Monday, December 10, 2018

Waiting


Daily reading: Isaiah 40:1-11
Monday December 10, 2018

Focus passage: Go up on a high mountain, messenger Zion!  Raise your voice and shout, messenger Jerusalem!  Raise it; don’t be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” Isaiah 40:9


What was the high point of your day?  What was the low point of your day?

What are you currently waiting for? 


Have you ever noticed that there are different kinds of waiting?  There is the somewhat pointless waiting that happens when we are standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for our turn to check out.  There is the waiting that happens at a red light, or in the car line waiting for kids to get out of school.  In those instances you are only paused for a moment until you move forward.  And depending upon how quickly you need to get somewhere, it can be anxious waiting.

Then there is kind of waiting that matters.  It is the waiting that makes it hard to focus on everyday tasks because you are waiting to find out an answer. This type of waiting happens when you are waiting for the doctor to give you test results.  There is the waiting that happens when you wait to hear if you got the job.  There is the waiting to see if you will be chosen for jury duty.  This type of waiting carries more weight because the news of what you are waiting for has the potential to change your life or that the very least your day.

Advent is a time of active waiting, of preparing for God to come and do something new and amazing in your life.

Take time today to think about what you are waiting for God to do in your life.

Prayer: God who calls us away from our daily routines, who desires us to follow you on unknown paths, open me to your presence today.  Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Longing for Peace


Daily reading: Esther 4:1-17
Sunday, December 9, 2018

Focus passage:  But who knows?  Maybe it was for a moment like this that you came to be part of the royal family.” Esther 4:14b


When was the last time you embodied courage?

As Queen and as a Jewish woman, Esther is in a unique position to save her people.  What Esther has so carefully hidden now needs to be revealed. Through Mordecai’s wise counsel, Esther receives the courage she needs to work for the peace for her people when they are under imminent threat.  

She seeks out the support of the Jews in her own community to join her in fasting and prayer as she prepares to approach the king without being summoned, an offense that can result in death. In the chaos of the court, Esther is able to speak truth to power, changing the course of action which allowed the Jews to defend themselves on the day of attack.  Revealing the reality that the solution rarely is a complete reversal. It is always almost always layered and complex.

This passage of scripture causes us to pause and ask when we need courage “for such a time as this.”   When might we need to come out from the shadows and be an agent for peace?

Who might be speaking to us reminding us of God’s still small voice?

Longing does not mean inaction. Rather it often is the basis for seeking faithful responses in moments of unrest and chaos, “in a time such as this.”

Prayer: Holy One give us courage to speak out for the vulnerable and for those in need.  May we help to usher in your peaceable kingdom.  Amen.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Stay Alert


Daily reading: Mark 13:24-37
Saturday December 8, 2018

Focus passage: What I say to you, I say to all: Stay Alert! Mark 13:37

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. 
We wait for Christ because in our active state of being alert together we are awakened to Christ’s presence. 

Prayer:  God of waiting people, activate our waiting.  Amen.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Waiting in hope


Daily reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:2-4, 3:17-19
Friday December 7, 2018

Focus passage: I will rejoice in the LORD.  I will rejoice in the God of my deliverance. Habakkuk 3:18

We faithfully wait even though the fig tree does not blossom,
even though there is no fruit on the vines,
even though the olive tree fails to produce a crop,
and the fields lay fallow, and the livestock are gone …

Even in complete desolation, we are called to join Habakkuk in our rejoicing in God, who gives us the strength to wait. 
Knowing that in our waiting, God is present.

In our ordinary moments,
In our painful moments,
In our disjointed or heartbreaking moments,
because there is no place where God refuses to go.

Prayer:  Patient God create an active space of waiting in my life today.  Amen.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hope helps us to return


Daily reading: 2 Kings 22:1-10, 23:1-3
Thursday December 6, 2018

Focus passage: the king sent a message, and all of Judah’s and Jerusalem’s elders gathered before him.  Then the king went up to the LORD’s temple, together with all the people of Judah and all the citizens of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets, and all the people, young and old alike.  There the king read out loud all the words of the covenant scroll that had been found in the LORD’s
temple.  2 Kings 23:1-2

Every year before our two major holy days in the church year, Christmas and Easter, we have intentional seasons preceding them that are centered upon introspection and reflection and preparation.  Like the stories shared about the people in the bible, we too need to return to God.  We too need to examine our lives and take time to change and turn more fully toward God.  We too need to remember in the greatest consumer season of the secular world that we are called to put God first in our lives.
We have a different message in this place during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is a message grounded in hope, peace, joy and love.  It reminds us that we have a specific calling to be the body of Christ in a broken and fragile world. 
And so we enter into the story today and we join with Josiah and the people of his time, in hearing God’s call to come back.   We join in the process of renewal and transformation that comes from being in community that is centered upon the Word of God.

Prayer:  God of all beginnings and fresh starts bring your hope into our lives today.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Stay Awake


Daily reading: Mark 13:24-37
Wednesday December 5, 2018

Focus passage: Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming.  Mark 13:33

We are called to stay awake and alert because incarnation is risky business. 
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 hold of.   
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. 

Prayer:  Holy one, awaken us to your presence this Advent season.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hope in the darkest nights


Daily reading: 2 Kings 22:1-10, 23:1-3
Tuesday December 4, 2018

Focus passage: “Go to the high priest Hilkiah.  Have him carefully count the money that has been brought the LORD’s temple and that has been collected from the people by the doorkeepers.  It should be given to the supervisors in charge of the LORD’s temple, who in turn should pay it to those who are in the LORD’s temple, repairing the temple.
 -  2 Kings 22:4-5

Hope is what gives way in the darkest nights and pushes us to live into a reality not yet here.  Josiah came to throne in a time of uncertainty and darkness.  His actions embodied hope for the people.
The kings before him allowed the worship of other gods even in God’s holy temple.  Josiah is concerned with the state of disrepair he finds the temple in and so he sends word to the high priests to hire skilled workers to repair it.  While they are repairing the temple, Hilkiah, one of the temple priests, finds the scroll of the Lord, which means the Torah.
Are there aspects of your relationship with God that are in need of repair?
Is there someone in your life that you have a strained relationship with?  Be in prayer for God to help you discern how to mend that relationship or if need be break from it.

Prayer:  God of all beginnings and fresh starts bring your hope into our lives today.  Amen.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Waiting


Daily reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:2-4, 3:17-19
Monday December 3, 2018

Focus passage: Then the LORD answered me and said, Write a vision, and make it plain upon a tablet so that a runner can read it.  There is still a vision for the appointed time; it testifies to the end; it does not deceive. Habakkuk 2:2-3

God finally answers, “wait.  Be patient.  Deliverance is coming but you will have to wait.”

Waiting can be one of the hardest things we do, especially in the midst of suffering. God’s answer pushes against our tendency to seek out easy answers and quick fixes. Instead, it offers us a different path to take, one that settles into waiting, allowing the very act to reside in our lives as an act of faithfulness, that despite what is happening all around, or within, even if our world is imploding God is present.

Prayer:  God as we settle into waiting, may we seek your presence.  Amen.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hope

Daily reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:2-4, 3:17-19
Sunday December 2, 2018

Focus passage: The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw. 2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?  Habakkuk 1:1-2

Today begins the season of Advent.  It is the season that begins the liturgical church year and in the northern hemisphere it coincides with a shortening of days until we reach the winter solstice that happens a few days before our celebration of Christmas.
Advent takes us through a season of darkening days, of decreasing temperatures and invites us into an intentional period of introspection, reflection, anticipation, of waiting and preparing.
In today’s passage, Habakkuk cries out, “How Long Oh Lord?”
As we enter into the season of waiting, may we hear the lament of those around us that are waiting for God’s answer in their lives.  May we know that God is present with us in our own waiting and lamenting.

Prayer:  God of all beginnings and fresh starts bring your hope into our lives today.  Amen.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Overcoming death


Read John 20:1-18

Death and darkness cannot overcome the light and life that is found through Jesus Christ.

The last word is not suffering, or violence, or betrayal, or death, the last word is love, it is resurrection.  

And so Mary gets moving … the empty tomb is not a statement of death, it is not an invitation to look in and ponder loss, rather it is a proclamation of life.   

Once Mary can change her focus, she is able to see the amazing thing God is doing.  So she goes and finds the disciples to tell them a new story … not one about death, not about the empty tomb … no she tells them about resurrection saying
“I saw the Lord!”  Notice she doesn’t say “Jesus is risen” no she proclaims her relationship with Jesus.  This is our calling church … to seek out those resurrection moments in our daily living … the ones that are hidden from plain sight, the ones that pull us out of stagnation and fear, the ones that beckon us from staring into the empty places longing for the past so we can change our focus to joy and light. 

We are called to enter into the story to see and then to tell with bold courage as Mary did. 

Prayer: God of the resurrected Christ, help me to live boldly into your calling today, seeing newness and light all around. Help me to let go and courageously move forward at your leading. Amen.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mary and the risen Christ


Read: John 20:1-18

The risen Christ does not dismiss Mary and her confusion, he meets her where she is, he calls her by name, as the Good Shepherd does
and tells her what she needs to hear in order to live into the reality of resurrection. 
She is not to hold onto the tangible Jesus any longer,
the old has passed away and before her standing is the new reality,
which today we are even still trying to put words onto, to understand and to explain. 
“Do not hold onto me.”  Much has been asked about this … many of us quickly go to a question about physical matter. 
Is it that Jesus cannot be touched, what was his resurrected body like? 
What if instead what he means to tell Mary is that you cannot hold onto me … because I need to move forward,
you need to move forward,
Mary don’t get stuck in the past.
We are not to hold onto Jesus, because then we might try to keep him right where we are right now rather than following him where he is taking us,
where he is going.
Don’t keep looking into the empty tomb, mourning Mary,
because God has so much more for us beyond death and decay.

God of the resurrected Christ, help me to live boldly into your calling today, seeing newness and light all around.  Help me to let go and courageously move forward at your leading.  Amen.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Resurrection


John 20:1-28

Who would have thought that death would not have the final word?
Yet there were hints of resurrection all through the telling of John’s gospel up to this point,they are sprinkled through the entire cannon of scripture. Foreshadowing and laying the foundation for this amazing culmination.

Into the dead end situations of life, Jesus breaths life and light and it is all grounded in relationship. It challenges the status quo that separates, limits love, and hinders genuine relationships.
In the dead end situation of poverty and hunger, where the Roman government controlled the bread rations,
Jesus boldly and faithfully reveals God’s abundance by feeding 5,000 men plus women and children with a few loaves of bread and fish. After breaking, blessing and giving, the bounty is so great that they have leftovers! 

In the dead end situation of isolation and shame for the blind man, Jesus heals not just the one who was blind but now sees but offers that same healing and restoration to the entire community, revealing to them their own blindness made real in their rules and regulations and lack of compassion.

In the dead end situation of 100s of years of mistrust and hate between the Jews and the Samaritans, Jesus offers to a Samaritan woman at a well, living water, speaking in her language, affirming that he is her Messiah, stretching the boundaries of God’s love well beyond what anyone thought or imagined was possible.

In the dead end situation of his friend Lazarus’ death, Jesus boldly called him from the tomb and Lazarus emerged, lungs filled with the breath of life, after being dead for four days.
Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us, mixed the sacred with the flesh and bone of our human needs and of our suffering.

This is the power of the gospel, to mix the ordinary elements of our world with the sacred … even the dark, sad and lonely elements of our world, the element of death that has a lasting effect on our relationships and takes our breath away that causes us to pause and alter our days. 

Prayer: God of the resurrected Christ, help me to live boldly into your calling today, seeing newness and light all around. Help me to let go and courageously move forward at your leading. Amen.



Even death cannot go untouched by God.
Death and darkness cannot overcome the light and life that is found through Jesus Christ.
The last word is not suffering, or violence, or betrayal, or death, the last word is love, it is resurrection.  
And so Mary gets moving … the empty tomb is not a statement of death,
it is not an invitation to look in and ponder loss,
rather it is a proclamation of life.   

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Love


Daily reading: John 18:33-40
Holy Saturday 

Focus passage: “So you are a king?” Pilate said. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.  I was born and come into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth.  Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37

Jesus began his earthly ministry by announcing “the Kingdom of God is near.”  And now as he stands trial he says “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world.  If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders.  My kingdom isn’t from here.”

This might be the most difficult passage of scripture to get our heads around.  The Kingdom of God isn’t won by violence or coercion, it is won through the unconditional love of God that sustains and supports us no matter what.  

The cross then isn’t an act to appease a vengeful God, but a symptom of a world that solves problems through violence and not through love.

Take time today to contemplate the space between death and resurrection.  Seek for God in the darkness of this day.  

Take time in this final day of Lent, to look back on what you let go of for the season.  Was it meaningful?  What insights did the practice bring to you?  Has it opened you up to see other areas of your life that need work?

Prayer:  God I know that tomorrow will be a day of great celebration, help me to rest in this day as I let go of the things that need to be released so that resurrection can happen. Amen.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Forgiveness


Daily reading: Luke 23:32-38
Good Friday 

Focus passage: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.  Luke 23:34

Sometimes we find it easier to forgive when someone asks for forgiveness, because then we get the acknowledgement that they have wronged us.  But here on the cross Jesus forgives without being asked.  Jesus speaks a word of forgiveness because he embodies God and it is the nature of God to forgive.  Before he can ask for something for himself, or say something to a follower who may be in ear shot, he speaks to God about you and me, he says “Father, forgive them.”

Even on the cross Jesus is ministering to us. Even on the cross after being humiliated, he does not allow the mob violence and his own execution change who he is.  The sins of those killing him do not weigh him down, he is not burdened, or angered, or resentful, he does not yell out to the crowd “hey, I’m innocent! This is wrong.”  He does not allow what others are doing to him change who God has created him to be. Jesus turns to God, his life line, and says “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”  

Take time to think about who in your life is in need of forgiveness.  What would it feel like to release that person or their actions?  How might holding onto your anger be negatively affecting you?  Pray that God can help you to forgive others and yourself today. 

Prayer:  God walk with me through this week of betrayal, denial, desertion and crucifixion.  In the noise and busy-ness of my day may I remember to stay grounded in your love. Amen.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Humility



Daily reading: John 13:1-19
Holy Thursday 

Focus passage: So he got up from the table and took off his robes.  Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. John 13:4-5

Christ who taught us to serve one another, begins the evening by   bending down and tenderly cleaning off the dust from the road, washing and drying the feet of those that have been following him.

Christ seeks out, of empowers and supports even the wavering and often wrong disciples.

In the midst of a highly charged evening, when Jesus is sure that one will betray, one will deny and the others will scatter in fear, he still kneels down and washes.  

We are called even in the stress of our days, to follow the example of Christ; to seek out others, to serve one another and to do it with grace and love. 

Be open to these opportunities today.  When tasks pile up, or take over and become more important than others, or when others are disagreeing with you, remember to be faithful.  Remember to seek out moments to serve and show the love and grace of God.

Prayer:  God walk with me through this week of betrayal, denial, desertion and crucifixion.  In the noise and busy-ness of my day may I remember to stay grounded in your love. Amen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Betrayal


Daily reading: John 13:21-30
Holy Wednesday 

Focus passage: After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed and testified, “I assure you, one of you will betray me.” John 13:21

I am constantly aware of the vulnerability we are called to embrace in our faith community and in our closest relationships.  I find that I expend a lot of energy guarding myself and yet God gently reminds me that our call is to love God and to love our neighbor and that means that we have to be willing to be vulnerable.

A mentor of mind, Rev. Herb Lynskey once posed this thought at a clergy retreat: “Judas was an answer to a prayer.”  He was referring to when Jesus prayed before calling the Twelve.   I struggled with this thought because I like to vilify Judas to put him in his own box.  I like to think that I would never be like him, that I would never betray a close friend. But to box him up so nicely keeps me from seeing a part of me I would rather not see.  We all have the capability of being like Judas.  We all have the capability of being like Jesus also, of welcoming in those who we wonder about.  

Prayer:  God walk with me through this week of betrayal, denial, desertion and crucifixion.  In the noise and busy-ness of my day may I remember to stay grounded in your love. Amen.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Darkness and Light


Daily reading: John 12:20-36
Holy Tuesday 

Focus passage:  Jesus replied, “The light is with you for a little longer.  Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you.  If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.  After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.” John 12:35

So much of holy week happens in the dark.  Jesus shared his last meal with his disciples under the cover of night, took them to the garden to pray in the darkness, was arrested and taken into custody all under the cover of night.  He was then placed into a cell, which was most likely a hole in the ground that he was lowered into, dark and isolated.  According to Luke, darkness descended upon Jerusalem at noon on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.  

As we remember the stories of Jesus’ last day this week, we hear Jesus urge us to walk in the light and not in the darkness.  With the darkness of Thursday and Friday just a few days away, we are invited to walk in the light and become the light.  

Lent is a season of invitation.  To shed that which burdens us and keeps us from a life centered upon God’s goodness, walking confidently in the light.  As post Easter people, our perspective on light and dark changes.  We can say with confidences as the psalmist does “surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night, even darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Even when darkness descends we are not to allow it to overcome us.  For we proclaim as Paul did that we are convinced “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

As the darkness of this week descends, let your light shine, let the presence of Christ be a witness to our world that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”  

Prayer:  God walk with me through this week of betrayal, denial, desertion and crucifixion.  In the noise and busy-ness of my day may I remember to stay grounded in your love. Amen.

Waiting

Daily reading: Isaiah 40:1-11 Monday December 10, 2018 Focus passage:  Go up on a high mountain, messenger Zion!  Raise your voice a...