CHRISTIAN TRAVELERS GUIDES
READINGS FOR THE CHRISTIAN
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You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts find no rest until they rest in You.
St. Augustine, Confessions
No, my dear man, do not recommend to me peace and unity when thereby God's Word is lost, for them eternal life and everything else in the world is lost.
Martin Luther, Sermon, 1531
Wherin then, O'Lord, doth spiritual virtue consist? In giving thyself over with all thy heart to the Divine Will, not seeking thine own interest, either in great matters or in small, either in time or eternity.
Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
Take a converted Englishman, and take a converted Hindu, and let them suddenly meet for the first time. I will engage, if they can understand one anthem's language, they will soon find common ground between them, and feel at home ... yet now in half an hour they are friends! ... Who can account for this? Nothing can account for it but the unity of the Spirit's teaching.
J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, on Happiness
Then the high priest asked him, "Are these charges true?" To this he replied: "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 'Leave your country and your people,' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.' "So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. God spoke to him in this way: 'Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,' God said, 'and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place. 'Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs. "Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles ..."
One of the few good things to come out of nineteenth century German theology was the recognition of what scholars called "salvation-history." The biblical story of salvation is a history story. This is clearly seen in Stephen's speech in Acts 7. Yet most of us are so familiar with this story that we rarely reflect on what Stephen actually says or why the story he tells is so important.
The fact is, as in stories of the Old Testament, history is important in God's scheme of redemption and Stephen reminds his hearers that once one sees God at work in history everything leads to Jesus. All history is His-story. This is the clear fact that the Bible repeatedly tells us and something that comes alive in a special way when one visits Europe and reflects on the ways men have served God for almost two thousand years.
The trials and sufferings of our ancestors in the Faith are there to encourage us when our small trials seem too much to bare. We too need to remember Lot's wife, and Luther's wife, and Wesley's wife and a host of other husbands and wives who either lived for the Lord or turned from His way. Scripture points to the principle of remembrance, experience makes the past live in our lives, and God guides us to understand His dealings with me through an ever present interaction between His Word and the experiences of His people.
Day: 14 -15
These readings are based on a) John E. Rotelle O.S.A's., excellent Augustine Day by Day, (New York, Catholic Book Publishing, 1986). Permission to use these passages has been sought, although I believe what I have used falls within a "fair use" policy; b) Various works of Martin Luther (1483-1546); c) Thomas á Kempis (1380-1471); d) Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle's (1816-1900) Holiness (18??) or Practical Religion (1900); e) Zondervan's New International Version of the Bible.