there among the shards of what should have been life and light to me. And yet, the standard by which pure faith is judged is so much more than just visiting orphans and widows and remaining unstained by the world (though now to think of it that last sentence covers a LOT of ground).

I think that lighting the room with the pure light of Christ may take a lot of work. Or maybe, because his face is the one I see in all the mirrors, all it will take is to light one candle.

Jon

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