Archive for January, 2017

Fifth Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Isaiah 58:8

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 

Isaiah 58:8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rearguard.

This verse follows Isaiah’s admonition to “loose the bonds of injustice,” “share bread with the poor” and to “bring the homeless poor into your home.”  We find our healing through helping others heal.  We find our light by helping others’ light shine through.

Almighty God, we ask your blessings as we seek to do your will through the holy work of helping others.  Amen.

Fifth Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Isaiah 58:6-7

Monday, January 30, 2017

Being a light for others is a theme of the lectionary passages for the fifth Sunday of Epiphany.  These passages include: Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12); Psalm 112:1-9 (10); 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16) and Matthew 5:13-20.

Isaiah 58:6-7Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

We are approaching the season of Lent when many Christians will consider some sort of fast.  Fasts, when done for the right reasons, can help the participant feel a closer connection to God.  These verses remind us that an important way to live in closer communion to God is by taking care of one another, especially those less fortunate than we are.

Gracious God, guide us to be better sharers of the abundance you have provided.  Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Matthew 5:7

Friday, January 27, 2017 

Matthew 5:7Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. (New Revised Standard Version)  You’re blessed when you care.  At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you will find yourselves cared for. (The Message)

A wise manager of mine once told me that most people treat others as they wish to be treated themselves.  Reflect on this idea throughout the day as you interact with others and consider the message you are sending.

Merciful God, help us as we seek to be care givers to one another.  Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Matthew 5:9

Thursday, January 26, 2017 

Matthew 5:9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (New Revised Standard Version)  You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.  That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. (The Message)

Peace is so often thought of as the absence of war, that I found The Message’s translation helpful with this Beatitude.  This is especially true for the workplace, where it is important to remember that we are working together as individual parts of a whole toward God’s plan, not ours.

Loving God, help us keep the main thing, the main thing.  Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Matthew 5:4

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 

Matthew 5:4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (New Revised Standard Version)  How blest are the sorrowful; they shall find consolation. (The New English Bible)

When we have reached the pit of our sorrow, it is easy to feel alone.  Yet Jesus is reminding his disciples and us, that God never leaves us.  God is by our side waiting to comfort and console us in a way that only God can.

Steadfast God, help us to sense your constant presence in our lives. Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Matthew 5:3

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 

Matthew 5:3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (New Revised Standard Version).  How blest are those who know their need of God; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs  (New English Bible).

I sometimes refer to myself as a driver’s-side Christian, an attitude that relegates God to the passenger seat.  With God over there I am free to accept advice on an as needed basis.  May God bless all of our efforts as we seek to give up control and exchange seats.

Gracious God, help each of us be more open to your guidance.  Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Micah 6:7-8

Monday, January 23, 2017

Two very familiar passages, one from Micah and Matthew’s version of the Beatitudes, are offered for the fourth Sunday after Epiphany.  Selections include: Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and Matthew 5:1-12.

Micah 6:7-8“Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”  He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

‘…carry out fairness, be devoted to compassion and move unassumingly with God…’  We live not as islands but as people in community, and the prophet is telling us that how we care for and live with one another matters more than empty rituals.

Prayer: Almighty God, bless our efforts as we seek to do your will among our brothers and sisters.  Amen.

Third Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Matthew 4:21-22

Friday, January 20, 2017 

Matthew 4:21-22As Jesus went from there, he saw two brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.  Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus called them.  People of faith talk a lot about being called – missing your calling and fulfilling your calling.  What I think we often miss is that to hear your call, you have to be listening.  For me, calling is about developing an attitude of listening…listening for that still small voice of God.

Prayer: Loving God, help us to be better listeners in all aspects of our lives.  Help us hear each other, but also help us hear you so that we can know your will for us.  Amen.

Third Sunday of Epiphany 2016 – 1 Corinthians 1:10

Thursday, January 19, 2017 

1 Corinthians 1:10I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.

Church Health is a mission-driven organization.  We talk about our mission frequently because we want “to be united in the same mind and the same purpose” even amidst the great diversity of our staff.  But this is a call to all people of faith, and not just those of us who are members of a particular organization.

God who loves all of us, be with us each day as we seek to reclaim the mission of your Church to care for people in both body and spirit.  Amen.

Third Sunday of Epiphany 2016 – Psalm 27:1

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Psalm 27:1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Most of us prefer to drive rather than be the passengers.  Yet as people of faith, we are asked to trust in God, and in a sense, let God do the steering of our lives.   “Let go and let God,” exclaimed the woman at a coffee shop to me.  “Easier said than done,” I replied.

Protector God, we want to trust you more than our actions often suggest. Strengthen us; abide in us so that we might realize the fullness of our lives in you.  Amen.

Third Sunday of Epiphany 2017 – Isaiah 9:2, 4

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

We are approaching the third Sunday after the Epiphany, and the lectionary passages for this week include: Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 and Matthew 4:12-23.

Isaiah 9:2, 4The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined…For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 

“For a child has been born to us, a son given to us…” (Isaiah 9:6a)  I attended a dinner recently where I was reminded that Christians should strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Today, consider the ways you bring light to and relieve the burdens of others.

Loving God, bless our efforts to help those among us who are oppressed.  Amen.

A Devotion for the King Holiday – 1 John 4:7

Friday, January 13, 2017 

1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of the day when we would live in a beloved community.  We will choose to spend our Monday holiday in various ways, but let’s decide collectively to spending at least a few moments reflecting on a world dictated by love for one another.

Loving God, help us as we genuinely strive to create a beloved community in Memphis.  May our efforts locally play a role in creating a world that is also living as a beloved community.  Amen.


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