Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, faith, Holy Spirit, Luke, Gospel of, Mark, Matthew, Parable, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 22, 2017

The winds in Glasgow, Scotland today have been particularly blustery, whipping flags and pushing pedestrians. While coming back from worship, suddenly a strong gust shot up the street stripping the hood of my jacket from my head and then just as abruptly turning around and tossing the hood back where it was! 

In the afternoon, as I read a book I looked out a picture window standing before me. I watched the ever-changing blue-gray clouds of October dance across the sky.  

Jesus once said  that the Holy Spirit is a lot like the wind. We can hear the sound of and even feel it. One moment it can buffer our progress, and the next moment it can push us forward as if to say, “Hurry! Onward!” 

I think that deep down many of us don’t trust the Holy Spirit. We are afraid of it. We are afraid of it because it is so wild, untamable, and free. Yet, it calls to us throughout all of the seasons of life; in the cool winds of spring, the warm lazy winds of summer, the changing winds of fall and the frigid winds of winter. 

If we can but go with this wind in all of our seasons, we can become a glimpse of grace.

Lord God, give me the courage to go where the wind of Your Spirit will lead me. Let me be not afraid. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Holy Spirit, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 4, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Acts 2: 1-21

Text:  And suddenly there came the sound of the rush of a mighty wind… (v. 2a)

When I was a boy I was in school when a tornado hit, seemingly out of nowhere. This was in a day before severe weather sirens, weather radios and cell phone alerts. School had just let out for the day so most of the students were on their way home. Only a relatively few of us remained in the building. Miraculously, no one was injured. The tornado forever changed the school, though, as the destruction was nearly total.

The thing that I remember most was the eerie silence accompanied by a loud roaring wind that seemingly occurred simultaneously.  For the longest time, decades in fact, whenever a thunderstorm would roll in, my stomach would lurch. I wonder if that is what the experience of Pentecost was like in today’s reading. Seemingly out of nowhere and without warning there was the rush of a mighty wind that filled the entire house as the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles like tiny tongues of fire. The apostles were filled with the Spirit of God. This Spirit changed them forever. They became bold and innovative proclaiming the Good News, the gospel of the Jesus they knew, even at the risk of their lives!

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of gentleness, the hymnwritere says, blowing through the wilderness, calling and free. It is the spirit of restlessness that stirs us from placidness.  The Holy Spirit calls from tomorrow and breaks ancient schemes as it frees us from the bondage of Yesterday and allows captives to dream dreams. (Taken from the lyrics of “Spirit” by James K. Manley)

On this Pentecost may you be touched by the life changing Spirit of God. May you be stirred from placidness, dream dreams and make bold decisions. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Holy Spirit, I John, Prayer, Presbyterian Church (USA), Temptation, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for May 1 2017

Devotional Reading: I John 1: 3: 19-4:6

Text: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (v. 4:1)

Test the spirits. Not every one of my whims is God given. Nor is every idea divine. I need to test the spirits. When the writer of the letter we call I John gave this advice he knew how easily any of us can be led astray. As Robert Bellah wrote centuries later in Habits of the Heart, we can be fooled by the cultural and non-biblical myth that everything is a matter of personal opinion, belief and preference.

The early Church knew better. They believed that an individual found wholeness only within a greater community. Charismatic leaders can too easily lead us astray (Recall Hitler or do a Google search on Jim Jones, for an example).

There is a sure-fire threefold test that can be used to “test the spirits.”

First, ask if it is biblical. Is there overwhelming evidence of it in the bible’s story of faith.

Second is it God-glorifying as opposed to Self-glorifying. We can do all kinds of mental gymnastics to convince ourselves that what we are doing is really for God. So, maybe we need to ask ourselves, “If I never got the credit, would I still want to do it?” This takes a lot of serious honest soul searching. And, it isn’t foolproof because fools can be very ingenious in fooling themselves.

Third, does the larger community of faith that I am an active part of agree that it meets the first two standards; ie. biblical and God-glorifying?

In Infinite wisdom God decides to create us in the Divine image and make us stewards–responsible for God’s Creation. We are to care not only for all things of the earth but for every living thing for all of it belongs to God. And, we are to care for one another. Not every inkling is Heaven sent. We need to test the spirits.

Lord, give me a heart of wisdom and the courage to test the spirits lest I be tossed to and fro by the fickle winds of the world around men. Amen.


Christian, devotion, faith, Holy Spirit, Orphan, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Gospel of John, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace for April 18, 2017

Devotional Reading: John 14: 15-31.

Text: I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.

I remember the first time that I told someone that no matter how old we are, it hurts to become an orphan. At first they looked at me queerly, but then a knowing look dawned across their face as a tear welled up in his eye. He was the oldest sibling and I had just performed the funeral service of his last parent. And although the man was in his 60s it dawned on him; for a moment he felt like a child again. I became an orphan at 53 years of age. When a person becomes an orphan they realize that there is a part of their past that is forever gone, the part that was contained only in their parents’ memory.

It has been said that you are never truly an adult until your last parent dies; when you become an orphan. I think that this is true because it is only then that you realize that you are now “on the front lines of life.” You may have been independent for years, even decades, but while your parents are alive there seems to be an imaginary buffer between you and life’s final chapter. Even if they are frail and you are now taking care of them, they are still there…that buffer. With their passing life suddenly takes on a more serious air.

Jesus told His disciples that he would not leave them orphaned. He would not leave them alone. They would not be by themselves, left alone in a world that neither understood the lessons that Jesus taught nor those who followed His teachings. He promised them Another, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Even though He would no longer be with them in the way that He was, He would still be with them. They needed to simply listen to the promptings of the Spirit in the community of faith. He was talking about more than a memory. He was talking about a real Presence, touched and tasted in the sacraments and felt in the blessed community of faith.

My mom and dad have been gathered to their ancestors, in the quaint words of the Old Testament, for several years now. They joined the Cloud of Witnesses of the Letter to the Hebrews, the Church Triumphant. But they are still with me. I catch glimpses of them in the mirror sometimes. I hear their voices in my head; “Slow and steady,” “Don’t worry about sleep, just rest with your eyes closed.”

We have been blessed by those who influenced and guided us. We have been more than blessed by the One who promised not to leave us orphaned.

Lord, I offer prayers of thanksgiving for all of those, known and unknown, remembered and unremembered who have touched my life with love. I offer my greatest prayers of thanksgiving, though, for the One who promised not to leave me orphaned. In His name, Amen.