Striking a balance between our private devotional time and our corporate worship is a challenge as we seek to live by faith in the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord. But striking a balance we must as one feeds the other.
I have discovered over many years of failed attempts that unless I am spending time in private devotion during the week, my worship can become very shallow on Sunday morning. However, if I devote myself daily to these kinds of private and personal moments wth Jesus, Sunday morning is much more Spirit lead and heart felt. I am less concerned with the length of the sermon or the tempo or volume of the music and more concerned with my praise of Jesus Christ our King.
This small ivory sculpture is the centerpiece for a private altarpiece that would have adorned the chapel of a private home in Constantinople. The detail is remarkable…notice the usual portrayal of Jesus’ mother Mary on one side and his disciple John on the other. Underneath, you can see the soldiers dividing up Jesus’ clothing. Unique in this depiction, the cross is shown here piercing the stomach of a man. This is thought to be the personification of Hades. And so with this private devotional icon, we find the perspective the cross bringing us triumph over death.
Thinking on this, I wonder who might have owned this piece originally and how it might have brought them comfort. Maybe it was owned by a woman who had lost a baby in child birth…or perhaps a close relative to a mysterious outbreak of disease…
It gives me pause to think on all those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus throughout time and how he has been a comfort and a hope for those who have suffered all kinds of pain.
I look forward to that day when all of God’s family of believers will be joined to sing songs of praise to Jesus Christ our loving Savior.
May you have private devotions that capture your imagination this week:)