Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for December 5, 201

Daily Reading: Matthew 21: 12-22

Text: The blind and the lame came to him, and he cured them. (v. 14)

Since the mid-1990s I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at this time of year. And each year I see something new in the old tale. Today’s reading from Matthew’s gospel caused me to pause and consider one scene in particular.

It occurred during the visit of the Spectre or Ghost of Christmas Present. Scrooge watched as his underpaid clerk Bob Catchit came home to a place of the love that old Scrooge longed to have. Cratchit softly told his wife something Tiny Tim said on the way home from Christmas Day worship.

“Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself,” Cratchit whispered, “and he thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.” A glimpse of Grace.

Glimpses of grace are seen whenever the lame walk and the blind see. It is witnessed whenever lifeless tradition is swept out of the lives of the oppressed and the forgotten. It is heard whenever we listen to the voice of the quiet who often see this world more clearly than we do. Glimpses of Grace are reflected in the lives of those who take the Child named Jesus seriously.

Lord, let me see Your Presence in the presence of those who the rest of the world do es not see. Amen.

 

 

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for November 28, 2017

Many serious followers of Jesus are entering a spiritual time called Advent. It is a season of serious soul-searching, spiritual reflection. But it is also a time of fun and celebration as we prepare for Christmas.

One of the traditions of my family is something called the “Advent Wreath.” My wife made one of cloth many years ago, and it has been used in our household for as long as I can remember. But this year we have a new Advent wreath to mark off the days before Christmas. It is a handmade wreath constructed by our oldest granddaughter. She is only 10 years old. She used her own money to buy buttons, yarn and an assortment of candy to use on the wreath. With an embroidery hoop and a piece of cloth she drew a Christmas tree, sewed on buttons, and tied candy to the wreath’s buttons with strands of yarn. I can only imagine the time that she spent on the project. When she gave it to us at Thanksgiving I saw not only a granddaughter’s work of art but the embodiment of pure Love.

I suspect that that is really what Advent is about; opening ourselves to receive a Holy Love; a Love so great that the Creator of All that Was and Is and Will be became one of us and with us, a visible manifestation of an invisible holy truth. The heart of this season is not condemnation but salvation. As John wrote in the gospel that bears his name, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him. (3:17)

Each morning I will be able to take a piece of candy from the wreath and be reminded of the sweetest love of all; a forgiving, redeeming, restoring holy love. And that is a glimpse of grace.

Lord God, in this time of Advent preparation let me be ever thankful for your love that will not let me go. Amen.

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for November 14,2017

” Whenever I come into this place I feel the Presence of God,” someone said to me a few years ago as she walked to a yoga class. Often she would quietly sit in the sanctuary after class.

We need a sense of Awe in our lives. Especially in times like now. We need a sense of the Holy to keep us grounded, to remind us that we are the creature not the Creator.

Sometimes this sense of the Holy, this sense of Awe comes at seemingly serendipitous times like the first time a new parent feels the breath of their child upon the cheek or when we see a loved one pass peacefully from this Existence into the next. One moment they are here and the next, they are somewhere where we have yet to go. Such moments are a glimpse of grace if only we had the eyes to see.

Lord, I am surrounded by Your grace. Awaken me to a sense of Wonder and Awe so that I can see the Holy in my midst. Amen.

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for November 11, 2017

The Church is like a lighthouse shining in the dark. 


257 steps from ground to balcony. This is equivalent to climbing a 12 story building. The guidebooks say that it is a strenuous climb. 

I’m talking about the Cape Hatteras lighthouse on the outer banks of North Carolina. A few years ago I climbed to the balcony of the lighthouse. The view was amazing. There is a picture of the lighthouse, painted by an aunt, hanging above the desk in my office. I have it there to remind me what it means to be a group of people who decide to take Jesus seriously, to encourage each other to live Another way, the Jesus Way. 

Lighthouses warn ships of danger in the night. Jesus called those who would walk in His Way–the way of Truth and Life–to be a light to the world warning people of the dangers inherent in the world’s values. He never called His followers to be comfortable in their homes, church buildings or country clubs.  

Jesus continuously challenges us to go where He went and to touch those whom He touched. We “give themselves away” and in order to find “our very selves”. 

Only the Church is called the Body of Christ here on earth. When we live into our call we become tiny glimpses of Grace. 

Lord, make me Your instrument. Send me where You will to do what You would have me do. May I find my true self in serving You. Amen. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 30, 2017

The Gift of FriendshipI spent the morning having coffee with two long time friends. Many people would say that I wasted my morning because I didn’t get anything tangible accomplished. But they would be wrong. The time I spent with my friends refreshed my soul. I left our time together the better for it.

You can be yourself with old friends. You don’t have to put on airs or pretend to be someone you’re not. Friends don’t judge you.  They may question and prod and be disappointed, but they won’t judge. They know your warts and still want to spend time with you. You know their’s, too. 

Friendships are one of God’s greatest gifts. Examples of great friendships are scattered throughout Christian Scripture. David and Jonathan come most readily to mind. In the gospel of John Jesus talked about how a friend will lay down their life for another. And then he added, “and you (the disciples) are my friends.

Friendships are truly a glimpse of Devine grace. 

Lord God, thank You for the gifts of friendship and fellowship. Grant that I may be a true friend to those whom You bring into my life. Amen

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace DailynDevotion for October 25, 2017

And God said, I will set my bow in the sky and it will remind me that I have made a promise to you and your descendants. (Genesis 9:13, 14)

I awoke to a rainbow this morning. After making a cup of coffee I stepped out onto the balcony and looked over at “the squinty” bridge in Glasgow, Scotland. And there it was, a rainbow! A “promise remembered”! A great start to a new day, one that was mixed with exhilaration and small disappointments. 

Throughout the day I remembered the rainbow as well as what it meant; God’s promise First given Noah and to all of his descendants until the end of time. What was a weapon of war became a symbol of reconciliation and hope and peace and Love. 

God is not angry with us; disappointed at times, but not angry. God does never writes us off, even if others do. Rather, God calls us to a new way of life, a way of life that sets aside selfish ambition and seeks to “enjoy and glorify God forever”, for that is why we were created. 

Lord God, thank you for the promise that You will neither forget or forsake us. Teach me to live in such a way You will be glorified. Amen

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 11, 2017

The Lost has been found!

I doubt that there was rejoicing in heaven, but there was rejoicing in my heart! All that being said, those who know me best may think that I seem to only think 5 minutes ahead but in reality I always have a Plan B, C, D and, at times, even an E in the back of my head. I don’t know why my brain works this way. Maybe this hardwiring was set when I was a toddler. A “family systems” approach would seem to say this. Maybe it occurred when I tried to learn how to master chess–I never did, by the way. Maybe it was reading a lot of biographies of military generals and Presidents in my youth–I read few of them nowadays. Maybe it was because I admired football quarterbacks who didn’t stay in “the pocket” and who could “scramble” toward a successful play or basketball point guards who made things happen. I could do neither. Maybe it’s “just because.”

President Eisenhower once said that plans are worthless but planning is essential. Some are puzzled by his seemingly contradictory statement, but I understood it immediately. Charles Darwin would have, too. He didn’t say that it is the strongest who survive, but the most adaptable. 

Life is unpredictable. There will always be detours, missteps and “unforeseen” things along the way. Consider the Old Testament figure Joseph; Joseph as in “Joseph and the Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat” fame (see Genesis, chapters 37-50).  His life path was full of twists and turns but ultimately he ended up right where he needed to be. I suspect that the same will be true of you and me. It may not be where we wanted to be but it will be where we need to be for whatever Eternal reason.

The Apostle Paul once wrote that he has learned the secret of being content. The secret is relying on the strength, power, wisdom and love witnessed in Jesus.  Not my will, but Thy will be done. (Luke 22:42) Jesus was at one with God. Those who wish to take Him seriously are invited to seek that same fellowship. 

So here are three little glimpses of grace: 1. Take Proverbs 19:21 to heart–Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 2. Be adaptable. (Things never go as planned, so deal with it!) 3. Remember, Tomorrow, Today will be a memory. Make it a good one. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Glimpse of Grace in a Church Garth (edited)

For the last four years a mallard nested in our church garth—a walled outdoor garden courtyard located in the middle of the church building. She first showed up when the garth was being excavated so that new drainage tile could be laid. While it was under construction we had an unusually wet spring which resulted in a six foot deep hole filling with runoff water. This “pond” surrounded by high brick walls must have been just too inviting to resist. She saw not a garth with a water-filled mud hole, but a safe small pond. Over the years she has been dubbed, “Garth Duck.”
    These last years we watched her nest, give birth and even mourn. Last year all of her little ones died, one by one. I hated going into the garth each day knowing that I would find another little body. We wondered what killed them. We knew that it wasn’t a predator. Had they been poisoned? Was there an unknown toxin? Maybe the fertilizer?  It wasn’t until after the last duckling died that someone mentioned that our Associate Minister, who left the previous year, put feed out each morning the previous two years! All this time I thought they forged(this should be foraged) off the land! But no, they had been fed! 
    After the last duckling died it was heartbreaking to see the mother walk around the garth mournfully calling to her brood which was no more.  Each evening she would utter what can only be described as a mournful cry to the setting sun. I felt terrible about what had happened and vowed that if she returned, there would not be a repeat.
    Well, as I said, she came back this year in all of her glory. It was almost as if she wanted to make up for lost time as she  laid fourteen eggs! Patiently she sat on her next(this should be nest) under an evergreen shrub. And then, a couple of weeks ago while the Benediction was being said at the outdoor worship service, she decided to take her brood on their first morning walk, around the perimeter of the garth to the excitement of all the worshipers! Needless to say, God gave a greater Benediction that day!
    As I sit in the minister’s study watching Garth Duck and her little ones on an early morning run-about, I see a glimpse of grace. What drew her back to this spot over the past four years, especially after a year of great sadness? Watching her silhouette against the high brick walls of the garth, I think that I know what it was. In the words of the Psalm, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer…in whom I take refuge.” (18:2) Surrounded by the sanctuary of a worship space, she found true sanctuary, even in the shadow of sadness.

Standard