Week of February 2–8, 2015 – God’s Freely Given Love by V. Bruce Rigdon
Read Isaiah 40:21–31
Meditation: Have you ever felt as if there were no hope for anything good in your life to happen, as if every possibility for your dreams to come true had been destroyed? That was the plight of those to whom this passage is directed. Babylon had invaded Judah, destroyed the Temple, threatened all of the institutions from which the people expected God’s faithfulness to be manifested and had carried many of its inhabitants into a long and bitter captivity. How could things have been worse?
The prophet’s words remind his readers and all of us that God is not like any other god. God is the source, the creator of everything that exists. God actively cares about everything that exists. Past, present and future, all things are in God’s hands.
We cannot hide from God or presume that God does not know or care about our affairs. God is the source of all the energy in the cosmos. Nothing exhausts God, and God gives life, energy, and renewal as God sees fit. Therein lies our hope!
God cares about us so much that God strengthens the weak, the faint, and the powerless. Doesn’t that describe us? And if we get tired and grow weary or grow old and sick, God renews our strength so that we can walk, run, and yes, even fly. It’s enough to cause a rebirth of hope! So, what do we have to do to experience this renewal of courage and hope? “Wait,” the prophet says. Wait for God to act. And in the meantime live as if the promised reign of God is already here!
Loving God, teach me to see your presence in the world around me and to respond to the needs of my neighbors, especially the weak, the powerless, the poor, and the discouraged. Amen.
Week of February 9–15, 2015 – The Light of the Glory of God by Sarah S. Howell
Read Mark 9:2–9
Meditation: The Transfiguration is a narrative in which revelation and mystery meet. Jesus’ place among the prophets is confirmed as he appears with Elijah and Moses, and a voice from on high declares his relationship to and authority from God. The disciples are bewildered, afraid, and unsure how to respond.
Christian prayers and hymnody have strongly reinforced the idea of giving glory to God or glorifying God. Some traditions prioritize prayer or morality or social justice. While all these aspects have their place within the worship and work of the triune God, often they nudge out time we might spend simply marveling at God’s glory. Peter is so thrown by the power of the divine presence that he scrambles to do something to commemorate or preserve the moment rather than receive it.
Glory is not something God needs us to give; when we glorify God, we participate in the glory that comes from God. When we catch a glimpse of God’s glory (or perhaps even receive an incredible vision), we do not need to do anything or say anything. Our only response should be one of awe.
The word awe in its original sense implied reverence, admiration, and fear. The Transfiguration as an event is “awe-full”—not bad but full of awe. What role does awe play in your life? Do you tend to want to resolve every mystery or explain every revelation? What would it look like for you to see and receive the glory of God in your life today?
God, help me pause today to see the dazzling light of your glory, whether it bursts upon my heart like a sunrise or filters stubbornly through the cracks. Amen.
Week of February 16–22, 2015 – Walking through Lent by Tim Whitaker
Read 2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10
Meditation: At one time we experienced the grace of baptism as a bath and a new birth and an infusion of light into our hearts. Then we let ambitions, daily preoccupations, and distractions put the memory of our experience of God’s grace behind us.
It is not only those who forsake the church and the Christian life who do not fulfill their baptism. Even those of us who remain in the church acknowledge seasons when our conviction of God’s truth and our enthusiasm for Christian living become dull.
Today the apostle Paul calls to us, “We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.” Isn’t our deepest spiritual yearning not to miss the grace God has to give us and to become the person God created us to be? This is our true desire, but embarrassment about our need, fear of change, or hesitancy about making commitments have kept us from fulfilling our baptism for too long. Before it is too late, we can approach this Lent as our time, the time we need to renew our faith so that we do not walk in vain.
Walking in the Christian life is not easy. Paul speaks eloquently about the sacrifices he and the other apostles made. Yet what shines through his testimony is his conviction: It has been worth it! See how we have been transformed! If we had resisted Christ’s call, we would never have grown in “purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God.”
Spirit of the living God, enable me to seize this time of renewal so that I do not walk in vain. Amen.
Week of February 23–March 1, 2015 – Worthy of Trust by Elise Erikson Barrett
Read Psalm 22:25–31
Meditation: The aspect I found most terrifying about being a mother to infants was the absolute trust they placed in me. I could have been terrible or wonderful, loving or abusive—on that first day, they loved me just because I was there.
But babies learn quickly whether or not they have trustworthy caregivers. They notice if they will be fed when they are hungry, if they will be kept clean, if they will be picked up and cuddled, if their bids for connection will be met by loving attention. With every feeding in the wee hours, every sponge bath, every snuggle and smile, I sent messages to my babies. You are loved. You are safe. You can count on me.
I did this imperfectly. But adequate parents teach their children to have faith in them—to ask for what they need, to cry when they are hurting, to rejoice when they appear.
The psalmist says, “Those who seek him shall praise the LORD.” Another way to express this might be, “Those who cry out to their Parent will find that God is praiseworthy.” Worthy of praise, worthy of trust. Far more than even the most loving human parent and transcending the brokenness we unconsciously imprint on one another, God can be trusted, even by those who sleep in the earth, who have gone down into the dust. And once we learn in a hundred small ways that our hunger will be satisfied, that we will be tenderly cleansed, and that the Voice speaking to us out of the loneliest nights is full of love, we will feel free to trust and, thereby, to live.
Loving Parent, help me seek you as unself-consciously as a crying infant, and teach me how trustworthy you are. Amen.