Thought for the Day: Is kindness the opposite of oppression? I don’t know if kindness by itself has the power to overcome oppression, but it is better than doing nothing. If you’re like me, there are times when I can become overwhelmed by the immensity of the problems facing us. We become incapacitated when we’ve convinced ourselves that our little contribution will make no difference. Oppression, specifically systemic oppression, does not change overnight or with a handful of people acting with kindness. At the same time, enough single acts of kindness will eventually bring change. There is a tipping point at which a sudden and dramatic change will occur. Often, no one really saw it coming. It happened because one more person did their little part, and it was added to the acts of kindness by many others. And as a final word of encouragement, kindness toward someone in need is one of the best ways of honoring God. You can’t go wrong with that.
Prayer: O Maker of Heaven and Earth, continue to encourage us to act with kindness in this world. At times it can feel as if it is making absolutely no impact on the real problems. Yet at the end of the day, you called us to act with kindness and not to choose kindness only if we thought it would make a big enough difference. Keep leading us in the right direction. Amen.
TODAY’S WORSHIP SERVICE
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3qqQE0t
Thought for the Day: This is the beginning of the story often entitled: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. Jesus and his disciples have been in Judea, the area West of the Dead Sea where we find Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The plan is to go north to Galilee, but as Jews, they would have most often gone around Samaria. There was a bit of a conflict there, and Samaritans and Jews did not speak well of one another. Yet our scripture says Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” Technically, that is incorrect. There was a route that required the crossing of the Jordan river, and though a bit longer, it was a commonly chosen road for those who wanted to avoid Samaria. So why is it that the Gospel writer makes it sound as if Jesus had no other options? Could it be possible that this comment is less about actual options and more about calling and purpose? There are so many times when we have choices, yet if we are going to live the life we believe we’ve been called to live, then there is only one option. Jesus did not see boundaries the same way others did. These boundaries were not uncrossable lines, but opportunities. There are times in life we can avoid a situation rather easily, but if we are serious about following Jesus, there is often only one path and it takes us directly into the situation we might have chosen to avoid if it were not for God’s tugging at our spirit.
Prayer: Let me look at the options and then spend time discerning my option. Help me to see, O God of Vision, the path by which I can best serve you. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/38fvPyU
Thought for the Day: There are strong admonitions against foolishness throughout the Old Testament, specifically in what is called the Wisdom Literature. Yesterday’s devotional spoke to one of those passages, and I purposely drove the point home to create the contrast with Paul’s comment about being fools for Christ. Are we to be foolish or not? It almost feels as if we are being yanked around just a bit. Like a lot of things in faith, it is important to understand context. The Wisdom Literature of old was very interested in creating a contrast between the wise and the foolish, those who make prudent choices and those who do not. In many situations, I do not believe Jesus or Paul would disagree, yet much of their ministries went against the tide of social expectation. They spent a lot of time with outcasts, the sick and even those who were considered immoral. A mother might tell a child how hanging out with “certain folks” would not be a wise choice, yet as followers of Jesus it sure appears as if those are the folks we are called to befriend. I think there is being stupid for stupid-sake. I’ve probably been there once or twice in life. Then there is taking a risk for and with Jesus, a risk in expressing the far-reaching character of God’s love. Many will look at it as foolishness. If it is, at least it is being a fool with Christ.
Prayer: If you guide me into foolish ways, O Spirit of Christ, then I feel certain its ok to be a bit of a fool. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3kP9bCh
Thought for the Day: I don’t mean to step on any toes here, but there are plenty of folks who are taking instruction from the foolish. Don’t get defensive, but we need to be honest with one another and acknowledge how many of the so-called news and opinion shows are only opinion, and those doing the show would probably have the opposite opinion if they thought they could make more money doing so. Discernment, education and listening critically to a diverse group of quality news organizations will help to weed out the foolish who claim to offer good instruction. As people of faith, we have an obligation to seek out what is true and proven fact, not hearsay or antidotal evidence. We can still disagree in regard to the best response to a situation. But if many folks are being fed by the fools, there is no possibility of having a good productive conversation.
Prayer: Help us to grow our insight and knowledge, O Spirit of Wisdom, for too often the fools can make foolishness sound almost reasonable. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/38aBgPr
via WordPress https://ift.tt/2O0I6jA
Thought for the Day: What do you grieve this day? Many of us know a very real and palpable grief. Change, brought on by a whole host of losses, has bombarded us from every direction as of late, and change requires us to grieve. Denial and anger are two of the steps within the grief process, and they’ve been manifesting themselves in some pretty noticeable ways… just not usually noticeable to those who are grieving. I remember watching an older couple years ago grieving their daughter’s divorce. They had never known anyone who had been divorced, and within their church, divorce was an unforgivable sin. At the same time, they loved their daughter. As only an observer in this process, I was fascinated to watch the grief play itself out. They not only were grieving for their daughter who was hurting, but they were grieving the loss of innocence, of a world that no longer existed. For a long time, they held tightly to a vision of a world where divorce would never happen to good faithful people like them. The months that followed were bumpy and painful, yet they found a world on the other side of that grief where divorce was not some unforgivable sin, and even more so, they learned that faith, joy and love could be found once again. I remember that father walking his daughter down the aisle four years later, doing something that was beyond his capacity to even imagine five years earlier. The world around us is changing as it always has, and people of faith need to grieve in a healthy way, in part, to model how we join God in the new thing being done, even when a few months earlier we could not have imagined such a thing.
Prayer: You journey with us, Gracious God, continuing to be kind and gentle when change is thrust upon us. Change is nothing new, yet in the moment it can feel very arbitrary, chaotic and frightening. Let us do the necessary work through the assistance of your grace, grieving what needs to be grieved. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/37XYbgQ
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3bMo9oJ
Thought for the Day: As Paul listened to messengers who brought him a word from a distant church, he saw how easy it was for people to have a mistaken understanding of grace. Grace, in some circles, had become a self-congratulatory and self-inflating concept. Yet to suggest such a thing misses the glorification of Jesus, specifically from his arrest to his execution. It is not self-congratulatory or self-inflating, but self-giving and self-sacrificing. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Cost of Discipleship, wrote about cheap grace as compared to costly grace. He was deeply concerned at how cheap grace, one that accepts all the benefits without acknowledging the responsibility, was a significant impediment to the church’s mission. He wrote:
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal responsibility. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship – grace without the cross…
In today’s sermon, I reference Bonhoeffer and suggest how a growing understanding of the power and challenge of grace allows for us to better experience the Glory of God, the brilliance of God’s Light and Love.
Prayer: It is not all about me! You love me, God, with an amazing and unmerited love, yet I have come to realize how your love allows for me to see the value in every person. Suddenly, in your grace, I glimpse your glory and make room for it to live within me. There, deeply held within my heart, I can become an instrument through which your glory is shared with the world. Amen.
TODAY’S WORSHIP SERVICE
via WordPress https://ift.tt/37V60E2
Thought for the Day: Ava DuVernay is an American Filmmaker who said, “When we’re talking about diversity, it’s not a box to check. It is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us.” I not only agree with this idea, but I find her words to ring true in so many aspects of life. We as human beings are often looking for the swiftest way a meeting the minimum requirement for checking the box as completed, but doesn’t that communicate exactly how much we value it… or maybe I should say how little we valued it? When it came to love, Jesus did not set the bar low. In fact, he invited his followers to give the fullness of their lives to the work of love. Following Jesus should never be about checking boxes, but should be so deeply felt that we are willing to give the full measure of our existence to that life.
Prayer: Continue to inspire within me, O Lord, the self-giving and self-sacrificing love put on display in Jesus. It is a high calling, yet the one to which you have called us all. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/37QQUPQ
Thought for the Day: There are so many things missing from our lives right now, but among them are many of the rituals and practices of our faith. Oh sure, we are able to participate in modified ways, yet part of the meaning we find in the sacraments and liturgy of the church is found in the feeling that we are connected to something greater and older than ourselves. Prior to the pandemic, there was a noticeable increase, especially among younger people, when it came to a hunger for ancient customs and celebrations. It was rooted in feelings of isolation and historic disconnect. That was more than a year ago, and I believe the yearning has only intensified. The Apostle Paul provided some meaning to the practice of Baptism, suggesting it is a living act that mirrors the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can talk about dying and rising, passing away and rebirth, but there is something very real when we go under the water and rise from the water. It is experiential, giving tangible significance to the ideas we claim. Until we can fully participate in the sacraments and rituals of our faith, let us seek out other ways of finding that connection.
Prayer: Continue to provide experiences that teach and reinforce the faith, O Lord. Connect me, not only to what I claim to believe and value, but connect me to you and your love. Amen.
via WordPress https://ift.tt/3uz0i4i
Rev. Bruce Frogge