The Day After Christmas
December 26, 2012
Epigraph
January 4, 2013

My Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God the Father; may the love of Christ Jesus and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit be with you always. Amen.

How often I give thanks for you! For though I see you seldom, you have stood for me as a righteous example of the will of God. I have seen charitable acts pour through you with the workings of the Spirit, and have never been more overjoyed to see your light shine before the entire world.

I call on you to remember, however, that it is the will of God that you live out, and not your own. For this, my sisters and brothers, you must pray often and with a devoted heart. Understand well that it is not you who must reach to God for knowledge of His will, but rather, that you must put away worldliness in order that God may come to you clearly. I beg you, therefore, to discern with a clean mind, an open heart, and an upright spirit. This does not mean that you may or that you can divorce yourself from the awful power of sin but that, with the strength of God, you may overcome it in moments to the manifestation of Christ’s call.

What’s more, I have heard some of you bickering among yourselves about this call, which is both strange and difficult and which does not often bear with logic or reason, nor with our desires. I have heard it said that you are calling on yourselves to live out God’s will, but that is simply your own selfishness replacing the good work of God. Ask yourselves, then, why you do what you do. If you claim to do the work of God, but do not pray, is it not your own work that you are doing? And even if you say that it is what you feel is right and good, what matter is that to God? For are you not acting solely for building up of the ego? Christ, in his time among us, was never about himself but about us. Take heed, then, and follow His example.

But also remember that God loves us, no matter what, as His very own children. And for that we act in joy to the glory of God. But no, it is more than this: for we are not simply beloved sons and daughters—though others would have you believe this only—but we are also Christ for the world. We are God in sum, my beloved, and therefore when God loves us, he loves also himself in perfect creation. That is, a creation designed as it was meant to be designed. Therefore, when we do God’s will we do it not as base servants following command, but because God works within us—indeed, it is part of us, and therefore it is in our nature to live out the call of Christ.

So then you ask me: If it is God’s will that reigns within me, is not all I do of God? Why then is designing my own destiny an act of sin? Think of this, my brothers and sisters: a dog may, by instinct, be mankind’s most adoring friend in creation. And yet, there are dogs who attack and bite and kill. Even so, stirred up by a good man or woman, they may indeed overcome such instincts and be loving just the same. It is not that we are God one and one, my beloved, but that the surge of Christ’s call is within us; we must open ourselves to it and not to the temptation of the physical world which often lead us to sin. For together, in this divine effort, we come to know ourselves as both children of God and Christ for the world.

Now, do not waste my time with qualms on the loss of self. For when you begin bickering about what you have lost, you have indeed lost Christ: your mind is only within you. But if you devote yourself to the true and genuine call of Christ, then you have put away the self and have redeemed the other. Christ himself said to us: “Those who lose their lives for myself will find them.” And, in another place, “Those who have ears, let them hear.”

And yet, I do not want you to believe that the world is evil, my beloved. For it is filled with wondrous things beyond our comprehension: the likes of which are made known in the creative acts of humanity and designs of our Creator. We are called to experience this as well, my beloved, but with an eye toward humility and a heart devoted to God. Because we may know the physical world does not mean we shall or should have all the answers to the questions that lie within it. Did Moses save our race because of understanding? Or did Abraham bring us prosperity because of knowledge? No—but for faith. Trust in the Lord your God who knows you even better than you know yourself. In that there is true freedom, and the mark of true faith.

Now it has been written to me these past months that there are some among you devoted to prayer and discernment who struggle to hear the word of God fully. My dear souls, it is not in ritual or ceremony that we find God, but in the unlikeliest places of our lives. Indeed, it is in creation itself. Remember that prayer is not for God but for you: make it, then, what it must be for you to join in spirit with God. Do it honestly, and with compassion, and be patient. As Saint Paul wrote to the troubled Colossians, clothe yourself in love and you will know God.

Ultimately, beloved, know that your devotions are lived out by being a part of the holy creation which God has given to us, and of which we are apart. You must know that part of God’s call for us is to live in this creation—however imperfect—finding its most blessed features and constant beauty, even in the strangest of places. In this we find also expression of the love and will of God. Thanks and praise be for this glorious opportunity.

I leave you, then, as I commended you once, and with a charge: do well by the spirit within you and live for the sake of the other. In that, you are Christ and living for Christ. And in that, there is no danger of overcoming the work of the Lord with your own empty desires.

I call you brothers and sisters, and this I mean with all my heart. Be well in sight of God, and know that you are forever loved, even in the darkest of hours, from now until you come upon God face to face.

In prayer and devotion I commend your well-being to God the Father, who is above all things, and who loves us even unto the end of the age.

So, too, I remain forever your friend, your loving brother in Christ,

Jeff

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