A Devotion for Friday, April 17, 2020
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NRSV)
1 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. 3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
A Clean Slate
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.”
Because Paul persecuted Christians before his conversion, he considered himself unfit to be a disciple. (See 1 Cor. 15:9) Yet he made a dramatic change: from persecuting Christians to following Jesus. And in spite of his sense of unwothiness, he persevered. Do you wonder why? I suspect it was not because of his own strength or determination but because of God’s grace – God’s free gift of love and forgiveeness – which wiped clean the slate of past sins.
Do you ever mull over past sins? I do. I pray to come to a place where, with God’s help, I can let go of past pain, of ways I have hurt God and others. I long to claim Paul’s words for myself: I am what I am. With Paul, and countless others, we are embraced in the forgiving, grace-filled arms of our God who removes our sins “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).
Prayer: Forgiving God, empower me to embrace your forgiveness as my own. Amen.
Scripture Reading for Personal Reflection:
John 20:1-13 (NRSV)
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Note: This, of course, is not the whole story. But it might be a part that we can relate to these days, as we wonder what will happen next, or if there is hope – a light at the end of the Covid tunnel, perhaps uncertain about the future. In the midst of that, how does our faith enter into things? Can we see life in the midst of death? Some questions to ponder as you read and reflect on this passage.
For your personal reflection: Read the passage aloud once, let it settle in your mind. Then read it silently, to yourself. Again let it settle in your mind, and in your heart. Then read it aloud one more time, and reflect on what it might mean for you, and for living your faith – especially in these days.
If you like, do a journal to write down your thoughts. If you can share this with a spouse or other home companion (child, parent), you can take turns reading the passage aloud – one reading the first time, the other the second time – then after the second reading aloud, you could share your thoughts with each other.
Hymn for Reflection:
“Have no Fear Little Flock” (ELW #764) Lyrics Below
Have no fear, little flock; have no fear, little flock,
For the Father has chosen to give you the kingdom
Have no fear little flock!
Have good cheer, little flock; have good cheer, little flock,
For the Father will keep you in his love forever;
Have good cheer, little flock!
Praise the Lord high above; praise the Lord high above,
For he stoops down to heal you, uplift and restore you,
Praise the Lord high above!
Thankful hearts raise to God; thankful hearts raise to God;
For he stays close beside you, in all things works with you;
Thankful hearts raise to God!
“I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
– Psalm 16:8 (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 Danielson, 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.
Do you Quilt? How about making Masks out of quilting fabric? It’s supposed to be one of the best fabrics to use, and there are patterns online to make them.
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!