Thursday, February 24, 2011

e-vo for week of February 23

Dearest e-votees-

Which is more of your challenge—struggling with being judgmental of others or struggling with concern about how other people are judging you?

Either end of the spectrum is a place where we can get distracted from the things that matter most.



1 Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

1 Corinthians 4:1-5, NRSV

God has given us, as individuals, great responsibilities to take care of (or steward) ourselves (made in the image of God), relationships with others (where we encounter Christ particularly in “the least of these”), the world in which we live. God wants us to be found trustworthy. Jesus has several teachings about how the slaves or the workers ought to tend to the charges given to them. Our job is not to evaluate how well or how poorly our neighbor is doing with this charge. Our job is to keep our eyes on our own paper and do our work faithfully. The only real charge Jesus gave us regarding our neighbor was to love him or her—and Jesus has a pretty expansive definition of neighbor.

God has given us, as the church—the body of Christ, great responsibilities to care for the same sorts of things we do as individuals only writ large. Beyond that we are called to care for God’s mysteries. The Sacraments and the Word are part of this important charge. Our job is to keep our eyes on our own holy writings and work faithfully. Of course we should reach out to our neighbors (writ large) in love with attention to Jesus’ expansive definition of neighbor. But our task is to faithfully do that to which God has called us. We don’t need to worry about judging others. We need not fear their judgment.

The good news is that God’s judgment has been forever changed because of Jesus’ work on the cross. In baptism we are connected into that good news. “Today you will be with me in Paradise” is something that echoes in our ears too.

God has work for us to do. Shedding judgment and fear of judgment will free us up to be better stewards of the tasks to which God has called us.

You are freed and loved and forgiven. Stand in that place as you kneel to serve this day.

God, help us always to love neighbor and serve faithfully. Teach us to be better stewards of your mysteries. Drive us to the cross and equip us to love. Amen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

e-vo for week of February 16

Dearest e-votees-

I apologize for my devotional silence over the last two weeks. I had a major computer meltdown which hindered the process. It should not be an issue anymore.

I hope and pray you had a blessed Valentines Day surrounded by friends and family and loved ones.



33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. 35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. 36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. 37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. 38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. 39 Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. 40 How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness.

Psalm 119:33-40, NIV

Our appointed Psalm for this Sunday is one about praying for God’s rules and constraints and restrictions to have their full effect on the psalmist.

How many of us pray that God will turn us from doing our own things in order that we might do the things ordained by God? How many of us truly desire that God’s statutes would trump our desire for selfish gain? How many of us, deep down, want to know God’s decrees and laws and statutes in order that we might follow them more properly? Sure we all pray “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy will be done…” but really and truly do we mean it? Really?!?

We live in a place and a time with great freedoms. There are an abundance of worthless things that dangle in front us beckoning an unholy coveting. Someone must be buying all that schlock of the late-night infomercial realms. Most of our treasures and baubles aren’t worth so very much in the grand scheme of things either. We are in so many ways groomed to look out for ourselves in spite of others and often at their expense. We are taught to live for the day, seize the moment and to drink life to the dregs. While inspiring and vivid, these mantras can easily become license to do what we feel and leave a wake of carnage in the lives around us.

The one who really got the prayer was the one who prayed “Take this cup from me. But not my will but thine be done.” He poured himself out fully for those who were still busy drinking life to the dregs. He poured himself out fully for those who were toasting his grisly death. He poured himself out fully in that last meal where he said “This cup is the new covenant of my blood which is given and shed for all people for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus took the cup in that garden and drank it to the dregs.

Jesus taught us the prayer that teaches us to seek after God’s will. Jesus prays that prayer in ways that we can’t or won’t. Jesus lives the live in ways that we can’t or won’t. Jesus takes away the disgrace that often we don’t even have the sense enough to dread. Jesus preserves our lives in his righteousness. Thanks be to God.

God, shape us to be your people. Help us drink fully the cup of grace that is Jesus. Help us invite others to the table. Draw us after you—all to your glory. Amen.