Devotion for October 20, 2020

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Oct 202020

“Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” (Luke 10:3)

When it comes to the work of mission and ministry, Jesus doesn’t hide the danger from his followers. So it’s no wonder why “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (v. 2). It’s no wonder why folks don’t want to “carry no purse, no bag, no sandals” (v. 4). It’s no wonder why even Jesus’ closest disciples are anxious about venturing into hostile territory.

It takes trust in the one whom you’re following to go to such places. It takes confidence in your mission to go where few others are willing to go. It takes great faith to minister to needs wherever you might be sent. – rc

Devotion for October 19, 2020

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Oct 192020

I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob,

I will gather the survivors of Israel;

I will set them together

like sheep in a fold,

like a flock in its pasture;

it will resound with people. (Micah 2:12)

The prophet Micah writes (or preaches) this message of hope to a people reeling. The Northern Kingdom of Israel has been destroyed. The Southern Kingdom of Judah is being threatened. The people are mired in social, political, and economic turmoil. Micah speaks powerfully into this dark and dangerous time, assuring everyone that at the right time, God “will surely gather” everyone together again, just as a shepherd gathers the flock. This is a promise and a hope for our time as well, and yes, it will be good to be gathered together again. – rc

Devotion for October 16, 2020

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Oct 162020

O LORD, you have searched me and known me.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my thoughts.

See if there is any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:1, 23–24)

The psalmist opens this song with the declaration that God has already searched her and knows her, searched us and knows us. Yet she concludes the song with a request (or demand) for God to search her and know her, to search us and know us. It’s an indication that the life of faith is ongoing; we are all works in progress. This constant process of searching and knowing, testing and seeing is all for the purpose of journeying with God, who is leading us. So let us follow faithfully. – rc

Devotion for October 15, 2020

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Oct 152020

You brought a vine out of Egypt;

you drove out the nations and planted it.

You cleared the ground for it;

it took deep root and filled the land.

The mountains were covered with its shade,

the mighty cedars with its branches;

it sent out its branches to the sea,

and its shoots to the River. (Psalm 80:8–11)

This psalm predates the famous parable of the mustard seed in which Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a tiny seed. That tiny seed grows into the largest of bushes in which birds of every color, shape, and size find their home. Perhaps this psalm inspired Jesus in some way: this vine shades the mountains, this vine towers over the cedars, this vine extends its reach from river to sea, and in so doing, this vine, this people that God has planted, becomes a place of refuge and solace for everyone and everything. – rc

Devotion for October 14, 2020

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Oct 142020

Since much time had been lost and sailing was now dangerous . . . (Acts 27:9a)

In Acts 27, Paul is literally sailing dangerous waters. Winds swirled, waters raged, and neither sun nor moon nor stars shone their light, plunging the crew into utter darkness (both literally and figuratively. The crew did everything they could to weather the storm, but nothing worked; cargo and lives were lost, and feared welled up in the remaining crew.

The literal storm in which Paul found himself reminds me of the figurative storm in which we find ourselves. And the literal ship in which Paul found himself reminds me of the figurative ship in which we find ourselves – our sanctuary (like many sanctuaries) is designed to replicate the hull of a ship, of an ark. It reminds us of the protective powers of God who has time and time again helped to weather storms – from Noah to Jesus to Paul to us.                 – rc

Devotion for October 13, 2020

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Oct 132020

But as for you, return to your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God. (Hosea 12:6)

The prophet Hosea writes to a people who had lost their way; they had forgotten what it meant to be faithful and they had abandoned their God. But to those who still sought to follow God faithfully, Hosea directs their attention to love and justice, the two core disciplines around which all life must be ordered. According to Hosea, love and justice go hand in hand; love and justice make society work; love and justice are what bind us together. Without love, there can be no justice; without justice, there is no love. – rc

Devotion for October 12, 2020

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Oct 122020

“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39a)

These are Jesus’ words to the Gerasene man from whom he had just exorcised a legion of demons; they’re a commanding invitation to share how God acted powerfully to restore peace to this Gerasene’s life. Return and declare. Leave and tell. Go to where you live and announce to everyone what God has done. This is Jesus’ simple call to this Gerasene man.

But these are simple words to call us to action as well. We too can simply declare what God has done in our lives. We too can simply tell people in whom we place our trust. We too can simply announce what the God, what Jesus, what the church, what our faith means to us. We too are called to share the good news. – rc

Devotion for October 9, 2020

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Oct 092020

[Jesus] said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God . . .” (Luke 8:10a)

There are (at least) two great ironies at play here as Jesus explains the Parable of the Sower to his followers. First, it seems a little counterintuitive, but Jesus tells his disciples that he speaks in parables in order to let them in on “the secrets of the kingdom of God” (v. 10a) and so that others might neither perceive nor understand (v. 10b). It seems to me that it would make more sense for Jesus to let everyone in on the secrets of the kingdom so that everyone would perceive, understand, and work for the good of God’s ways. But that’s where the second irony comes into play. Jesus leaves it to us to continue to the work of scattering seed so that everyone might someday perceive, understand, and work for the good of God’s ways. We’ve been given the secrets of God’s kingdom so that we might share it with others. – rc

Devotion for October 8, 2020

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Oct 082020

Then turning toward the woman, [Jesus] said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? . . .” (Luke 7:44a)

The truth is, Simon sees what he wants to see. He sees the scandalous. He sees the provocative. He sees what he deems sinfulness. When Jesus asks him, “Do you see this woman?” (v. 44a), the truth is that Simon has already declared what he has seen. He sees “what kind of woman this is who is touching him – that she is a sinner” (v. 39). But Jesus sees differently. Jesus sees grace and hospitality, gratitude and faith. Jesus sees a human, a person, a woman – which begs the question: Whom do we see before us? – rc

Devotion for October 7, 2020

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Oct 072020

And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God . . . (Luke 7:29)

Today, in Jesus’ teaching, all the people within earshot “acknowledge the justice of God” (v. 29). While we oftentimes understand “justice” in terms of punishment, that does not appear to be what Jesus intends here. Instead, the justice of God represents perfect balance and harmony for all people so that everyone finds their home in God’s kingdom. It’s too bad that like the Pharisees and the lawyers, some refuse or reject this, God’s purpose for us (see v. 30), for in God’s kingdom, there is a place for everyone and everyone can find their place.                        – rc