Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Devotion for Wednesday, December 7 (Pearl Harbor Day - 75th Anniversary)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who have lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined (Isaiah 9:2)

75 years ago a "day which will live in infamy" occurred.  Our nation was thrust into World War II and in many ways, amidst the dark moments of being attacked, our nation became a "light" in the midst of a dark world-wide situation.

As I sat watching the sun come up this morning I was reminded that God promises light amidst all darknesses.  We don't always see it, but perhaps it is because we have not looked hard enough for it.

What is a darkness in your life right now? Can you see the light of God shining hope and promise? If not, have you sought the light? Can you offer time and space to seek the light?

Amidst one of the darkest moments in our nation's history, we found a way to seek the light and be the light.

May you find ways to seek and be the light in your life.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Devotion for Tuesday, December 6

I quoted this prayer on Sunday during my sermon. It is from Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder. I have been asked to share it again.  I will do so today.

O Persistent God, deliver me from assuming your mercy is gentle.
Pressure me that I may grow more human, not through the lessening of my struggles, but through an expansion of them that will unbury my gifts.
Deepen my hurt, until I learn to share it and myself openly, and my needs honestly.
Sharpen my fears until I name them and release the power I have locked in them and they in me.
Accentuate my confusion until I shed those grandiose expectations that divert me from the small, glad gifts of the here and the now.
Expose my shame where it shivers, crouched behind the curtains of propriety, until I can at last laugh through my common frailties and failures, laugh my way toward becoming whole.
Deliver me from just going through the motions and wasting everything I have which is today, a chance, a choice, my creativity, my call.
O Persistent God, pry me off dead center so if I am moved inside to tears, or sighs, or screams, or smiles, or dreams they will be real and I will in touch with who I am ma, and who you are, and who my are my sisters and brothers.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Devotion for Wednesday, November 30

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)

An accepted aspect of our faith is that God gets what God desires.  I trust this and commit to living within this framework and look to proclaim this promise amidst everyday life.

However, I do not interpret this as being the same as "everything that happens is God's will". I do not believe that when a young family loses a child, when wild fires rage, when war devastates a nation and refugees experience a living hell, when relationships dissolve, or whenever a person unceremoniously loses a job that this is part of "God's will" or "God's plan."

What I believe and trust is that God is powerful and compassionate enough to work God's purposes of love, peace, mercy, and grace amidst all the realities of our fractured and sinful world.

Humans are free to live and choose our destinies.  Thus, we don't always make decisions that are helpful to ourselves or others.  And to be sure, our sin-filled world breeds tragedies and heart-wrenching experiences, many of which are outside of our control.

Like Paul, I am confident that the Lord is working for good in our lives, always.  The Lord can and does and will bring hope in the midst of hopelessness, light in the midst of darkness, new life in the midst of death.  THIS IS WHAT GOD DOES AND WHAT GOD IS ALL ABOUT!

Be confident that the Lord will break the cycles of sin our lives and lead us into faithfulness and peace. Be confident that the Lord does not abandon us to the whims of our broken existence but instead hunkers down with us amidst is all so as to change our lives and bring comfort and strength. Be confident that the Lord will be who He has promised to be! Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Devotion for Tuesday, November 29

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (I Peter 2:9)

One of my favorite verses of scripture. In particular, I appreciate and value the proactive nature of these words.

As the people of God we have been given a wonderful opportunity and one specific role in the world: to share where we see and experience the "mighty acts" of God!

When reconciliation happens, we share it. When healing occurs against all odds, we share it. When we people find hope in the midst of darkness, we share it. When people sacrifice on behalf of others, we share it. When worship is life-giving and inspiring, we share it. When prayer brings comfort and strength, we share it. And so, so much more.

Yes, our role as the people of God is rather straight-forward.  To look for and see where God is on the loose. And as we do, when we do, we are called to proclaim the work of God in our midst.

Keep your eyes open, people of God!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Devotion for Monday, November 28

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling,one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4: 4-6)

At times, Christians of all stripes tend to highlight their differences from other Christians, normally in a way that makes their particular brand look good. And I get it. There is a natural, human if you will, competition between Christians (i.e. my "brand" is really great and therefore I like it better than your "brand"). 

That said, in the end, our Christian squabbles are intramural skirmishes.  We are all on the SAME team.  As Paul writes, "There is one body and one Spirit."

And the defining marks of our Christian life, regardless of "brand", are the deepest common denominator of denominations. 

One hope. One Lord. One faith. One baptism. One God and Father of all. 

You and I may disagree about ecclesiastical polity, Eucharistic practice, or doctrinal emphasis.  We may significantly disagree about the role of women in the church, LGBT leadership, or what a faithful Christian response in Israel looks like. We may disagree about Biblical interpretation, worship style, or even the color of the carpet in the sanctuary.  

Regardless, at the end of the day ... One hope. One Lord. One faith. One baptism. One God and Father of all.  

Let us remember what unites us even as we live with what divides us. For in the end it is the there is One body and One spirit.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Devotion for Tuesday, November 22

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

Yesterday, I used this same text and emphasized the "be still" piece.  Today I would like to emphasize the "know that I am God" piece.

So much is made of doubt as a part of faith. Appropriately so I submit.  As Fredrich Buechner says, "Doubt is the 'ants in the pants' of faith." We all have doubts and struggle with faith from time to time. So, dismissing this would be inauthentic to real lives of faith.

Still, I would also say that the "know that I am God" piece of our faith lives should hold as much weight in our lives as our moments of doubt.  Our faith shines forth through community, through emotion, through times of intellectual insight, etc.  These are actually more prevalent than our doubts I would suggest.  Perhaps we dismiss them too quickly when a tinge of doubt arises.

Yes, doubt appears in our lives. Yet, in those still moments when we reflect on the places and spaces that we have felt the presence of God fully then we begin to see the breadth of God's encounter and the myriad ways that God seeks and searches to touch our heart. 

And whatever doubts we have are no match for the undeniable grace and love of God! Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Devotion for Monday, November 21

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

Often, I will come down to the lake here where I live for a time of devotion after dropping the kids off at the bus stop. It is so peaceful and meditative.

Sometimes I read a devotion or scripture. Othertimes I simply sit and pray.

Today, as a devotion, take some time to just be. Sit or rest in a place that is peaceful and give thanks for life in its simplest moments. Be still and know that God is with you and loves you always!