Views

The views expressed here are those of each individual devotion writer. Thank you to our writers for their contributions to this ministry!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Visio - Divina: Genesis 32 (sermon September 20)


Many of us are familiar with the practice of lectio divina, or holy reading. This practice involves reading a text many different times without searching for anything.

It commonly looks like this: finding a comfortable seat; taking a moment or two to find your focus and clear your mind (a popular way is to close your eyes and focus on your breath); pray for openness to “hear” new things in the given text; read the text several different times, pausing in between; notice (without judgment) things you may not have heard before - maybe a word, image, or detail; ask yourself if this changes the text or story, what it might say to you today, and/or why that mined nugget is important. 


  • What do you see? What is most striking to you about this piece?
  • What parts of the image are your eyes most drawn to, and what parts did you quickly brush by?
  • If you could stand in this scene, where would you stand and why?
  • What emotions emerge for you when you observe this painting?
  • What primary emotion would you assign to the person/subjects portrayed in the painting and why? 
  • Do you identify with the artist’s reflections? How does hearing the artist’s statment influence how you see the art? 
  • How is the imagery cohesive with the scripture? 
  • If you were to paint this text, what imagery, colors, and details might you include? 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Oh, what a headache!

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:8-10

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

I find as events and activities start to pick up I feel more stressed.  It was so quiet and nowhere to go and I was upset when I couldn’t get out to see my friends and fun activities. Then it seemed as stores, hairdressers, schools and churches all start to allow events I am finding myself overwhelmed. It isn’t as if there are that many additional activities to go to, or more work hours in a day than we had it the past years. What is it?  I thought about it and I feel it is the planning that seems overwhelming, do I need a mask, do I need plastic gloves, do I need sanitizer, do I need wet wipes, take along extra trash bags, and can we all go at the same time, do we need to sign a release to get into the appointment, can we all sit together and anyone feeling poorly speak up!  I am exhausted at the thought of just going anywhere, excited to be out, but exhausted in the planning.  And I might admit that staying at home I did complete tasks that I may have avoided for a while since I was so busy going out and working. Did I waste the time I had at home? Did I truly appreciate the fact I could spend more time at home? Or do I just not appreciate what I have until it is no longer available?

I find that is true in everything in life. Do we truly appreciate what we have and look at the positive of the current or are we always looking for what we are missing or what is wrong with our lives?  I tell myself I have to listen more to God and not so much to the rest of the world. The old saying is a good saying “Count your blessings”. 

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, Thank you for all I have even when I fail to appreciate it. Open my eyes to see what I have instead of wishing for something I think I need. Help me to enjoy the changes before me in my life that they are the way of preparation and guidance to lead me to safety. Help me to embrace others that I may see their needs before my own. Thank you for my many blessings. Amen

Lori Hood

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Spiritual Practice of Visio-Divina: Holy Seeing

Many of us are familiar with the practice of lectio divina, or holy reading. This practice involves reading a text many different times without searching for anything.

It commonly looks like this: finding a comfortable seat; taking a moment or two to find your focus and clear your mind (a popular way is to close your eyes and focus on your breath); pray for openness to “hear” new things in the given text; read the text several different times, pausing in between; notice (without judgment) things you may not have heard before - maybe a word, image, or detail; ask yourself if this changes the text or story, what it might say to you today, and/or why that mined nugget is important. 

As we continue in this year’s Narrative Lectionary - looking at the whole narrative of the Biblical texts, we’d like to invite you to practice not only the lectio divina, but also the visio divina, or holy seeing, each week.  The texts we will hear on Sunday’s are rich texts both in word and image.  Practice of the visio divina is similar to the lectio divina. Again, it looks like this: finding a comfortable seat; taking a moment or two to find your focus and clear your mind (a popular way is to close your eyes and focus on your breath); pray for openness to “see” new things about the story in the given image; open your eyes and contemplate the image several different times; notice (without judgment) things you may not have considered before; ask yourself if this changes the text or story, what it might say to you today, and/or why that mined nugget is important.

This week’s text (September 13) is the story of Abraham Sacrificing Isaac, found in Genesis 22.  

 

The picture is Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern, 1860.  In Sunday’s chat, Pastor Thomas mentioned the picture Bible he viewed as a child, where he first became aware of this Biblical text.  





Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him;   for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

I went to my collection of “Children’s Moments” books for an inspiration for a devotion and found one to adapt for today.  Visualize two books in a bookstore, one book has a colorful cover and is blank inside.  The other book has a plain cover and is colorful inside. If you saw these two books, which one would you choose to bring home and read? People are just like the two books. Our outside appearance does not always show what is inside. Sometimes people that are beautiful on the outside are not so nice on the inside and sometimes people who are not so beautiful on the outside might be very nice. You cannot judge a book by the cover and you can’t tell what someone is like on the inside by looking at their outside. God cares about the way we are on the inside—character, if we are mirthful and full of love. God does not care what kind of clothes we wear or how we fix our hair. What matters is how beautiful we are on the inside. We should not be worried about how people look, but getting to know how they really are on the inside.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to not judge others by appearance, but look at their heart and character. Amen.

Susan Taylor (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotional Book, 2008)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Old Age

"Even to your old age and gray hairs

       I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

       I have made you and I will carry you;

       I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

                                                Isaiah 46:4

This verse comes to mind each year around my birthday.  I can’t deny that I’ve reached “old age.” And since I haven’t been to my hairstylist for six months, I can’t hide my “gray hairs.” 

However, the verse reminds us that no matter how old we are or how gray our hair gets, God is there. It is He who sustains us. He made us and carries us. Indeed, He rescues us. It is so easy to forget that during stressful times. We’ve experienced a lack of control over so many things, when we want to be in control of everything. If we need to be rescued, we try to figure out how to do it ourselves. Or we call on friends or family for assistance. 

It’s important to remember that we need to rely on God. He’s there for us and willing to help us. He’s willing to have a relationship with us. But a relationship cannot be one-sided—it requires that two parties work together. No matter how far into “old age” we get or how many “gray hairs” we have (or try to cover up), God is there for us.

Prayer: Dearest Lord, we thank you for your sustenance and your acting as our rescuer. Forgive us for trying to take charge of everything ourselves and failing to nurture our relationship with you. Help us to appreciate all we have been given, now and into “old age.”

Robin Hadfield

Monday, September 14, 2020

Psalm 16


Keep me safe, my God,

    for in you I take refuge.

 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16


Friday, September 11, 2020

Laughing Helps

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:9-12

My sister & husband, brother & wife and my husband & I met with my nephew that farms the land our parents left for us. The crops looked beautiful. The prices of corn and soybeans are not at all good. The taxes are still very high. The pandemic has kept us apart.

So, my sister and her husband decided to lighten up the end of the meeting on my brother’s patio by showing us the card and singing they planned for their friends' 50th wedding anniversary. They started out reading and very often sang the first line of songs written in the 50s and 60s that we all encountered when we were young.

AS THEY READ THE CARD THEY SANG:

Pretty Woman

Hey there Lonely Girl

Walk like a Man

The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind

Our Day Will Come if we Just Wait a While

She wore Blue Velvet (She actually wore red velvet)

Happy Together

If I were a Carpenter and you were a Lady, Would you Marry me Anyway, Would you Have my Baby

Dancing in the Street

He’s so Fine, I know he is Mine

I Only Want to be with You

The Sugar Shack

They hadn’t Lost That Lovin Feelin', Oh That Lovin Feelin'

The love between the couple being honored and the fun of hearing these melodies again made us all laugh. I could see smiles, hear some singing along, and saw joy on everyone’s face.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I am sure it makes you feel joy too when a group breaks out in fun and laughter. Thank you for those times, especially during this pandemic when we don’t often meet together in person. Thank you for those who reach 50 years of marriage. Please be with us to spread happiness and joy. Help us to have genuine love and see more and more marriages last 50 years. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck