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Wednesday Words, March 6, 2019

From Lasting Hope Devotional 

Psalm 51:1-2

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
in your great compassion
blot out my offenses.
Wash me through and thrfouh
from my wickedness,
and cleanse me from my sin.

To ponder:

God does not wish to regard our sins and punish us as we daily deserve but to deal graciously with us, to forgive according to God's own promise, and thus to grant us a joyful and cheerful conscience so that we may stand before God in prayer. . . But such a confident and joyful heart can never come except when one knows that ones' sins are forgiven.   - Martin Luther, The Large Catechism

We begin with grace:

Psalm 51 is traditionally known as King David's resposne after the prophet Nathan revealed to him the harm he had done to Bathesheba and her husband, Uriah.  Like David, we often do not recognize an action as sin until someone shows us another perspective on it. Then we realize we were not just "blowing of steam"  harmlessly: a friend was frightened by our outburst.  We did not simply borrow that money: we took it without permission and have no idea how we will pay it back.  That constant comparison of ourselves to a colleague who seems to have it all has turned into something toxic for both of us.  Behavior we might once have glossed over is dangerous and powerful.  It has the potential to shred loving connections with God and our neighbor. 

When we realize such things, Psalm 51 gives us words to speak about them.  In the first verse, we speak of God's grace three ways: as mercy, steadfast love, and great compassion.  When we know God to be gracious, we have the courage to go forward.  We can tell the truth and ask forgiveness.

Prayer:
Most merciful God,  help us to trust in your compassion and steafast love.  Free us from sin and raise us to new life.  Amen

Lasting Hope Devotions for Lent 2019
copyright 2018 Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis




Wednesday Words, February 27, 2019

Wednesdays Word

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

Transfiguration Sunday

In this week’s Gospel reading we hear about the mountain top moment with Jesus, and Peter desperately wanting to hold onto the experience, to savor the moment. “Savor the moment” has often been the phrase I use as I experience different important memories. I learned this from my Aunt Diane who gave me advice on my wedding day. She advised me to stop and pause to try to remember the details of moments, because the day will go so fast.

“Savor the moment” has been a way for me to be present and engaged in special moments: that great trip to Jamaica where I learned to scuba dive; or giving birth to Aaron as he came in such a rush that a woman came running to the parking lot with a wheelchair to help, and the arrival of Mitchell on the exact same day as the other 4th grade teacher at my school; or the day I was ordained surrounded by family and friends who were part of my faith journey. Our memories are the diary that we carry with us. I want my memories to continue be filled with stories that make me who I am today.

Peter might not be so wrong with the idea of wanting to stay on the mountain top and pitch a tent, so that they could stay a little longer and savor the moment.  This mountain top experience shaped Peter, John and Jame’s lives and it guided them as they lived out their faith in Jesus.

My first call at Gilbert Lutheran Church (GLC) in Iowa shaped my ministry. As I savored the last month with the members of GLC I worked hard to stay present to the people and intentionally say thank you to each person who had walked with me in faith. But, when the good-byes were over, my new words were “begin again” as I anticipated the new ministry that I was being called to at Bethany Lutheran Church.

As Jesus, Peter, John and James headed down the mountain they would find new ministry and a time to “begin again” with the memory of a mountain top experience that gave them footing to carry on in service to others.

May we too savor the moments that give us footing to be open to the new ways in which we are being called to “begin again” in Christ. Amen. 

Wednesday Words, February 20, 2019

Wednesday Words – All You Need is Love

February 20, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies.

- Luke 6:27

You might hate me after reading this for getting the song stuck in your head. But I couldn’t help but think of John Lennon’s song this week when I read our Gospel: All You Need is Love. Corny? Sure. A little heavy-handed? Yeah, probably. But there is something fundamentally – even Biblically – true about those famous lyrics.

Love is all you need. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, that “the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” That’s it! That’s all you have to do to fulfill the entirety of scripture is to love. When Jewish rabbi’s count the Old Testament laws, they add up to 613. All of which, can be boiled down to one thing: Love. Love your family. Love your friends. Love your neighbor. Love God. Love Jesus. Love the Spirit!

Nice, easy, clean … until you hear what Jesus has to say about love.

“But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies.” Luke 6:27. Have you ever thought about what that really means? Love your enemies? Love sounds nice until you have to do it to people who hate you.

Sure, love is all you need, but the problem is, you have to do it fully. And to love fully means to love everybody – all the time. Just thinking about it, is exhausting. Love is hard work.

You are going to fail at doing this. I don’t say this because I know your inner thoughts and deepest prejudices. I say this because we all fail at this. We fail to love those who were cruel to us. We fail to love those who are different from us. We fail to love those who don’t love us.

All this makes the cross that much more remarkable. Jesus died for those who hated him. He died for those who spit on him. He died for those who put him there. That Love is all we need.

Thanks be to God.

Amen

Wednesday Words, February 12, 2018

Wednesday Words – We Wish You Enough

February 12, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God…

Woe to you who are rich. For you have received your consolation.

- Luke 6:20, 24

I have a new favorite breakfast place. Unfortunately it’s in Galena, but nevertheless, one of these mornings I might make the two hour drive to Otto’s Place for a slice or two of their Banana Bread French Toast.

As I was enjoying a slice of said toast this weekend and sipping on some coffee, I noticed that their official Otto’s Place mug had a saying on the back: We wish you Enough. Enough? Are we ever satisfied with enough? Do we have enough? Is there enough for everybody?

Or think about in another way: To wish enough on somebody is to say, I hope you don’t have too much.

As I browsed through the collection of mugs they had for sale, I saw some of them had the full poem written out. Here’s what it said:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough Hello’s to get you through the final Goodbye.

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I couldn’t help but think about this as I heard Jesus preach in our Gospel for this Sunday. “Blessed are you who are poor…Woe to you who are rich.” If only they all had enough.

Taken in light of the poem, the poor have something the rich lack: appreciation and contentment. It flips the whole thing on it’s head, doesn’t it? Not unlike Jesus’ words, it forces us to open our eyes to people who live in poverty, and not ask “What do they lack?” but “What do they have?”

What do they have to teach us? That’s not a convenient excuse to ignore their physical needs, but an admission for those of us who have much, that maybe our wealth/possessions can become a false idol. That we chase after things, rather than appreciating the gifts that God has given us.

We wish you Enough.

Wednesday Words, Feb. 6, 2019

Wednesday Words 

Pastor Cathy Daharsh 

 

I grew up on Lake Michigan in Sheboygan. I was lucky to see the sunrise on the lake each morning, watch the boats from my window, and enjoy the changing waters daily. I definitely took that for granted growing up and I wish I could still have that view.  

Lots of fishing happened on Lake Michigan. Although, I didn’t particularly like fishing. I didn’t have the patience for it, but I did enjoy hearing fish stories.  

I would walk with my friend Tandi down the long pier and see people patiently trying to catch fish for fun and sometimes for their family's meal. We would also see boats launch daily to supply fish for local businesses and see charter boats for entertainment.  

One summer, when I was about 7 years old, my neighbor, Mr. Ellinger, came over to our house as the sun was starting to go down.   He invited my friend, Tandi and I to see what he caught. He was so excited and wanted to share the good news with us. We were excited for him too, which made us all the more interested in hearing the story of how he caught his fish. He caught a fish that was almost as many inches as we were tall. He hung the fish on a piece of wood and had Tandi and I hold the wood over our shoulders as we held up the fish for a picture. I wish I could show the picture, but my parents weren’t able to find it. I remember the fish being heavy and stinky! The fish was caught after a long day of fishing. Mr. Ellinger had basically given up, but to his surprise he caught the biggest fish of this life.   

In our Gospel reading this week, we hear a fish story about Peter and the others going fishing with Jesus, and they were not happy about it.  They’d been fishing all night and had caught nothing, so they were at the docks cleaning their nets.   

Jesus had drawn such a big crowd that he decided to teach from a boat. He asked Peter to help him out.  When the teaching was over, Jesus wanted to go fishing.  They weren’t interested.  It had been a long night of nothing caught.  What was the point?  Nevertheless, Peter went along with Jesus, and it turned into a great fish story with their boats so full that they almost sank.  

 It was an incredible story, fish to eat and fish to sell.  But Peter had a weird reaction.  “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”  Jesus told him not to be afraid; soon he’d be fishing for people. Going fishing with Jesus can be scary and not exactly what you expect.  

 Fishing can be so peaceful and relaxing.  A day at the beach, quite literally.  Maybe hanging out in a little boat, just you and Jesus. Just waiting for a little tug on the line as you visit and talk, take a snooze in the sunshine, and a throw a few fish in a bucket. Then something happens, and your boat is so full it almost sinks, or there is a huge fish the size of young girls like Mr. Ellinger’s fish. 

 How does that happen?  Peter certainly was taken off guard.  To be honest, we have reason to fear, too.  If we ever thought that having faith would make life easy, it doesn’t take long to get over that idea.  God calls us to love, and sometimes love ends badly.  God calls us to give, and sometimes our gifts are rejected.  God calls us to welcome the stranger, and sometimes the stranger is stranger than we expected. 

God shows us how to fish for people, to care for them, to walk with them.  Sometimes those people leave, or are taken from us, or they hurt us.  Fishing for people is no afternoon of drifting on the lake.  It can be serious business, and it can be a boat so full of answered prayers it almost sinks.  

This wasn’t at all what Peter and the others had in mind. But when you go fishing with Jesus, you never know what you’ll catch. Amen. 

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