05-22-18

Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 13:13
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Thought for the Day: This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday, an important Sunday on the Church Calendar. It makes sense that we celebrate the Trinity at this time of the year as we have seen a lot of activity among the three persons of the Trinity in the last six weeks. Jesus was crucified, and then raised by the Father (God), and then after the ascension of Jesus, the Spirit was given on Pentecost. There is no doubt that scripture presents these three unique expression of the divine, but at no point is there a section of the Bible that clearly explains how we are to understand their relationship and connection. In the above words from 2nd Corinthians, it sounds as if each of them has a very specific role or job, but Trinitarian theology emphasizes how they are one. Does this mean they are one in essence, but unique in their tasks? Does it mean that they are one in everything, but for the sake of getting the jobs done, they have made assignments? If so, can Jesus also do the fellowship part, and the Holy Spirit the love part? I offer you this devotional today to begin your thinking on the topic before we gather on Sunday. What do you believe about the Trinity? What do you not understand? Do you find the whole thing to be nonsense? Some pretty well respected Christians have come to that conclusion, so you wouldn’t be alone if you did. I hope you will make it to worship this Sunday to continue the conversation. 

Prayer: Come, O Holy God – the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Allow us to know you and to experience the beauty and richness of the divine life. Amen.

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05-21-18

Prayer for the Week: A Spirit of love and power has descended upon us, but are we receptive? The season of Pentecost is upon us, and we call upon you, O Gracious God, to continue to pour your empowering gifts into our lives. The church – your community upon the earth – needs to be inspired and emboldened to continue to live as Jesus has taught. The world around us is self-centered, materialistic, judgmental and spiteful. Such values are everywhere we look, and this unhealthiness too often infiltrates your representatives to the world. We need your help, O Lord, if we are going to be a radical alternative. Empower us to speak to children, to youth, to the elderly, to all those in between, and to anyone else who is caught in a world that encourages self-destructive and community-eroding behavior. Allow the fire of the Spirt to burn away all the unnecessary garbage. Allow for the Spirit-filled wind to blow away everything that keeps us from following faithfully. We desire, O Gracious Redeemer, to be a Pentecost Church, born of the Spirit and continually filled with the Spirit. Amen.


 

05-20-18

Scripture: Matthew 14:15
When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

Thought for the Day: Jesus taught and showed his disciples what compassion and generosity looked like, but the moment they were called upon to demonstrate it themselves, they asked Jesus if it was ok to send the crowd away. I imagine the disciples frustrated Jesus on more than one occasion, yet Jesus knew that the Spirit was coming. Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate the gift of the Spirit coming upon the first disciples and giving birth to the church. After Pentecost, I’m sure the disciples made mistakes, acted foolishly, and even had some outright failures. Yet something changed in that moment! Through the gift of the Spirit, their vision and mission was all about others. Those disciples were willing to risk everything for the sake of the Gospel of Love.

Prayer: We call upon you, O Holy and Transformative Spirit. We ask for the change seen among those first disciples – a change of attitude and perspective – a change from self-centered to self-sacrificing. Come, Holy Spirit, and make the change. Amen.

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05-19-18

Scripture: Acts 7:30-31
Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight;

Thought for the Day: Rob Bell asserts that the Burning Bush that Moses encountered had always been burning – there was just something in that moment that made Moses recognize the fire. I believe Rob is onto something important here. The burning power of the Spirit is forever present to us, but so often we are wearing our fire retardant and heat resistance  clothing in the form of low expectation, disappointment and pessimism. We do not experience the heat or take notice of the Spirit’s consuming power because the last thing we expect in the moment is the Holy. It is time for the body of Christ to allow the Spirit, who is present whether we recognize it or not, to do its thing.

Prayer: May I recognize your presence, O Holy One, working to shape my life that I might help you change the world. Amen.

See You Tomorrow

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05-18-18

Scripture: Acts 2:2-6
Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. The disciples saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages.

Thought for the Day: A colleague of mine, Rev. Erin Wathen, noted a study by the Pew Research folks who found that 72% of mainline protestants, 69% of Catholics, and 91% of evangelicals say that they believe in God. You may need to reread those statistics as I did, for they are telling us exactly what you think they might be telling us — 28% of mainline Protestants, 31% of Catholics and 9% of evangelicals say they do not believe in God. I know some of you are asking, “How exactly does that work?” I don’t want to pretend as if I have answer, as there are probably multiple answers, but in my limited experience, I find that a lot uncertainty about God or outright rejection has more to do with theology. It’s not just bad theology, but horrific theology that seems to encapsulate everything that Jesus stood against. Borrowing the words of many others, I don’t believe in that God either… I don’t believe in a God who promotes violence, greed, discrimination, environmental exploitation, etc. 

As the Spirit moved upon the disciples on that Pentecost Day, it came with power – a new kind of power, the power reflected in the life of Jesus. It empowered those disciples with humility, grace, compassion, mercy and gentleness. For many people, that doesn’t sound like power, but there lies the problem. For far too long, we have allowed worldly values to attach themselves to our insecurities for the purpose of reinventing Jesus as one who encouraged and gave blessing to destructive power that is imposed upon people instead of the life-giving power found in self-sacrificing love. Maybe I’m naive, but I believe strongly that if those church-going atheists saw more of the Pentecost Power manifest in humility, grace, compassion, mercy and gentleness, they would glimpse a God that just might be worthy of belief.

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, and make yourself known to us. Teach us, not as the world would teach us, but as the life of Jesus continues to teach and inform who we are. Come, Holy Spirit, and allow us for us to be a reflection of your enteral and grace-filled presence. Amen.

Plan To Attend
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05-17-18

Scripture: Acts 2:1-3
When Pentecost Day arrived, the disciples were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them.

Thought for the Day: A while back, I mentioned Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, and I described her as an Episcopal Priest. That was wrong, and I apologize for the mistake. She is a Lutheran pastor. A few years back, this Lutheran pastor preached a Pentecost sermon in which she said:

…the Spirit, while called the comforter, does not bring the warm chocolate chip cookies and a night-night story kind of comfort.  The Spirit brings the comfort of the truth – and if you’ve had any experience of the truth whatsoever you can testify that it’s not exactly cozy.

When the Spirit made the dramatic and powerful appearance among the disciples, everything  changed, and though we try to romanticize the event, it put most of those disciples on a path toward martyrdom. They say that Pentecost is the birthday of the church, but this birthday party is not just about getting another year older. It is about facing the challenging and somewhat discomforting truth about our lives needing some pretty dramatic changes if we are going to follow in the way of the Spirit. As we approach Pentecost Sunday, let us be mindful of how the Spirit of truth is provoking us toward greater faithfulness…a journey that is not all ice cream and birthday cake.

Prayer: Let the Spirit work upon me and within me. O Holy One of the Universe, allow for the Pentecost experience to renovate my life that I might live more closely in the ways of Jesus. Amen.

Don’t Miss Pentecost Sunday

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