Weekly Devotional by Reverend Michael Lessard
From the Rector’s Heart
Feast of Christ the King : John 18: 33-37
Week of November 25
Belonging is a very important word. We are bonded, and supported, when there is a personal connection based on trust. We feel safe and secure when we belong with someone and are attached to a relationship of caring. Sometimes we can be disappointed when there is an expectation of belonging but instead there is emptiness because of a lack of commitment. We identify ourselves based on our street address, drivers license, marital status and our job where we work. Where we belong is a self definition, only you and I can completely define ourselves.
Pilate is asking this question of Jesus. He knows that he cannot define who this person is. Jesus replies with an unexpected answer. Pilate wants an answer to the question of Sedition, making oneself a king. Jesus answer is not based on a legal definition, or a power grab, but an eternal relationship with His Father. A King that will execute justice and who rules forever is defining Himself for us. Jesus does not protect His Kingdom by summoning a defense or followers. He is the King of the New Creation and He lays down His life to bring it into being.
Life is open to all who believe that only this eternal King can birth the New Creation and in Him through the Holy Spirit we are born again to live in it.
Lord Jesus my king, today before Pilate you reveal the depth of your love. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that secures the truth that I belong to you. I praise you Jesus for your gift of redemption, your suffering, death and resurrection that births the New Creation in me.
More From Rev. Lessard
From the Rector’s Heart:
A Meditation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The first heartbeat of Jesus began just as we did in the womb of
expectation. The Old Testament promise had been made real.
With each beat of His heart, the world changed as the day of
God’s kingdom grew closer. He burst upon the waters of our
humanity giving birth to the fulfillment of God’s Word. The
Word made flesh, full of grace and truth. His heart is full of
tenderness and compassion. It beats with the rhythm of angelic
hosts, of creation, of self-sacrifice, of love and care. He willingly
took his heart to Calvary for you and me. There, he experienced
trauma and shock, violence and pain, sin and rejection, betrayal
and abandonment. And when the cup was empty, when the
work of redemption was finished, his heart beat one last
time…and ruptured…and broke…and stopped. Jesus cried
out with a loud voice and died. His blood was separated into
water and plasma which filled the sack around His heart and
compressed it tightly. A spear pierced it and out poured water
and blood. In that moment, salvation washed over us like a
flood. It drenched us in baptism. It swallowed up death and sin
forever. Now, His heart beats with the rhythm of redemption.
Now it beats with the power of the resurrection. Now He shares
it with you and me. Now we pray with His heart in the Spirit.
Now you and I care for one another with His heart that will
never stop. Now His heart beats forever and we live.
Six Principles for Healing Conflict
by Michael Lessard
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on how my wife Dorothy and I handled conflict. Every marriage has challenges and difficulties. With the differences between the sexes, the demands of children, and managing finances, there is going to be a need to manage stress and the self-protective way we may find ourselves relating to each other. Here are a few principles that we signed on for when we got married.
First, no name calling. If we call each other names we shouldn’t be surprised when that is the kind of behavior that is produced. Be civil in a conflict. Name calling also includes things like, “Well, your acting just like your father or mother,” or some other unsavory relative. This is a form of name-calling that can really put the other person under the thumb of judgment.
Second, leave the past out of it. Bringing up the past garbage dumps a pile of resentment that inhibits real communication. Other than revealing certain behavioral patterns, there is nothing that can be done about the past. The issue is in the here and now.
Third, don’t punish the other person with silence. Shunning is the most serious form of self-protection. It’s like wishing the other person was dead or absent. Nothing good comes from this kind of control. Eventually, it drives the other person to a place of desperation and fear. Just because we are feeling afraid doesn’t give us permission to project those feelings on to our spouse.
Fourth, stay focused on the conflict at hand. Don’t get sidetracked into side issues. This is a way of blocking and changing the subject. Let a conflict be about what is central to the disagreement.
Fifth, call a timeout when needed. Dorothy and I gave a T signal with our hands when we needed to step away from the conflict and think about our own feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and intentions. These might be influencing our reactions and doing this sometimes takes a little time apart. Don’t leave the room without setting a time to return and discuss the issue. Reflection is a key element to solving conflict so give each other some space. Do not leave the house and slam the door. This produces fear of abandonment in the person left behind and is a backhanded form of shunning.
Sixth, make decisions that you both agree with. Until a decision is reached that often involves negotiation, don’t make a change or move in a different direction without the full consent of your spouse. Sometimes this takes patience and more discussion, wait for agreement before action.
There are more skills we can use as we move closer to reconciliation and resolution of a conflict. These principles help when the conflict is hot and intense. There are probably others that you might both agree to make part of your conflict contract. You can write these down, and post them on your refrigerator so that you can refer to them when the argument is serious and may escalate. These principles can bind both of you to work through conflict to forgiveness. Remember, there is no intimacy without safety. Our most important task as a Christian is to provide a place of safety where Jesus can abide in our life together.
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