Hebrews 13:20-21 – Conflict and Peace

Pretty Place Chapel Blue Ridge Mountains
Pretty Place Chapel in the Blue Ridge Mountains

May the God of peace,
who brought back the great shepherd of the sheep,
our Lord Jesus,
from the dead by the blood of the eternal covenant,

        equip you with every good thing to do his will,
by developing in us what pleases him through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory forever and always. Amen. (CEB)

These verses are the benediction, that is, the blessing given at the end of a long letter to a group of struggling Jewish Christians. In fact, things were so difficult for these believers that they were giving serious consideration to reneging on their commitment to Christ. So, the author of Hebrews sent them an exhortation and an encouragement to remain true and steadfast to the faith.

What is needed is not a shrinking back from faith but instead an enduring faith which is sustainable for the long haul of a person’s life.

The believers had both inner and outer conflict. They were experiencing hardship and persecution in the form of confiscation of their property and public insults. The Christians had started out well, facing such trouble with confidence through standing side-by-side with others who were suffering as well as holding on to their vibrant faith.

Yet, over time, their resolve began to break down. A slow drift occurred. Eventually, they started to retreat from the helping of others. They emotionally and spiritually inched their way to becoming despondent to the point of questioning whether all this Christianity stuff was worth it. The outer conflict worked its way inside their souls and damaged their spirits. By the time the writer of Hebrews comes along, a group of Christians are stuck in discouragement.

It’s one thing to deal with trouble and hardship on one day, even two. It’s quite another thing when that difficulty does not let up – when days turn into weeks, weeks into months, even months into years.

There are times when peace seems to have about as much chance of being realized as winning the lottery.

Yet, God is the God of peace, real lasting harmonious spiritually restful peace. It was achieved through the life and death of Jesus. The peace Jesus has brought is so much more than the absence of conflict. God’s peace is freedom from fear and anxiety. It is a settled confidence deep down inside that God will ultimately make good on all his promises and that things will not always be this way.

Until that day comes, God is not sitting in some divine Lazy-Boy recliner watching old reruns of the Angels playing baseball. Rather, God is active through carefully, deliberately, and, to our occasional consternation, slowly equipping us and developing us into spiritually fortified people who do the will of God and please Jesus in everything they do and say. Jesus is the Great Shepherd of the sheep who will not lead us astray but will settle us in green pastures.

The word translated “equip” is a rich word (Greek καταρτίσαι, pronounced “cot-ar-tids-ay”) which means to set something straight. Picture a bone which has been broken and needs to be reset and have time to heal. That is what God is doing in his people – repairing broken spirits. This divine healing is equipping believers for a lifetime of handling adversity with faith, confidence, and endurance. The process, frankly, hurts and requires patience before healing and health come.

If God can raise the dead, he can most certainly handle any earthly trouble we are going through.

God is in the transformation business. Extreme makeovers are his specialty. He uses hard circumstances, troubles, and torments of our lives and bends them into divine tools to form and shape his people to both survive and thrive in the world.

Complaining spirits, blaming and shaming others, and impatience borne of unrealistic expectations are the evidence of damaged emotions, wounded souls, and weak faith. This is the antithesis of God. He’s not overlooking humanity with a divine *sigh* in exasperation. That’s because he is the God of peace who is bringing all things to a conclusion in Christ. Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. The Holy Spirit is now and very presently active to heal damaged emotions, repair wounded souls, and strengthen faith.

In those times when God seems absent and prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling are the times that God is establishing peace and expanding our capacity for faith and patience.

Benediction, blessing, and doxology come through the dark night of the soul and not by avoiding it.

Soli Deo Gloria. To God be the Glory.

Almighty God,
all thoughts of truth and peace
proceed from you.
Kindle in the hearts of all people
the true love of peace.
Guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel
for the nations of the earth;
that in tranquility your kingdom
may go forward,
till the earth is filled
with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–From the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland, St. Andrew Press.

Click It Is Well with My Soul by TenTwoSix Music and arranged by David Wise.

Psalm 23 – Trust and Rest

Rest

In this sacred season of Eastertide on the Church Calendar, Christians deliberately spotlight on what new life is and how it can bring transformation from fearing adversity to believing God through the adversity; from wondering where the heck my needs are going to be met to trusting in God’s willingness to provide; from worrying about the future to resting in the present.  Psalm 23 is just the right message for both the season and our world circumstances of pandemic and hardship.

Because of the psalm’s familiarity, some might only associate it with funerals and miss its relevance for the here-and-now. That would be quite unfortunate because this is a beautiful poem of trust which is prescient for us to face the vicissitudes of faith and life on this earth and be able to rest in the field of God’s benevolent kingdom.

Therefore, I am offering here my contemporary version of this most famous of psalms for the Church:

Jesus is my Pastor, and I lack absolutely nothing because of it.

My merciful overseer is watching me while I rest secure on a nice soft bed of grace;

             he leads me into an unhurried life; he is thawing out my cold anxious soul.

He leads me in all the right ways for the sake of his great name.

Even though I get lost and find myself in a dark alley,

             I really have no fear of evil;

for I know God is with me,

             his Word and Sacrament – they are more than sufficient to comfort me.

I have a big ol’ appetite and hunger for you, God,

             and you satisfy it,

             even though I have enemies within arm’s length;

you encourage my mind with joyous thoughts,

             so that my heart overflows with hope.

I am quite sure that goodness and mercy will follow me for a lifetime,

             and I will live in peace despite any adverse circumstances my whole life long. Amen.

Click The Lord’s My Shepherd by Stuart Townsend as we find rest for our souls.

1 Peter 1:3-9 – Joy and Suffering

This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Simply click the video below for a message from God’s Word.

Here are a few links for you:

You can click TimEhrhardtYouTube to view this message on YouTube.

Click Les Miserables to watch the scene described at the beginning of the message.

And, click I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe to be encouraged that God is with us.

Grace to you always, my friends.

Joy and Suffering

BishopSavesJeanValjean
“Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to what is evil but to what is good. I have bought your soul to save it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

One of my favorite stories is Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.  It’s primarily a story of grace and new life.  The main character, Jean Valjean, spends nineteen years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family.  The experience in prison caused him to become a bitter man.  By the time he is released, he is hard, angry, cynical, with nowhere to go.  In desperation, he seeks lodging one night at the home of a Catholic bishop, who treats him with genuine kindness, which Valjean sees only as an opportunity to exploit.  In the middle of the night he steals the bishop’s silver and runs.  The next day, however, he is caught by the police.  When they bring Jean back to the bishop’s house for identification, the police are surprised when the bishop hands two silver candlesticks to Valjean, implying that he had given the stolen silver to him, saying, “You forgot these.”  After dismissing the police, the bishop turns to Jean Valjean and says, “I have bought your soul for God.”  In that moment, by the bishop’s act of mercy, Valjean’s bitterness is broken.

Jean Valjean’s forgiveness is the beginning of a new life.  The bulk of Victor Hugo’s novel demonstrates the utter power of a regenerated and redeemed life.  Jean chooses the way of mercy, as the bishop did.  Valjean raises an orphan, spares the life of a parole officer who spent fifteen years hunting him, and saves his future son-in-law from death, even though it nearly cost him his own life.  There are trials and temptations for Valjean throughout his life.  What keeps him pursuing his new life is mercy.  Whereas before, Valjean responded to mercy with a brooding melancholy and inner anger, now – after being shown grace – Valjean responds to each case of unjust suffering with both mercy and joy, deeply thankful for the chance to live a new life full of grace.

JoySuffering
Followers of Jesus imitate their Savior through walking the way of suffering.

Suffering and joy.  Those two words, at first glance, may seem to be opposites.  Yet, Christianity views suffering as an occasion for joy, and not as empty meaningless grief.  Followers of Jesus imitate their Savior through walking the way of suffering.  We are told in Holy Scripture that these sufferings are trials to our faith, that is, they are the means by which our faith is developed, used, and strengthened.  Just as gold is refined by being put through fire, so our faith is refined and proven genuine through the purging fires of life’s trials and troubles.  Walking in the way of our Lord Jesus, adversity becomes our Teacher, helping us to know Christ better and appreciate the great salvation we possess in Jesus. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Back in the first century, the Apostle Peter wrote a letter to Jewish Christians living in a Gentile society.  They were strangers and aliens in the ancient world.  These were people who responded to the preaching of Peter at Pentecost and gave their lives to the risen Christ.  When persecution broke out after the stoning of Stephen, the church was scattered, and many Jewish Christians went to live in Gentile nations very different from their home in Jerusalem.  In that Gentile environment, they were often looked down upon simply because they were Jewish.  What’s more, they were alienated from their families because of their commitment to Jesus.  They were alone and faced both the social and economic hardships that came with being Jewish Christians.  So, Peter wrote to encourage these suffering believers in their hardship.  He reminded them of what they possess and to use that precious possession rather than focus solely on their poverty and difficulty.  Peter let them know that their adversity has the positive effect of making their faith genuine.

Every generation of Christians needs to see that their faith is not only a matter of confession with the lips; faith is also proven primarily through suffering.  Faith is much like a new car – it is meant to be used.  It’s not just something we own and possess – to only sit in the garage and be admired.  A car is meant to be on the road, and if it does not perform well, we say it’s a lemon and we get another car.  Cars are the vehicles that get us from point A to point B.  And, hopefully, we enjoy the ride without being frustrated and having road rage.  It is unrealistic, as drivers, to believe we will never have to drive in adverse road conditions.  We recognize that it is silly to believe the weather must always conform to our driving habits.  We will have to drive through snow and thunderstorms.  We will need to deal with traffic and road construction.  We will have to drive defensively and continually be vigilant to the other drivers on the road.  We might always have a plan for how to get from point A to point B, yet, we must deal with whatever conditions we find along the way.  This isn’t optional, unless we decide to let the car sit in the garage and never use it.

The winter road with car
Mature Christians allow their faith to take them places, and have seen all kinds of adversity and suffering along the road of life.

Good drivers are good drivers because they drive a lot and have driven in nearly every type of road condition.  Mature Christians are those followers of Jesus who allow their faith to take them places, have seen all kinds of adversity, trials, and suffering along the road of life.  What makes them mature is that they have learned through all their troubles and trials to enjoy what God is doing in their lives instead of being frustrated and have faith-fury.  Such Christians have the confidence that they are receiving the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls.  They understand that their faith grows and develops as they face the challenges of life every day with a firm commitment to their Lord Jesus.

The most miserable people are those who have not been taught by mercy, and, therefore, do not know the joy of extending mercy to others.  Peter could praise God because his life was transformed by the grace and mercy of Jesus.  Peter went from an impulsive and fearful fisherman who denied the Lord three times, to a confident and courageous witness of Christ because he was regenerated, restored, and renewed by grace.  He joyfully endured suffering and opposition because his faith was precious to him.

There is a tendency for many Christians to show a stoic attitude through the trials of life.  We try and keep a stiff upper lip and simply endure.  Taking the approach of “It is what it is” only works for so long.  Eventually “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” is a more appropriate response to trouble. It is precisely during those times when human hope fades that we rejoice – even though the rejoicing is through tears – in the living hope kept for us. This gracious inheritance of hope is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. That means we can live through a difficult day or week or month or even, dear God, a year or longer with spiritual endurance. We can do this, friends.  We can persevere through our worldwide trial of pandemic.  We can even do more than survive – we can thrive through having our faith muscle stretched and strengthened.  We are not alone.  We all suffer together.

MotherTeresa
“Suffering, if it is accepted together, borne together, is joy.” –Mother Teresa

Our shared value of the risen Christ is the fuel that keeps our car of faith running.  It is what transcends the stoic attitude of unfeeling endurance to a joyful flourishing of faith.  Suffering is central to living for Jesus Christ.  Suffering is not something to continually avoid, go around, or bemoan because it is God’s means of forming us spiritually to be like Jesus.  I can say that the sufferings I’ve experienced in my own life I never want to go through again. I can also say that I would not change those experiences for anything because they have formed and shaped me in ways that would probably not have happened apart from adversity.

Our goal in this life is not to escape the world.  There is a time coming when our salvation will be consummated, heaven comes down to earth, and both are joined forever.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of god is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4). 

This is our inheritance in Christ.  First, however, we must come prepared for the future by undergoing grief in all kinds of sufferings in the present.  These trials to our faith are a sort of pre-marital session that prepare us for our marriage with Jesus.

Eventually, suffering will have done its work and we will be with Christ forever.  Until that day, let’s not stay in the garage of life.  Let us explore all that God has for us, embracing both the meaning and the mystery of faith.  Since our salvation is assured, let us live with confidence and run the race marked out for us.  Let us not be complacent or slow in doing the will of God, but work for God’s kingdom purposes on this earth.  And let us allow our trials to do their work in us, responding to them with joy knowing that our faith is being strengthened for the benefit of blessing the world.  Even in suffering, God is good all the time; and, all the time, God is good.  To him be the glory.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – Good News

Stained Glass victory

Brothers and sisters, I want to call your attention to the good news that I preached to you, which you also received and in which you stand. You are being saved through it, if you hold on to the message which I preached to you, unless somehow you believed it for nothing. I passed on to you as most important what I also received: Christ died for our sins in line with the scriptures, he was buried, and he rose on the third day in line with the scriptures. He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve, and then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once—most of them are still alive to this day, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me, as if I were born at the wrong time.  I’m the least important of the apostles. I don’t deserve to be called an apostle, because I harassed God’s church. I am what I am by God’s grace, and God’s grace hasn’t been for nothing. In fact, I have worked harder than all the others—that is, it wasn’t me but the grace of God that is with me. So then, whether you heard the message from me or them, this is what we preach, and this is what you have believed. (CEB)

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from death isn’t just a doctrine for Christians to believe; it is a powerful reality to live into. 

Christianity is not a checklist of right beliefs to hold; it is a spirituality deeply concerned with the integration of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection into the believer’s daily life – affecting everything she says and does.

Belief and action are to be a seamless whole.  Christianity “works” when faith in the redemptive events of Jesus are woven into the daily fabric of our lives.  Where there is a disparity between verbal confession and daily actions, there is need for integration.

To hold to the message of Christianity is to allow and actively practice applying and integrating Christ’s redemption into all of life.

The greatest tool in this work of integrity is grace.  In Christianity, God graciously delivers people of all kinds from sin, death, and hell through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  God graciously gives us the gift of faith, to believe.  And God works throughout the duration of the Christian’s earthly life to graciously and patiently sew together a solid spirituality within the believer that effects holiness of life.

The Apostle Paul stated that “you are being saved through [the good news of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection] if you hold on to the message.”  That’s Paul’s way of expressing the need for this integrating work of belief throughout a person’s life.

Far too often, in many places of evangelical Christianity, salvation is looked upon as something static – a mere belief to possess.  Again, I will say: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from death involves belief and much more; it is a powerful reality to live into.  Salvation is more expansive than a first glance can perceive.  Three statements of salvation are true:

  • We have been saved (past historical redemptive events of Jesus).
  • We are being saved (present integration of Christ’s redemption into daily life).
  • We will be saved (future event of Christ coming again to bring salvation in its complete fullness).

In other words, faith is dynamic.  It can be strengthened or weakened, has ability to grow or wither, and rarely sits idle.

Faith needs attention and exercise to develop a strong spiritual life.

Christianity is a practical boots-on-the-ground divine/human cooperative.  When we put ourselves in a position to receive, then grace has no obstacles to generously give.  And that’s not a one-time thing – it is to be a constant and healthy dynamic of receiving from God and giving to others.  The bedrock belief for this to happen, according to Christianity, is that Jesus is alive.  Because he lives, we live.  He has ability to graciously and lovingly help those coming to God.  That is some incredibly good news!

Lord God Almighty, the resurrection of your Son has given us new life and renewed hope.  Help us to live as new people in pursuit of the Christian ideal.  Grant us wisdom to know what we must do, the will to want to do it, the courage to undertake it, the perseverance to continue to do it, and the strength to complete it; through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Matthew 28:1-10 – Fear Not

Death Swallowed Up in Victory

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”

With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.” (CEB)

The Resurrection of Christ from death has changed everything – especially when it comes to fear.  In this season of Eastertide, we discover and explore the vast implications of what it means to possess a new life.  Because Christians serve a risen Savior, this newfound awareness brings courage and confidence.  Fear isn’t something we can simply exercise willpower over.  Rather, fear begins to give way to the presence of God among us.  Consider just a few of the many references to this in Holy Scripture:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NIV)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV)

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.” So, we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV)

Believe it, or not, the Bible tells us 365 times to not be afraid.  Maybe that’s not a coincidence that we can quote a verse every day of the year about our own fearfulness in the face of so much of the world’s cruel circumstances.

When it comes to fear and bravery, God does not so much command us to be courageous, as he wants us to draw from the great reservoir of bravery within.  That is, God has already created us strong, as creatures in his image.  We just need to get in touch with what is already there.  And the reality of Easter awakens and calls forth that life.

We can act with boldness and overcome fear because Jesus is the pioneer of our salvation.  He is the One which enables us to draw from the deep well of courage….

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same testing we do, yet he did not sin. So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT).

You and I really can face the fears in front of us.  You can surmount the adversity you are in the middle of – not because of some words I say, but because Christ has risen from death.  He’s alive, and his presence makes all the difference.

St John Chrysostom
“Let all therefore enter into the joy of our Lord. Let rich and poor dance with one another.” –St John Chrysostom

The following is an Easter homily from the fourth-century preacher St. John Chrysostom to the Church of Constantinople:

“Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!”

Click Because He Lives sung by Guy Penrod as we are reminded that the living Christ makes all the difference today.

Matthew 9:18-34 – Faith

Jesus healing the blind
Jesus Healing the Blind by Johann Heinrich Stöver, 1861

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this.” But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.

After they had gone away, a demoniac who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.” (NRSV)

In these days of staring into the face of pandemic, I often find myself uttering the ancient prayer of the Church: “Lord have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Lord have mercy and grant us your peace.”  For me, the COVID-19 virus is getting real, real fast.  I feel the heaviness of hospital staff, and of families experiencing the weight of concern for loved ones with the virus.

It is in such topsy-turvy times as these that I come back again and again to deep spiritual convictions which inform what I do each day.  One of those underlying creeds is this:

Jesus is trustworthy, no matter whether my faith or the faith of others is small or great.

In our Gospel lesson for today, two blind men were healed according to their faith in Jesus.  The diverse healing accounts of Jesus in the New Testament, whether the faith was large or small in those healed, leads me to the conclusion that:

It isn’t faith itself that heals, saves, or transforms – it is Jesus.

What the healing accounts have in common in the Gospels is that they are directed to Jesus as the object of faith.  It isn’t about the level of faith, but about where the faith is placed.  For the Christian, faith itself doesn’t mean much if it isn’t in Jesus.  If I place a large and sincere faith in an inanimate object such as money; in a position of power; or, even in my own independence, my faith isn’t worth much.  If I have a huge faith in a doctor or a psychiatrist to heal my body or my mind, I will quickly discover there are limits to their abilities.  If I have a confident faith that my family will meet all my needs, my faith will eventually run into failure when they let me down.  That’s because the ultimate object of my faith is Jesus.  If all my faith eggs are in the church basket, my faith will eventually face a crisis because it is a misplaced faith.  Furthermore, the answer I provide for others is not simply getting them to attend church or to adopt my moral code. I believe Jesus heals, transforms, and delivers people from sickness, sin, trouble, and overwhelming circumstances in his own good time.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8)

We know with certainty that circumstances change, as everyday seems to bring new levels and permutations of unprecedented alterations to our lives – and through it all, Jesus remains as the ever-present Savior, seated at the right hand of God ceaselessly interceding on behalf of those who offer even the slightest mustard seed of faith.

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep me both outwardly in my body and inwardly in my soul, that I may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.