Scripture: 1st John 3:18
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
Thought for the Day: After yesterday’s devotional, I have been stirring around the phrase reckless love as a way of describing the life and death of Jesus. As an odd side note, I have come to learn that Reckless Love was the name of a Finnish Heavy Metal Band. Aside from that rather unimportant note, I have been thinking about how loving in truth and action requires recklessness, or at least what might appear to be reckless in the minds of most. To tell the truth when it is unpopular or to act when it is highly demanding can be reckless for one’s popularity or profession. It can place a heavy demand on one’s bank account, reduce the hours one sleeps and even put a person among those our current society might be demonizing. It sure appears reckless, though there is a point to it – to follow the call of Jesus, to embody his love and to make him real for others.
Prayer: I do not follow Christ Jesus to increase my popularity. I follow him because of your gracious invitation, O Lord. It is the way to life – true life – that just might feel impulsive and rash at times. But if even one person can encounter your amazing love, then every risk is worth it. Amen.
Lenten Soup For The Soul
Scripture: 1st John 3:16
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
Thought for the Day: There is an older book by Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, entitled: The Reckless Way of Love – Notes on Following Jesus. I have always strangely appreciated the word reckless as it helps move us away from the easy understandings of love. In referring to the love of Jesus as reckless, I have used it for the purpose of grabbing people’s attention. It is not soft or feel good, but unnerving. To be reckless suggests we let go of control and slip into the arena of risk and exposure. Yet after taking the time to reread both the Psalms and the Gospel of Matthew recently, I feel as if reckless is not just a wake-up call. To be reckless is to throw caution to the wind when it comes to the concern one feels for others. It is to show no concern for self if what we do can demonstrate genuine love for another. Jesus was reckless, and it got him killed. I’m not suggesting we should be reckless for the sake of recklessness, but when it comes to telling the world about Jesus, maybe a bit more recklessness would be good if emulating Jesus is our desired end.
Prayer: You may not use the word reckless, Mighty God, but in Jesus you showed little concern for self. The fullness of the divine nature took on the form of a humble servant and chose to risk everything for our sake. Thank you for showing us the true meaning of love. Amen.
Have You Prayed
For Your Church
Scripture: Matthew 11:28
And Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Thought for the Day: A great Buddhist teacher once wrote, “View all problems as challenges. Look upon negatives that arise as opportunities to learn and grow. Don’t run from them, condemn yourself, or bury your burden in saintly silence.” Those closing words about ‘saintly silence’ have alway stood out. There are many people who believe their burdens are personal, and to deal with them Lone Ranger style is what faithful people do. Both Jesus and Paul spoke about the power of the faith community to assist us in carrying the burdens of life. We need spiritual friends who will come alongside with a willingness to share in the struggles of life. Don’t carry your burdens in saintly silence. The saints didn’t!
Prayer: As the old hymn says, “I am weak but you are strong,” and yes, Lord, I believe you love me, and through the body of Christ, you will be my strength. Amen.
Meeting Again This Wednesday
Scripture: Ephesians 5:1-2
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Thought for the Day: We are invited to be imitators of God, yet how exactly are we to imitate the Exalted One? This is where Jesus comes in handy as his life is a bit more accessible for imitating. Of course, what we see in Jesus is not necessarily what we would choose to imitate. Imitating Jesus would require us to love in such a way that we too could be executed for the rebellious nature of this love. Most people are much more comfortable with a love that consists of hugs and eskimo-kisses, but the world is needing to see in us something a bit more risky…a bit more dangerous.
Prayer: Provide me courage and strength to be a witness to your amazing love, O Lord of life and light. Encourage me along the way, especially when my imitation is a bit emaciated. Amen.
TODAY AT CCCC
Scripture: Romans 12:19-21
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Thought for the Day: Tomorrow evening (Sunday evening), Cypress Creek will be showing the movie/musical, The Cotton Patch Gospel. It is based upon the writings of Clarence Jordan, the wonderful Biblical Scholar who translated much of the New Testament from the perspective of the 1960’s racial tensions in the south. A number of years later, Harry Chapin took the writings and put them to music – creating the musical, The Cotton Patch Gospel. In working on the project, Chapin wrote, “If a man tried to take his time on earth and prove before he died, what one man’s life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world?” I invite us to come and reflect on what one man’s life meant to the world as told through the eyes of Clarence Jordan and Harry Chapin, and then begin to ponder what our lives could be worth if only we lived our lives as Jesus did, giving food to our enemies, providing drink to the thirsty, and by overcoming evil with acts of goodness.
Prayer: Provide me examples of your unmerited grace, O Lord who teaches us to overcome evil with good. Challenge me with the generosity of care you have shown me, a care that I am to share with those who I might define as my enemy. Amen.
Scripture: John 13:34
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
Thought for the Day: We show love when it is not easy or comfortable because the very character of love is sacrificial. Love is not easy, though our culture pretends it is. We picture it as romance where a couple dances through a field of daisies hand-in-hand. This is not the love of scripture. Love is a constant challenge, and this is demonstrated in the number of times Jesus had to remind his disciples to love one another. For the last few weeks, we have been looking at the concept of love – the importance of loving self and working on showing respect. As we move closer to Holy Week and the cross, we will begin looking more closely at the sacrificial demands that love puts on us. It is hard to look at the life and death of Jesus, and then pretend that it is going to be easy. It requires practice and patience; it requires discipline and determination. Yet in the end, the choice to love – even when it demands sacrifice – is the most life-giving experience known to the human soul.
Prayer: Make me a willing follower of Jesus and his love. Teach me, O God of Heaven and Earth, to love others as Jesus did. It is both my desire and my challenge. Amen.
JOIN US SUNDAY EVENING
FOR A GREAT MOVIE/MUSICAL
Scripture: Philippians 2:1-3
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Thought for the Day: The day before yesterday, I was sitting down at my desk with my cup of freshly brewed tea. I opened my computer, checked the CNN’s website for recent news, and the first story I saw had the headline: Woman dies after drinking poisonous tea. Now I do not wish to make light of a tragedy, but there are times when someone else’s tragedy hits home because of the very thing you are holding in your hand…or maybe some other relevant place of connection. Otherwise, the headline and story would have gone unnoticed. In the past, when I have read the writing of the Apostle Paul, and specifically his discussion of “being in full accord and one mind,” I have usually thought about the community being one in their opinions on certain subject matters, but as I read this passage in its fullness (the first few chapters of Philippians), I realize that it is about love, compassion, selflessness, humility and sympathy. When I think of those terms, I imagine Paul speaking about our common humanity – the very things that make us human – including the experiences of joy and suffering, hope and hopelessness, friendship and brokenness. Everyone of us has known those moments, and when we recognize that connecting point, it makes us more compassionate and open to our sisters and brothers with whom we may disagree on a whole host of topics. At the end of the day, we maintain our common humanity no matter our opinions.
Prayer: Give me eyes to see and a heart that can appreciate the life situations of others, O Merciful and Gracious God. Provide me an openness to the deep-seated struggles within those around me, and with that openness shall come compassion, genuine concern and love. That’s the kind of human I wish to be, O Lord. With your help, it is possible. Amen.
Scripture: Job 27:8-10
For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts them off, when God takes away their lives? Will God hear their cry when trouble comes upon them? Will they take delight in the Almighty?
Thought for the Day: The book of Job expresses the hopelessness felt by those who have been overcome by tragedy. Hopelessness makes a person feel cut off from God, or even worse, question the existence of God. For Job, it was even more frustrating as his so-called friends attempted to make him feel guilty amidst the suffering. The hopeless are often driven deeper into despair by those who do not appreciate their hopelessness. In Job’s case, his lostness was eventually turned around as God helped him find insight by which he was able to move forward.
Tonight, we will once again gather for the Lenten Soup for the Soul (6:15pm in the Activity Room). These conversations give opportunity for stories of hope to be offered. Job would have one of those stories to tell, yet when you are deep in the darkness, it is hard to imagine anything…of course, that’s the reason we call it hope. It is the conviction of one’s faith that goes against everything reality (and even some so-called friends) seems to communicate. Let us listen to the stories of hope for they are like seeds in the soil of our souls, by which hope can take root and grow within our own lives.
Prayer: Prepare me, O Lord, to listen for the voices of hope in the world. Where despair and suffering are real and powerful, provide me the stories by which I can claim light even in the darkest of situations. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 7:17
I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
Thought for the Day: In Sunday’s sermon, I talked about the tendency to split the world into two distinct groups – the righteous and unrighteous. And of course, we like to think that we would automatically fit among the righteous. We choose to define “the righteous” with certain moral or ethical ideas that correspond to our general thinking and beliefs, while also ignoring or disregarding other ideas of which we are less fond. While we argue over the lines that define righteousness, the Psalms remind us how the Lord is the righteous One. In all our arguing, we have lost sight of the only One who is righteous. While we are debating, God is beckoning us to follow in grace – never taking the attitude of self-righteousness, but recognizing that our goodness is intrinsically tied to the Source of Goodness.
Prayer: We sing praise to you, O God. You are worthy of our gratitude; you are worthy of all that we give to you – including our lives. Amen.
Cramer Retreat Center
Dinner at 6:30pm
Study at 7:00pm
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Thought for the Day: I offer these words as a way of reflecting on yesterday’s sermon. In the message, I spoke about our need to respect one another as an important part of learning to love one another. This is a challenge, especially when the person we are trying to respect shows no respect to us. What happens when the one we are attempting to respect mistreats us or brings physical violence against us? This is a tough call, but at the end of the day, I believe we can continue to show respect for a person and for ourselves when we choose to remove ourselves from an unhealthy or even violent relationship. The gift of love we can give in that moment is to demonstrate love of self, and we hope that the respect and love of self provides a transformative witness to the person who was disrespectful of us. I’m not suggesting the first moment it becomes a bit of a challenge to show respect that we remove ourselves from the relationship. That happens too often, but we are each a temple of the Holy Spirit, and there are times we can proclaim respect and love by saying to someone, “I am a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I deserve your respect.”
Prayer: Continue to provide me opportunities to show respect to my sisters and brothers, O Lord of Love, but let me also show respect for myself when there is no respect given to me. Amen.
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