A Devotion for Thursday, April 30, 2020
Psalm 23 (NRSV)
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.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
Promises for Life
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
In New Zealand sheep can often be seen scattered among the hillsides. When I travelled to New Zealand and saw the sheep firsthand, I was struck by the simple beauty of this sight.
It’s a view I never tire of seeing, partly because it makes me think of this psalm, and the promises of the psalms are ones I never get tired of hearing. I need the reminder of God’s peace and provision. God promises that wherever I go and whatever I go through in life, God is with me.
When I read this psalm, I’m struck by the many reminders of God’s action in our lives: God leads us, protects us, provides for us, and fills our cup to overflowing. Like the psalmist, we will experience challenges in life (anyone identify with “sheltering in place” here?), but the promise is that through all of life’s peaks and valleys, God will see us through. For this reason we can trust God’s goodness and mercy to follow us all the days of our lives.
Prayer: Loving God, help me to recognize your presence in my life today and lead me in your peace. Amen.
Prayer Concern: Shepherds (of all kinds)
Scripture Reading for Personal Reflection:
1 Peter 2:4-10 (NRSV)
4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built[a] into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in scripture:
“See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him[b] will not be put to shame.”
7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner,” 8 and
“A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,[c] in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
It may seem strange, given our current circumstances, to think of being “built into a spiritual house” when our “house” of worship is closed down. But remember the old church rhyme done with the hands, that went (with hands folded and your fingers inside) “here’s the church, here’s the steeple (with index fingers pointed up like a steeple), open the doors (open your hands) and here’s all the people (the fingers pointing upwards)?” Or the hymn whose first verse was “the church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people;” followed by the refrain, “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together! All who follow Jesus, all around the world! Yes, we’re the church together!”? It’s not the place that’s critical, it’s the people, sharing one faith – wherever we are – with those who follow Jesus – that’s what matters. That’s a spiritual house!
In that way, even while we are separated, we are together – as they like to say, but quite literally, “in spirit,” or in the Spirit. It is Christ, and His Spirit, that join us together in community – whether it’s here (which is great!) or whether we are separated. We are still a community in Christ whatever the circumstances, and we are still this community of faith at Messiah as we are joined together in the Spirit – and in spirit (not quite the same as “virtual”) – as we think of, connect with (as we’re able) and pray for each other. So, as you have opportunity think of, connect with, and pray for your sisters and brothers in our family of faith at Messiah. And when at last we are able to come together again here at the church, we can rejoice and celebrate that occasion, knowing that through Christ’s Spirit we have always been connected. In Christ we who “once … were not a people … now … are… God’s people,” together – a chosen people, a “royal priesthood.”
Hymn for Reflection:
“Bind us Together” (WOV #748)
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together with cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together, Lord; bind us together in love.
There is only one God, there is only one King.
There is only one Body; that is why we sing. Refrain
You are the fam’ly of God. You are the promise divine.
You are God’s chosen desire, you are the glorious new wine. Refrain
If you would like to borrow an ELW or a WOV hymnal (or both) during this time of sheltering in place, you may pick one up in the narthex on the table to the right as you come in. They have been sanitized for you protection.
Please put your name on the check-out list so we can remind you to bring it/them back when we are able to resume worship in the sanctuary. Also, please sanitize them before you bring them back.
“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”
– 1 Peter 5:7 (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!