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Grace as promise

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Friday, August 18, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
Grace is both abrasive and amazing because it fundamentally is grounded in release and turning toward God. …

Release

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Thursday, August 17, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
Grace allows for a continual breaking open and peeling back of the areas of our lives where we are resist…

Grace infused life

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Wednesday, August 16, 2017 Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
Do you understand baptism, receiving forgiveness and the Holy Spirit as linear action, making baptism a …

Turn Around

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
As a sacrament, baptism is both a sign and a source of God’s grace in our lives. Our lives are lived as a …

Water

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Monday, August 14, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
Water is so very necessary for our lives.  Without it we die.  It nourishes us, it cleans us, it sustains u…

Living Baptism

Daily reading: Psalm 46 & Acts 2:37-42 Sunday, August 13, 2017
Focus passage: 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.
42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. (Acts 2:37-42)
For Martin Luther, one of the great Protestant reformers, baptism is to be embodied daily, it is a cleansin…

Praying the psalms with gratitude

Friday June 30, 2017
Psalm 23 TheLordis my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps mealive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me. 5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will livein theLord’s house
as long as I live.

Pray a prayer of gratitude today and allow the psalm to be your guide.  Take time to think about your day, what are you grateful for?  Write down all of these moments as way to capture your gratitude.   Offer up prayers of gratitude throughout your day.

God's guidance

Thursday June 29, 2017
Psalm 23 TheLordis my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps mealive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me. 5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will livein theLord’s house
as long as I live.
What if the psalmist isn’t just speaking about enemies apart from us in verse 5, but is speaking about the discord and disunity that happens in our communities, even within our own families?  The psalmist then is gratefully praying for God’s presence with us and ability to gift us with wisdom to navigate hostile conversations.  In Matthew chapter 5 we read, “You have heard that it was said, you must love your neighbor and ha…

Offer to God a prayer of trust

Wednesday June 28, 2017 Psalm 23 TheLordis my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps mealive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me. 5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will livein theLord’s house
as long as I live.

Today, pray the scripture using lectio divina.  Read over the psalm a number of times, listen to the words and see what God is saying to you through the words of the psalmist.

A psalm of pilgrimage

Tuesday June 27, 2017
Psalm 23 TheLordis my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps mealive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me. 5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will livein theLord’s house
as long as I live.
There is a hint of pilgrimage movement in this psalm.  It marks the journey of the faithful under the guidance of God, along a path that leads to the house of the LORD.  While we don’t have time necessarily to go on a weeklong pilgrimage, we can see our daily life as one of pilgrimage, with God present with us along the various paths we take: Paths to peacefulness, paths to forgiveness, paths to kindness, to love, or reconcil…

Praying the Psalms

Monday June 26, 2017 Psalm 23 TheLordis my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps mealive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me. 5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will livein theLord’s house
as long as I live. his faithfulness lasts generation after generation.

As you read through the psalm what words jump out at you?  Does one word seem to draw you into the presence of God?  Maybe the words guides, or protect, or goodness, or faithful love.  Take the word that draws you into the presence of God and use it for a centering prayer.  In centering prayer, we rest in God’s presence.  As your mind wanders (and it will), repeat your centeri…

Praying the Psalms

Sunday June 25, 2017
Psalm 23 TheLordis my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps mealive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me. 5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will livein theLord’s house
as long as I live.
In Psalm 23 we read “the LORD is my shepherd.  I lack nothing.”
How has God been a guide for you in life? 
As you look back on your life can you name the moments when God was able to give you what you needed?
Have you been aware of God’s support through people in your life?

Seeking God in suffering

Saturday June 24, 2017
Psalm 13 How long will you forget me, LORD? Forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I be left to my own wits, Agony filling my heart?  Daily? How long will my enemy keep defeating me? Look at me! Answer me, LORD my God! Restore sight to my eyes! Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death, And my enemy will say, “I won!” My foes will rejoice over my downfall. But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. Yes, I will sing to the LORD Because he has been good to me.
When I pregnant with Harry, I had some complications.  It was always on my mind that he may be delivered too early.  It was the topic of every visit with my doctor.  It weighed heavily on me.  Both Dan’s and my mother had lost babies who had been born too early. 
While so many mothers have this glow about them in their pregnancy, I felt like Eeyore with a dark cloud following me around.  There was much crying and fearfulness.  I had a number of friends that cam…

A ministry of presence

Friday June 23, 2017
Psalm 13 How long will you forget me, LORD? Forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I be left to my own wits, Agony filling my heart?  Daily? How long will my enemy keep defeating me? Look at me! Answer me, LORD my God! Restore sight to my eyes! Otherwise, I’ll sleep the sleep of death, And my enemy will say, “I won!” My foes will rejoice over my downfall. But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. Yes, I will sing to the LORD Because he has been good to me.

The Lament psalms give us a template for faithful response to others who find themselves in the pit.  We live in such a face paced society that we allow almost no time to grieve or to suffer.  When we transpose that secular expectation into our faith communities, we do a disservice to one another.  Here is a place to honor the plea “how long, Oh Lord?”  Here is a place where we can create a safe place to honestly share our doubts, fears and struggles.  Here is a …