Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Get to the Keep

Holy Father,
protect[a] them by Your name
that You have given Me,
so that they may be one as We are one.
     -John 17:11b

Perhaps I’ve read and watched The Lord of the Rings too many times.  Reading John 17 this morning and seeing the footnote that this word translated ‘protect’ literally means ‘keep’ my mind went to the scene where the minions of evil are storming the castle and, as the walls are falling, the command is given “get to the keep”.

God and his Word should be our keep, the innermost and strongest structure of our interior castle (hat tip to Teresa of Avila).  They should be our stronghold when evil hordes attack from without and within.  However, for our keep to hold we must not visit only when under attack and about to be overrun by the world around us and by our sins.  We should visit our keep daily, moment by moment, so that it is well fortified and we are familiar with its comforts and protections.  One of the best ways I’ve found to fortify my keep is through lectio divina, a centuries old practice of slowly, prayerfully reading Scripture.  

An important and often overlooked element of the Christian life is that the Holy Trinity did not give us this keep for ourselves alone.  Just before his betrayal and arrest Jesus prayed this prayer for you and me, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.”  As believers we are called to fortify and maintain our keep so that we might invite the lost and hurting around us into God’s refuge.  Our lectio divina practice fills our hearts and minds with God’s Word and God’s love so that we can be his presence to everyone we encounter.

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