Oh, how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity! –Psalm 133:1
PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
“Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
1 John 1:1-2:2
In two separate raids on the 27th of December 2014 and the 3rd of January 2015, Islamist radicals from the Islamic State, or Daesh in Arabic, kidnapped a total of 21 migrant workers they believed to be Egyptian Christians, of the Coptic Church. They were poor men—most of them from a poor town called al-Our, south of Cairo. Six weeks later, on February 15th, a horrific video emerged depicting these men dressed in orange jumpsuits, bound and kneeling on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea before their black-robed, masked, knife-wielding captors. One at a time, all 21 men were beheaded. Careful analysis of the video reveals that the men were repeating “Ya Rabbi Yasou” or “Lord Jesus help me” as they died.
But not all of the murdered workers were Egyptians. One was a man from Chad, who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was not a Christian (slightly more than half of Chadians profess a blend of muslim-animist spirituality). He can be distinguished from the others by his much-darker skin. The Daesh terrorists saved him for last. They told him to renounce Jesus and he could walk away free. The simple migrant worker from Chad nodded towards the decapitated bodies of the Coptic Christians and declared in a voice that was heard around the earth and across the heavens, “Their God is my God.”
We are absolutely staggered by this. Consider a man–a poor man, a migrant worker, with little education–who almost certainly never read a Bible, and probably never entered a church or heard a sermon. His understanding of Jesus Christ would have been based largely, if not entirely, on what he had seen in the lives and heard from the lips of men who called Him Lord. Regardless, this Chadian knew exactly what a confession of faith would cost him. He could only hope in faith what it would gain him.
Their God is My God
In today’s prayer we ask Almighty God to grant that we may show forth in our lives what we profess by our faith. Pause for a moment and consider the full meaning of that prayer, especially in light of our new, martyred, brother from Chad.
The persecution of the Church is real, Christian, and it is accelerating. Believers just like you are increasingly arriving at a point of desperation where all is lost, everything has failed, and their best efforts have summed up to zero. They have nothing. It is here that faith is either real, or it is not. It is here in this moment of need that we must realize that Jesus Christ is everything. If we have Jesus, we have everything.
What should we pray? Actually, “Lord Jesus help me” says it all.
Right now, the refugee camps along the border of Jordan and Iraq are full of our persecuted brothers and sisters—and their children. Please pray for them. Pray for their faith. Pray for their testimony. And pray for those who are laboring to bring them relief and hope.
It’s Monday Morning. What would you do if this was all happening to your church, in your community? This week, let’s practice saying two things: “Lord Jesus help me” and “Their God is my God”. Peace be with you.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
–John 20:19-31 (from this week’s Lectionary)