Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter Sunday, April 05, 2015

READING

Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-14, Isaiah 51:9-11
Psalms: Psalms 148, 149, 150
Gospel: John 1:1-18, 20:19-23, Luke 24:13-35
Evening Psalms: Psalms 113, 114

DEVOTIONAL

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
(John 20:21)

Being sent. I’ve never really liked the idea of being sent. I am much more comfortable within the context of my own life, my own relationships, and my daily routine. Being sent is hard. It means doing something different. It means stepping into the unknown, outside of your comfort zone. It means having to trust God in new ways. Sometimes these ways are exciting, but mostly I find them terrifying. New is hard. Change is hard.

As I write this, it is still Epiphany: The season of the revelation of the light of Christ. Today, I resigned my position at St. Matthew’s and gave my notice to Rob. It was hard. This change is hard. But it is necessary.

In the 10 years since I’ve been ordained, I’ve gotten comfortable. My family life has a nice routine. Colin is a joy. Steve and I are happy. Church is good – it always has been. But I’ve become increasingly aware that in order to accomplish what God has called me to do, I have to step out in faith. I have to trust and step into the unknown…. the uncomfortable. I have to leave this place that I love… that is comfortable.

Maybe today you are feeling the way I am. Maybe you know something needs to change, but you are afraid to take that step. Maybe you are feeling like you want to start something new, but have no idea how it could possibly work. Maybe you are wondering if your family will be supportive. Will your friends? What if your dream doesn’t become a reality? What if you fail?

Remember that this is Easter… the season of Resurrection. You can find new life in a willingness to step out in faith and try something new. You can feel free from any constraints that are holding you back – constraints you may not even see you have right now. But have faith. God is calling you. Peace be with you. You are being sent. God will be with you and give you the Resurrection you really need to feel alive again. Know that you aren’t alone. Others have done the same. I am one of them.

Follow your heart. Do what you were created to do. Be Resurrected.
ASCM


Saturday, April 04, 2015

Saturday, April 04, 2015

READING

Old Testament: Job 19:21-27a
Psalms: Psalms 95, 88
New Testament: Hebrews 4:1-16, Romans 8:1-11
Evening Psalms: Psalms 27

DEVOTIONAL

“We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness,
but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith,
If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting”
(Hebrews 4:2-3 MSG)

During Advent, especially during the week leading up to Christmas, I got caught up in all the activities and traditions -- striving for the perfect holiday.

By Christmas week, I felt run down and really needed some rest. But did I cut back on my activities? Of course not. On Christmas Eve, I went to Berryville to have breakfast with Mom. Around noon, I returned to Sterling to see my grandchildren in the Christmas pageant. After the service, we went out to dinner. Later, I attended the 11pm service (a tradition I love). Early on Christmas morning, I went to my daughter’s house to open gifts and have breakfast with them. That was followed by a trip to my brother’s home in Lorton for a family brunch. Late afternoon, we returned to my daughter’s home for dinner. Then, at 9:30 p.m. -- when I finally returned home - I crashed! I slept and slept and slept until early afternoon the following day.

It is written in scripture that there is a time for everything; I think that includes a time to rest.

On reflection, was it really necessary for me to do everything I did? Probably not. What I really needed to do was to focus on the real reason for the season – the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. With God’s help, I will stay focused on the real reason for all the Holy days.

That brings me to Holy Week. Today is Holy Saturday (essentially, “Easter Eve”). In Hebrews, God promises that if we are obedient (faithful) to Him, we can find rest. His promise was offered in the past and is still available to us today. Thankfully, we have been given Jesus
“…with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help”
(Hebrews 4:14 -16 MSG).

It is written that on the seventh day God rested from His work. Rest, in all its connotations (physical, mental and spiritual) is necessary.

Lord, I pray that I may accept your promise and find my rest in You. Amen.
SWG


Friday, April 03, 2015

Friday, April 03, 2015

READING

Old Testament: Wisdom 1:16-2:1, 12-22, Genesis 22:1-14
Psalms: Psalms 95, 22
New Testament: 1 Peter 1:10-20
Gospel: John 13:36-38, John 19:38-42
Evening Psalms: Psalms 40:1-19, 54

DEVOTIONAL

“Some time later God tested Abraham…God said,
Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. 
Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’”
(Gen. 22:1-2)

February 9, 1984, three hours after my second son was born, my wife and I heard someone frantically running down the hall. Rushing into our room, the doctor shouted, “we’ve lost your son five times to Cardiac Arrest – I need to get back to him, but you need to know we found him blue.”

Next thing we were told, which immediately turned us to prayer, was that our new baby son needed last rites. At that moment, I could only think of Abraham taking his son to the mountain for a sacrifice. In our prayer I said, “Do what You need to do, and I’ll learn how to live with the rest.” This was so much bigger than me. I could only trust God. I prayed for intervention by Him, but we could only sit back and trust Him.

What followed was a series of seemingly inexplicable coincidences, countless prayers from relatives and friends, and a 30 minute ambulance ride to a Neonatal ICU facility where my son somehow ‘came back’ after yet another heart attack. While my son was kept alive by a specialist squeezing oxygen from a rubber bulb through a small catheter into his lungs, I called my uncle, a renowned pediatrician. Astonishingly, my infant son’s specialist had been my uncle’s student at Columbia, and so he readily listened as my uncle advised that penicillin be given for ten days not five (the practice at the time) because some tests showed positive after six, and relapse would certainly be fatal. My son’s was positive at six – so continuing the penicillin worked! Two weeks of ‘touch and go,’ out of the incubator, and then home. To this day, my son continues to be alive and well.

 One day, thirty years later, as I challenged myself on the meaning of the tag-line, “To Know and Share God’s Love,” it finally hit me. God didn’t only save my son, just as He didn’t only save Abraham’s son. By sacrificing His only Son on Good Friday, God saved us all from a very crushing loss.

We know His love, and I am so honored to share His love with you. Amen.
TW