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2017 Daily Devotions

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

William Eck

You never saw him yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him.-with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.  

The prophets who told us that this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it-that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves-through the Holy Spirit-the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this! 1 Peter 1.8b-12 

A Word of Hope
I’ve read this passage before but always missed the message of hope that I’m noticing today. This passage comes early in the book and I have always rushed past it looking for the meat of things. Funny how in looking for the meat, I’ve overlooked exactly the thing I was looking for; the hope for our lives that is so plainly expressed here, the hope that our faith and preparation will be rewarded. How much we love our triune God and God’s son Jesus! These words are reassuring us that our faith is in something real and that matters both here and now and in the future. 

The prophets told us that Jesus would be coming; they foretold his death and resurrection in ways that were probably not understood by the people of the day. They were left to trust and hope, much like we are, but we have the reassurance of the resurrection that our faith is in something real and that it will be rewarded. None-the-less, our faith is still faith and mine is laced with doubt. These words shrink that doubt for me. In the past they “clamored to know who and when.” How much easier it should be for us who know who and when and are waiting in hope for what’s next. As we move from Advent through Lent into Easter, how much more we should be filled with laughter and singing. How much more we know than those who came before our Messiah. We have seen the prophecies fulfilled. For this we are indeed fortunate. 

At the end here, we are thrown another bone to think about: “Angels would have given anything to be in on this!” I don’t know enough about angels and angel lore, but this sentence just doesn’t seem like an afterthought. I have no idea why angels would have given anything to be in on this, but this whole idea seems important. Whatever it is, it seems to me that we have been given a gift that is so important and meaningful that beings who are so close to God as angels would have liked to have been given this gift. This mystery is something that I hope will see some light in the near future as I wonder what it’s all about. Whatever it is, faith and hope and love all seem easier.

God of faith and hope, we thank you for this gift even if we do not totally understand it. We thank you for your words of hope. We thank you for the gift of faith. Grant us understanding of this mystery and strengthen our faith. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dan Peeler

Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
   like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
   reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
   bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
   carrying their sheaves.

                                   Psalm 126.4-6 

A Word of Hope
Could you use a little renewal in your life? The Season of Eastertide is the time of year we traditionally think about renewal and it’s an ongoing theme in many of the Hebrew Scriptures. A lot of the Psalmists sang their prayerful songs in desperate need of restoration; renewal of some sort of order in their lives. The people of Israel had known an era that had been literally golden under the reign of King Solomon after his father David had finally united the bickering tribes. Then Solomon died and almost immediately everything fragmented again, splitting David’s nation, with most of the tribes establishing their own capitol in the north and abandoning Jerusalem, with its opulent Temple and exclusive system of worship serving very few of its original followers.

About 400 years later, all was lost; the northern tribes having been conquered and assimilated by the Assyrians, Solomon’s Temple burned to the ground by the Babylonians, and the most promising citizens of the land now serving in captivity in Babylon. Was restoration a concept anyone even dared to dream? It turned out that it was not only a dream, but a drive, a creative awakening that could only have been inspired only by God.

In Babylon, the community of captive priests and scribes, poets and historians began to compile and compose an eclectic body of writings that we now call the Bible; the Hebrew Scriptures. Some of the collection of scrolls had floated around for years and others were original to the era, but all were restorative, giving hope to the hopeless with their instructional lessons and inspiring songs.

During Eastertide today these scriptures remind us that often the events in our lives that send us out weeping can bring us face to face with our God, whose always unexpected solutions can send us home with shouts of joy. These defeated people who had longed to rebuild their ruined walls had received the more astonishing grace of the restoration of their spirits. The same God is at work in our lives and in this church today.

Restore and renew our spiritual fortunes, O Lord.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Brad Syverson
Spiritual Director

Then Gideon said to God, “In order to see whether you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said, I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said.” And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not let your anger burn against me, let me speak one more time; let me, please, make trial with the fleece just once more; let it be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. Judges 6.36-40

A Word of Hope
Just to be clear: this is a story about Gideon’s struggles and not an instruction manual for getting God’s input.   Sorry about that. Gideon isn’t sure he’s got God’s message right so he asks God to confirm by soaking an animal skin overnight while leaving the surrounding ground dry. Sure enough it happens but geez, what if the animal skin just took longer to dry out than the surrounding ground? It could happen, right? So Gideon asks God to reverse it (which would be much harder to explain) and sure enough that happens. So Gideon decides to move on God’s request.

Gideon looks foolish but maybe recognizable. We’d all like a sure fire way to get God to just tell us what to do for crying out loud! We want to get God’s input but we don’t know how to do it. We need an answer! Sometimes we play Gideon games by asking for signs and giving God tests.

I believe we have to put away our games and put on our listening hearts! Discernment has three movements. Turn our intention towards God’s call and away from our ego and expectations. Turn our attention towards contemplation and away from planning. More being and less doing. Finally, turn our understanding toward God’s desires written upon us and our circumstances and away from extrinsic voices. Taking these turns is a great start on the path to God’s desires for you.

But above all, persevere! God is waiting for you in the questions as well as the answers. Even though Gideon struggled to figure out what God wanted him to do, God used him to do a mighty thing.

Give us a listening heart today and always. Turn us towards you and your dream for us. Amen.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Isai Thomas-Cazares

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Corinthians 15: 10 [NIV]

Word of Hope
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Paul reminds believers that it is Grace that distinguishes the new attribute of the Christian faith. Paul reiterates to believers that, whilst the foundation of the Faith is in believing Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to many, including him, Grace is the elemental force behind redemption.

He reminds the Corinthians that he was someone who worked harder than all of them (10) to persecute Christians. He was by his own account undeserving of God’s grace and most sinful for his acts of persecution. Paul challenges post-resurrection believers to take his story as an example of the transformative power of grace and salvation. It made Paul’s understanding of Christ’s death a progressive, majestic, and epic revelation to the Corinthians. Paul wrote, but by the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me was not without effect. (10)

Paul presented himself as proof that grace allowed him to die to his past and rise to his present newness. Today, let us look to those in our lives that are examples of the effect of grace, examples of transformed lives that prove to us that Jesus has risen again, and as proof of the power of God’s gift of grace.

Creator of all things seen and unseen, grant me the conviction to live the message of I am what I am by grace. I am not sinful. I am reborn within your grace. Therefore, I am the grace effect. I am the outcome; I am the transformed. May I strive to be proof that I have risen from my ashes and embody a new creation that is complete in you. May I be proof to others that your grace is real.

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