January 19, 2020
As many of you know, I have a special place in my heart for Guatemala as that is where we adopted Zach. This week, the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has invited us to pray for Guatemala. Some of the mission partners there wrote the following…
Supplication by Brayan Alvarado, General Coordinator of the Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala:
Lord, today as yesterday, the economy and governments betray the people, putting themselves at the service of those who pay, kill, criminalize, and disable those who defend the law and life. Many, out of fear or blindness, slavishly accommodate the bleak order. We ask you, God, to open the eyes and ears of those who do not see or hear the suffering of your children. Make us sensitive to pain, that we understand that aggression against them is aggression to you. We beseech you, clarity, and courage to do justice to the little ones of this world and guarantee a dignified life.
Supplication of Father Hugo Padilla, Pastor of the San Bautista Episcopal Church:
We beg you to have compassion for the brothers and sisters of San Juan Sacatepéquez who are being victims of the blatant ambition of the cement company, supported by national and international circles of power. Father, they are depriving your people of their lands, regardless of life and legitimate ancestral rights over the territory. Powerful Father, in your compassion, preserve them from the evil that boils in the heart of this ungrateful company, and strengthen the just struggle of the communities of San Juan. Give them the wisdom to face and overcome this evil. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
January 18, 2020
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 7:7
…each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.
Thought for the Day: The powerful and outspoken activist, Gloria Steinem wrote, “There’s no greater gift than thinking that you had some impact on the world, for the better.” I don’t intend to make anyone feel guilty or like an underachiever, but how many of us want to get to our last days and deeply question whether our lives had any sort of positive impact? I’m not suggesting we must start a nonprofit that houses thousands of people, though not a bad thing at all. What Paul wanted his community to hear was two fold: 1. You have a gift; 2. You need to use it for the good things of God. Rarely will your gift have you on television or even receiving a thank you, but that’s not the point. It is about finding what this complex grouping of cells in the form of a human body is gifted to do, and then using that gift to bring goodness and grace to the world. I know people who are incredibly busy in their work, yet they find a way of making a difference in the world in often small and unpretentious ways.
Prayer: By gifting us we learn of your love, O Lord, and how you trust us to be full participants in the work Jesus set forth. Assist us as we discover and utilize these gifts for the sake of the Gospel. Amen.
January 17, 2020
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 1:27-28
But God chose what the world considers foolish to shame the wise. God chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong. And God chose what the world considers low-class and low-life—what is considered to be nothing—to reduce what is considered to be something to nothing.
Thought for the Day: In Howard Thurman’s wonderful little book, Disciplines of the Spirit, he writes about discovering who we are and what we are to be in this world. Thurman speaks of our part appearing minor or humble, yet it does not matter as long as it is a piece of the “audacious” vision. How a person functions in the world is crucial, and there must be reflected in each tiny thing “the utter integrity of the whole.” Would it make any sense for God to teach humility by arrogantly forcing us to learn it, or teaching peace and kindness by yelling at us? How God acts in the world, specifically in the life of Jesus, is a reflection of the greater vision. Even in the tiny, almost unnoticeable things, is found the full unity of the whole. May our lives strive toward such a high ideal.
Prayer: Let me pay close attention to the little things of life, Merciful God, for so often you are speaking so clearly about the fullness of your Kingdom. Amen.
January 16, 2020
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 3:9-10
We are God’s coworkers, and you are God’s field, God’s building. I laid a foundation like a wise master builder according to God’s grace that was given to me, but someone else is building on top of it. Each person needs to pay attention to the way they build on it.
Thought for the Day: It was Michael Jordan (it wouldn’t surprise me a few others said something similar) who said,
Talent wins games,
but teamwork and intelligence
As I think about the church, we speak often about the Spiritual Gifts people have. In fact, Pat Cooksey started her classes yesterday on the topic. Our God-inspired/Spirit-filled talents can do some pretty amazing things, but they were never intended to run solo. There is truly a team aspect to what we do. In fact, so often people with one specific Spiritual Gift finds it necessary to do something way outside his/her spiritual strength. It is exhausting and uninspiring, and before long the very ministry/program/outreach/mission God was attempting to link the person’s gift with is lost in the distraction of doing something that someone else on team should be doing. Oh sure, there are times when we need to fill in gaps where God might still be working on someone, but don’t allow yourself to become burned out because you never actually get around to doing the thing you were created to do.
Prayer: Let me find those who will serve with me in the task to which you have called me. At the same time, let me be aware of those who are doing a good thing, yet lack the gift I have. Draw us together, Merciful God, for the amazing work you seek to do in this world. Amen.
January 15, 2020
Scripture: Psalm 18:6
In my distress I cried out to the LORD; I called to my God for help. God heard my voice from his temple; I called to him for help, and my call reached his ears.
Thought for the Day: Does God hear our cries and then respond, or is God always in the mode of response even when we’ve not known to cry out? What does it mean to come to the realization that we need help? It might be the child who is becoming more and more frustrated because something isn’t working the way s/he believes it should work; the person who has yet to admit an addiction to alcohol; the parent who has tried everything for a child who is making unhealthy choices. I just can’t imagine my cries are what awakens God to my need. I believe God is there in the struggle and mess even before I have acknowledged my need for assistance, yet the cry is the reorientation of self toward God. Suddenly I might actually see the God who has always been present. Those who are intentional about their prayer life, conversing regularly with God on a whole host of topics tend to be those who struggle less in those moments of crisis. I’m not suggesting their pain is any less, but with the connection already present there is no (or possibly less) reorienting. It’s like the dear friend who has journeyed with you to this point, knowing all the problems and your quirkiness. When you make the crisis call, there isn’t time spent giving the backstory or trying to create a level of comfort. It just is… and it is good.
Prayer: Call me to this conversation a bit more often, Gracious and Eternal God, and I will do better in carving out the time to be with you. Amen.
January 14, 2020
Scripture: Proverbs 21:5
The plans of the diligent end up in profit, but those who hurry end up with loss.
Thought for the Day: I have never been able to find the owner of this quote, but it’s too good to ignore. “Intentional living means making choices for your life based on your greatest values, not the habits of others.” It’s tough to be influenced by what you believe and not what your neighbor is promoting real loudly. Of course, truly knowing what you value is rather essential, and I am going to suggest that a lot of people in the world today would struggle to articulate their highest values. Too often, people are tossed around by the cutest meme, ugliest political statement or best worded advertisement that plays on their insecurities. The Proverb above is so often interpreted in regard to money, but the word translated as Profit really means Plentiful. It could refer to everything from time to faith to joy to crops. It is the “diligent,” or some might say, intentional, who see their valued attitudes, dreams and priorities coming to fruition. Take the time to really reflect on what you believe to be the most important values in your life, and then do the more difficult and intentional work as you look at how you spend your resources (money, time, talents) in embodying those values.
Prayer: At the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I stand for something that has made a difference in the world. Teach me the ways of Jesus, O Merciful God, whose life presents the values of love, compassion and service. Amen.