Melinda Goforth

Sep 182020

Therefore let all who are faithful

offer prayer to you;

at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters

shall not reach them. (Psalm 32:6)

This is a difficult psalm to read right now. On the one hand, it is good to know that God is with us in difficult times, but on the other hand, there are places in our own country where the “rush of mighty waters” (v. 6) have not only reached people but have swallowed them, their homes, their communities. “Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer” (v. 6) is the psalmist’s call. So we pray. We pray for those on the Atlantic coast and those along the Gulf Coast whose lives have been upended by hurricane winds and flood waters. And we pray for those on the Pacific coast whose lives have been ravaged by raging wildfires. We cry out for God to meet them “at a time of distress” (v. 6). – rc

Sep 172020

Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;

let your face shine, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:19)

Today, the psalmist gives us permission to summon God to action, to plead with God to move, to demand – even command – God to respond to our own pressing circumstances. “Give ear,” she cries (v. 1). “Stir up your might,” she pleads (v. 2). “Turn again,” she demands (v. 14). “Restore us,” she commands (vv. 3, 7, 19). This is a call to prayer if I’ve ever heard one – a call for us to take a good hard look around us and demand that God work to make it right. But when we cry out to God to make things right, we remind ourselves that we too are called to work to make things right. – rc

Sep 162020

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised

in the city of our God.

His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,

is the joy of all the earth,

Mount Zion, in the far north,

the city of the great King. (Psalm 48:1–2)

The temple, perched high in the mountains of Jerusalem, stood as a symbol of strength and beauty. To look upon the temple reminded people of the greatness of their God, but it also reminded them of their call to live faithfully so that all the earth might experience the joy of living with God. When we look at our sanctuary, our church building, I hope that the same is true for us. I hope that we are reminded of God’s greatness, strength, and beauty and I hope we remember our call to live faithfully so that those who see us experience God’s grace.                – rc

Sep 152020

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. (Acts 16:9–10)

Although Paul finds God’s direction in a divinely-orchestrated vision, it may not take such a dramatic summons for us to figure out where it is God might be calling us to serve. Paul was listening and he heard a desperate man, pleading for help. When we listen to the community around us, who is calling out? Who is pleading for us to come? Who needs the good news of God from us? – rc

Sep 142020

Your name, O LORD, endures forever,

          your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages. (Psalm 135:13)

I’ve always liked stone church buildings – this is one of the many things that drew me to this place. When I look at a church building made of stone, I get the sense that the building is strong, stable, enduring, everlasting. I get the sense that the building has been there for a long time and will continue to be there for a long time. But I also get the sense that it’s not just the building that is strong – it’s the people who worship there who are strong and stable; it’s the God those people worship who is enduring and everlasting. – rc

Sep 112020

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” (John 11:38–39a)

“Take away the stone” (v. 38). “Come out!” (v. 43). “Unbind him, and let him go” (v. 44) – these are the three commands that Jesus gives at the close of Lazarus story, telling us that this is not merely a miraculous resurrection story. It is also a story about Jesus’ power to overcome the obstacles that prevent us from trusting that there is a better life for us. Jesus acts in this story so that everyone might “see the glory of God” (v. 40) and Jesus acts in our lives as well – so that we might experience the same. – rc

Sep 102020

Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Act 15:1)

Stories like this challenge us to take a good, hard look at our own lives, our own prejudices, our own practices as communities of faith. Unless you look the part, unless you speak the part, unless you think the part, unless you act the part, unless you ______.  Stories like this beg us to consider what our “unless you’s” are. What do we use (either intentionally or not) to keep people away? – rc

Sep 092020

I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;

your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. (Psalm 89:2)

Today we declare that God’s steadfast love holds all things together. Today we declare that God’s faithfulness binds all of us together. Today we declare with the psalmist and with all of  creation that God’s presence with and over everything is everlasting – the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that are within them shout praise to God. It is our call to join the song of creation, declaring that God’s steadfast love is forever far and God’s faithfulness is as firm as creation itself.                    – rc

Sep 082020

He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith . . . (Acts 14:9)

A man with a crippling disability listened intently to Paul as he spoke to a crowd of people in Lystra. As he was speaking, Paul did as any orator would do – he glanced around, he made eye contact with people, he connected with them. And this crippled man, never having walked before, caught Paul’s eye, grabbed Paul’s attention. Paul saw the man’s faith and offered him God’s healing.

But what was it that Paul saw in him? What led Paul to believe – to know – that this man had faith? What do people see in us that shows them our faith? For faith is not solely something internal; faith is something lived out for the world to see. – rc

Devotion for September 4, 2020

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Sep 042020

Even the sparrow finds a home,

and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house,

ever singing your praise. (Psalm 84:3–4)

In the ancient world, temples were the dwelling places of the gods, quite literally. So the joy and happiness of Psalm 84 should come as no surprise as it is a song of delight about the house of God in Jerusalem. It is a lovely place primarily because it is the place where God’s presence resides. But it is also a lovely place because of the communal strength it affords the people (v. 5), because of the soulful sustenance it offers (v. 2), and because of the perfect peace it exhibits for all of creation – even the sparrows and the swallows nest there with their young (v. 3). The temple in Jerusalem – and our sanctuaries here and now – can reflect this perfect peace as well, by what we do in our buildings and by what we do in our community. – rc