Evening Prayer: January 11th

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Spirit of Truth, as this day comes to an end, challenge my wandering mind to focus on you. Renewing Spirit, help me to receive you with joy and pray for creation with inspired love. Now as the evening casts its shadow over the earth, help me to rest beneath the shelter of your wings that I may know your rest this night. In the blessed name of Jesus. Amen.

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Thoughts to Ponder from Luke 5:12-16

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Luke 5:12-16 (ESV)

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean” (Luke 5:12)

To be an outcast, banished from society must be a disastrous experience. Can you even imagine what it would be like to be told, “You don’t belong here anymore?” Yet this was the lost of those afflicted with skin diseases like leprosy in the time of Jesus. Having to live outside of town, these people were deprived of friends, family, and even religious observance. And this was on top of the physical suffering and decay of their diseases.

We can see one result of this devastating experience in today’s Gospel reading. The leprous man had no doubt heard talk of this young rabbi, of his ability and disposition to heal, of his kindness to those cast out by society. So when he had the chance to meet Jesus, he knew just what to do. He prostrated himself and proclaimed that he knew Jesus was able to heal him. He knew what he needed, he knew Jesus could help him, and he wasn’t about to miss his chance.

Praise God, his hope was not disappointed! While the people around Jesus may have cringed or turned away, Jesus didn’t hesitate. No, he reached out and touched the man, even though he was “full of leprosy” (Luke 5:12). He seems to be saying, “Of course I want to heal you. That’s why I’m here!” In that moment, Jesus gave back to the man all that he had lost: his health, his home, his family, and his right to worship at the Temple. It didn’t take convincing, bargaining, pleading or perseverance. With one simple cry to Jesus, he was healed!

How about us? We all have the disease of sin, and it threatens to isolate us just as much as that skin disease isolated the man in today’s Gospel passage. But remember Jesus’ response to him: “I do will it. Be made clean” (Luke 5:13). This is how he sees us when we come to him in a true heart of repentance. He is always willing to touch us, to heal us, and to bring us back to our Father. So no matter how “leprous” your sin may make you feel, throw yourself at Jesus’ feet. You won’t be disappointed.

Lord, teach me my need for you. Help me to put myself fully in your hands. Amen.

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Hymn: Children of the Heavenly King by John Cennick

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1 Children of the heav’nly King,
as you journey, sweetly sing;
sing your Savior’s worthy praise,
glorious in his works and ways.

2 We are trav’ling home to God
in the way the pilgrims trod;
they are happy now, and we
soon their happiness shall see.

3 Lift your eyes and see the light;
Zion’s city is in sight!
There our endless home shall be;
there our Lord we soon shall see.

4 Fear not, children, joyful stand
on the borders of your land;
Jesus Christ, your Father’s Son,
bids you undismayed go on.

5 Lord, obediently we go,
gladly leaving all below;
lead us now in all we do
and we still will follow you.