Daily Devotion – May 31, 2012

Psalm 104: 31-34

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
   may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
   who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
   for I rejoice in the Lord.


Reflection by Geoff Heilhecker 

Our God is almighty and enduring forever.  We cannot fathom eternity, but that is our
God. He moves the heaven and earth and we should rejoice that we are God’s

We should make a point to make God apart of our every breathing moment.  It’s too
easy to get caught up in our own lives and petty goings on when we should make
a conscious effort to let God in and let him move through us.  If we take
just a few moments every day to focus on God and let his will be done, what a
glorious life we shall have. 


May we make a greater effort to let
God impact our lives and may we remember just how loving and gracious he is so
that our existence is more meaningful.


Daily Devotion – May 30, 2012


Psalm 104:24-30 

O Lord, how diverse are your
   In wisdom you have made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
   creeping things innumerable are there,
   living things both small and great.

There go the ships,
   and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

These all look to you
   to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
   when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
   when you take away their breath, they die
   and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
   and you renew the face of the ground.


Reflection by Monty Wyne 

This is a celebration of God’s good works—his
amazing creations.  It is his canvas and
on it lives all the remarkable things he placed on this earth.  His wonders are all around us and they are
vast and diverse.  In his wisdom, He has
thought of everything that inhabits both land and sea. 

He nurtures His many creations and they
flourish and our thankful for His bounty.  Without Him, they are disheartened and
distressed.  It is through his Spirit and
love that all creatures live and all creatures die and new ones are born to
fill this earth with life and hope. 

When you think about all the surprising
things God has given us in the living world, it truly surpasses anything found
in the material world.  That’s not to say
the Internet isn’t an amazing thing or the iPhone is an incredible tool that
brings us closer together, but they are just that…tools or manmade creations. 

Step outside just before a storm. Feel the
wind on your face.  Watch the trees bow
to its mercy.  Hear the rumble of thunder
and the crashing sound of lightening. It’s real, not something we witness on a
television or computer screen or see in a movie theatre. 

Walk through the forest and listen to the
many sounds that live there.  Hear the cry
of the Red Tail Hawk.  The gurgling brook
as water passes over its many stones.  Hear
the woofing sound of the Black Bear or the cooing of the Great Horned Owl.  It is music of a different kind, not played
through an instrument or electronic device, but expressed by living things. 

These are the wonders, the miracles, the
creations that we in our busy and cluttered worlds so often overlook or take
for granted.  Stop sometime.  Turn off your television, your computer, your
phones, your car, your busy, busy life and walk outside on your deck or your
patio or the lawn and listen, see, experience the many wonders of God.  


Dear God,  

Thank you for all of your creations, all of your natural wonders for from you comes life.
Let us celebrate it. Let us appreciate it in its simplest forms. And even in death
let us always remember we are born into eternal life.


Daily Devotion – May 29, 2012

Acts 2: 14-21

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.  Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.  No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:   

17“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


Reflection by Angela Gula

These verses of Acts 2 are considered to be the first Christian sermon ever preached.  This was not a simple task, especially when you consider everything that was going on that day of Pentecost.  The rush of wind from heaven, fire, and people speaking in tongues all drew a large crowd with plenty of believers and just as many skeptics.  I can’t imagine preaching to a subdued crowd of a hundred, let alone this hostile and chaotic crowd estimated to be in the thousands.  To make matters more challenging the preacher, Peter, had made a fool of himself just weeks prior as he denied Jesus before his crucifixion.

Peter uses the verses from Joel to show that they were in the” last days,” waiting for Jesus’ second coming.  The pouring out of the Spirit, visions and dreams that he refers to in Joel are his way of acknowledging that this prophesy will be fulfilled.  Peter is implying the events of Pentecost were the visions and dreams Joel foretold; they signaled the second coming of the Lord.  Now, by no means did Peter and the believers think that 2,000 years later we’d still be waiting, but regardless of the timeframe of Jesus’ return, Peter’s first sermon reminds us of the most important thing while we waitEVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!  Everyone!

Peter’s sermon was no easy task, but he managed to deliver it successfully to the crowd, converting hundreds to thousands because they heard his words.  Here at Pilgrimage, we have been given a challenge similar to Peter’s—preaching of the inclusivity of God’s love for EVERYONE to the masses—the believers and skeptics.  Today, the circumstances are very different, but the message remains the same—those who believe in the Lord shall be saved. 


God, in crowds both large and small, help give us a voice like you gave Peter on the day of Pentecost so that we may spread the word that your love and acceptance is meant for all people who believe in you.  Amen. 


Daily Devotion May 28, 2012

Acts 2:5-13

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under
heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was
bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of
each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking
Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging
to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and
Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”


Reflection by Diane Ingram 

Often I wonder why in the
world I’m allowed to write here.  I know
next to nothing about the Bible and Jewish and Christian tradition despite a
lifetime of church attendance. During my most impressionable years most of the
sermons I sat through were about hellfire and who was going to endure that. We did
certainly hear about Christmas and Easter, but Pentecost was not an everyday
term. With a little reading, I discover that my ignorance is not unusual in
North American Christianity. Pentecost is a mystery to many. 

And yet, these verses from
Acts 2, and the ones immediately preceding them, point to something we all
want:  we want that immediate experience
of spirit, those moments when we feel that Jesus is in the room with us, those
times when we feel in relationship with a presence beyond ourselves. Marcus
Borg says that Pentecost is “about the coming of the Spirit upon the followers of
Jesus. Not just any spirit, but the Spirit of Jesus. It’s about the return, and
the continuing presence, of the Spirit of Jesus.” 

Writer Anne Lamott tells her personal story of Jesus
“hunkered down in the corner” — the continuing presence of the Spirit of Jesus
coming when intensely needed into one woman’s life. 

The remarkable thing about that spirit is that it can
speak to us in a language we understand, not words, but a language that goes
deeper than words ever can. 


Father, we want to walk as Jesus did. We want
to understand. Help us to feel those tongues of fire, that Christ spirit,
through whatever medium, whatever language, can speak to us and move us.


Daily Devotion – May 27, 2012

Acts 2:1-4

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in
one place. 2And suddenly from
heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the
entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue
rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak
in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.


Reflection by Lynne Buell

To say that the Holy Spirit is powerful is an understatement.  The text alludes to fire-like images and
speaking in native tongue as the Spirit descends as a ferocious hurricane.  Think about the very worst thunderstorm; or
maybe you experienced a tornado or hurricane. 

But despite all the intensity of this scene, the disciples, I believe, were left
with peace and comfort.  They knew that
Jesus lived up to his promise of filling them with the gifts of the Holy
Spirit, and that they now have the strength to carry on the truth of God’s

How are you going to live the rest of your life? 
This day is, indeed, a magnificent one for all Christians to observe.


My Lord, thank you for sacrificing your son so that we will have everlasting
life.  And help us to relish in the gifts
of the Holy Spirit so that we can spread the good Word.  Amen.

Daily Devotion – May 26, 2012

John 16:12-15

 ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit
of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on
his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the
things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine
and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said
that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’

Reflection by Lynne Buell 

I have always had difficulty responding to a direct
question.  I’m a contemplator.  I like to mull over the question and how I
really feel about the object or subject of the question before answering.  The same applies to when I’m told that something
great is going to happen.  I don’t see
the need to be filled with apprehension which would ultimately take over my
normal thinking process.  It will be what
it will be.  So I would have been more
than willing to wait and see what Jesus was talking about on the night before
He was arrested and subsequently crucified. 
I would totally be cool with His comment, “I still have many things to
say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”

The disciples knew Jesus was going away; that he was
going to die.  Of course they had many
questions because they had no idea what to expect.  Imagine being told that the Spirit will
reveal the truth of what Jesus knows and that you must glorify Him by making it
known to all.  That is quite a

To this day, as we tell the stories of Jesus, we are the
means by which Jesus promised the disciples on the eve of His demise.  It is the action of the Holy Spirit’s
presence as we continue to learn and pass the stories on. 

For me, each Sunday as I drive home from church, I have
plenty of time to absorb what I acquired from worship.  As a contemplator, this is the second best
part of my day.


Gracious God, help me
to continue with the study of your word so that I can pass my awareness on to
others who will listen.  Amen.


Daily Devotion – May 25, 2012

John 16:4b-11 

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was
with you.  But now I am going to him who
sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  But because I have said these things to you,
sorrow has filled your hearts. 
Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go
away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go,
I will send him to you.  And when he
comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:
about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am
going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the
ruler of this world has been condemned.

Reflection by Gabriela Mills 

Jesus is facing his
death, yet he tells his disciples that it is to their advantage that he goes
away.  This passage is such an amazing
example of the love Jesus had for those around him.  The depth of his connection to God is equally
marveling in this passage.  He knew where
he was going and he knew that the Holy Spirit would descend upon his disciples;
he says that he will send the Advocate (the Holy Spirit) to them.  There was no fear in him, only love.  Even as Jesus faced his death, he lived each day with love for those around him. 

We hear it from the
pulpit every Sunday, “. . .Christ has loved you, loves you now and will always
love you.  This is the good news that
brings us new life.”  This news should
bring us new life if we are willing to embrace it.  The knowledge that we are loved beyond what
our minds can comprehend would change us if we are willing to embrace it.  The love of God is the supreme invitation to
participate in life in ways that are far deeper, far richer than we could
without the knowledge of God’s love. 
Thanks be to God! 


Holy God, meet me in this place. 
See me in my current state of heart and mind and help me to see the
examples of your love all around me. 
Father, help me also to love others as you love me.


Daily Devotion – May 24, 2012

Romans 8:26-27 

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do
not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs
too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of
the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will
of God.

Reflection by Diane Ingram 

Some years ago a pastor at our
Presbyterian church in Tennessee recognized that some of us had trouble with
the concept of prayer.  His suggestion
was that instead of praying with words about a person or circumstance that
troubled us, we could imagine that person or circumstance being covered with
golden light.  That’s all.  No words. We would not be asking for a
specific response. 

The problem came from our knowing that people
ask and ask – beg God – and seemingly get no response. But then, there’s the TV
reporter, microphone in hand, listening solemnly to a storm survivor say, “God
saved us” when the same reporter has just chronicled deaths. How to reconcile
that? Many of us in that Presbyterian congregation couldn’t come to terms with
those two conflicting scenarios, and the pastor’s suggestion worked for us. 

Last week I saw a quotation that seemed
to me to be the same kind of instruction about prayer . . . 

When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing – nothing.

. . . St. Francis of Assisi 

At Pilgrimage we often stand
and ask for prayer.  I’ll admit to having
some trouble with that, even though I have sometimes been the person standing
and the person asking.  But there’s
this:  we ask for prayer, but we don’t
define how each person will pray.  


Loving God, we do not know how to pray.  Hold is in the hollow of your hand, and help
us to be content there.

Daily Devotion – May 23, 2012

Romans 8:24-25 

For in hope we were saved.  Now hope
that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what is seen?  But if we hope for
what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand

According to Greek mythology, Earth’s first woman,
Pandora, was given a box that she was not to open under any circumstances.  Too
curious to resist, she opened it, and all of the evils of the world flew out: 
hate, pain, destructiveness, and starvation.  When she saw what she had done,
Pandora closed the box before the last thing could escape:  HOPE. 

In some retellings of the story of Pandora, hope finally leaves
the box to go out and comfort the suffering.  In other versions, hope remains in
the box and humankind is punished because of their disrespect to the

I am so thankful that instead of having a box that contains hope or wondering where hope might be in the world, I have my faith in God. In Romans, God comforts us by reminding us that through hope we have salvation. We don’t need the reassurance of hope by seeing it….we just need to be patient and know that HOPE, God’s hope, is always there for us.


Lord, thank you for always knowing that your hope for my wholeness is always with me. 
Sometimes I just need to know that even when I can’t see things like faith or
hope, they are always surrounding me just like your love for me.  AMEN.


Daily Devotion – May 22, 2012

Romans 8:22-23 

We know that the whole creation has been
groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the
first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the
redemption of our bodies. 

Reflection by Rev. Kimberleigh Buchanan 

Theologian Marjorie Suchocki calls human beings a “word afflicted” species. That’s
especially true, I think, for Protestant human beings. After all, our faith was
born and grew up with the printing press. We Protestants love our words…to
the point that it’s easy for us to stay in our heads–with worship, faith, and
everything else. 

In this snippet from
Paul’s letter to the Romans, we’re reminded that faith is a full-bodied affair.
Seeking God isn’t just about redeeming our souls; we also wait for the
redemption of our bodies.

I saw a friend last week
who has gotten a bit of bodily redemption–a year and a half ago, she got a
knee replaced. Because she lives in California, I hadn’t seen my friend in many
months. When I saw her last week, she seemed like a different person–a younger
one. She’s exercising now, playing golf again, and is planning a trip to Europe
for her 60th birthday. 

Seeing Deana last week,
I realized just how closely linked are our bodies and our spirits. Until her
surgery, the pain in her knee colored how Deana felt about everything. Now, she
really does seem to have a new lease on life. Out of pain and much more mobile,
she is happy. 

I wonder how much
happier I might be if I tended to the redemption of my body as well as I tend
to the redemption of my soul? 

Hmmm….think I’ll go for a walk. 


God of the incarnation, teach me to celebrate
this body you have given me. Help me to treat it with respect and awe. Amen.