The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Monday, September 19, 2016

It's a Mystery!

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27

There are three words in this little text I want to focus on:

Mystery, Hope  and Glory


Sometimes when we don’t understand something we say, “It’s a mystery.” The word, mystery, stirs up the idea of “mysterious” such as “I wonder what happened to that money I just put there – It is gone. That is mysterious.” When St. Paul uses the word, mystery, that is not what he has is mind. What St. Paul means by mystery is that something which has been hidden until this moment. Of course, once it is revealed or uncovered, it’s not a mystery anymore, is it?

For many years humanity did not understand the way diseases were transmitted. Our ancestors did not understand the concept of germs. It was a mystery. One day, Louis Pasteur, figured it out. He explained to us the connection. Even then we didn’t really get how it worked. It took another person, Ignaz Semmelweis, to understand that people working in hospitals were transporting germs from one person to another. He introduced the idea of handwashing for hospital personnel who moved from one patient to another. The truth was there all along – then the mystery was uncovered and explained.

On a spiritual level, the reality of God’s love and concern for us was always there. God has always loved his creation. One day the fullness of his love was revealed – he came to live and die among us.

There is another reality – God is always alive in us. This is a mystery often hidden to many people.

Christ in you! Uncover the mystery!


This mystery is called hope. What is hope? Hope is about expectancy. We say, “I hope it will be a nice day tomorrow.” Or we might say, “I hope they will serve a nice dinner today.”

Christian faith has this kind of hope in mind when it talks about a future day when the world, as we know it ends, and is human history culminates in the return of Christ. St. Paul encourages to live in light of this expectancy and to let their lives display this expectancy.

There is another dimension of hope in the Bible. To hope is to wait or to trust. We sometimes use hope in this way when we say, “I hope my check comes today.” What we really mean is “I am waiting for my check.”

This kind of hoping or waiting is often trying and testing. We become impatient, even irritable, waiting for the mail or a visitor to arrive.

When the Bible talks about this kind of hope, it encourages to understand that this kind of waiting is to our benefit. Waiting or hoping makes us better people. We are changed into people of character as we wait!


The third word in our text is glory.

Christ in you is the hope of glory. What is St. Paul saying?

Glory is one of those words that represents something else. One simple word represents so much more. Glory is the fullness of God. Glory is shorthand for all God’s greatness, power, love, grace, mercy and love. Just as Jesus was the fullness of God’s glory; we are filled with the fullness of God’s glory.

We are not talking about some new age theory. We are talking about the reality of the Gospel which is often not taught or understood.

Remember we said hope is about expectancy. God is expectantly waiting to be fully revealed in you and me. The word, you, in our text is not singular, it is plural. What does this mean? Each of us does not in ourselves fully reveal the fullness of God; together we begin to reveal the fullness of God’s life in the world. This is why the church is called the Body of Christ. Just as the eye is not the fullness of body or the foot is the fullness of body, so one of us, by ourselves, is not the fullness of the body of Christ in the world. This is why we need each other. I need you to reveal your piece of the glory!  

Someone in your life and my life needs to know that they are not fighting the battle of life alone. They need to see the piece of God’s greatness in me and you.

This was presented as a message at Glencroft Retirement Community, Glendale, AZ on September 18, 2016

© Ronald Friesen 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Turning the world right up

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. 
For their ancestors treated the prophets
in the same way.

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false 
prophets in this way.” - Luke 6

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lift your eyes...

R. The Lord takes delight in his people.

Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.

Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.

Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
- Psalm 149

Monday, September 5, 2016

Rest from your labors - Labor Day reflection 2016

After a hard day of work – we are tired.

Even if we no longer go to a job, the job of living is hard work!

Let us hear Jesus’ words;

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take
my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

In this passage, I see a word of invitation and a word of encouragement.

We already know our condition, don’t we? We are weary and burdened. What are weary? What are we tired of? Bills, the unending cascade of troubles - our own and borrowed troubles. You know what your own troubles are – and then you and I take on other people’s troubles – their children’s illness, relationship difficulties, maybe a caregiver shares a burden and you take it on – borrowed troubles.

So we need to hear Jesus’ word of invitation: “Come to me.”  Why is so hard to receive the invitation? In America we are taught to be self-reliant. Do not lean on others. Pride and our ego keep us from opening our hearts and minds to Jesus’ words, “Come.”

Jesus offers two kinds of rest. The first rest is a gift. Listen to Jesus’ words; “I will give your rest.” This is an unearned rest. There is nothing you can do to win the right to receive this gift of rest. Why is it so hard to be a receiver? Pride? Our fierce independence? Does receiving mean we are weak? Are we so bound to the things that keep us tied to this world that we cannot hear and receive Jesus’ invitation? The rest is filled with grace – unmerited favor and goodness from Jesus. Have you received this beautiful invitation to enter into the rest of forgiveness from the burden of guilt and shame?

The second rest Jesus offers us is a learned rest. “Take my yoke and learn of me.” Being a follower of Jesus is to become one of his students or disciples. Jesus gives us rest and he also instructs to learn of the rest he will give you.

This learned rest is a yoked rest; we join Jesus in the work he is doing in the world. It has been said that to enter into this yoke is to understand that it is a yoke that perfectly fits us. The carpenter who builds yokes does not have a “one-size-fits-all” approach to yoke-making. Each yoke is matched with the oxen pulling the plow or wagon. The ox does not immediately become an expert yoke-partner. The ox slowly learns how to walk with the yoke and do the work asked of him. Joining Jesus in the yoke – remember, Jesus is on the other side of you bearing his part of the task. If you think that doing the work of Jesus is difficult, it might be because you are trying to do all the work yourself. Learn to rest in the yoke with Jesus.

And here is the second word, encouragement. First, Jesus invites you to enter into his rest. Now he offers us a word of encouragement. “Take the yoke and learn.” Do you ever feel like giving up? Get tired? Hear Jesus’ words of encouragement: Learn of me – my yoke is easy, the burden is light. After you have accepted the invitation to receive the rest Jesus’ offer, you are encouraged to join into the fullness of yoke-bearing.

Jesus is looking for yoke-bearers. Jesus has much work to do. After you have accepted his invitation to receive his rest, we are encouraged to fully participate in Jesus’ life here on earth by being one of his yoke-bearers.

(c) Ronald Friesen 2016 

This was delivered as a message at Glencroft Retirement Community, September 4, 2016.