Good morning, brothers and sisters in Jesus! As God’s grace is new to us every morning, I pray that we will see His loving hand blessing and working good despite the challenging circumstances! I start the morning with a Lenten devotional called “On the Way of the Cross” by Thomas Oden and Joel Elowsky (it’s published by InterVarsity Press if interested in purchasing). It’s a daily devotion that uses quotes from the early church fathers, strong men of faith empowered by the Lord to fight against false teaching, maintain the Gospel’s purity, and proclaim it boldly in a pagan world!
In this morning’s devotion the father quoted was St. Basil of Caesarea, also known as Basil the Great. This was not the Caesarea familiar to most: the port city in Palestine on the shores of the Mediteranean. It is best known for the work of an evil, worldly one called great, Herod. On our tour of Israel we had opportunity to see the amphitheater and fresh water swimming pool (remember Jesus Christ Superstar as Herod sings “C’mon Jesus, walk across my swimming pool”) that Herod, the great builder, constructed. Of course, everything Herod built was to human glory! In his Caesarea, Herod’s great edifices were built to the glory of Caesar Augustus (only so that Augustus would recognize Herod’s glory).
Basil’s Caesarea was in a different place and his greatness radically different from Herod’s. He lived in Caesarea of Cappadocia, a region located in what is today central Turkey. Born in 330 to pious and well-to-do parents, he would receive the best education which he then used in service to Jesus. He was a great theologian, effectively confronting the heresy of his day: Arianism. While a great theologian, though, he is known as “great” because of his great love for humankind and his action to help others in Jesus’ name. Basil donated land to the church and on this land he placed soup kitchens, medical care centers for the traveler, hospitals for the community, hospices for the dying and so on. The area so flourished with compassionate care in Jesus’ name that it became known as the “Second City” of Caesarea. Yet this second city of Caesarea, while still bearing the name of Caesar, was built to the glory of God for the good of His people!
It was inspiring to read of this man, living in difficult times, who did small things with great love, actions that became great by and to the glory of God. My difficult circumstances pale in comparison to life in Basil’s day. But Jesus walks with us and brings to our lives so much blessing. He gives us so many gifts that we can use for Him. The appeal for cards to our Bethesda friends is a wonderful opportunity for us, the sewing of masks to cover and extend the usefulness of N95 masks, helping out at Crossroads Food Pantry, making a delivery for Backpack Bites, phone calls or Facetime or Facebook to the elderly, to our neighbor, to a friend all seem like insignificant tasks. But done with Jesus’ great love to the glory of our Father, He makes great their blessing! Keep your faith eyes open for Jesus’ blessing today. And allow him to make you part of that blessing in some way to someone!
Start your day with a prayer by St. Basil the Great: O Lord, the helper of the helpless, the hope of those who are past hope, the Savior of the tempest-tossed, the harbor of the voyagers, the physician of the sick; You know each soul and our prayer, each home and its need; become to each one of us what we most dearly require, receiving us all into Your kingdom, making us children of light; and pour on us Your peace and love, O Lord our God. Amen.
Love in Jesus, Pastor Craig