A Devotion for Tuesday, April 7, 2020
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (NRSV)
18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29 so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
Knowing What Matters
“But we proclaim Christ crucified … the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
The church at Corinth, founded by Paul, was being divided – not so much by beliefs as by charismatic personalities. People were lining up behind their favorite church leader as though Christianity were a popularity contest.
Paul wanted none of that. His words here (and throughout this letter) show his conviction that only one thing mattered in the church. Not how well you spoke. Not your educational background. Not the family you came from. Only “Christ crucified.” The phrase is Paul’s shorthand for all that God accomplished in Jesus through his life, his death, and his resurrection. It encapsulated his vision of community rooted in God’s gracious love: radical equality, mutual service, generous living, global fellowship.
Now, as then, that vision seems foolish by worldly standards, but for Paul it reflected the very power and wisdom of God.
Prayer: Father of fools and Mother of misfits, keep my heart fixed on what truly matters. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 (NRSV)
8 Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
“Encourage one another, and build up each other.” In these days of isolation (sheltering in place), one of the things we miss most is the opportunity to be with others, do things with others, and do things for others. Paul’s words remind us to be encouraging one another – in our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ. I believe this is also something we do to tend to each other’s spirits and general well-being – as well as our own! – with the love of Christ – something we may be even more in need of in these days than we may have thought before.
So, I’m going to share some ideas that you might use or try to offer – and experience -encouragement in these times. The ideas come from a bookmark Pastor Barbara had posted on our office door, which I recently rediscovered:
Tell the faith story … Pray for someone … Think hope … Forgive an enemy … Go fly a kite – literally … Read a book … Pet a dot (or even a cat) … Encourage a friend … Stop and marvel at the beauty of nature … Laugh out loud … Be a carrier of hope … Say a word of Hope each day … Celebrate Life … Know you are forgiven … Forgive someone … Spend 30 minutes (or more these days!) doing something you like (as long as it’s safe!) … Call (text, email, facebook, instagram, etc.) a friend … Ride a bike … Start something new … Sing along with the radio (or make your own music!) … Say hi to a neighbor (from a distance!) … Start something new.
Hymn for Reflection:
“Blest be the Tie That Binds” (WOV #656) Lyrics Below
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings..”
– Psalm 36:7 (NRSV)
Blessings & Peace,
Want to do something positive in this uncertain, anxious time?
Write an encouraging card, note or letter for our elderly friends at Senior Star (there’s a bin in the breezeway where you can place them) – or for one of our shut-ins (Ken Bechtler, Myrtle Daneilson, Helen Randall and Barb Morphew) which can be brought to church for delivery.
Or, make some cheerful, simple artwork – for others and for yourself – that can be put in a window to cheer you up, and those who may see it in your neighborhood.
Sign up to ring the church bells to send the message to our community that God is with us in the midst of this time, and that we at Messiah are praying for those who are affected, and for an end to the pandemic.
For those affected in any way by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For our congregation in this time of separation, that we would yet be held together.
Have another idea? Let me know, and I will share it here!
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;
The unity of heart and mind is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
From sorrow, toil, and pain, and sin we shall be free;
And perfect love and friendship reign through all eternity.