Blog
Sermon: Longing for God (2/28/16)
02.29.16

“O God, I seek you.  My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Is your soul thirsty today?  Does it feel like you’re wandering around an arid terrain, parched, fainting, with no hope of finding water?  Does it ever feel like you might just die if can’t get some sign that God is alive and present with you?

George Caywood worked for many years at a rescue mission on Skid Row in Los Angeles.  After some time, George became deeply depressed — his work was hard, his marriage was dying, they hadn’t found the right combination of meds yet for his depression.  George was a person of faith, but he hadn’t felt God’s presence in a long time.

In an interview for the Storycorps Project, George spoke of that dark time.

“I was in my office.  I wasn’t fully out of my depression; my wife and I were well on our way to divorce.  Working like crazy, exhausted, probably 8:00 at night.  I was so lonely.  I used to get a haircut once a week just to have someone touch me.  And I’m sitting in my office and I said, ‘God, I need you to touch my arm.  I need you to physically touch my arm.’  And I just sat there praying, hoping something would happen–but of course nothing did.”  (143)

Have you ever longed for God like that?  Have you ever ached to feel God’s touch?  If you have, then the reading from Isaiah probably annoyed you.  “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and labor for that which does not satisfy?  Seek me while I may be found,” God says.  “Call upon me while I am near.”

Yeah, right.  Whatever.  God is present; all we have to do is wake up and say, “Hi, Holy One!”  Been there, done that, have the abandonment issues to prove it.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, no matter how wide we open ourselves, we still can’t feel God’s presence.  We seek God…and find nothing.  We search for God, and end up feeling even lonelier than we started.  Desperate for God, we reach out, but our hearts return to us empty every time.

So…it makes sense when we experience God’s absence to “spend our money for that which is not bread, and labor for that which does not satisfy.”  We just want something to fill up the emptiness–and those non-bread, non-satisfying things do satisfy for the moment.  All we’re trying to do is to find a little happiness, right?

But once the moment passes?  Yeah.  That’s the hardest.  That’s when we feel truly alone, when God feels farthest away.  So what do we do?  How can we slake our thirst for God when all the wells have dried up?

Reading the Psalms, you discover that the ones that begin with the negative almost always end by praising God.  That’s what happens in Psalm 63.  It begins with “My soul thirsts for you, God.  My flesh faints…” then ends with, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.”

How does the psalmist move so quickly from a sense of God’s absence to all this praise?  Well…they don’t.  Words of praise at the end of Psalms of lament are basically stated wishes.  It’s kind of like something we did on the Council retreat.  At the retreat, we imagined what Pilgrimage would look like in five years.  Instead of speaking from the present and saying, “I hope we’re doing this in 2021,” we spoke in present tense, as if what we hoped already were a reality.  “It’s 2021, and look what Pilgrimage is doing now!”

That’s what words of praise at the end of lament psalms are–It’s standing in the future and speaking as if the thing for which we hope already has happened.  Sometimes we have to act ourselves into the reality we want to inhabit…even the reality of God’s presence.

So what does the psalmist suggest we do when we long to reconnect to God?  After confessing how thirsty for God he or she is, the psalmist says:  “So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.”

I have looked upon you—where?– in the sanctuary.  One of the good gifts of being part of a faith community like this one is that we never have to go searching for God on our own.  We have all these people to help us.  During those times when we struggle to feel God’s presence, we’re surrounded by people who do feel it.  With their presence, they remind us that God is near.

There’s also something about being in the sanctuary and doing what you do in a sanctuary–worshiping God together with other people—there’s something about worshiping together that actually helps us to experience God.

Poet Kathleen Norris happened on a community of monks during a period of intense doubt.  She writes, “I was surprised to find the monks so unconcerned with my weighty doubts.  What interested them more was my desire to come to their worship… I had thought my doubts spectacular obstacles to faith and was confused when an old monk blithely stated that doubt is merely a sign that faith is alive and ready to grow.  I am grateful now for his wisdom and grateful to the community for teaching me about the power of liturgy.  They seemed to believe that if I just kept coming back to worship, things eventually would fall into place.”  (Amazing Grace, 63)  And, eventually, they did.

The thing I think the “spiritual but not religious” folks are missing is just how healing liturgy can be.  Except for cheering at sporting events, where else in our lives do we say or sing the same things at the same time with other people?  Okay.  Sporting events and Indigo Girls concerts.  J  Where else in our lives do we confess our faith together?  Where else in our lives do we share with each other our struggles, hopes, fears, brokenness?  Except for 12-step groups, I can think of no other place where this sort of thing happens on a regular basis.

How easy it is to neglect the gift of community, perhaps especially when we’re feeling hurt, abandoned by God, broken.  And yet, community—this worshiping community—can be the source of our healing.  This community of friends can help us reconnect with ourselves and with other people.  These people, the very people in this room, can help us find God again.

Today is our third Sunday of bringing our brokenness to the cross.  I am not a crafty person.  I’ve had this idea for a mosaic cross for a while, but didn’t have a clue how to make it happen.  Then I talked to my friends Jaime and Bill.  And look!  It’s happening.

One thing that happens with craft projects—we learned this last summer with our Growing Deeper into Community banner—as we work together on the project, the layers of meaning build and deepen.  That’s been happening with this project, too.  Last Sunday, one person noted how the glass on the cross is starting to mirror the glass in the baptismal wall art.  Then I posted a picture of the cross on FB this week with the caption, “Bringing our brokenness to the cross.”  I was struck that the two people who “loved” the picture have within the last couple of months, lost loved ones to tragic accidents.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that—while a few folks are placing their broken glass pieces in open areas — most are fitting their glass right up against other pieces of glass.  It’s like we’re trying to figure out how we can come together in our brokenness.

I certainly could have commissioned Jaime and Bill to create this cross and we could have presented the finished product to you with great fanfare on Easter Sunday saying “This cross represents the brokenness of all humanity.”  But if we did that, we’d miss the experience of bringing our own brokenness to the cross…and to do so alongside our friends who are doing the same thing.  There’s something about coming to the sanctuary, coming to worship with these friends, that helps to heal our brokenness, to renew our hope, and to reconnect to God.

The invitation today, as you come to glue a piece of glass onto the cross—symbol of your brokenness, of your soul’s thirst for God—is to be aware of your neighbors.  Take in the reality that you are not coming to the cross alone, but with these friends.  As you share glue and negotiate for space around the table, be aware of those who come with you.

After his desperate prayer for God to physically touch his arm, George Caywood says, “I walked down this huge flight of stairs and out the front door.  I’d spent a lot of time walking in the streets, just talking to people, including women who were prostitutes.  I never hugged the women because they had been so abused by men they didn’t want to be touched.

“So here I am, my heart broken.  And I look up the street, maybe 25 yards away, there’s this woman I knew to be a prostitute.  She took one look at me and started running towards me and threw her arms open, hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, then just went on.  I was so shocked.”  That was the person through whom “God chose to physically touch me.”  (pp.143-4)

Sometimes the only thing that can reconnect us to God is another person.  And so, as you come to the cross today, be aware of the people around you.  Look at the cross and see how all the broken pieces are fitting together.  See how beautiful all that brokenness becomes when it’s shared.  As you come, be aware of those who come with you.  It could be that today, your longing for God will be met by one of them.   (Bringing pieces of glass to the cross.)

FullSizeRender

In the name of our God, who creates us, redeems us, sustains us, and hopes for our wholeness.  Amen.

Kimberleigh Buchanan  © 2016



Daily Devotion – February 27, 2016
02.27.16

Psalm 32:3-5

While I kept silence, my body wasted away    

through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;    

my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.           

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,   

and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’,    

and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

 

Devotion by Julia Shiver

A life consumed by guilt is a life lived beneath a terrible burden. It invades all that you do, all that you believe.  It leaves a dark stain that clouds your mind, your heart, your soul.  Depression follows in its wake.  The isolation can become unbearable.

There is only one way I know of to wash away the burden of guilt. You bring it before God, acknowledge that you have fallen far from where God has called you to be.  God already knows all that is in your heart.  But it is in offering up to God that sin, that failing, that iniquity, only then can God lift you out of the darkness that enfolds you.  And in offering it to God, we let it go.  If God washes away our guilt, who are we to hold on to it.  God has forgiven you.  Now it is time to forgive yourself.

Prayer:

I confess my transgressions to you, Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and leaving me clean, whole, and unburdened.  Amen.

 

 



Daily Devotion – February 26, 2016
02.26.16

Psalm 32:1-2

1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,    whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Devotion by Lynne Buell

 

There are three words that stand out: transgression, sin, and deceit.  Do they have identical meanings?  Or do they reflect a different degree of deception.  Regardless, whether used together or singly, the one who we look to for forgiveness is God.  We usually know when we have strayed from God. Let’s look at selfish intolerance, displeasure and annoyance, which happen to all of us every day.  We are so unconscious about it!  You may not have stolen, cheated, or killed someone; but you still drifted away from God.  Tonight when you go to bed, go through the day’s activities and pick out the situations where you presented yourself selfishly.  Ask for forgiveness.  Ask for a fresh start.

 

Prayer:

When we have a heavy heart because we have sinned, thank you for embracing us; and Lord, help us to follow the path for a fresh start. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Daily Devotion – February 24, 2016
02.24.16

Isaiah 55:6-7
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

God is good. We should turn away from the wicked in both action and thought. We should then return to God for forgiveness. To be in the company of the goodness of God should be motivation for all of us to turn to goodness.

We can’t always be good, think good, do good. But we can always try to be better, think better, do better. As long as we are trying to become better, then we are facing God and not turning our backs to God. We can then see God, and continue to be attracted to His goodness.

Prayer:

Dear God. Continue to lead me away from evil and toward goodness. Amen.

 



Sermon: Longing for Safety (2/21/16)
02.22.16

A few chapters before today’s Gospel lesson, Luke tells us that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.”  It’s a literary device that sets the context for how to read everything that happens between that statement and what happens in Jerusalem–foreshadowing is the technical term. And we all know what’s going to happen in Jerusalem, right?  Jesus will be crucified.

So Luke intends us to interpret everything that happens after Jesus “sets his face to go to Jerusalem” in the shadow of the cross, including sending out missionaries, teaching through parables, visiting his friends Mary and Martha, teaching the disciples how to pray, taking the religious leaders to task for using their office to oppress the faithful, healing a disabled woman on the Sabbath, which was against religious law.  All of these activities take on new meaning when you see them in the context of the crucifixion.

The next thing that happens connects with Jesus’ crucifixion more literally:  the Pharisees pull Jesus aside and warn him that Herod wants to kill him.

Jesus’ response?  “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’  I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!”  Which sounds like a perfect reason to plug another location into the GPS…anywhere but Jerusalem.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be shaking in my boots if someone told me that someone else wanted to kill me.  Why is Jesus so defiant?  Why isn’t he more afraid?  Personally, I’d find Jesus a bit easier to relate to if he was just a tiny bit more terrified.  But “telling that fox where he can go”… that’s harder for me to relate to.  It must be a Messiah thing, right?  He knows how everything’s going to turn out, so he doesn’t need to worry.  He can say whatever he wants.

Except that there are lots of stories throughout human history where people were so committed to doing what they knew was right, that even the threat of death couldn’t shake them.

“A story from the Far East recounts that a vicious general plundered the countryside and terrorized the villagers.  He was particularly cruel to the monks of the place, whom he despised.

“One day, at the end of his most recent assault, he was informed by one of his officers that, fearing him, all the people had fled the town…with the exception of one monk who had remained in the monastery going about the order of the day.

“The general was infuriated by the audacity of the monk and sent the soldiers to drag him to his tent.  ‘Do you not know who I am?’ he roared at the monk.  ‘I am he who can run you through with a sword and never bat an eyelash.’

“But the monk replied quietly, ‘And do you not know who I am?  I am he who can let you run me through with a sword and never bat an eyelash.’”  (Chittister, Rule of Benedict, 60)

From where does that kind of fearlessness come?  How can one live, seemingly, without a sense of safety?

Maybe it’s not so much about living without safety.  Maybe it’s about re-defining what safety is.  Is safety about having enough money, or a place to live, or food to eat, or clean water to drink, or living without the threat of physical violence?  Yes.  Those things are important, especially for our physical well-being, and to a certain extent, for our emotional and spiritual well-being.  But here’s my question:  Is physical safety enough to make us spiritually whole?

I don’t mean to diminish the need for physical safety.  Violence is dehumanizing.  I am beginning to work with the Cobb Interfaith group on a prayer vigil and workshop on preventing gun violence in our community.  National security is important.  Personal security is important.  Being a safe church is important.  But are these kinds of security enough to save us?

Here’s the problem with linking our spiritual safety to physical well-being.  If we only see God’s love for us in terms of physical well-being, then when our physical well-being is compromised, our faith can’t help but waver.  If you pray for someone to be healed of cancer and they die, what happens to your faith?  And what if someone you love dies a tragic death?  If your belief in God is directly connected to physical well-being, that belief is going to falter when tragic things happen.

9/11 taught us a lot about security, didn’t it?  Because lax security made it possible for the planes to be hijacked, our national response was to throw everything we had into security.  We’ve heard that same sort of fear driving a lot of the conversation about Syrian refugees of late.  “If we let them in, there’s no telling what they’ll do.”  People seem to forget that Dylan Roof wasn’t a refugee, nor was Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph or David Koresh.

Hear me well.  I’m not suggesting that physical security isn’t important.  It is.  Before people can grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally, they have to feel physically safe.  If you’re constantly in survival mode, you’re not going to be able to grow spiritually or any other way.

But these stories–the ones about Jesus and the monk–suggest that there is something more to feeling spiritually safe than physical security alone.

Shortly after 9/11, a couple of us attended a Cobb County Zoning Board meeting.  We needed to get a variance to build our sign out by the road.  At that meeting, a Presbyterian minister was asked to offer a word.  She chose to read Psalm 27.  Just weeks after 9/11, she read:

1God is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? God is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  2When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh— my adversaries and foes— they shall stumble and fall.  3Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.

 

4One thing I asked of God, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in the temple.  5For God will shelter me in the day of trouble; God will conceal me under the cover of God’s tent; and will set me high on a rock.

 

6Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in God’s tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to God.

 

13I believe that I shall see the goodness of God in the land of the living.

14Wait for God; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for God!

 

In those first tender days after 9/11, these were the first words that brought me comfort.  I suspect it’s because the psalmist speaks so honestly–and so confidently–about their faith in God, even in the midst of catastrophic circumstances.  The descriptions of enemies, war, and armies rising up resonated loudly with what our country just had experienced.  And yet, even in the midst of dire circumstances, the psalmist still was able confidently to confess faith in God.  Sitting in that meeting room, hearing those words, at that time, I began to imagine that I too could confidently confess my faith in God even after that terrible event.

The longing to feel safe is deeply human.  The scientists among us can explain that longing in evolutionary terms:  In order for the species to survive, there has to be some assurance that it can survive.  The longing to be spiritually safe also is deeply human.  We all want to know that we are accepted and welcome and loved, perhaps especially by the creator of the universe.

So how do we get access to that kind of safety?  I suspect the precise answer will be different for every person.  The things that make me feel safe will be different from what makes you feel safe.

I do think, though, that a lot of what we already do here in this community helps—meeting together regularly for worship, learning, and service to others…hearing the same Assurance of Grace every week (“One fact remains that does not change:  God has loved us, loves us now, and will always love us.”)…sharing our joys and concerns with each other…having friends to support us when our faith falters…  On its best days, this community is a spiritual safety net for us.

The rest of the job of finding out what contributes to our spiritual safety is a solitary, internal process.  Figuring it out takes prayer, reflection, prayer.  And sometimes, we just have to practice our way into it.  We have to tell ourselves over and over again:  “God is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  God is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Since our trip to Ireland, Allen and I have been reading up on Celtic spirituality.  There’s a tradition in Celtic prayer of invoking the presence of Christ before me, behind me, above me, to my right, to my left.  That kind of encircling prayer…it’s almost like a cocoon, a shield.

In fact, perhaps the best known of this kind of prayer is called “St Patrick’s Breastplate.”  As a musical setting of the prayer plays, you’re invited to come forward to place a piece of broken glass on the cross.  Every Sunday in Lent, we’ll be adding more pieces of broken glass.  The completed cross will be revealed on Easter Sunday.

Because we’ve got several more weeks to go, the invitation is to take just one piece of glass.  If we end up with lots of empty space on Palm Sunday, we can add more pieces to fill up the spaces.  For now, just take one, put a dab of glue on it, and place it anywhere on the cross above the blue tape.

As you come, the invitation is to practice feeling safe with God.  Remind yourself that no matter what’s going on in your life, no matter how vexing, or perplexing, or trying, or awful, or joyful your life’s circumstances, still, always, Christ is before you, Christ is behind you, Christ is above you, Christ is to your left, Christ is to your right, Christ is in you.

Come.  Bring your broken pieces to the cross.  And feel yourself surrounded by, protected by God’s loving embrace.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bAKFyGaWvk

In the name of our God, who stands before us, who stands behind us, who hovers above us, who is to our right, who is to our left, and who lives in our hearts—Amen.

 

Kimberleigh Buchanan  © 2016



Daily Devotion – February 22, 2016

Psalm 63:1-8

 

  1. Oh God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
  2. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
  3. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
  4. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
  5. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
  6. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
  7. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
  8. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

 

Psalm 63 expresses among the most heartfelt yearning for and devotion to the Divine. The psalmist attributes these lines to David, during his desert wanderings. The psalm goes beyond solemn formalized praise; rather these verses bespeak the same desire and longing a lover has for his beloved.

 

Today, personal devotion to the Unseen Divine is hard to find between the formless secularism of society and established religions with their “worship-our-way-or-the-highway” mentality. Though I was raised to seek a personal relationship with Christ, I’ve long felt that the rigid creeds and worldly politics in many church communities have set Christ out of reach. I am blessed in that an Otherworldly Love broke through my despair and willful rationalism.  Given my lifelong loneliness for female companionship, this Spirit revealed itself to me in a form I could love with a passion much like that expressed in Psalm 63.

 

Prayer –

 

Oh Goddess my love! Whole-heartedly I seek you!

My life’s-breath longs for you! My body thirsts for you!

In a desolate, dry land where there is no water.

Because your love sustains my life, my lips will praise you!

I will attune my life’s-breath in your song

For all the days as my heart beats its rhythm!



Daily Devotion – February 21, 2016

Psalm 27:13-14

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord    in the land of the living.  14 Wait for the Lord;    be strong, and let your heart take courage;    wait for the Lord!

 

Devotion by Anne Mooney

These are David’s words of hope at the end of a psalm in which he has proclaimed his fears about dangers that surround him. I don’t know what exactly those dangers are, but I know David faced a host of them throughout his life. He fought lions and bears, giants, armies, and even his own son. He struggled with his personal crimes and weaknesses. Yet he never gave up his hope and trust in God. He accepted whatever situation he found himself in. He owned up to his limitations and mistakes. He sought God’s guidance and forgiveness, then trusted and hoped for better times ahead.

David is a role model for me. I do not easily accept my own faults and I frequently struggle with situations that I wish were different. I wind up stuck and miserable. My circumstances and attitude change when I shift my thinking to remember God’s goodness, grace, and wisdom. I remember that I have felt despair many times, but I have lived through it and even thrived in spite of it. It is reassuring to read David’s words. My feelings and challenges are validated, and I also receive the gift of hope.

 

Prayer:

Dear God, Thank you for the gift of David’s Psalms. They are reminders that I do not struggle alone. They offer hope in times of crisis and despair. I need hope, God. Amen



Daily Devotion – February 20, 2016

Psalm 27:1

 

Triumphant Song of Confidence

Of David.    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear. The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Reflection by Monty Wyne

There are times I think of myself as a child. I think we all do this and if we don’t we should. For a child is innocent, defenseless, vulnerable and at times alone in a world we adults can’t relate to or understand anymore because we have put that stage of our lives behind us. We’ve moved on.

Why do I think of myself as a child? To gain a perspective on humanity, to test myself, to uncover my strengths and weaknesses, to stand alone in a world of uncertainty, treachery and deceit, knowing there is also goodness and mercy.

But in those times I really feel vulnerable, I feel like a child even though I’m an adult. But when I read a passage from the Bible that says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear,” I am bolstered; my waning confidence and self-respect are restored. If ever there was a passage in the Bible that gave me strength and conviction, it is this one. It confirms my faith and my belief in God and his Son and it couldn’t have come at a better time for I am feeling vulnerable and forsaken, alone and disregarded.

Yet, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Prayer: 

Dearest God,

I shall keep the words of this passage close to me, as I sort through this period of uncertainty and I am confronted by self-doubt for I know You are with me.

Amen



Daily Devotion – February 19, 2016
02.19.16

Luke 13:34-35

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Devotion by Jim Kennedy

This verse is known as the Lament over Jerusalem. The lament was tinged with great sadness. Jerusalem had already been the place where prophets had been killed and where early Christian witnesses were martyred.

At first sight, the verse seems to imply that Jesus had been in the city previously, and that his ministry there had been rejected. From the beginning of his ministry, the leadership in Jerusalem had been involved in provoking people to reject him and his ministry. After all Jesus’ ministry was that God was all, contrary to the ministry of the Roman Empire that the emperor was divine and all.
Jesus’ prophetic ministry in the face of power was a dangerous activity that jeopardized the lives of those who spoke the truth of God’s kingdom to the Roman powers that be. Jesus was no exception. But what was surprising was Jesus’ reaction. He characterized the city as killing prophets and apostles but his response was the compassion of a mother. Jesus longed to gather Jerusalem under his wings.

Jesus longed to comfort those who rejected him. He envisioned Jerusalem as a brood of vulnerable chicks in need of their mother’s protection and longed to offer the same protection, salvation, to the very city where he would die. Unfortunately, Jerusalem also had a longing. The city did not want to be gathered under the salvation of Jesus.
Jerusalem’s refusal to be gathered by Jesus was not without consequences. The city was described as abandoned and unable to see Jesus until the day when they received the one who came in the name of the Lord.

Although a large crowd of Jesus’ disciples did shout this same passage when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, Jerusalem itself became the place of Jesus’ death. Those who rejected Jesus’ compassionate offer of salvation, deliverance, and healing, found their city rejected, abandoned, and left to its own devices. And the city was soon destroyed in CE 70.
The rejection of Jesus’ ministry came with consequences of our own choosing. Jesus’ longing was to have compassion, but his longing had to be met by our own longing for salvation, deliverance, and healing. We must be blessed and truly come in the name of the Lord giving all the love and compassion and forgiveness to others that the Lord has given us.

 

Prayer:
Dear Lord I pray that I may heed your call to the ministry of Jesus and not to the ministry of the siren calls of the secular life so that in the end I won’t be destroyed.



Daily Devotion – February 17, 2016
02.17.16
Luke 4:2-13
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ‘
 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.” ‘
 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you”,
and
“On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ‘
Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ‘ When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. 
Reflection by Janet Derby
 
I sometimes have trouble recognizing the true humanity of Jesus. So my first reaction to this story is to think that the devil just didn’t have a chance. Then I looked at it again from a very human perspective. Jesus was off in the wilderness trying to prepare himself for his life of ministry. He is famished. Little wonder that he would look at those stones and think about turning them into bread. I imagine I would have been thinking of turning some water into wine as well. Looking ahead to the difficult task of showing God’s love to a world filled with corruption and injustice, I can also certainly understand why he would question his path and wish for an easy way. Yet, he resists those temptations by reminding himself of his understanding of God’s word. While not mentioned in this passage, I think that the proclamation of God’s approval from his baptism just prior to this had to be in his mind as well as the Scriptures he had learned all his life. I believe this is why it is so important for us to steep ourselves (and our children and youth) in the good news of God’s love. When temptation occurs and we are in the wilderness, it is vital that the messages that “God’s light shines in us” and that “God has loved us, loves us now, and will always love us” exist in the core of our being.
Prayer
Affirming God, help us to surround ourselves with the good news of your love so that in times of trial, that message returns to aid us. Amen.