Blog
Daily Devotion – May 26, 2018
05.26.18

John 17:6-10

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

Reflection by Lynne Buell

At this point in time, God’s work through Jesus had been accomplished—not throughout the world—but through a handful of followers.  Jesus was more than a mortal man.  Jesus was the divine Son of God sent to save us from our sins.  While Jesus’ death was tragic, His death was part of God’s plan.

This scripture appears to be a prayer from Jesus for His supporters and disciples as His time on earth had come to an end.  It is a reminder, thousands of years later, that we must continue to learn about and spread the Word of God; that this is the good news as it is a firm foundation for our existence.

Don’t turn away from God, especially during difficult times.  God’s love for us overpowers evils in our world.  After all these years, God continues to love and protect us.



Daily Devotion – May 24, 2018
05.24.18

Isaiah 6:1-5

A Vision of God in the Temple

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’

The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

Who am I to say what Isaiah saw or didn’t see? Maybe he saw exactly what he has described in this scripture. Perhaps he isn’t sure if it was a daydream or an aspiration or reality, but felt he should share in any case. Perhaps he is telling a story to make a point. Let’s skip the debate of whether the seraphs existed as described and try to figure out the objective of the story.

Most of scripture is written to substantiate and support a set of beliefs, or they are written to influence thinking and behavior. I believe this is written to influence thinking. Fairly common beliefs back then were that you had to be a spiritual scholar and hold a lofty position in the church to testify God’s existence. Those in power benefited by keeping their power exclusive to those they chose to let in. They created obstacles and hurdles for others to help maintain their exclusivity of power.

Isaiah is cracking open the curtain here. He is stating that one doesn’t need to be perfect to gain audience with God. This is a radical notion. People don’t need go-betweens. People don’t have to be Holy. God can reveal Himself to anyone. Has God revealed Himself to you? Have you been looking for God?

 

Prayer

Dear God. Continue to reveal yourself to all us. Forgive our unclean lips and show mercy on us. In God’s name I pray. Amen.



Daily Devotion – May 22, 2018
05.22.18

Psalm 29:7-11

The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.

The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.

And all in His temple cry, “Glory!”

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

the Lord is enthroned as King forever.

The Lord gives strength to his people;

the Lord blesses His people with peace.

 

 

Reflection by Darlene Wagner

 

The psalmist here takes comfort in the poetic comparison of the Divine voice to a desert lightning storm or a forest-leveling tornado. As part of a marginalized, often oppressed people, Jewish communities needed the reassurance of a protecting Warrior-King. In my life, however, I’m not sure if the lightning-and-whirlwind, Warrior-King meets my needs at this time. I empathize more with the oak trees and forests which endure the winds and storms. In a society rife with human-made disaster and human-made hatred, I seek to be led by the silent, peaceable steadfastness of the hardy oaks on the mountaintops.

 

Meditation:

 

Sit, listen, let the Lone Oak teach you.

Ostracized from others, she found recompense

In full, unshaded sunlight as she grew.

With great limbs spreading grander than the dense

confines her fellow trees allow, she shelters

berry bushes, ferns, and flowers;

Her acorns feed squirrels, bear, and deer

Her branches hum wise words for human ears:

“Sit, breathe, and rest, raise up your arms as I

raise my limbs upward trusting rain and light!”

 



Daily Devotion – May 19, 2018
05.19.18

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.’

 

Devotion by Rev. Krista

I love today’s scripture.  In the scripture we witness persons with diverse backgrounds coming together, with one thing in common: they wanted to worship God.  They were all gathered in one place, the Aramaic-speaking natives were with Greek-speaking persons, all cultures and all ethnicities praising God, together!  I love this scripture.  As we review today’s text, look at how many cultures were represented and came together to speak of God’s power.  There were some who witnessed this in unbelief and they continued to be negative, but that did not stop those who gathered together to give God praise!  Oh, I love this scripture!

Since the early existence of the church, there has been a desire, and perhaps a need, for diverse people to come together just to worship and praise God.  To bring our total and completely different selves together in the same space, and worship the One who created each person to be different and to be celebrated.  Sadly, for over 200 years ‘different’ was enslaved, ‘different’ was marginalized, ‘different’ was labeled and ‘different’ was viewed as less than.  Yet, I still love this scripture because it reminds us all that ‘different’ was intentionally introduced as an expression of joy and is worthy to be praised.  We celebrate the existence of difference when we come together to worship God, in spirit and in truth.  Go through this day looking at the differences of others, in our families and among strangers that we may see, and begin to worship God right at that moment!

 



Daily Devotion – May 17, 2018
05.17.18

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 Janet Derby

Ask if anyone would like to lead the prayer in a group of people, and there will be a lot of downcast eyes, mine often included. Many years ago, my friend Margie, told our Bible study group that she was determined to give the blessing at her family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Her husband, wanting to encourage her, announced proudly that she would lead the prayer. She froze up and could only come up with, “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food”. I still laugh when I think of that story, but we all get it. Finding what we believe are the right words to pray is not easy, but this Scripture reminds us that it doesn’t matter what words we say or if we say no words at all. The Spirit knows what we feel and intercedes for us. Yesterday, I learned of the tragic death of a teacher with whom I worked for several years. As I tried to pray for his children, I was grateful that my sighs were sufficient pleas to God.

Prayer:
Understanding God,
Thank you for recognizing my sighs when words cannot express by thoughts. Amen.



Daily Devotion – May 16, 2018

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and 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.  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. 

Romans 8:22-25

Reflection by Matthew Alexander

Waiting and being patient has never been my thing.   I remember when I first became aware of this.   It was during a family vacation to Disney World one year.  I was elementary school age, the day was hot, I was told it was July, and I had come to my wits end with the heat and standing in one line after another.  My nerves had been tested as I waited in line for an hour or more for each ride to finally make it to the Promised Land, sit in the seat, get comfortable, ride, and let out a quick scream and then be asked to get off the ride only to walk to another line to stand in and repeat the process.  Despite Disney World being known as the happiest place on earth, I was anything but happy.   I was tired of waiting and I had reached my breaking point as I started to let my parents know about it.

We did not go on many vacations as a kid.  Mostly, it was because my dad had to work a lot and did not choose to spend his money on “fancy and expensive” vacations like Disney World.  So, to be there for vacation was a big deal.  My father was already anxious about being there since in his mind he was spending money instead of making money at work.  Therefore, he did not take kindly to my mumbling, my attitude and my overall displeasure with the lines at Disney World.  To say hell broke loose was an understatement.  Dad, who was known to have a short fuse, threatened to pack us up all in the car immediately and drive us home.  Meanwhile, mom was attempting to negotiate peace between my dad and I and my brother cried because he did not want to leave because we had not gotten to ride Space Mountain yet.  We were all fighting with each other and it felt like the whole park was watching us fight.  Cooler heads did eventually prevail and we stayed, although most of the rest of that day was spent not saying much to each other.

Like I said, patience is not my thing.  Even to this day, I have to take lots of deep breaths when I am waiting.  With bigger issues, like with my wife’s recent cancer treatment, I am not much different.  I have to constantly center myself in God’s presence as we (my family) wait for it to be over.   It drives me crazy the waiting.  I hope that everything will turn out ok and that more treatment won’t be necessary.  I hope that the cancer has not spread.  I hope that nothing like this ever happens again.  I am anxious.  I want to get through standing in this line quickly so that we can reach the Promised Land, be comfortable, enjoy the ride and let out a loud scream.  Until then, we wait.

In my hopeful waiting I am learning, as difficult as it is some days, to rest in the day, give thanks for all that I have and trust in the fruits of kindness, gentleness AND patience.  I hope that just as promised redemption will be the reward for my waiting.

Prayer:

Be with us, O Lord, as we learn to wait.  Give us spirits that are kind, grateful, and gentle as we hope for the adoption and redemption of our bodies.  Life makes it difficult to live with such patience, so be patient with us also.  Amen

 



Daily Devotion – May 15, 2018
05.15.18

Psalm 104:31-34

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

Reflection by Ellen Green

I encourage you read Psalm 104 from the beginning today. The verses leading up to our reading inventory the diversity of creation, emphasizing God’s special care to sustain life by providing for the needs of each plant and creature. It’s a picture of generosity. The hand of God is not clenched, but rather open and free. It is notable that the psalmist thinks of God as rejoicing in this work. It seems that creating you and me and the conditions for our flourishing is not and obligation or a chore, but an act of gratuitous delight.

 

I believe that God invites us to participate in the continuing work of creation and care. This psalm reminds me of the spirit in which that work should be done. If we truly follow God’s lead, it will be suffused with generosity and joy.

 

Prayer

Creator God, let me look upon the world with eyes like yours today, remembering that abundance and delight are our source and purpose. Amen. 

 



Daily Devotion – May 13, 2018
05.14.18

Acts 1:21–26

So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’ So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Reflection by Janet Derby

The disciples have started to move forward. They understand it is important to fill the void left by Judas, so after praying, they choose Matthias. Personally, I would have recruited them both, but they wanted to stay with twelve. We don’t hear any more about Matthias after he is chosen, but I am sure he went about his ministry quietly and faithfully. (A good candidate for a Dr. of Friendship award!) We are all called to share the good news with others in varying ways. Today at Pilgrimage, we celebrate Christian Education Sunday, and thank our volunteers who help make us all, from the youngest to the oldest, better disciples of Christ. While it is the end of the traditional Sunday school year, Christian education does not stop during the summer. There are many opportunities for this ministry, from helping in the nursery, to Children’s time in Worship, Little Lambs, and Vacation Bible School. Is God calling you, like Matthias to apostleship?

Prayer:

Spirit of God,
Thank you for all who have taught us about your love and the good news of salvation. Help us to find ways to go make a difference to others in whatever way we are called. Amen.



Daily Devotion – May 11, 2018
05.11.18

Psalm 1 Verses 4-6

Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

Devotion by Laurie Spencer

 

The first three verses of Psalm 1 sing the praises of godly people and tells all the good stuff that’s going to happen to them. That’s the team I want to be on! How about you?

 

But then we move on to verses 4-6 and we find out that all the wicked people are in for a rough ride to destruction. Clearly we don’t want to be on that team.  But we each might know somebody who might qualify for the wicked team.  You know, that ‘other guy.’

 

The question I grapple with when reading the first six verses together, is who is 100% good?  And who Is completely 100% bad? These versus leave no wiggle room for the nature of humanity. For there is good and bad in all of God’s children. When I was a member of the Unitarian Church of Rockville, Maryland in the early 90s we had an extraordinary minister, Reverend Sarah Moores Campbell. Sarah started every worship service with this beautiful saying:

 

“There is no human being who does not carry a treasure in the soul;

a moment of insight,

a memory of life,

a dream of excellence,

a call to worship.”

 

When Sarah left to go onto a different congregation we all received a beautiful calligraphy copy of her quote.  It has been framed in my home for the last 27 years.

 

I struggled with what to write about verses 4-6 of Psalm 1 until I remembered my treasured framed copy of Sarah’s quote. This phrase, I realize, has formed my faith. I am compelled to look at all six verses together and know that we are all on the good team and we are all on the wicked team.  Even the most damaged can be redeemed and the most holy can fall.

 

Prayer

Father, Mother God, loving me, forgive my sins.  Help me to be the best person that I can be.  And help me to love all my fellow human beings.

 



Daily Devotion – May 8, 2018
05.08.18

 

John 17:11-19

And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

Here Jesus is speaking to God on behalf of believers. Just as Jesus was lifted out of the physical world to enter heaven, He is asking God to do the same for those who follow Him. How awesome is it to know that Jesus is putting in a good word for us! Who better to have God’s ear than Jesus! Although I don’t want to rush into heaven hastily, I know that God has a place reserved for me and that comforts me.

 

Prayer

Dear God. When my time comes, I look forward to being with you and all of the saints that have passed before me. Thank you, God. Amen.