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Daily Devotion – June 19, 2018
06.20.18

2 Corinthians 6:3-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.11 We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. 12 There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. 13 In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

Devotion by Victoria Owens

Sometimes, when I read the letters of Paul, I get an image in my head of a beleaguered Conference Minister (or, from my former traditions, a District Superintendent or Executive Presbyter.) He sits at his computer composing a message; greeting, encouraging, cajoling, admonishing, now expressing frustration, now expressing love and joy. Those pesky church folks in Corinth! What IS it with them? They have so much potential! If only they would just get on with it and persevere! The small stuff is getting them down again when there’s ministry to do, and an abundant life to be experienced in the doing!

In biblical literature of this genre—not much like a psalm or a story or a proverb—it’s tempting to draw a weak parallel to our day (computer?) and intone some platitude about what God wants or would have us do. Like I know. Oops.

Buried in this list of “sufferings” that seems meant to encourage lies a hidden gem, something to latch on to and take into meditation:

We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. 12 There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. 13 In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

That is the New Revised Standard translation of the Greek. But here it is in Eugene Peterson’s Message version:

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

So here’s a weak parallel anyway, as we at PUCC live into our future: in our “sufferings” of transition and search for a new pastor and a new way of being church, maybe we should heed Paul, opening wide our hearts, and fulfill his longing. It might be God’s longing after all.

We pray, O God, for your help in opening our lives and our hearts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

PS: just for fun, here’s the King James Version. Bowels?

O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.13 Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

 

 



Daily Devotion – June 17, 2018
06.18.18

Isaiah 43:19

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

Reflection by Janet Derby

Isaiah tells us that despite how bleak the world around us seems, God will bring forth new life and hope. If you doubt that, spend a week with children. Vacation Bible School this week was full of energy (sometimes more than we could handle). Every morning I was greeted with joy and hugs (you can’t get enough hugs from these children!). The children learned Bible stories, they made lunches and decorated pencil cases for other children, and gifts for the volunteers. Along the way, they made us smile and laugh and gave us new insights into God’s word. No matter how hopeless the world may seem at times, the children remind us that God will make a river in the desert.
It is not just the children who show God’s love springing forth. The support that Pilgrimage has given to our VBS program over the years has been tremendous. The first year I agreed to lead the VBS program, an incredible 15 years ago, I was told that we might have ten children come. I was given some leftover crafts from my prior church’s VBS, convinced my children and some friends to add to the helpers from the church, bought snacks from Costco, and somehow put together a program for an unexpected 28 children. Since then, we have begun creating our own curriculum, designing t-shirts, doing mission projects, and having snack wizards who provide theme-based treats for the children. Our numbers over the years have ranged from 17 to 44, with countless volunteers helping in a variety of ways. God has clearly made a new thing spring forth from Pilgrimage.

Prayer:
Renewing God, thank you for this week of boundless energy and caring for others, both from the children and the volunteers. Help us to carry that energy into a world that needs new things to spring forth. Amen.



Daily Devotion – June 15, 2018
06.15.18
Matthew 3:13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Reflection by Ellen Green
In Matthew’s gospel, this scene is the first time the reader encounters the adult Jesus. It’s the point of transition between the narrative of his birth and a life of active teaching and healing as God’s Messiah. In other words, this is the moment that changes everything. Of course, the circumstances are Jesus’ birth have already revealed to us that he is the Son of God. It seems that Jesus’ baptism is a turning point not because it changes who he is, but because it changes who he believes himself to be.
I wonder how Jesus understood himself and his purpose in life before the heavens were opened and the Spirit broke in so clearly. In any case, Matthew describes what the notes in my Bible call a surge of self-understanding. And it is this new self-understanding that prompts Jesus to come into his power, making a radical break from his past and entering the wilderness.
In the poem “The Meeting,” Jane Hirschfield writes,
“I, at times, have looked my fate in the face
and acknowledged nothing.”
I confess that I, too, have been called God’s beloved but shied away from living into the life that entails. What would it look like to accept God’s blessing and live into it fully?
Prayer
In-breaking Spirit, speak to me again your words of love. Give me clarity and courage to live in continuous relationship with You. Amen.


Daily Devotion – June 13, 2018
06.13.18

Joshua 3:14-4:7

When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing towards the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.
When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, and command them, “Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.” ’Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. Joshua said to them, ‘Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, “What do those stones mean to you?” then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.’

Reflection by Janet Derby

Today is the third day of VBS. Some of our children and volunteers are new to us this year, some have been around quite a while. I had some conversations yesterday about past Vacation Bible Schools. We talked about the year we planted the rosemary which has grown into a bush. We mentioned a prior time when we discussed the story of baby Moses from a different perspective. Like today’s story of Joshua and the Israelites building a memorial to guarantee that the people would always remember God’s saving grace, so do we build memories for the children of our community to help them navigate the world ahead of them. I am grateful for all those who support our efforts to create this firm foundation of faith.

Prayer:

Amazing God, thank you for all those who have told us the stories of your love and deliverance and those who continue to ensure that the story continues to be told. Help us to build on that foundation and spread your love to the world. Amen.



Daily Devotion – June 11, 2018
06.11.18

John 4:5 – 15

 

So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

 

Devotion by Laurie Spencer

There are so many ways of looking at the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. There are commentaries written on every aspect you can imagine. I did some reading on how much bad blood there was between the Jews in the Samaritans. They held a long history of power plays, captivity, slavery… but in this story there are just two people.  One Jew, Jesus, and the Samaritan woman. Of course she’s very surprised when he, a Jewish man, asks her for a drink of water. Jesus is crossing over accepted lines to reach out to this Samaritan. He is given the opportunity to share, one on one, the knowledge that he has of the Almighty God and the water that will sustain her forever.

Our lives are full of opportunities for us to reach out to those that are different from us. To individuals we don’t know and might be afraid to connect with. A drink of water, some money, a testimony of our faith to encourage them, a hug, a place to lay their head.

On that day at the well Jesus showed us how easy it is to start a conversation that can be life-changing.

 

Prayer

Father, Mother God, loving me, open my eyes to the opportunity to connect with those people with whom I am not familiar.  Give me the opportunity to share love and encouragement.

 



Daily Devotion – June 8, 2018
06.09.18

1 Samuel 8:16-20

He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’

 

Reflection by Duke Yaguchi

 

This scripture is a continuation of yesterday’s. Reread yesterday’s devotion for the context.

Here Samuel has continued to plead to the people of Israel to follow God and warns them that if they put too much faith in a human king, that king will take advantage of them. But the masses want to be like other nations. If it’s good enough for Egypt, it is good enough for them.

Samuel warns them that if their king turns against the people, God will not be there to save them, since they have turned their backs on God.

Thousands of years ago, people were placing too much faith in their “elected” leaders hoping they would “fight our battles”. In some ways, humankind hasn’t progressed much. Don’t we still elect leaders hoping they will fix everything for us?

Perhaps we all need to listen to Samuel’s warnings and back God, instead of turning our backs on God.

 

Prayer

Dear God. We moan and groan and wonder why our government doesn’t fix everything. Help us learn that the first step is to pray for guidance from you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.



Daily Devotion – June 7, 2018
06.07.18

1 Samuel 8:4-11

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots;

Devotion by Julia shiver

The elders of Israel are not only rejecting Samuel, but are also rejecting God’s kinship over them.  They are tired of the status quo, even if it has been serving well.  They want something new and different.  Maybe they are looking for the security and stability they think having a king will bring them.

Samuel tries to warn them.  Be careful what you ask for!  Do you really know what you are getting by turning yourselves over to a king?  What happens when we try to put someone or something over our lives, instead of the God who knows us and loves us?  Have you given up God’s reign in your life in order to have perceived security and stability?

Dear God,  Please search my heart and help me know when I am not putting you first in my life.  Amen.

 



Daily Devotion – June 6, 2018
06.06.18

 Mark 3:31-35

 

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’

 

Reflection by Lynne Buell

I immediately thought of the Pilgrimage community after I read this scripture.  I suppose it depends on how we view the term “family values.”  While some have a close, loving relationship with kin, others are estranged from family for one reason or another.  Every Sunday our church welcomes folks regardless of the relationship they have with their immediate families.  At Pilgrimage, we are a family who gathers on Sunday to learn and become good followers of the principles set down by Jesus.  Was Jesus snubbing his immediate family?  No, I didn’t get that from this passage.  I believe Jesus was establishing a fact that we are all a part of an extended family.

 

Prayer:

I am blessed and give thanks for my extended family.  Amen.     

 



Daily Devotion – June 5, 2018

Mark 3:20-30

 

Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law

 

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family[a] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

 

Devotion by Laurie Spencer

 

There were great demands on Jesus at this time and he was surrounded by crowds and confusion.  Though he had gathered his disciples around him and his family tried to shield him, still people wanted to be cured of diseases on one side and the scribes from Jerusalem were berating and called him names. So he calmed himself down and spoke in a parable that was clear and had a logical message.

In the heat of things, when drama surrounds us and we start losing control, we can try to use the strength and discipline that Jesus uses here to calm down and speak our message clearly and logically.

 

Prayer

Father, Mother God, loving me, help me to communicate honestly and clearly, especially in times of confusion and high emotion. 



Daily Devotion – June 4, 2018
06.04.18

Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods.

I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.

I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed

    by all the honor of your name.

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.

Every king in all the earth will thank you, Lord, for all of them will hear your words.

Yes, they will sing about the Lord’s ways, for the glory of the Lord is very great.

Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.

Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.

You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.

The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.

Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

 

Devotion by Chris Shiver

I am thankful for the way that God is working through our church now.  Even though it is a time of uncertainty and transition, with many unanswered questions about the way forward, our congregation is stepping forward to meet the challenges and seek the right path.  Today we had a work day to help keep the NGH functional, and many stepped forward to work hard on a hot day.  It has been a blessing to me that whenever I have spoken out to the congregation about a Properties need the right persons have consistently stepped forward to serve, and it’s not always the same people.  And I have seen that when others have expressed a need that there is usually a helpful response.  I believe that we see how God is at work amongst us when we each step forward to do what we can.

 

My Prayer:

Jesus, I pray that I will hear when you are calling me to step forward.  I also thank you that I have been given the privilege of worshiping in a community of faithful people.  Amen.