A Devotion for Saturday, April 25, 2020
Mark 1:1-15 (NRSV)
1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
“I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.”
John the Baptist understood himself to be the “warm up” act Jesus, not the main attraction. He saw his mission as preparing the way of the Lord. He said that Jesus “must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
John provides a good example for those of us who seek to daily serve and follow Jesus. Like John, we serve to bring honor to Jesus Christ, the one who “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8). We seek the power of God’s Spirit to reach out in wider and wider circles of concern so that Christ may be praised.
It can be difficult to serve God without comparing ourselves to faithful servants like John and the many devoted leaders, teachers, and volunteers we have encountered. We worry, “Can we measure up? Are we good enough?” Do not fear, Christians. As Christ’s warm up act God calls us to work together to point the way to Chris.
Prayer: Light of the world, teach me to live so that others will be drawn to you. Amen.
Prayer Concern: All Leaders in the Church
Scripture Reading for Personal Reflection:
Psalm 57:8-11 (NRSV)
8 Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.
In the Easter message from our ELCA Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, she commented that our alleluias (our praises) “might be a little tentative at first” … that there might be “growing hope and strength in our alleluia as we realize that life is continuing, and that God has a future for us.” And we may find it difficult to give a whole-hearted word or song of praise to God as this pandemic, and our “sheltering in place” goes on for another month in May.
The psalmist too faced difficult times – “destroying storms” … feeling “trampled” on … finding himself “among lions that greedily devour human prey; their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongues sharp swords” … feeling his soul “bowed down” in the midst of it all, with “a pit” dug in his life’s path to trap him (Psalm 57:1-6). Yet even as he laments his situation in life, he looks to the One who “will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness” (v. 3). So, in the end, he offers words of praise, calling himself to awake from his lament and his fear, to give thanks, to sing praise, to give glory to God.
These are words of encouragement and hope for us too, words to help us “awake” to see that God is yet our strength, that God will be faithful, that God’s love is yet steadfast for us. That “awaking” could be a call to turn to, and trust, in the God who promises us life in Jesus’ name. And as we consider that gift, our “alleluias” just might get a little louder, a little more joyous. And as the do, perhaps we can also be a voice to “awaken the dawn” of hope for others.
Hymn for Reflection:
“I Come With Joy” (ELW #482)
I come with joy, a child of God, forgiven, loved, and free,
The life of Jesus to recall in love laid down for me,
In love laid down for me.
I come with Christians far and near to find as all are fed …
The love that made us, makes us one, and strangers now are friends,
And strangers now are friends.
The Spirit of the risen Christ, unseen, but ever near,
Is in such friendship better known, alive among us here,
Alive among us here.
Together met, together bound by all that God has done,
We’ll go with joy, to give the world the love that makes us one,
The love that makes us one.
“Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.”
– Hebrews 13:15 (NRSV)
Blessings & Peace,
Want to do something positive in this uncertain, anxious time?
Write an encouraging card, note or letter
for one of our shut-ins (Ken Bechtler, Myrtle Danielson, Helen Randall and Barb Morphew) which can be brought to church for delivery (place in the basket in the breezeway).
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.
Write a Devotion
to post here and share with others, something encouraging or inspirational.
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.
What about a Sign Campaign?
Would we want to make simple roadside signs – from the people of Messiah – indicating prayers and support for medical, food, pharmacy, and other essential service workers (especially “on the front lines”)? What do you think? Could be a visible way of “sharing the love of Christ” in this time.
Have another idea? Let me know, and I will share it here!