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Daily Devotionals and Weekly Virtual Church Services

Special Immanuel Lutheran Church Page During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Daily Bread

For the safety of all in our ILC community and beyond, we have decided to forego all regular gatherings until further notice. In the meantime, we will provide Daily Devotionals and Weekly Virtual Church Services through this webpage. We encourage the congregation to use the posted devotionals to "virtually join together" in prayer, daily, at 9:00am.

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Our next in-person worship, in a safe, outdoors, masked, and distanced setting, is Sunday morning, March 14.
Please sign up via Eventbrite.

Wednesday's Lenten Gathering: 7:00 - 7:45 PM.
Please join via Zoom.


Monday, March 8, 2021, Daily Bread Devotional

She must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way.
1 Timothy 5:10

Around the world today many will focus their attention on women, young and old. Many will commit themselves to invest their energies to lift up those who’ve been cast down, to defend those who’ve been abused, to support those whose voices have not been heard, and to celebrate women everywhere around God’s green globe. Since the beginning of the human race, sin has shown itself as the strong have taken advantage of the weak and as the haves have lorded it over those who have not. The powerful have used their power to preserve it; and they continue to guard it jealously. Too many women have suffered the consequences of male domination; too many have experienced the ravages of sin, solely because of their gender. These matters have surely grieved the heart of God, who is the Father of the fatherless and the Defender of the widow. It must be admitted that the Church has not always served the purposes of God in this respect, and it behooves us all to observe and to emulate the loving ways of our Lord. As the Church grew and evolved, its members came to quickly recognize the importance of caring for the needy. They understood that when they loved and cared for others, they were loving and caring for the Lord Himself. They knew the way to express their love for the God whom they could not see was to love their neighbor whom they could. It seems there was a sort of welfare system set up to assist those who could not provide for themselves. Widows fell into this category. In his instructions to the young pastor, Timothy, the apostle urges him to ensure that any family members who might be of assistance to widows should do just that. And it soon became the responsibility of the Church to provide for those who had no family support. Still, such provision was not given carte blanche. And in this verse, we get a glimpse into the standards of the day. The requirements listed are those necessary for a widow to be placed on a list of service, and in them we see the values of the community at the time. While these areas in no way limit the extent of women’s abilities, perhaps we can see in the activities listed areas in which women particularly excel. Good works bookend the short list, and they encapsulate everything that brings assistance to others. As much as I’ve appreciated my father’s provision and guidance in my own life, and as much as I value my own contribution as father in the lives of my children, there’s simply no replacement for a mother’s role. The nurture, love and compassionate care a mother brings is only part of the important bond she shares with her children and that gives grounding to their lives. Hospitality shown to family, friends and strangers; humble service provided to those within the community; tender loving care given to those who are afflicted: Jesus dignified all of these works by His own example. And a woman’s touch in these acts of service complements His leadership. When God’s Kingdom comes, the proud will be debased and the humble raised up. Those who’ve been lightly esteemed will be given greater honor. And God’s good favor will be displayed for all to see. Until that day, we do well to embrace God’s vision and live into that reality, to honor and celebrate those who have gone unrecognized and undervalued by far too many. These matters are most worthy of our consideration if we’re to more fully perceive the image of God and if we’re to come to a greater understanding of our imaginative God, who has created us both male and female.

Prayer
Good and gracious God, help us all to recognize the gift You have given in the women of the world. May we grow in gratitude for the gifts of grace You’ve bestowed upon us in them. May we affirm their dignity, recognize their contributions, honor their service, and adhere to their guidance, as they lead us in Your loving ways. Where there is injustice, help us to use our power to correct, that Your world might be a safe place for all of Your children and that Your eternal purposes might be made known, here and now.
Amen


Sunday, March 07, 2021, Virtual Church Service ("Where God Dwells")


Sunday, March 7, 2021, Daily Bread Devotional

When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, "What does the noise of this commotion mean?" Then the man came hurriedly and told Eli.
1 Samuel 4:14

Eli was an aged priest and a central figure in the Israelite community for many years. And the day Eli heard this noise would be his last day on earth, for the news he was about to hear about it would take the wind of life right out of his sails and the spirit right out of his body. The nation of Israel had gone into battle. And now a messenger had come from the front lines, bearing news of the outcome. Eli’s two sons had both gone out into war. And the ark of the covenant had accompanied them. Aged Eli had cataracted eyes, but he could still hear the commotion in the camp. What could it possibly mean? The old man was perceptive enough to anticipate what he was about to hear. We often have a sixth sense about these things. Still, the word needed to be spoken. Definition must be given to the sound of the outcry if sense is to be made from the confusion. The narrator intends to stop us short, to increase our anticipation, right alongside Eli. For only eight verses earlier the enemy was asking the very same question. They had heard an uproar in the camp of Israel, a sound so great it was described as earth- shaking. The noise of both events was unmistakable but indefinite. Those familiar with the description of the apostolic Pentecost will remember the events of that day described as a noise of a violent and rushing wind. In each case, a defining word needed to be spoken, testimony given, if others were to make sense out of the raw emotion displayed. Absent explanation, the moments would remain shrouded in mystery, leaving them to wonder over the white noise… When emotions are violent within us, we cannot contain them, and others can easily discern the look of horror on our face and observe our body’s trembling. Other times we can hold in check the flow of our feelings, so that few can detect their movement within us. Perceived or not, the only way one can know with certainty the meaning behind the moment is to listen to the story behind it. The Philistines learned that the noise in the Israelite camp was due to the presence of God in their midst. This was the God who had rescued them from their Egyptian overlords with powerful signs and wonders – and the Philistines were moved to fear. Eli would be told the noise he heard was the response to the captured ark of God, the defeat of the army, and the death of his sons – and it took his life-breath away. The noise of Pentecost was attributed to the pouring forth of God’s Spirit, fulfilling the prophecy of the prophet Joel. Stories are told to give definition to outsiders of what would otherwise be ambiguous emotional expression. In our relations with others, then, let us not assume, but inquire. Let us learn to listen well to the stories that are told, that we might come to better understand those who tell them. Otherwise, it will be nothing but noise that we hear. Peter, who preaches at Pentecost, would later urge others: Always be ready to give an account for the hope that is within you. How then will you tell the story of the pandemic? How will you bear witness to the activity of God in these days? In the world and in your life? Learn to tell your story in a way that helps others to hear it. Then the sounds they hear will not be noise, but rather a beautiful melody of God’s gospel of grace. Truth that brings order out of confusion. Love that casts out fear and ushers in peace. Power that overcomes death and imparts new life. This is the content of the wonderful gospel story we’ve been entrusted to tell. May we be faithful in doing so.

Prayer
Almighty God, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. You are the Source of all things and in You all things hold together. We humbly bow before You on this new day of Your creation, rejoicing at the meaning and order You bring to our lives. Help us to recognize Your fingerprints and see clearly Your good and gracious work in the world. Inspire us to confidently bear witness to Your redemption, restoration and renewal. And instruct us as to how we might better tell our stories, with clarity and sincerity, that others might see in us Your loving will and holy intention.
Amen


Saturday, March 6, 2021, Daily Bread Devotional

For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.
2 Thessalonians 3:11

If you belong to a gym and make use of your membership, you’ll likely notice them as soon as you enter the building and swipe your card for access: The treadmills. They’re lined up right there in front of the windows – and for good reason. They’re situated as they are for those who walk, jog or run on them, to occupy their thoughts with other things besides the weariness they feel and the voice that shouts at them to stop. It also helps to keep their mind from focusing on the indisputable fact that they’re going nowhere. Lots of movement, but no progress. Now I really don’t mean to denigrate health clubs, diss those who are members, or dismiss anything that will help you exercise your body. I only mean to use it an example for something far greater: your life as a whole. For sometimes there’s indeed busyness taking place, but there’s no business getting done. Activity’s happening, but nothing of substance is being accomplished. No progress is being made. Energy is expended, but you’re getting nowhere fast… The apostle had heard that there were some in the midst of the congregation in Thessalonica who were out and about yet unproductive. No one could accuse them of inactivity, but their exertion was getting them nowhere, and their action was unhelpful to the community as a whole. In other words: they weren’t being productive members of society. Theirs was a treadmill existence… The availability in our day is greater than ever for things to do. There are endless possibilities presented about how you may spend your time. In fact, you may well discover there are so many good things to do you don’t quite know where to begin. You start this, that and the other – but never bring any of them to completion. Unfinished projects surround you, your mind becomes scattered, and you wonder why you feel so overwhelmed with it all. You’ve lost your focus. You’re living an undisciplined life. And it’s time to get a grip. To regain control of your unmanaged existence. Or at least some semblance of it. Call it a second chance. It might well be high time to downsize, simplify and prioritize. In may seem counterintuitive when nothing seems to be getting done, but the answer may be found in stopping before you start. And so, before launching into life today, take a moment to center yourself. Breathe. Now: What are the three most important things you need to do today? Things that are good for you and useful for others. Which of the three should be at the top of your list? (If any one of the them is too much to be accomplished in your day, break it down into smaller chunks – and choose one of them.) Write them down. And now: focus. Keep those three items in front of you. Other things will surely jump out in front of you with urgent insistence. You may attend to them, or you may tell them to wait for another day. Don’t let them deter you from your course. Then, in addition to your three tasks, try this: Give something away and throw something out. It’s part of simplifying your life. If you will carry out this counsel, you’re well on your way to a more disciplined and productive life. Doing so will give a gift to yourself, a blessing to others and an offering to God. Moreover, it will help you recall the reference to the verse above: You’re giving yourself a second chance – with only three tasks before you, one thing to give away and one thing to toss. 2 Thessalonians 3:11. It’s a good reminder, for a more satisfying life.

Prayer
God of time and eternity, thank You for the precious gift of this day and all the possibilities within it. Help me to recognize Your presence in each moment. Grant me the wisdom to determine the most important things to accomplish. Strengthen me with the power I need to carry them to completion. Teach me how to sort and to simplify. And infuse me with joy, as I go about my day and seek to bring blessing to others. May my actions be worthy of the time invested, beneficial to my well-being and pleasurable to You.
Amen


Friday, March 5, 2021, Daily Bread Devotional

So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.
Ruth 2:3

Nature or nurture? Free will or determinism? Since we humans first mused over the question of purpose and meaning, we’ve bandied about these questions. Indeed, some will dismiss them outright, deeming any answers unknowable and irrelevant. Why waste one’s time with them? What’s important is not the how and the why, but what we do with what we’ve got. Others will insist that considerations of what for will strongly influence what now. In the particular case before us, Ruth, a foreigner, sets out to glean (collect grain left behind in the fields after the reapers have done their work). The law allowed Ruth to do this as a way to provide for herself and her mother-in-law, Naomi, to whom she had pledged her devotion. The narrator tells us that Ruth happened to come to a certain field. Another translation puts it: she found herself in the field (as if she had awakened from a dream). A literal rendering from the Hebrew would tell us her chance chanced upon, which makes it almost intentionally ambiguous. So how is it, exactly that Ruth ends up in this particular field? That’s up to you, the reader, to decide. Unbeknownst to Ruth, this field is a special one. Its owner is a rich relative of her deceased husband. He is a good man, and he’s in a position to do well for Ruth and for her mother-in-law. Naomi will soon play the role of matchmaker. She will do everything in her power to arrange a marriage between the two. But as objectively as the story is told, we have a distinct suspicion that there’s more going on behind the scenes. The arrangement seems more than an earthly one. And indeed, some are moved to attribute what takes place to the work of God. They’re moved to bear witness to seeing God’s fingerprints all over the place. Others will rebut: God’s fingerprints? Show me. Unless you can dust, lift, and display them, you have no proof. Nope: it was just a chance occurrence. Still others will shake their heads at the senseless debaters, enjoy the beauty of the story, smile, and happily proceed on their way. Soon enough, Boaz will bless Ruth with the words, “May the LORD reward your work…” but we’re not told if Boaz realized he was instrumental in how God would bring that blessing about… As for us, we might look back at our own history (and pre-history) and ask those what if questions: What if our parents never would have bumped into each other? Or their parents? The chances it could have been otherwise seem to far outweigh everything coming together as it did. But, of course, that things turned out the way they did can now be declared a certainty. And we’re left to marvel at what we call the miracle of our existence. You’ve awakened to this new day. May you find great joy in it. For you’ve been graced to take your place and to play your part. I, for one, will rejoice in the One whose fingerprints I see all around me. I will give thanks to the LORD, and I will declare that He is good.

Prayer
Almighty God, You sovereignly work Your will behind the scenes. You bring good out of bad and You continue to bless Your people with life. Open our eyes to recognize Your faithful presence. Overwhelm us with Your grace, until our hearts overflow in gratitude for the gift of life You’ve given us. Empower us to do all that we can to provide for those in need, and in this way bring You all honor, glory and praise.
Amen


Thursday, March 4, 2021, Daily Bread Devotional

Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Just remember to tell the people good news. There’s enough bad news in the world already. Those words were spoken to me by my centenarian great-grandfather after I first told him I’d felt the call to ministry and decided to enroll in the seminary. His counsel to me was nothing less than a reminder never to depart from the gospel message – the good news of God’s love for the world. Indeed, it should be at the heart and center of all that we endeavor to do and to say, as representatives of the Lord we serve. Paul, an apostle chosen by God to bear God’s message far and wide, was a consummate encourager. In the words we read above, we see Paul doing exactly what he counsels. Throughout his brief epistle, Paul recognizes and raises up the good that is already taking place within the community – and then he encourages the people to excel in it all the more. And so he does with encouragement itself. We all know the world can be a challenging place. There’s no little pushing and pulling, grabbing and guarding, strife and contention. As people jockey for position, it’s not always just to get to the goal as soon as possible – it’s to get there ahead of others. And in the race to the finish, your weakness is welcome news to your opponents; your stumbling, something over which they can rejoice. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and it’s not uncommon after battling it out in the public sphere to return home beaten up, bloodied and bruised. The Christian community was not (and is not) immune from these sinful and selfish practices. Of course, this is not the way of Jesus – the One the Paul’s readers sought to follow, the One who was indeed abiding in their midst. But notice how Paul addresses the matter. He doesn’t express disappointment – that, by now, they should have been doing much better than they were. He recognizes the encouragement already present in its nascent form and spurs them on in a positive direction, that they might bring it to full maturity. If you’re anything like me, you know you’re not perfect. You know that, although you’ve made progress toward becoming your best self, you’re not there yet. There’s still room for improvement, still more work to be done. And when someone points out how far you’ve yet to go or questions why you haven’t gotten there yet, it can take the wind right out of your sails. You don’t want to hear it, and you may well avoid any future interactions with that person. After all, they shrivel your spirit. But if someone recognizes the ground you’ve already covered and the progress you’ve already made, it encourages your spirit and stokes your passion, and you’re moved to press on to pursue your goals. A true encourager not only tells you you can do it; he recognizes you’re already doing it and tells you you’re well on your way to being a shining star. Although Jesus challenged His followers to devote themselves to God’s ways, He never counseled competition. Rather, He reminded them not to judge each other – but to be cognizant of the beams in their own eyes before pointing out the splinters in the eyes of others. If you want to foster progress in the people around you, look for evidence of the good that’s already there. Acknowledge it, affirm it and express your personal delight. Doing so will impel the discouraged to press on. It will impart enthusiasm to those languishing in spirit. As you engage in mutual encouragement with whatever team of which you are a part, you and those who partner with you will get farther than you ever could have done otherwise.

Prayer
Thank You, gracious Lord, for the faithful support You’ve given me in kind and generous encouragers. Thank You for those who’ve recognized progress I’ve made and whose words of support have spurred me on to greater things. May the encouragement I’ve received inspire me to bless others with confidence, to valiantly face the hindrances and hurdles they encounter. Help me to serve as a positive influence in my interactions with others, to love and care for them as You have loved and cared for me. And may I always remember to share Your good news of grace, that it may impart to others life and faith and hope.
Amen


Wednesday, March 3, 2021, Daily Bread Devotional

He said to Him, "O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house."
Judges 6:15

Over and over again we see it played out in the Holy Book: God works in and through the weakest and unlikeliest of characters. Think of Joseph, a son born late in life, sold into slavery. Moses, with his speech impediment. Later, we’ll see it in Jeremiah, who was just a junior when God called him. We’ll see it in David, the young and ruddy shepherd boy. And in Amos, a herdsman and grower of sycamore figs. Still later, we’ll witness it in a young and poor peasant girl named Mary, and in a violent persecutor named Saul. These characters are as surprised as we are – that they were chosen by God to do the impossible in the most hopeless of situations. This time, the words of wonder belong to Gideon. He’s not being humble or modest in speaking them. He’s being brutally honest. His vision for his own life and career extended no further than his tomorrow, and he expected it to be much like his today. He knew the family he had come from and the place he occupied within it. He did not lament his place in life. Nor the limitations they placed upon him. He was realistic about matters, and he made the best of what he had been given. Perhaps he had never seen himself as much of a leader? Or, if he had, it was in a much smaller venue that that of delivering a nation from their oppressors. He scoffed at the suggestion! He laughed at the proposal that he would participate in any way. God’s messenger had greeted him with the address, O valiant warrior! But Gideon was certain he had the wrong man. And what else had the angel told him? The LORD is with you! That, in the end, is what would make the difference. For Gideon. For all the other unlikely characters whose names will become familiar. And for us. For as Holy Scripture unfolds before us, the more we come to see that every character within it is sinful and broken. There are no exceptions. And we find that there’s only one true Hero – the LORD Himself. God can work through the improbable and the ordinary to bring about the impossible. And God does. Time and time again… Gideon’s question can bring us great comfort. For we, too, recognize the limitations that keep our ambitions in check. We, too, are aware of the glass ceilings others construct that restrict our growth and development and limit our success to that which can be managed by those in power. And while God does empower you to bring about the best from the raw materials He has given you, when God calls your name and deigns to work through you to get His job done, the end result will be something wondrous indeed. Those through whom God has accomplished the greatest deeds are those who have remained humble through it all. Because they know better than anyone it could not have been done without the power of God working through them. For our part, today, let us commit ourselves to doing all that is in our own power to develop the gifts God has given us and to hone the skills with which God has endowed us. Let us be encouraged by the great and awesome power of God. And let us hold fast in faith to the One who is able to bring about extraordinary wonders though the most surprising characters and accomplish His great purposes of deliverance and salvation. He’s done it before. He’ll do it again. Take heart and be encouraged, humble servant of God: The LORD is with you!

Prayer
Almighty God, merciful and compassionate, You’re able to work Your good and gracious will in and through Your weary and woeful people. May we never underestimate Your power, overestimate our abilities, or doubt Your ability to accomplish Your purposes in us. Use us as You will to carry out Your work this day, to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to proclaim freedom to the oppressed. Empower us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and care for all in need, that they might feel Your touch through our hands and hear Your voice speaking through our words of grace.
Amen


Tuesday, March 2, 2021, Daily Bread Devotional

... so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:10

When my faith first came alive, I couldn’t get enough of it. My parents had taken me to church, Sunday school and confirmation classes (what my Catholic friends called catechism). I trust I was taught all about God and Jesus, but it was as if the sun never quite broke through the clouds for me to see its light or to feel its warmth. But sometime later, in my high school years, faith was kindled within me. The wind of God’s Spirit had dispersed those clouds, and I could see what I’d been unable to recognize throughout all the years of prior instruction: God wasn’t a subject to be studied or an idea imprisoned in the pages of a dry and dusty Book – holy though it may be. God was living and active. He was my Creator, and He knew my name. Like a child that, whether suddenly or gradually, finally realizes what it means to be a beloved member of a family, I had finally come to understand the relationship God had initiated with me long before my awareness of it. And this faith that had been kindled within me: it quickly caught fire. For if it was true that God was real, I wanted to know more about Him – all about Him. If He really cared about my life – the thoughts in my head, the words on my tongue, the actions of my life – then I wanted to think and say and do what was good and right and true. I wanted to live in a way that was pleasing to Him, to do the very best with the life He had given me. I no longer wanted to live for myself; I wanted to live for Him. I was experiencing what Scripture calls my first love: A hunger for God that can hardly be sated. A thirst for the divine that cannot be slaked. And those ancient words of Holy Scripture – words which up to that point meant little to me – now quickened my spirit and spoke right into my soul. The Word of God nourished, refreshed and enriched me. This wonderful and mysterious God was coming alive to me. And I longed to increase in my knowledge of God. I wanted to discover it all and to leave no stone unturned. And as I began to listen to Jesus, observe His deeds of compassion and behold His works of mercy, I came to understand grace. It has since become my favorite word. For I came to understand that even more important than what I do is what my Lord has first done for me. Like an expectant parent, whose love grows strong long before her child takes its first breath, so God rejoiced over me long before I was aware of His existence. God loves me because God is God and God is good. And that means this: I can trust Him. I can trust Him to be good to me, to care for me, and to love me – even when I am most unworthy of His love. It means the assurance of my salvation is not based upon any decision I make or the appropriateness of my confession. My confidence comes from the character of God, who is faithful when I am faithless, steadfast when I waver, and reliable when I am rebellious. God seeks me out when I’m so lost that I could hardly hope to find my way back home, raises me up when I fall, forgives me when I know not what I do. This is the God I have discovered, and each time the clouds disperse and the light of my Lord breaks through, I am spurred on by the epiphanies. My first love returns. And again: I find I cannot get enough of it. Will I ever fully live into a life worthy of the love of this great and awesome God? It’s an impossibility, I’m sure. But God’s love is based not on my worthiness. And that truth spurs me on to do all that I can.

Prayer
Gracious Heavenly Father, when I consider Your loving mercy poured out on my behalf, I’m filled with wonder. You are the great Initiator. In Your loving grace You called me into being. You knew me and treasured me long before I had any awareness of You. How can I worthily respond to such grace, except by treating others the way You first treated me? May my actions be consistent with Your compassion. May others see You working in me, that an awareness of Your grace might dawn upon them, faith might be kindled into flame, and they might come to know You more deeply and glorify Your holy Name.
Amen


Monday, March 1, 2021, Daily Bread Devotional

And the captain of the LORD’s host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
Joshua 5:15

The lot in which our house is set touches on four adjacent properties. The perimeter is marked by a fence line which encloses the space we call home. It’s been on my mind lately because some of the fence is coming down and needs to be replaced. The fence is important for several reasons, including safety, privacy and ownership. After all, if there were no clear line of demarcation, who would know whose was whose? I’ve lived at this site for almost two decades, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life. I’ve worked the ground and planted gardens, cut down trees and planted new ones. I’ve installed sprinkling systems, laid brick walkways and constructed wooden railings. I’ve invested time and sweat and money. And you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I regularly refer to it as mine. But the bank will remind me that their name, too, is on the title, and that while I may be holding the mortgage, they’re holding the deed… Joshua has just led the people of God across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. All is new and fresh and exciting. There would be battles to be fought, boundaries to be made, homes to inhabit and cities to settle. But before Joshua and the people go too far toward taking up resistance and putting down roots, Joshua has a striking encounter. Seemingly out of nowhere he sees a man standing with sword drawn. Friend or enemy? Joshua does not know, and the man is not bent on binaries. Instead, he identifies himself as the one sent by the LORD of heaven and earth. And he speaks a solemn reminder to Joshua that is here recorded for all generations to come. Joshua’s mentor Moses had been told by the Lord God at the unconsumable burning bush that the land on which he was standing was holy. The truth is repeated to Joshua: This is sacred space, hallowed ground, holy land. In other words: It belongs to God. As much as the Canaanites could claim it as their own and as much as the Israelites would insist that God had given it to them, in the end, the Owner was none other than the LORD God of heaven and earth. Indeed, it is Holy Land, God’s turf – this sacred space in which we reside. Joshua may claim his sandals and his feet, but the place where he was standing belonged to God. It was a truth Joshua and the people would do well to always keep before them… As much as we can celebrate and sing about this land being both my land and your land, in the end it is God who holds the deed. Now and always. What does this mean? It means we are not its owners, but its stewards. We have been given responsibility to care for this planet and to treat all of creation with the holy reverence it deserves as that which belongs to the Creator. It is both selfish and sinful to abuse the land, to have no other consideration than economic gain for our own generation. It is imperative that we leave this land better than we found it, preserving what has been entrusted to us in this time for those who will inhabit the land after us. We are pilgrims passing through to our heavenly abode, temporary sojourners destined for eternity. Meanwhile, we have been called to be caretakers of this majestic land which is our Father’s world. And now, I had better get out there to repair that fence.

Prayer
Good and gracious God, You’ve entrusted to us this land which we call our own. May we never forget its true ownership. As we care for Your world, grant us a respectful reverence to recognize all that we touch is holy, because it has come from You and bears Your fingerprints. May we honor You in our stewardship and continue to pursue ways to live together in peace and harmony, sharing this sacred space, united as those who owe our very existence to You. Thank You for the wonder and beauty of Your creation. May Your presence be unmistakable in our midst today, that we may respond with praises before You.
Amen


Continue to February 2021



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