So to paraphrase Mark Twain, my own reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.
This from James Freeman Clarke's "Messages of Faith, Hope and Love" for Feb.14th.
"FOR here in truth, to my mind, lie the emphasis and essence of Christ's teaching. He leads us, through the law to the gospel, through duty to trust, through work to prayer, through the sense of responsibility to the sense of dependence. Christian faith is not a doctrine or a ritual, not a system of ethics or an emotion of piety, not profession or form. It is the law of God fulfilled by faith in the love of God. It is inflowing strength with which to do our daily work. It is the happy consciousness that God is around us with his perpetual care, beneath us with his supreme power, above us with his providential blessing, within us with his constant inspiration. This faith is the saving faith. It saves us from doubt and despair. It fills the heart with hope. It causes each day to dawn serene and peaceful, each night to close quiet and full of content. Trials may come, will come, lonely hours, the loss of those we love, disappointed hopes. But with these trials strength also will come with which to bear them. More than this, we may go wrong. We may neglect and forget opportunities. We may forget to pray, and then we shall find ourselves relapsing into the old routine of weakness and sin. But with this difference,— that we know the way to return. We know that we have only to turn round and begin again, with a greater humility and distrust of ourselves, with a greater trust in God, and that the sense of his forgiving love will descend once more into our hearts. For forgiveness, too, comes not by caprice, but by law. " If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." Observe, not " He is merciful," but " He is faithful and just." It is, then, a law that, when we are willing to look our sins in the face, and see ourselves as we are, with that sight and confession of evil we are helped out of the evil into good.
This is the sum and substance of personal religion. This is the " life hid with Christ in God." It is the steady purpose of doing what we can in the direction of duty, and the steady trust in God for power with which to do it. Either of the two alone is not enough. But, joined together, they are sufficient to lift us above the danger of lost opportunities."
Indeed, I think Clarke has it right - we live in hope and trust as Jesus, the Christ, taught us by His example and words encouraging faith in God.
"If you only knew how much your Father in heaven loves you", I can hear Him say right now.
Life is a mystery and we struggle along doing the best that we can.
All the best,
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