Daily Devotion – March 31, 2013

Luke 24:1-5

The Resurrection of Jesus

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.

2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

Reflection by Geoff Heilhecker


Nothing is ever really gone forever from us or from the world. Everything lives on, in our hearts or in our minds. We, however, cannot dwell on what is in the past. There is a time for mourning and a time to move on. There is a difference between forgetting and moving on. Do not forget, allow things to live on in your heart and mind but do not fixate on them. The material may be gone but the emotions and memories live on among the living. You cannot find what still lives within you in the midst of the dead. Today is the day we bask in the glory of resurrection and the power that lies in our hearts.   



May this day be one that we believe with open hearts that anything can happen.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – March 30, 2013

Isaiah 53:1-5

Who has believed what we have heard?
   And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
   and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
   nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 
He was despised and rejected by others;
   a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
   he was despised, and we held him of no account. 

Surely he has borne our infirmities
   and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
   struck down by God, and afflicted. 
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
   crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
   and by his bruises we are healed.

Reflection by Elissa Johnk

Here is the story we tell this day:

There once was a man who made beautiful things with trees.  His hands, dirty and calloused, seemed to meld into the rich, rough bark with which he labored.

He chose his materials carefully, looking for things that others considered flaws: here was the year of heavy rain.  There, it had suffered – the black tattoo of a fire scarring the yearly rings.

In his hands, those disfigurements were beautiful.  Indeed, they were the focal points of the tree’s new creation – signs that it had seen hardship, and survived.

And when he was done transforming trees, he moved on to people.  In the same way, he looked for what others considered flaws – sins and scars.   And, in his hands, people found their wounds became beauty marks – signs that they had seen hardship, and survived.

Many, however, didn’t want their wounds exposed, and so they sent him back to the trees.

The trees greeted him lovingly, the darkness of his skin once again melding with the wood.  As he had once done for them, they stretched him into a new form – one where his wounds were the centerpieces of new life.

Our new life.
You see, we tell this story not out of guilt, but hope. 
Hope that, in its telling, we might feel our wounds exposed.  That we might feel our sins, our scars – our very selves – melded to the cross.  That we might feel ourselves being carved, stretched by the Master Carpenter into a new form – one that allows us to proclaim not simply “He is risen!”
But, “I am risen!” too.  
Master Carpenter, on this holy day between death and life, stretch us out to that holy, tender place between sin and salvation.  Carve away the layers of pride and pretension, that we might again be like raw materials – a broken branch of the tree of Jesse, just waiting to be made new.  Amen.


About the Author

Elissa Johnk is the Senior Pastor of The Old Meeting House,East Montpelier Center,Vermont.

Daily Devotion – March 29, 2013

Psalm 22:1-2

 Plea for Deliverance from Suffering and Hostility

 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

   Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? 
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
   and by night, but find no rest.  

Reflection by Jean Ward

I recently was diagnosed with cancer.  I spent many hours praying as I received treatments and tried to get much needed rest.  My prayers were “words of groaning”, asking for “help”, begging for “answers”.  May prayers didn’t feel comforting, and I questioned why I wasn’t being stronger.  I was very angry.  Yet I also had a feeling of relief, freedom and calmness. Grateful that I am able to cry, complain, beg, and know that God is listening, helping and answering my pleas.  



Dear God, my Father,

Thank you for allowing me to come to you with all my anger and anguish.  Thank you for sending a calming Spirit to me. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, who also cried out in anguish, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” Praise and glory to you, my Father, Holy Spirit and Savior, Jesus Christ!  Amen.





Daily Devotion – March 28, 2013

John 13:1-17

Now before the festival of
the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and
go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to
the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon
Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had
given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to
God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around
himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’
feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon
Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered,
“You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter
said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you,
you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only
but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not
need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean,
though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he
said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on
his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I
have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is
what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also
ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example,  that you also should do as I have done to you.
Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are
messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you
are blessed if you do them.


Reflection by Diane Ingram


The Baptist Church I attended as a child still has “foot-washing” Sunday once or
twice a year. The custom has not changed over the last 50 years, but I have
never participated in it, then or now. In those teenage years, there was
something scary about foot-washing.  The spirit would descend and a lot of the sisters would raise their arms toward
heaven, often with a handkerchief clasped in one hand, and shout with joy.  Their actions were intense and unusual.

Foot-washing always made me shiver with distaste, too. Who would want to wash someone else’s
feet? None of us young ones participated. 

If I were still a Baptist, though, I would be very interested in this foot-washing
business. There is something about humbling oneself and being that intimate
with another human being that brings about unexpected emotions— a discovery I
made in a massage therapy class. I would relax and relate with that touching of
another’s feet. It’s hard to explain the emotion; it can be a holy moment, an

Now, I believe that Jesus wanted his disciples, his followers, to know that feeling
of relationship with another. He knew you can’t talk your way into it, however
sweet the conversation. A major barrier has to drop.  He said, “You do not know what I am doing,
but later you will understand.”


Prayer:  Thank you, God, for the mysteries.

Daily Devotion – March 27, 2013

Isaiah 50: 4-9 


The Sovereign Lord has given
me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the
He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like
one being instructed.


The Sovereign Lord has opened
my ears; I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned


I offered my back to those
who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my
from mocking and spitting.


Because the Sovereign Lord
helps me, I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face
like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.


He who vindicates me is
near. Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each
Who is my accuser? Let him confront me!


It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a
the moths will eat them up.


Reflection by Don Tawney Sr.


Isaiah, the obedient servant, is talking about himself, and at the same time predicting
the promised Saviour, Jesus Christ, who was to come.  I believe God is
disciplining Isaiah for telling of future events.  Isaiah’s ears are open,
listening to God, and God opened his ears to hear things about the humiliation
Jesus Christ submitted himself to, in order to be our Saviour and

Christ received from the Father that He might give.  His prayer in Gethsemane was for
strength to endure the cross set before Him.  The prophet Isaiah experienced
harshness and pain; His support was the same support of Christ Himself– “The
Lord God helps me.”  And Jesus told His disciples that all who followed Him
would suffer persecution.



Dear God, Thank you for Jesus, who opens our ears and hearts to receive forgiveness
of our sins, and eternal life.  You, Jesus, have trod the way before us,
suffered every pain and woe.   Amen






Daily Devotion – March 26, 2013

Psalm 31:9-16


Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;

my eye wastes away from grief,

my soul and body also.

For my life is spent with sorrow,

and my years with sighing;

my strength fails because of my misery,*

and my bones waste away.


I am the scorn of all my adversaries,

a horror*
to my neighbours,

an object of dread to my acquaintances;

those who see me in the street flee from me.

I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;

I have become like a broken vessel.

For I hear the whispering of many—

terror all around!—

as they scheme together against me,

as they plot to take my life.


But I trust in you, O Lord;

I say, ‘You are my God.’

My times are in your hand;

deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

Let your face shine upon your servant;

save me in your steadfast love.


Reflection by Lynne Buell


The writer of this Psalm has apparently reached the lowest point in
life.  The strong verbiage describing how
this person felt; such as I am the scorn,
an object of dread, and terror all around,
tells me that this individual is
close to giving up.


Thankfully, I don’t recall ever feeling this low.  The troubles and problems I encountered were
never to the extent of my wanting to give it all up, although some of my low
points make me shudder.  I admit I have
made some awfully bad decisions.  Now
that I look back, God was by my side. 
Eventually I overcame the shame, grief, or blunders that I
experienced.  I didn’t know at the time
that God was looking out for me.  But now
I do. 


As I was reading this Psalm, my very first thought was ‘is this the way
Jesus felt the last week of his life?’ 
But then my thoughts changed, because Jesus (as far as I know) didn’t
slip up or make poor judgment decisions like I did.  Jesus dedicated his life to God. 


The message of the Psalm is simply to convey that God is with us no
matter where we are in our lives.  Even
at the lowest point of our existences we must trust God and place ourselves in God’s

Getting back to Jesus during his final week, I speak for myself in that
I can feel the dread Jesus must have felt knowing what he was about to face.  Dread is dread.  It is fear and anxiety, no matter what the
situation.  For me it was about poor judgment;
for Jesus it was facing death.  Reach out
to God for strength and comfort.  God
will never let us down.




Help me to remember your presence at all times; help me to learn how to
trust in you completely.  Amen.



Daily Devotion – March 24, 2013

Psalm 118: 21-29


I thank you that you have answered me
   and have become my salvation. 
The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the chief cornerstone. 
This is the Lord’s doing;
   it is marvelous in our eyes. 
This is the day that the Lord has made;
   let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
   O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! 

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
   We bless you from the house of the Lord. 
The Lord is God,
   and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
   up to the horns of the altar. 

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
   you are my God, I will extol you. 

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever.


Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

When I study this Psalm, it tells me that God has answered our prayers. He gives us life by giving us this day. He gives us light by shining the joyous way of the Lord. And in response, we rejoice and give thanks and extol the Lord. The Lord takes the first step by loving us. Then we respond by loving Him in return.


This makes sense. When we are just babies, we aren’t conscious of the Lord, even though the Lord knows of us when we are born. He loves us before we are even aware of Him. He loves us before we even accept Him. He loves us even when we denounce Him.


You see, when I was growing up, I was a Buddhist. I didn’t believe in Jesus. But He still existed, even though I didn’t think so. He loved me, even though I didn’t know Him. God doesn’t turn His back on anyone, believers or non-believers. He holds out His hands to each of us. In response, I rejoice. I am so glad that I’ve come to know Jesus and His love.




I give thanks for our Lord. I pray that all who wonder about God’s existence will come to know His love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Daily Devotion – March 23, 2013

Psalm 118: 19 – 20

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
   that I may enter through them
   and give thanks to the Lord. 

This is the gate of the Lord;
   the righteous shall enter through it. 


Reflection by Rochelle Lofstrand


Righteousness is defined as having acceptable standards of morality, justice, and virtue.  So being righteous in the eyes of God is a desirable state.  The author of today’s Bible verse wants to be righteous in the eyes of God so that thanks can be given to God.  As Psalm Sunday and Easter Sunday approach, it is the time for Christians to consider how we live our lives.  Are we leading the most righteous life we can?  Tomorrow at church, we will start the journey of Jesus’ last week of life.  Jesus was a man full of righteousness.  Let us think about our own lives this week and how we can learn from Jesus about how to live the best life possible in the eyes of God.



God, thank you for giving us a model of righteousness in your son, Jesus.  I pray that every day I might be more like Jesus and live a life of morality, justice, and virtue.  Forgive me when I stray from that path and be patient with me as I continue my journey toward a more righteous life.  AMEN. 

Daily Devotion – March 22, 2013

Psalm 118

A Song of Victory

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
   his steadfast love endures for ever! 

Let Israel say,
   ‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’


Reflection by Polly Yaguchi


For ever. These short words convey the most awesome promise from God about His love for us. The expression, “Nothing lasts forever” couldn’t be further from the truth!  In fact, isn’t God’s love the only thing that does last forever?  We have that promise no matter what –  for ever. 




Dear God,

We give thanks that we can receive your everlasting love knowing that it truly is for ever.  


Daily Devotion – March 21, 2013

Luke 19:35-40

Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the king
   who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
   and glory in the highest heaven!’ 
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’

Reflection by Lynne Buell

When we think of Palm Sunday, we recall the journey Jesus made riding on a donkey toJerusalemto celebrate Passover.  His disciples held Jesus with high regard and threw their cloaks over the animal (despite the heat) to provide him comfort.  And the crowds of people awaiting Jesus’ arrival, which they heard about through word of mouth (since texting and email wasn’t available), were hardly able to hold back their joyous shouts and praises when He appeared. 

We know how much the Pharisees felt threatened by Jesus; they absolutely despised everything Jesus stood for.  But what does it mean when Jesus responds to the Pharisees, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out’?

I think is was the Jesus-way of making the Pharisees look foolish—in a nice way, of course—by making a statement:  If the people could not express their glory, then the earth would respond and voice its praise, because God made the earth and everything that is in it. 

Humanity should marvel at the harmony of God’s creation and give thanks every day. 

Now ask yourself, do you?


Precious Lord, each day I awake to face a new day I treasure deep in my heart for which I give thanks.  Amen.