Bread – Vessel

October 22, 2014

Readings for Wednesday, October 22, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 8:1-13; Luke 10:17-24; Psalms 38,119:25-48


From Revelation in Scripture we read today: “”And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints … Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth…” Rev. 8:3-5

A censer is a vessel, designed to hold what is put into it and to release its contents at the right time and in the right manner. The vessel itself is neutral. When incense is put into it to mix with the prayers of the saints, blessings follow. When fire from the altar is put into it, curses follow.

This reminded me today of the vessel we call our brain. When it is filled with Scripture, faith, and desire for God, blessings follow. When it is filled with the hollow musings of this world, curses follow.

This also reminded me today of the vessel we call our body. When our body is filled with obedience to the ways of God, blessings follow. When sin takes over so that we follows the enticements of the world, curses follow.

We know that the brain is corrupt from birth because of the sin of Adam, but we can replace its contents with good music, good reading, Scripture, prayers to God, answers from God, and right thinking. Or we can just leave its contents where we find them, slave to the world and to sin.

But there is a subtlety in today’s reading that I initially missed, but is really the essence of what it means to be a Christian. In the first instance, when the censer was filled with incense, the angel “was given much incense.” The source of the incense, of the good things to fill the vessel, did not come from the angel, it came from ‘another.” Since the angel was standing at the altar before God, I think it is a fair conclusion that the source of the “was given” was God Himself.

On the other hand, the source of the fire, the censer contents to destroy the world, was the angel himself – “then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire…”

When we focus on this, the conclusion is too huge to ignore. When the vessel is filled by God, there are blessings. When the vessel is filled by the angel (by man), there are curses.

Isn’t this really the message of Christianity. For ourselves, we will build idols which suit our fancy, listen to preachers who will tickle our ears, read books which reinforce our faulty ways, and succumb to the world’s enticements. But God Himself sent Himself to die for us that, by His power and grace, we might through confession, trust, and belief have eternal life. When God fills us with Himself, empowers us with His Holy Spirit, feeds us spiritual food through His Word written and incarnate in Jesus Christ, blessings flow. When we fill our own vessel in our own power, we fill it with fire to destroy us and the world we live in.

So, pretend you are the angel reported in Scripture today. You have your body, your mind, your soul … which is your vessel. Do you take what God gives you and fill your vessel with God’s gifts, adding them to your prayers in worship of Him who made you and saved you? Or do you fill your vessel yourself, full of fire and destruction?

God gives us the vessel. What we fill it with today either comes from God or from the world. The stuff of God is different from our stuff. What will you choose to fill your vessel with, today and for the rest of your life?


© 2014 GBF


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