Archive for July, 2011

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Genesis 32:24 & Matthew 14:13

Friday, July 29, 2011 – Proper 13 & Ordinary 18, Year A

Genesis 32:24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

Matthew 14:13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself.

These scriptures are tied together in that both Jacob and Jesus wanted to be alone. Jacob feared for his life, and Jesus had just learned of the death of John the Baptist. Through wrestling with a man, and through the miracle feeding of the 5,000, God’s presence with both men is made apparent. No matter how alone we might feel, God remains a steadfast presence in our lives.

Prayer: Eternal God, when we go through dark hours in our lives, may we be especially mindful of your constant presence. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Matthew 14:13-14

Thursday, July 28, 2011 – Proper 13 & Ordinary 18, Year A

Matthew 14:13-14Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.

This is the start of Matthew’s account of the feeding of the 5,000 miracle. In the verses prior to this one, Jesus has just learned that his friend, John the Baptist, has been killed, so Jesus was trying to get away, likely to grieve, but the crowds followed him. Duty often gets in the way in our own lives, and I take comfort knowing that Jesus had similar struggles.

Prayer: Compassionate God, thank you for moments of solitude when we can grieve or heal or rest. During those other times we are unable to separate from the world around us, thank you for being with us, giving us strength to continue. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Psalm 145:8-9, 14

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 – Proper 13 & Ordinary 18, Year A

Psalm 145:8-9, 14The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.

I can’t help but notice the language of healing in the last verse. We can fall and be bowed down in so many ways, both physically and spiritually. God is there for us helping us toward health and wholeness.

Prayer: Gracious God of compassion, we give thanks to you for being by our side throughout our life journey. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Genesis 32:24

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 – Proper 13 & Ordinary 18, Year A

Genesis 32:24 Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

Jacob had stolen his father’s birthright from his brother Esau, and he had just heard that Esau was approaching with 400 men. Fearing for his life, he sent his family away to face Esau alone. In what Jacob thought was his darkest hour, he learns that God was with him, just as God is with us.

Prayer: Steadfast God, may we always sense your presence in our lives, especially at those times we are feeling most alone. AMEN

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Genesis 32:24-26, 28, 29b

Monday, July 25, 2011 – Proper 13 & Ordinary 18, Year A

I hope you were able to keep cool over the very hot weekend. The lectionary selections for this week include: Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 17:1-7, 15; Romans 9:1-5 and Matthew 14:13-21. The alternate readings include: Isaiah 55:1-5 and Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21.

Genesis 32:24-26, 28, 29bJacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”…Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”…And there he blessed him.

Have you ever wrestled with God? From simple choices to life-altering decisions, I would guess most of us have done just that at least once. The good news in this scripture is that even the great forebears of our faith have wrestled with God.

Prayer: Patient God, we often refuse to hear your voice, your direction. Continue to nudge us toward you despite ourselves. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from Church Health Center – Matthew 13:33

Friday, July 22, 2011 – Proper 12 & Ordinary 17, Year A

Matthew 13:33[Jesus] told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.

When I was young, you could make pizzas from a box. Warm water was added to the flour and yeast and set aside in a warm place. After a few minutes the dough had doubled in size. You only have to forget to add yeast once to realize that small things can have large impacts. It’s true in cooking and in the kingdom of heaven.

Prayer: Gracious God, may our individual actions work in wonderful ways to build your kingdom. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Matthew 13:31-32

Thursday, July 21, 2011 – Proper 12 & Ordinary 17, Year A

Matthew 13:31-32[Jesus] put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and makes nests in its branches.

We certainly work on big ideas at the Church Health Center, and big ideas are important. BUT, this passage reminds us that kingdom-work is also accomplished through all the little mustard seeds we plant each day, like kind words and patient ears that show our faith to those around us.

Prayer: God of mystery, we don’t know the impact our actions will have on those who come before us today, but we pray that our work will be fruitful for your kingdom. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Romans 8:31b, 38-39

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 – Proper 12 & Ordinary 17, Year A

Romans 8:31b, 38-39If God is for us, who is against us? For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I love this passage. Despite feelings of loneliness and isolation, despite our fears, despite forces of nature and forces of human creation, God is our steadfast, ever-present ally.

Prayer: Gracious God, keep us mindful that you are always by our side, and help us help those who come before us today to feel your presence, too. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Romans 8:26-27

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 – Proper 12 & Ordinary 17, Year A

Romans 8:26-27…the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Paul speaks of one of God’s great mysteries. God knows our needs before we utter them. We can take great comfort in that assurance.

Prayer: A prayer from the Sarum Primer of the 13th Century English Church and set to music by John Rutter, sung in my church from time to time.

God Be In My Head

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in mine eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in mine heart and in my thinking.
God be at my end and in my departing.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – 1 Kings 3:5, 9-10

Monday, July 18, 2011 – Proper 12 & Ordinary 17, Year A

The lectionary selections for this week include Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Romans 8:26-39 and Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. Alternate selections this week include 1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 128 and Psalm 119:129-136. Have a blessed week!

1 Kings 3:5, 9-10At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” [And Solomon said], “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

If you could have a wish granted, what would it be? Solomon asked God to help him know what was right. We live in an often confusing world of mixed messages. May Solomon’s wish be our wish as well.

Prayer: Loving God, grant us a measure of Solomon’s wisdom so that we might be the people of faith you would have us be. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Matthew 13:27-30

Friday, July 15, 2011 – Proper 11 & Ordinary 16, Year A

Matthew 13:27-30 – [Jesus is speaking of the parable of the wheat and the tares.] “And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where then did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No, for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.’”

We sometimes forget how interdependent we are and how our actions can have unintended consequences. We have read this week about a patient God who is slow to anger and gentle with each of us. God asks us to do the same for one another.

Prayer: Wonderful God, help us in our journey to be the neighbors you would have us be. AMEN.

Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Psalm 86:15

Thursday, July 14, 2011 – Proper 11 & Ordinary 16, Year A

Psalm 86:15But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

I participated in a Bible study on David once. It struck me that, at some of the times God was disappointed with David, it was because David didn’t have faith that God had forgiven him. This passage offers another wonderful image of God whose love for and faith in us is unwavering.

Prayer: Merciful God, you love us more than we love ourselves. You have a faith in us that we can only imagine. Help us be gentler with ourselves. AMEN.


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