Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 2
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Read Today's Scriptures
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 RSV
“See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Luke 9:18-25 RSV
Now it happened that as he was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, “Who do the people say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Although eternal life is a free gift from God bought by the blood of Christ for our sakes, every day we choose if we want to live into our gift, or not; if we desire life, or not. The Israelites faced this choice. After God’s mighty hand had saved them out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land, they had to choose if they wanted to follow and obey God, or worship idols—to choose life, or death. But why choose life every day, moment by moment? Hopefully, this image helps. Think of eternal life as a young sapling. Every decision to choose life is a decision to nurture it so that it grows into a tall and majestic oak tree, reaching up into the sky, whose branches and leaves touch the floor of heaven itself. Every decision to choose death instead, to wantonly disregard our eternal life, is to allow this sapling to wither and die. As we nurture our faith, God grows it. This is why Jesus commands his disciples to deny themselves, to take up their crosses daily, and follow him. Taking our cross is to choose life because when we choose the cross, we are saying “no” to sin, and “yes” to Jesus. We can only experience life if we choose to deny ourselves; we will only experience death, if we choose to deny the cross.
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.