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Glimpses are f Grace Dailey Advent Devotion, December 10, 2017

Luke 1:57-68

Text: Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth… (v. 57a)

Now the time came... What time? On the surface, the birth of John the Baptist, the heralder of Jesus. At another level this is the time that most people think of Christmas; only 14 more shopping days. Still, at another level, the time of our own end is drawing near. This is an inescapable fact. At a still deeper level, the time of the real Advent is nearer today than it was yesterday.

Too often we say to ourselves that “we still have time”. But we have less time than we know. We have less time than yesterday. So, Now is the time to make “those” changes that we’ve putting off for too long. Now is the time to seek reconciliation, to let go of past controlling hurts through forgiveness, to become a willing worker in the building of God’s Kingdom.

But it also reminds us that now is the hour of our repentance as we prepare for God’s Tomorrow.

Lord, teach me to number my days that I may obtain a heart of wisdom. Amen.

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.

Cemeteries, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, Luke, Gospel of, Mark, Matthew, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 21, 2017

As I walked through a late 17th-early 18th century cemetery in Scotland I was struck by the beauty of the walled family plots. This one is that of a Maclaren, who completed this life’s journey in 1817.  To the left of the entrance there is a notation that his four year old son, Peter, is buried beside him. A terrible loss for any parent. 

I stepped into the sacred space and discovered to the left “the home” of a person who has not “home.l As I stared at my discovery  I was reminded of the Gadarene demoniac, shunned and feared by his community and forced to live  among the tombs. In the story Jesus healed the man, “clothed him in his right mind” is the phrase that is used. 

I do not pretend to know why someone took up residence among the tombs. It could be because of a number of reasons; illness, bad luck, choice or because he had nowhere else to go. I do know, though, that someone once said that the greatness of a people is seen in how they treat those who at the dawn of life, their children; those in the twilight of life, their elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, their sick, their needy, their disadvantaged, and their disabled. 

Jesus “healed” the demoniac. He restored the man to the community that ostracized him. He gave him a “new” life. Can those of us who take Jesus seriously do any less? Isn’t that what we are called to do? After all, aren’t we supposed to be “the Body of Christ”’on earth? Isn’t that what it means to be a glimpse of grace?

Lord, let me not settle for easy answers or simply look away from the pain of the world. You gave me a mind to use and resources to be a steward over; show me how to do both, to Your glory. Amen. 

Christian, Death, devotion, Easter, Funeral, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 11, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Common Daily Lectionary: Luke 23: 56b-24:12

Text:  “Why do you look for the living among dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (v. 5b)

I have officiated at nearly 1000 funerals and graveside services during my ministry. That is a lot of sorrow, a lot of tears, and a lot of empty places at dinner tables. Without exception, every family has been very kind and gracious to me. At the service I remind the worshipers of the women’s story when they went to the tomb on that first Easter. Today text are the words spoken by  the “two men in dazzling clothes” who stood beside them. Their next words to the women were, “Remember how”.

Remember how …

The greatest legacy that we leave behind as we pass from this Reality into the Next Reality is the memories, the stories that we leave in our wake, the ones that begin with, “Remember how”, or when, or where.

I believe that we create memories every day, either consciously or unconsciously. I believe that more often than not the memories that “stick” come about serendipitously, totally unplanned. I believe that when we wake up each morning we have some power to decide whether we are going to serve God by serving others or serving ourselves, whether we will live large or small lives.

I don’t know a lot because I am rather simple, but I do know that I have officiated at too many funerals to take any day or any one for granted. I know that each day and each moment and each person is a gift and a wonder. Therefore, I am thankful more often than not. How about you?

Lord, teach me to number my days so that I can gain a heart of wisdom, true wisdom. Amen.  (based on Psalm 90, verse 12)

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 10, 2017

Devotional Reading: Luke 23: 44-56a

Text: Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, 51had not agreed to their plan and action. (vs. 50-51a)

“Good and righteous”. The words stopped me cold. That is what happens when you read a passage “devotionally”. I pondered those three words for several minutes, mulling them over in my mind and considering my own life and decisions.

Then I read further and saw that Joseph did not agree with “their plan and action.” He went against the crowd! He didn’t “go along to get along”. And what is even more amazing is that he didn’t make a big deal about it. He simply went and did the right thing.

His example reminds me of a biography I read of the Quaker abolitionist, John Woolman. He was a quiet man, a tailor by trade. He was also widely travelled and a welcomed guest in the homes of all he met. He was recognized as a man of impeccable character. One time he was invited into the home of a slaveowner. Seeing the slaves in the role of “finely tailored servants”, he didn’t make a big scene. He just quietly left, totally unnoticed. When the host realized that Woolman was gone, he felt a deep sense of shame for having offended such a great man. It was said that Woolman was more effective in abolishing slavery in New England than any law because he changed hearts and minds.

Joseph of Arimathea did the right thing, even though it was not the popular thing. I hope that I get better at doing that. How about you?

Lord, help me to recognize and do the right thing, even if it is the unpopular thing. Remind me that I serve the Master and am called to do His will. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 7, 2017

Devotional Reading: Acts 9: 1-9

Text: Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heave heaven flashed around him. (v. 3)

The Scots say that there are “thin places” in this world; places where heaven and earth touch. I believe that there are such places. Often they have been sanctified by generations of prayer.

I also believe that there are mystical experiences; times when we are touched by the Eternal in a very special and inexplicable way. I have had two. I seldom share them because they are simply too holy. But Kweisi Mfume, previously known as Frizzell Gerald Gray, wrote of his mystical experience in his autobiography No Free Ride. In the briefest of moments, out of the clear blue, his life was forever changed. His name change symbolized  a new beginning, a new life. I shared his story with a group of teens in a residential treatment center. It gave them pause and a new vocabulary.

Today’s reading is about Saul’s mystical experience. Over the years I have learned four things about such experiences. They come when you least expect it. They cannot be wished for or manufactured. They change your life for the better. Finally, they can only be validated within a community of faith.

In following Jesus there is no such thing as a Lone Ranger.  God created in plurality. Jesus called individuals into a community. We find ourselves, our true selves, only when we are in communion with others. We cannot go it alone. Nor were we ever meant to.

Lord, guide me to the community in which I can be my true self; the community that will challenge me and help me grow, that will challenge me to use my talents to glorify You. Amen.

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

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 3, 2017

Devotional Reading: Luke 22: 52-62

Text: …but Peter was following at a distance. (vs. 54b)

I once read that the problem with many Christians is that they have been inoculated with the faith; they have been exposed to Christianity just enough not to catch a full-blown case. I refer to these people as “cultural Christians”. In either case, we follow Jesus up to a point; up to the point of finding Jesus hard.

In that way we are a lot like Peter, following Jesus from a distance. When getting too close to Jesus is uncomfortable, we back away. We keep silent in the face of jokes that denigrate others, let alone abuse them. We look the other way and pretend that we do not see the injustice in our midst.  We hope that someone else will do something because we are afraid to do anything. We use prayer as a shield against involvement. In a thousand and one different ways, like Peter, we deny Jesus.

The story of Peter does not end with his following at a distance. Jesus knew that Peter’s faith was weak or less than mature, to be kind. He came to Peter again after the Resurrection. He continues to come to us again and again, always calling, always encouraging and always prodding through the circumstances of our lives to become stronger disciples.

Lord, do not give up on me even when I give up on You. Let me hear Your Voice continually in my faith journey until at the very end I hear your whisper saying “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Amen.