Lord Jesus, when you were about to depart into heaven, you lifted your hands in blessing and promised to be with us always. Even though your word confirms your presence in our lives, we are a sinful people, in need of your forgiveness. We confess that we have been indifferent and forgotten your blessing. Instead, we have sought things of this earth. We have focused on our own loneliness, though you have promised to be with us always. You have promised to return, yet we have grown impatient and earthbound and fail to set our hearts on things above. We have not always been a people of anticipation and need a return to joy.
During worship last night, I first made this confession and moved right on without giving it much more thought...but I ended up returning to this prayer for some serious meditation and realized that its words were indeed true!
How often have we forgotten the blessing of Jesus promised continual presence with us, opting to seek instead some perceived material 'blessing' as a sign of God's favor? What could be more of a true blessing than the very real, true presence of Immanuel in Word, Sacrament, and through union with the Holy Spirit? Why are we so tempted to trade what is undeniably the best possible blessing for what appeals to our flesh but is really gaudy and fleeting?
How often have we lamented our own loneliness--in the sense of not being able to be with those we love (for whatever reason); despising co-workers; ignoring friends and family; or failing to spend time with God through Word and prayer--while all along failing to remember that Christ has promised never to leave or forsake us? As believers indwelt by the very Spirit of God, we are never alone, yet we pile up self-pity much faster than we ever store up treasures in heaven.
How often have we focused like lasers on the temporal things (treasures, cares, burdens) of this world and neglected the things of heaven? We can no more see many of our earthbound cares than we can see our Father's kingdom, yet these temporary cares come to dominate us to the very core of our beings. Why?
Lord Jesus, we do need a return to true joy, that joy which only comes from you by remembering that you have promised to be with us always and to one day return bodily in the manner in which you ascended so many years ago. Make us ever mindful of what is our true joy, true fellowship, and true hope!