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Preparing

Daily reading: Mark 1:1-8 Friday, December 15, 2017
We have to actually go into the desert in order to hear this word from John.  We have to make the effort to step away from our busy lives and retreat into the desert, away from the comforts of the city in order to hear his cry.
John’s location is significant in this story. He is in Jordan River, the last place on the highway that the returning exiles would pass through before returning to their homeland that has been utterly destroyed and go through the long hard process of rebuilding.   So John situates himself where the people would have this memory of the journey their ancestors took, reminding them that this journey we take is not easy, it takes us away from the comforts of home, and calls for us to do the hard action of rebuilding.  John is preaching about the coming a new kingdom, not one that is built with bricks and mortar, but calls for work none-the-less.  He teaches us that it is through confession and repentance that we are …

Obstacles

Daily reading: Mark 1:1-8 Thursday, December 14, 2017
Yet we don’t want to hear John, we would rather hear the stories of the baby being born, without having to think too much about it.  We want the lullabies about baby Jesus without the prophet, we want redemption without judgment.  Yet John reminds us that in order to fully understand the baby Jesus, we have to prepare ourselves. John calls for a construction project in the desert, echoing the words of Isaiah.  There is to be a highway in the desert where there once was none, valleys are to be lifted up and mountains are to be made low, the rough places are to be smoothed, in other words there is to be a massive removal of obstacles.  So I have to wonder what obstacles might be in our way? 
Obstacles of wanting to go back in time?
Obstacles of measuring success by numbers?
Obstacles of not fully believing that God is present in our exile or in our journey home?
Obstacles that lead us to the believe that the status quo is grounds for clos…

Is this the way it's supposed to be?

Daily reading: Mark 1:1-8 Wednesday, December 13, 2017
While we visualize John out in the middle of nowhere, outside the control of the oppressive Roman forces, outside the nicely decorated temples, away from the bustle of vendors and shopper in the city squares.  John seems to be at a safe distance in this story from really having to bother our lives.
And I have to wonder if we really want to be bothered this Advent season, after all how did repentance and confession get squeezed into our “decking the halls” and “riding in a one horse opened sleigh”?  In this passage, John reminds us that Advent is a season of introspection, of prayer and repentance, much like the season of Lent that leads up to Easter.  Yet our daily lives might not reflect this spiritual journey we are to embark upon.
Instead, we may find ourselves standing in long lines.  Perhaps you read in the papers about the fights that broke out on black Friday in stores.    And I have to wonder “is this the way it is supposed to…

Fulfilled and Fulfilling

Daily reading: Mark 1:1-8 Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Mark helps his readers to see that God was active in the past and God is active now and God will be active in the future.  He reminds us of Isaiah’s fulfilled prophecy and then introduces us to John, who shares the same longing of the prophet Isaiah, for God to come near and make the world right.  As Fred Craddock wrote, “although the coming of Christ is a new thing God is doing, it is not without a past.  John’s preaching is news, good news, but is has a history, a memory.  Memory is the soil in which hope survives, and that which is remembered is the promise of a faithful God.”
Everything about John points to this past, present and future of God’s promise.  John’s dress and diet remind us of the prophet Elijah, one who was strong and survived in the desert on God’s provision as he remained faithful despite being hunted by his king and queen.

Promising God, open me to your movement in and among me!  May I see need where you see it, in …

Promise

Daily reading: Mark 1:1-8 Monday, December 11, 2017
Motion is a key phrase in Mark’s gospel.  Mark hits the ground running in his telling of the good news.  There is immediacy to Mark’s gospel, in part because he uses the word “immediately” continually throughout his book but also because he doesn’t share in a long explanation of how Jesus came to be.  He shies away from the genealogies we find in Matthew and Luke and the stories of Jesus before he began his ministry. Mark does not linger on the stories of Mary and Joseph’s visit from the angel Gabriel, or on the visit from the shepherds and wise men.  Here we will find no mention of the birth in Bethlehem.  Mark reminds us that Jesus grew up. 
Mark grounds his gospel in promise.  Many scholars believe that the first line of his gospel was originally the title of the gospel, so that the real beginning begins with promise, the promise that we have from the prophet Isaiah.  “Look, I am sending my messenger before you.  He will prepare you…

What are we waiting for?

Daily reading: Mark 1:1-8 Sunday, December 10, 2017
Last week we explored the theme of waiting in worship and lit the first Advent candle of waiting.  Today, the candle of expectation has been lit and joins the candle of waiting.
Have you ever noticed that our waiting experience changes depending upon what we are waiting for?  We can wait with excitement or we can wait with dread.  Waiting can be a build up to something heart breaking and waiting can also be a build up to a release. 
In Advent, we wait because we know that God’s timing is not our timing and God is active in our world.  In Advent we remember the promises that God has made to God’s people, to preach good news to the poor,  to liberate  the oppressed, to set the prisoner free, to recover the sight of the blind, and to proclaim the year of Jubilee when economic in-balances are erased.

Promising God, open me to your movement in and among me!  May I see need where you see it, in myself and in my community.  Help me to be active…

Active Waiting

Daily reading: Mark 13:24-37 Friday, December 8, 2017
Mark invites us to actively wait for Christ, to pray for God’s presence, for God’s justice.  We wait for Christ, because we acknowledge that our world is broken and is in need of healing.  We wait for Christ because we acknowledge that we are broken and we cause brokenness. 
Active waiting happens when are preparing for the arrival of someone or something.  Parents nest in the late stages of pregnancy.  Students gather supplies for school at the end of summer vacation.  Hosts clean their homes and put clean linens on the beds as they anticipate the arrival of guests.  What might you do this season to actively wait spiritually?  How might God be calling you to seek God’s presence in the world this season?  We actively wait by staying alert and by seeking out places where the world’s great needs and our own needs meet. We wait for Christ because in our active state of being alert together we are awakened to Christ’s presence.
Surprising …

Awake!

Daily reading: Mark 13:24-37 Wednesday, December 6, 2017
This passage is known as a mini-apocalyptic passage.  The universe will reverberate with the coming of Christ as the sun and moon become dark, stars will fall from the sky and other heavenly bodies will shake as angels come to gather the chosen people.  In other words, this second Advent will be the end of the world as we know it. This coming of Christ is completely and utterly out of our hands and that is hard for us to grasp.    It reminds us that we are not God and we cannot control or protect God. 
The seasons will change, kings will rise and fall from power, nations will too rise and fall, but God will remain constant. 
No one knows when the day or hour will come.  But for those who watch and wait, they will know the time is coming near just as we know when the seasons are changing.  We are to remain awake and alert just as a servant is as he/she waits for the head of the household to return.
Surprising God, in our active waiti…

An in-breaking

Daily reading: Mark 13:24-37 Monday, December 4, 2017
Advent is a season of active waiting, a season of looking back, being fully aware in the present and anticipating the future.  It is a season when we hone our skill of active waiting, because, as followers of Christ, we are always waiting for Christ’s return. And so we begin the season with a passage of scripture that reminds us to watch out and to stay alert because we do not know the time when Christ will return.
For the next two weeks, we will be looking at Mark’s gospel and there is something important to note about his gospel.  Mark’s gospel does not have an infancy narrative.  Instead, Jesus is introduced by his cousin, John, out in the wilderness and in the baptismal waters of the Jordan, when the heavens are said to have torn apart or split open.   This is important to remember, for God according to Mark, has entered into our world in a radically new way that cannot be reversed.  There is this in-breaking that changes everythi…

The beginning of Advent

Daily reading: Mark 13:24-37 Sunday, December 3, 2017
Today marks the beginning of the season of Advent; it also marks the beginning of a new church year.  For the seasons of Christmas and of Easter we have built into our worship liturgy a period of preparation.  Advent is the season of preparation for Christmas; it is marked by the color purple, a royal color of our King who was born in a manger not in a palace.  A lot of what we do during this time of the year is preparation for the Christmas holiday.  We decorate our homes, we purchase presents and give them, and we go to parties and celebrate.  We even do our fair share of waiting during this season: we wait in lines when we travel, we wait in long checkout lines at the stores, we wait for our on-line purchases to arrive, we wait to see our relatives. 
Yet we gather here on Sunday morning to remind ourselves that we wait for something greater.  Advent is the time of preparation for God’s in breaking into our world:  of God meeting u…

Plans for the community

Daily reading: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 Friday, December 1, 2017
Then in the Hebrew God says, in good southern fashion, I have plans for y’all.  God has plans for the community.  We often take this phrase and turn it into an individual mandate but that is not is what is said here.  God has plans for the welfare of the community and radically God is seen to be active in and among a place outside of the land of promise.  Texts like this one from Jeremiah and the other prophets that speak to a community in exile, a community that continues to live away from the Promise Land, generate an expanded understanding of how God is present everywhere.  You may find that you are currently in a situation that cannot be changed, no matter how much you want things to be different, and it is out of your hands.  When we are in exile we find ourselves saying things like, “we’ve never done it this way before.”  And that can either be simply an observation if we say it with enthusiasm “we’ve never done it this w…

Exile

Daily reading: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 Wednesday, November 29, 2017 Before my family came here 8 years ago, we moved a lot.  When we came here in 2009 we moved without being able to sell our home in Lack Jackson, Texas.  We went through a roller coaster of offers that fell through throughout that year, along with needing to keep up lawn work on a home that we no longer lived close by.  In Lake Jackson during the summer to give you some perspective it rains so much that you need to mow twice a week.  This passage from Jeremiah was my go to passage for that first year of ministry here.  I needed to keep my focus here and not on the place that we had left. Every time you move, you naturally compare the new location to the places where you have lived before. The places where we come from inform our reality, our sense of normalcy, and our preferences.  Jeremiah challenges us to seek the welfare of the neighborhood in which we are planted.  So I want to take a moment to expand our understanding of…

Right Here

Daily reading Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 Sunday, November 26, 2017 Jeremiah seeks to answer the question how we go on after such a traumatic experience of being uprooted and having what was familiar, what was normal, what was home, taken away from us. Unlike other prophets his word is not to wait for it will be over soon.  Instead he offers words of hope that the pieces of their lives can be picked up and that they can find meaning and a full life in exile. They are to build homes, plant vineyards, celebrate marriages and the birth of children AND promote the welfare of the city where they have been sent to, even praying for the city to prosper.  They are to build a life and a community in Babylon.    Rather than looking for a return to the way things used to be before the exile, before their lives were uprooted and dramatically changed, they are to look forward.  The exiles are to take root in their new surroundings and work for justice, righteousness and peace in their new communities.  He offe…

Peace on Earth

Daily reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 Friday, November 24, 2017
Throughout the years, the faithful have heard the hope of Isaiah and looked for the light to shine in their darkness.  We together wonder where is this peace on earth?  We live within the tension of here and not yet.
The world is still messy, imperfect, violent, broken and dark but there is also hope and the light of the new creation that happens through the life, death and resurrection of Christ.  Through Christ we are invited to partner with God in God’s work of mending, healing and bringing about shalom peace that encompasses both the individual and the community. Every time we repay evil with kindness and love, Every time we bring peace to chaos. Companionship to loneliness Understanding to those without Compassion to the broken we bring light to a darkened world.  Every time we recognize the presence of Christ in absolutely everyone, we bring light to a darkened world. Every time we speak and believe resurrection into the dead places o…

A great light

Daily reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 Wednesday, November 22, 2017
There are people in our community, in our city that walk in darkness. There are people that need a great light.  There are people that need to know that there is a way around their darkness.
Isaiah proclaims, On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. The people of northern Israel living in Zebulun and Naphtali had suffered under the Assyrian conflict and had lost much.  But those in the south, in Judah under the leadership of King Ahaz also existed in darkness.  These words from the prophet spark hope in the midst of a people that are in darkness.  They bear an oppressive yoke and rod that is keeping them down, pressing on their shoulders.   Constant threat of Assyria looms over them, while their own king incorporates the worship of foreign gods into their temple worship services.  Despair and darkness loomed in the air.
Hope is then placed on a new king that will be faithful and just.  Historically speaking the prophet …

Those who walk in darkness

Daily reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 Sunday, November 19, 2017
Who are these people that are walking in darkness?  What is the darkness and what light has dawned upon them? These are some of the questions that drive our curiosity. Isaiah was a prophet that wrote during the 8th century BCE, in Jerusalem in the southern kingdom during the time that the northern kingdom had been defeated by the Assyrians and the upper class had been deported and when the southern kingdom existed as a vassal state to Assyria. When I read this portion of Isaiah I am reminded of images that I have seen of war torn Syria, of cities in ruins, with rubble, smoke and chaos, a place where people have no hope and so have fled as refugees from their homes.  I think of what was happening in Juarez at the height of the drug war, when city streets were vacant even during the day and children played indoors behind pulled curtains.  
When I read this passage I think of those who have been trapped in the human trafficking industry.…

Lament and Joy

Daily reading: Amos 1:1-2, 5:14-15 and 21-24
Amos reminds us that we are all called to partner with God in God’s work of establishing justice in our world and when we fail to do this, justice dries up and creates a parched land of scarcity for us all.  I usually take Monday’s as a day of study and sermon writing.  Not even 24 hours after the tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas I scrolled through my FB feed.  As I looked through images and thoughts friends had posted, I took a moment to pause and notice how wide the spectrum of thoughts and images were.  There were professional photos of kids, all dressed nicely, posed to perfection.  There was a dimly lit image of a child blowing out her birthday candles.  Photos of brides and grooms, articles on helping kids with ADHD, images of dinner cooked with recipes attached, I saw images of fall foliage in the Midwest.  Sprinkled throughout the feeds were thoughts regarding mass shootings in our country.   And that is our reality, a mixture of…

Let justice roll down

Daily reading: Amos 1:1-2, 5:14-15 and 21-24
Amos speaks so that the people know that they have been named and claimed by God for so much more than who they are in the moment.  We too need to hear this.  We too need to be reminded as disturbing and uncomfortable as it is, that we do not exist in isolation; that our words mean something; our actions do as well.  We are called to embody the presence of God in our lives and sometimes we get it right and other times we don’t.  We choose to participate in systems that push some down and lift others up and that creates a disconnect, a fragmentation in our relationship with one another and with God.  When we chose to treat others as if they are lesser than we are, when we presume that we deserve more, it also creates brokenness within ourselves.  Our sense of justice is grounded in our belief that all that we have has been given to us from God and we are called to be stewards of our gifts.  Israel is founded on this concept of justice, where …

Listening God

Daily reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18 Friday, November 10, 2017
The amazing thing here is that Elijah, just like Jacob, just like Samuel, took the time to listen.  When we find ourselves in the wilderness, listening is so important.  Even when the sound is thin and quiet.  Even when the world seems to be against us.  Especially when the fear is based on something VERY real. Even when we experience absence, we continue to listen.
We listen and we tell this story in community so that we can be present with one another in our wilderness experiences, so we can remind ourselves that God calls us out of our isolation, out of our fear, and provides for us.
When life gets hard, when our patience is strained, when someone we love is suffering, when the diagnosis is more than we can handle, when we find ourselves with no good option moving forward; we may be open to God’s provision for strength and companionship along the way.  We listen so that we don’t miss the presence of God who may present God-self i…

You are not alone

Daily reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18 Thursday, November 9, 2017
Elijah isn’t just running from someone he is also headed toward someone.  God has provided for Elijah and God will continue to provide for Elijah.  So God instructs Elijah to go to the entrance of the cave. And there “a very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the LORD.  But the LORD wasn’t in the wind.  After the wind, there was an earthquake.  But the LORD wasn’t in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, there was a fire.  But the LORD wasn’t in the fire.  After the fire, there was a sound.  Thin.  Quiet.” A second time Elijah is asked, “why are you here?” Elijah repeats what he has already said, he has been faithful and passionate for God while the rest of Israel has turned toward false gods, he is the only one left and now they want to kill him.
God’s response is for Elijah to keep going. He is not the only one, there are 7,000 faithful remaining in Israel and there is a man named Elisha who …

Provision for the journey

Daily reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18 Wednesday, November 8, 2017
When Elijah is awoken by a messenger from God, he finds flatbread and water has been provided for him.  He sleeps, and again is awoken to find food has been provided, he is refreshed by that meal then travels for 40 days and for 40 nights in the wilderness to Mt. Horeb. There are some substantial things being said here.  The number 40 has biblical significance.  It marks a time of transition and growth.  When you hear 40, know that something important is going to happen. The other significant thing to note is the destination.  Elijah goes to Mt. Horeb, which is also known as Mt. Sinai, where Moses encountered God and where God is revealed in fire and a pillar of smoke. After arriving and sleeping, God asks Elijah, “why are you here?” Elijah responds, “I have done what you have asked me to do and I am the only one left and now they want to kill me too.”
In this moment, Elijah believes the whole world is out to get him.  So as to not d…

The absence of God

Daily reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18 Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Here is the greatest prophet that Israel ever had and he is struggling with the absence of God in his life.  Perhaps you have been there, too.  When life gets hard, when our patience is strained, when someone we love is suffering, when the diagnosis is more than we can handle, when we find ourselves with no good option moving forward; we may, too, wonder where God is.

Faithful God, thank You for patiently waiting for me, for pulling me into your loving presence when life is hard, for helping me to see the places where there is great need.  Amen.

The Wilderness

Daily reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18 Monday, November 6, 2017
Elijah goes to place where faithful followers before him have been.  He is now, figuratively and literally,  in the wilderness.  Elijah sits under a solitary broom bush, longs for his own death and says, “It’s more than enough, LORD!  Take my life because I’m no better than my ancestors.”  Elijah is back in the wilderness …
Wilderness experiences can put us in a funky space emotionally.  It is important to acknowledge that in ourselves and in one another and to allow space for us to doubt and grow.

Faithful God, thank You for patiently waiting for me, for pulling me into your loving presence when life is hard, for helping me to see the places where there is great need.  Amen.

Fearful

Daily reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18 Sunday November 5, 2017
Fearful of his life, Elijah is back on the run, he is full of fear. Just one day prior, he had this amazing day and now he is having a horrible day; full of fear and doubt.  Perhaps he is full of regret, knowing full well that there are consequences for his actions.  He is scared to death. Perhaps you have been there, too.
When you have an amazing day one day and a bad day the next, cracks in your resolve allow doubt and fear to creep back, in flood like fashion. The beautiful thing about this being part of our canon of scripture is that it shows us that even amazingly faithful followers have their bad days, they even have pity parties.  Following God does make us immune to doubt or fear.
Faithful God, thank You for patiently waiting for me, for pulling me into your loving presence when life is hard, for helping me to see the places where there is great need.  Amen.

An offering to God

Daily readings: 1 Kings 5:1-5, 8:1-13: Psalm 139: Romans 12:1-2 Saturday, November 4, 2017
As you begin this week, think of the places that you will be going, think of the ways that you can stop and pause and reflect.  Think of how it is that you can “take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking- around life – and place it before God as an offering.” How might your words and actions convey a deeply held belief that you have been named and claimed by God and so is every single person that you encounter?  Let us endeavor to seek out the presence of God who refuses to be contained in the joyful and sorrowful moments of our day and in the moments when we struggle and when we find ease. 
Prayer: Holy God, help me to be a dwelling place for you.  Where there is hatred, may I be a presence love. Where there is heart break may I be a presence of healing. Where there is strife, may I be a presence of calm. Where there is suffering, may I be a presence of c…

A living sacrifice

Daily readings: 1 Kings 5:1-5, 8:1-13: Psalm 139: Romans 12:1-2 Friday, November 3, 2017
What makes a place holy and set apart is marked by how we are different in that place than in other places.  We need a place to come together, but it is more than that.  In Romans, chapter 12 Paul writes, “I encourage you to present you bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God.  This is your appropriate priestly service.  Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is – what is good and pleasing and mature.” Paul urges us to see our bodies as living temples, so that our pause from our hectic lives, our worship of God isn’t just a weekly occurrence, but rather our lives are living, breathing response to the reality that we have been named and claimed by God.  Yes, a place of pause is good and necessary.  We all need a place to go to feel connected to God.  We all need to take time awa…

A holy place

A holy place Daily readings: 1 Kings 5:1-5, 8:1-13: Psalm 139: Romans 12:1-2 Thursday, November 2, 2017
Israel will struggle to understand its relationship to the temple and to God through numerous kings which allow the worship of other gods within its walls, of the cleansing of this practice and the lapse back into it.  They will struggle to understand their relationship to God through the temple when it is destroyed and they are taken into exile.  It is during this time that third Isaiah writes, The LORD says: Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool.  So where could you build a house for me, and where could my resting place be?  My hand made all these things and brought them into being, says the LORD.  But here is where I will look: to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word.  (Isaiah 66: 1-2)  Isaiah echoes the passage from 1st Kings.  God cannot be contained.

Prayer: Holy God, help me to be a dwelling place for you.  Where there is hatred, may I be a presence…

Caution

Daily readings: 1 Kings 5:1-5, 8:1-13: Psalm 139: Romans 12:1-2 Wednesday, November 1, 2017
We enter here into a constant struggle between our attempts to create something lasting that honors God, something tangible and our lapse into idolatry:  where the object or the structure becomes more important than God.  There is a constant need to deconstruct what it is we do in community, to make sure that we are not lapsing, so that we are aware and so that we do not place anything before or above the God we worship.

Prayer: Holy God, help me to be a dwelling place for you.  Where there is hatred, may I be a presence love. Where there is heart break may I be a presence of healing. Where there is strife, may I be a presence of calm. Where there is suffering, may I be a presence of comfort. Where there is injustice, may I be a presence of justice and a voice for the voiceless.  May I be an active participant in your holy kingdom building this week.  Amen.

Place matters

Daily readings: 1 Kings 5:1-5, 8:1-13: Psalm 139: Romans 12:1-2 Tuesday, October 31, 2017
After the Ark of the Covenant is placed in the holiest place and the priest leave the room, a cloud filled the LORD’s temple prohibiting the priests from carrying out their duties.  This divine interruption shows usthat, despite all of the pageantry, the divine presence cannot be contained nor desires to be contained. But it does not negate that … Place matters.  Holiness matters. Worship matters. Because place reminds us who we are and who names and claims us.  From the beginning God is clear, this is not about the temple, it is about God and God’s relationship with us and our relationship with one another.

Prayer: Holy God, help me to be a dwelling place for you.  Where there is hatred, may I be a presence love. Where there is heart break may I be a presence of healing. Where there is strife, may I be a presence of calm. Where there is suffering, may I be a presence of comfort. Where there is injustic…

A holy place

Daily readings: 1 Kings 5:1-5, 8:1-13: Psalm 139: Romans 12:1-2 Monday, October 30, 2017
As Israel continues its formation into a unified nation, they seek to put into place the same things that other nations have.  I spoke briefly about that last week, about how they insisted on having a king, to help establish laws and create a unified military force to protect their land and their people.  The final piece that they need is a centralized place to worship God; a holy place that is set apart where they can celebrate and honor God’s covenant with them.  The temple will stand as a constant, tangible reminder that they have been named and claimed by God to be God’s people.

Prayer: Holy God, help me to be a dwelling place for you.  Where there is hatred, may I be a presence love. Where there is heart break may I be a presence of healing. Where there is strife, may I be a presence of calm. Where there is suffering, may I be a presence of comfort. Where there is injustice, may I be a presence …

A holy place

Daily readings: 1 Kings 5:1-5, 8:1-13: Psalm 139: Romans 12:1-2 Sunday, October 29, 2017
For the past seven years, I have traveled to the Norbertine Center in southern Albuquerque to retreat, twice a year in the spring and in the fall.  The landscape of the retreat center in New Mexico is exposed desert, with bursts of color, walking paths, and chapels.  Each year I find new places to sit and communion with God.  The moment I drive onto the property of the center, my blood pressure drops.  There is something holy about that place.  In many ways, it is the same sensation I feel when I walk into the sanctuary of FCC mid week. When it is empty, I find my pace slows and I am drawn to pause and focus.  There is something holy about certain places. Place matters.
Where or when do you feel the presence of God?  How does that impact your day?
The church building is a place where we come to hear once again that we are named and claimed by God and are called to honor the covenant God has with us and…

Actively listen

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Friday, October 27, 2017
We are called in community to listen for the voice of God, which will challenge us and comfort us.  We are called to listen for that voice through the children and youth in our community and we are called with the holy task of teaching them how to listen and to respond and to speak in faithfulness. 
 We are called to listen to their unique viewpoint that might be different than ours and to equip them with the skills they need to navigate a world that is different than the world we lived in when we were their age.  Our job is one of equipping and empowering and also listening.  Our job is also one of listening from a place of wonder fully expecting that God is and will continue to speak through their lives. 


Prayer:  God, help me to notice when I allow someone’s appearance to influence the way I treat them.  May I see each person today as you do, beloved and worthy of love.  Amen.

Expanding our vision

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Thursday, October 26, 2017
In our passage today, the climate is less than ideal, and while Samuel is grieving over the failed relationship Saul has with him, with the people and with God, God still calls Samuel to do the hard work he has been called to his entire life.  He is called to go and find that person that God wants to lead the people.  He is called to expand his vision and to see the world as God sees it.

Prayer:  God, help me to notice when I allow someone’s appearance to influence the way I treat them.  May I see each person today as you do, beloved and worthy of love.  Amen.

God centered

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Wednesday, October 25, 2017
We are called to be God centered and that often means that we take a road that is counter to popular culture.  In Christian community we can be authentically ourselves so that means we won’t always be happy or together.  It means that we don’t create barriers of inclusion based on appearance or age or any other thing we can think of that has been used to exclude someone.  Because we don’t do the calling, God does.  Into the mess of our lives, God calls us to respond, to engage in kingdom building work.

Prayer:  God, help me to notice when I allow someone’s appearance to influence the way I treat them.  May I see each person today as you do, beloved and worthy of love.  Amen.

All together

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Tuesday, October 24, 2017
A recent study showed that many twenty somethings are only posting good things on social media, FB to be specific.  They don’t want a current boss or future boss to have the impression that their life isn’t okay, or a future partner or spouse to have that impression.  We can see the same trend, in other age groupings, for instance, trying to project the image that everything is always okay.  This of course isn’t across the board, but it speaks to this idea that we always have to have it together.  That struggle, that messiness somehow is something we can control. If the standard is that we will always be okay, strong, together and happy, how does that affect us?  How does that create a culture of insiders and outsiders?


Prayer:  God, help me to notice when I allow someone’s appearance to influence the way I treat them.  May I see each person today as you do, beloved and worthy of love.  Amen.

Our hearts

Daily reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Monday, October 23, 2017
One by one, Jesse’s sons are brought before Samuel and Samuel responds “No, the LORD hasn’t chosen this one.”  After seven have been brought before him, Samuel must be perplexed, he asks “Is that all of your boys?”
“There is still the youngest one, but he is out keeping the sheep”  implying that he is more useful out in the field than with the family at the sacrifice with Samuel, the man that anointed their king on behalf of God.
Samuel has them send someone for David because they cannot proceed with the ceremony until he gets back.  When he arrives, God speaks to Samuel and says, “that’s the one.  Go and anoint him.”

Some scholars believe that the part about his reddish brown hair, beautiful eyes and good-looking appearance were a later addition to the text. 

This story is one of the quintessential call stories in the bible.  David is called as the least likely out of all of his brothers, into an existing conflict that does not end …