Advent devotion, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed theology, Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Advent Devotion for December 20, 2017

Devotional Reading from The Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 1: 26-38

Text: then Mary said (to the angel), “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” And then the angel left. (v. 38)

Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word. Such faith. Such submission. Such servanthood. This is the heart of what it means to take Jesus seriously.

When we say that “Jesus is Lord”, do we mean it? Is He our “all in all” or is that just a lyric in a song’s refrain? Are some places in our lives off limits to God? How about some of decisions?

Advent calls us to take a spiritual inventory. It is an invitation to recommit ourselves and to rededicate our lives to the One in Whose Image we have been created. It is to walk a new path or return to an old one; a path that is the Way to Truth and Life, real Life. It is to be a living glimpse of grace.

Lord God, let Mary’s response to the angel he my response to You. Use me as You will so that in the end You May be glorified. Amen.

Standard
Advent devotion, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Gospel of John, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Advent Devotion for December 17,2017

Devotional Reading from Daily Common Lectionary: John 5: 30-47

Text: I can do nothing on my own… (30a)

While I understand the sentiment and the power behind its lyrics, one of my least favorite songs is “I Did It My Way. There is an air of arrogant selfishness about it. None of us can do it my way. None of us can do anything totally my way! We stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. We have been helped by hands that reached out to us.

If anyone could have done it “my way” it would have been Jesus, and he knew better. “I can do nothing on my own”, he said.

Maybe in this season of Advent it is time for us to quit asking God to bless our plans and our dreams, and instead ask God what his plans are for us…for me are. It is only then that we’ll find that which we truly seek.

Lord, show we where you want me and I will go. Only then can I see and be a glimpse of grace. Amen.

Standard
Advent devotion, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, faith, Matthew, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Advent Devotion for December 16, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Matthew 24: 1-14

Text: The Jesus asked them, “Do you see all these buildings?  I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (v. 2)

Everything in this world is temporary. Everything. This is hard for us to accept, but it is the truth. It is a truth that we know instinctively but too often deny.

In today’s reading Jesus’ disciples marveled at the beauty of the ancient city of Jerusalem. In the midst of their wonder, Jesus reminded them not to become too attached to things of this world for they are fleeting.

Once upon a time there was a holy man who had a precious tea cup. His grandfather gave it to him before he took his final orders. It was his prized possession. One day a strong wind blew it off of the shelf and it broke into a hundred pieces. A fellow holy man came into the room as the man swept up the pieces of the cup. “I’m sorry,” the second man said. “You must be very sad. I know how much that cup meant to you.” “No,” the holy man replied, “I am thankful.” This surprised the friend. “I don’t understand,” the friend said. “Well,” the holy man replied, “now the cup is more precious because it is no more. I will never drink from it again, but I have the joy of many memories. I am thankful that Grandfather brought it from the Old Country and gave it to me. I am thankful for the many cups of tea I drank from it.”

After reading the story I began to see the things of this world differently. I try to focus on the pleasures of this moment and become thankful for the memories that have graced me.

Maybe in this season of Advent you can learn how to be less attached to things of this world and learn to be thankful for the Present moment. For in the Present moment there are glimpses of grace.

Lord, let me not become so in love with the things of this world and I miss Your Grace contained in this and every moment. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Advent devotion, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, Matthew, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed theology, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Advent Devotion for December 15, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Matthew 23:27-39

Text: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, …oh, how I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, but you would not. (v. 37)

At times I wonder if God doesn’t get awfully frustrated with us. I imagine God looking upon the world that He created good and sees accelerating it being desecrated. I wonder if the Almighty doesn’t look at how we treat one another and just shake his head. The selfishness, the cruelty, the destruction.

Maybe God became one of us to show us a better way; a Way that leads to Life, real Life, Eternal Life That begins Now and flows int Eternity. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary and Joseph God became one of us and one with us. As the letter to the Colossians says, Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of the invisible God. I tell both the young and the questioning, if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you’ve tried your way and it’s not working, why not try taking Jesus seriously.

You can start by reading what is commonly called The Sermon on the Mount or The Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3-12) Practice, consciously and intentionally, the teachings. My favorite has also been the one about being a peacemaker (There is a difference between being a peacemaker and a peacekeeper, but that’s a different glimpse.) Which one is yours? I’d really like to know.

Lord, move my heart to take Jesus seriously. Give me the grace to live into the Beatitudes. Amen.

Standard
Advent devotion, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, Matthew, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed theology, Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Advent Devotion for December 14, 2017

img_1631-8Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Matthew 23: 13-26

Text: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. (v. 23)

Several years ago I noticed that the tile in our bathroom shower seemed to be bubbling on the surface. I never saw anything like this before. Over the next several weeks the bubbles began to break and paint began to peel away from the tile, exposing 1950’s coral colored tile! The previous owner, in getting the house ready to sell, decided to paint the bathroom tile white in order to make it look more modern! They presented a false reality in order to sell a house!

I thought of this as I read today’s reading, especially verse 23. For as long as I can remember I have been attracted to that verse. Jesus criticized those who “play” or “pretend” to being faithful to God rather than doing the hard work of being a faithful. They are being “hypocritical”.

It is this hypocrisy that causes a lot of people to say that they are “spiritual” but not “religious”. It is people who say that they take Jesus seriously and tell you that you should take Jesus seriously but there seems to be little evidence that they take Jesus seriously in their own lives Monday through Saturday. They are the ones who gossip and “tsk-tsk” about others or never find a “church” that “feeds them spiritually”. They are the ones who are quick to criticize and condemn but the least likely to forgive.  They are the ones of who U 2’s Bono once said in an interview, “I love Jesus; it’s Christians I can’t stand.” My wife is fond of saying that someone should not be surprised to learn that you go to church!

Religion is simply the discipline that helps us practice the teachings of Jesus and do the work of God’s Kingdom. When religion or the maintenance of an institution becomes an end in and of itself, it ceases to be Holy.  If our religion does not challenge us to work for Justice and Mercy than it has, as Jesus said in another place, become nothing better than a white-washed tomb. Dead.

Lord, let my “religion” be alive and push me to do the work of Your Kingdom. Amen.

 

Standard
Advent devotion, Blindness, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, Matthew, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace a Daily Advent Devotion for December 12, 2017

Devotional Reading from Daily Common Lectionary: Matthew 22:34-46

Text: “Which commandment in the law is the greatest commandment? (v. 36)

When Jesus was asked what is the most important thing to do in life, He gave a twofold answer; love God enough not to place Him at the center of your life, and love others . It seems that you cannot do the former without the latter. If there is enmity between you and another you are also separated from God.

In Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol Scrooge began to rediscover himself, his true self, as he began to see a reflection of the Holy in the people and lives of others. Like the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas, his heart and his world had grown small.

Selfishness is a subtle thing. It is also a comfortable because we find ourselves no longer challenged. What we don’t realize is that selfishness is really an atrophying of the soul.

Our American culture encourages a certain smallness of spirit with its increasing Balkanization resulting in the loss of a sense of a greater community and the Common Good”. We begin to believe that the Common Good is synonymous with “my good.”

But when we take the effort to see the reflection of the Holy in our neighbor we find ourselves suddenly changing. We are growing.

During this season of Advent I’ve taken up a simple spiritual exercise. I’ve taken to wishing everyone a Merry Christmas for the message of Christmas is really a message of God’s Love breaking into the dark corners of the world. It is about a Love so great that God came into this world not to condemn it, but to save it. (John 3:17). That message is a glimpse of grace.

Lord, let the of scales that blind me fall from my eyes. Remove the barnacles of Life’s experiences which hinder me, fall from my being. Amen.

Standard
Advent devotion, Change, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed theology, United Church of Christ (UCC)

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.

Standard