January 15 Devotion

Many of us have sat and waited in hospital settings while a family member undergoes medical procedures.  Those procedures can range from hours of surgery in the middle of the night to sliding a tiny tube through the circulation system until it reaches the heart to take a peek inside.  The procedures can go on for weeks and months such as chemo or radiation.  Or, they may be relatively quick like MRIs.  What we discover is that waiting drains more energy than a regular day at work.  Not knowing, uncertainty, change of routine, not having control of outcomes, and the possibility of things going wrong can take their toll on us emotionally and physically.  
 
     While I type these words, many of us know people who are in the midst of going through such uncertainty in medical settings.  And, all of us are going through not knowing, uncertainty, change of routine, not having control of the outcomes and the possibility of things going very wrong on a national level.  For most of us, that wears on us.  It drains our emotional reserves.  It numbs us to the beauty that is also part of each day.  It leaves us with a feeling of being helpless as the world is in chaos.  
 
      The picture above of Thomas Merton and his words is a reminder that there are still critically important choices we can make each day–for the sake of our souls and the benefit of those nearest to us.  “Speak words of hope.  Be human in this most inhuman of ages.  Guard the image of (the best in humanity) for it is the image of God.”  This Sunday we will glimpse a moment in time when Jesus meets Nathanael.  “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said, ‘here is a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.’  Nathanael asks, ‘How do you know me?”  Jesus says, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.'”  (John 1:47) Only Jesus and Nathanael know the particulars of what Jesus saw.  What we know from reading it, however, is that Jesus notices integrity–and it matters greatly to him.  These days, these tiring, chaotic, unsettling days, integrity still matters to Jesus.
     Being our best selves still matters.  Speaking hope, sharing kindness, living honestly, blessing others, still matters.  In fact, it matters more than ever now.  We can choose those things.  We can choose to be about the basics–loving God and loving neighbor.  The living Christ will notice and be grateful–because it keeps his mission alive in this world–especially in fractured times.  Take comfort in the fact your faithful actions matter and God is still at work through every loving act.
Be Well and Be Blessing,
Pastor Roger

December 9 Devotion

This past week I clicked on a Facebook post by a member of Grace. It was a comical post but it also brought tears to my eyes. It’s a Christmas Pageant where a sheep pulls the doll-baby Jesus out of the manger during a song and starts dancing with him. Simply adorable. The link to the original story and video is below.
 
You and I don’t know the children, yet we know the children. We know they are learning. We know they are participating in a tradition we’ve come to know as sacred. We know the unexpected things the children do are often the most memorable of all. So, watching the video was bitter-sweet for me. The in-person kids Christmas program is one of the most precious events in a church’s life–tears over what will not be this year. Simultaneously, my heart was warmed by the spirit of the sheep character dancing with the doll-baby Jesus.
 
On the 20th of December, if all goes according to plan, we will have a Grace Kids’ virtual Christmas program. Some things about it will be different–including how we participate from our own homes. The story, however, will not change. It’s a story meant to lead us to the manger to embrace Jesus. It’s a story meant to start our spirits dancing. It’s a story meant to whisper God is with us at all times, through all things. Hold that hope. Hold hope through memories. Hold hope through imagining the promises fulfilled.
 
This Sunday, the 13th of December, we will glimpse a messiah who knows his mission. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “he will proclaim, The Lord God’s Spirit is upon me because he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for the captives and liberation for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and a day of vindication for our God, to comfort all who mourn.” (Isaiah 61:1-4) This coming Sunday worship will remind us that this baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, becomes the love of God who swaddles us in comfort and healing
Where do you need comfort or healing today? Who is a person you care about who needs comfort and healing? As a prayer today, take a moment to imagine an adult Jesus drawing near. Quietly he drapes a blanket of warmth, light and healing over your shoulders. He says, “I understand;” “I am with you and all will be well.” Rest in the moment. Then watch the video, and remember again the joy we are meant to have dancing through this journey called life with the saving grace named Jesus.

Blessings,

Pastor Roger