A Devotion for Tuesday, April 21, 2020
1 Corinthians 15:19-28 (NRSV)
19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power.
25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
“If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
How sad it would be only to know Jesus as a very good man who taught, healed, guided blessed, and then was crucified, died and was buried. Period. End of story.
Ours is a different story. How beautifully blessed we are to know of God’s promises both in this life and in the life to come. God gives us daily strength when we need it most, comfort when our hearts are heavy, and heavenly hope when our spirits are despairing. For it is the presence of our living Lord within us that loves and leads us; it is the power of our living Lord within us that blesses and guides us. Oh, what a beloved, saving God we serve.
Prayer: Living Lord Jesus, may I trust your perfect promises now and forever. Amen.
Scripture Reading for Personal Reflection:
Jonah 1:1-17 (NRSV)
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them.
Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6 The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.”
7 The sailors said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 “I am a Hebrew,” he replied. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.
11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them.
14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, O Lord, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
17 But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
In times like these, we may feel like fleeing from life – life in terms of how life looks these days anyway. We want nothing to do with this virus, and isolation and masks and closed businesses and nowhere to go for entertainment – movies, sports events, concerts, theater, etc. If only we could get on a ship and escape this nightmare! Just let life be normal again, we plead, cry and pray.
Jonah had his own nightmare to deal with. God wanted him to go to the evil city, the hated city, of Nineveh to deliver a message to them, to “cry out against it” because of their wickedness. “No thanks, Lord,” he said, I want nothing to do with that. And to make his point, he gets on a ship heading directly opposite the way to Nineveh, because going to Nineveh could be dangerous to one’s health, not to mention disgusting and repulsive.
What have we heard God say to us about living in His way? What challenges does God’s Word place in front of us? What have we “run away” from, or maybe still are running away from?
In the end, we can’t run away from God, anymore than we can run away from a world-wide pandemic. There’s nowhere we can go that God isn’t there, with us. Now that can sound burdensome and overwhelming, but it can also be a word of encouragement, strength and comfort, because God doesn’t call us out and leave us hanging, God promises to be with us and give us all we need, to support and nourish us for this life He calls us to. And whether it’s dealing with Covid-19 or living our faith in authentic ways, that promise makes all things possible.
Hymn for Reflection:
“You Are the Way” (ELW #758)
You are the way, to you alone from sin and death we flee;
All those who search for God, you find and by your grace set free.
You are the truth; your word alone true wisdom can impart;
You only can inform the mind and purify the heart.
You are the life; the rending tomb proclaims your conqu’ring arm;
And those who put their trust in you not death nor hell shall harm.
You are the way, the truth, the life; grant us that way to know,
That truth to keep, that life to win, whose joys eternal flow.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.”
– Psalm 23:1-3 (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.
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!