Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 16 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day sixteen of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. Today we get the account of the conquering of the Promised Land, including the stories of Jesus' ancestor Rahab the prostitute and the defeat of Jericho. Today's reading is full of rewards and consequences for abiding in or neglecting the will of the Lord.

If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:



Day 16 Readings: Joshua 1:1-14:15

"Be strong and courageous" is a refrain that appears repeatedly in our readings today.

Often we are faced with challenges that seem larger than our ability. And they are in our own strength. But if it is God's will and God intends to support our efforts we can accomplish so much more that we might imagine. As Switchfoot popularized "we were meant to live for so much more"--God has big plans and all the strength we need to press into that future.

Stepping outside of our own visions and abilities and trusting the leading and equipping of God takes courage. Where did Rahab get the courage to protect the spies? Where did Joshua and Caleb get the courage to believe that God would deliver the Promised Land into their hands? Where did Peter get the courage to step out of the boat and onto the water? Where did Joseph of Arimathea get the courage to ask for Jesus' body? Where might we get the courage to step into the new and scary places that God may be calling us into?

"Be strong and courageous" and remember Philiipians 1:6: God will bring to completion the good word begun in the day of Christ Jesus.

God we thank you for witnesses like Joshua, Caleb, Rahab, Peter, Jesus, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and all the others who lives of strength and courage inspire us. Amen.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 15 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day fifteen of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible (one 6th of the way there—woo hoo!!!). We have completed the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) and now have only 61 books to go.

If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 15 Readings: Deuteronomy 23:12-34:12

The set of books that began with the creation of all things and the origins of humanity end with the death of Moses and rather sobering consequences laid out for the tribes for when they fall away.

Moses spent a full third of his life wandering out in the desert with a stiff-necked people.

It seems that if the people, and particularly Moses and Aaron, had a hard time following God closely even with their incredibly close vantage point then what hope have we?

The truth is in our own strength and in our own understanding we have little hope at all.

Thankfully Jesus came bearing God’s strength (shown powerfully through his submissive weakness) and bearing God’s insights (shown powerfully through his teaching beginning at least as far back as a twelve year old boy teaching in the Temple). In Jesus we have all the reason in the world to hope.

God we thank you for the love, life and ministry of Jesus. Help us rest and trust in him no matter where we sojourn. Amen.

Day 14 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day fourteen of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible.

If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 14 Readings: Deuteronomy 8:1-23:11

It's deja vu all over again. (apologies to Yogi Berra)

Almost everything in today's reading we have seen before. There are a few things that have made an appearance that weren't in the first iteration of the law but by and large it is recapping what was already said.

The point of this text is that the people hearing it (those who were less than 20 or not even born at the time of the Exodus) need to recall God's deeds of delivery and the law given (to those 20 or older) as they enter into the promised land. Generations don't always share wisdom and stories between them well. So God has Moses tell again the stories and the expectations of God. This is needed because...

People learn by repetition. People so easily forget. People's forgetfulness can lead to dire breakdowns and consequences.

Some people are critical of worship forms that seem to repeat themselves or have clearly discernible patterns. Some go so far as to call liturgical forms dead.

We learn by repetition. We so easily forget. Our forgetfulness can lead to dire breakdowns and consequences.

Some people shun regular and frequent communion saying that having it so often makes it less special. To them I might say "How special was your last breath?" and beyond that I might say...

We learn by repetition. We so easily forget. Our forgetfulness can lead to dire breakdowns and consequences.

Some people shun regular and frequent communion with the saints saying that Christmas and Easter may well be sufficient for them (if even that frequently). Our constitutional requirements for voting members are so painfully and woefully inadequate (worship, communion, offering of record within the last two years). Some might say that they are meeting the bare minimum expectations. I might say back...

We learn by repetition. We so easily forget. Our forgetfulness can lead to dire breakdowns and consequences.

God help us learn by faithfully tending the repetitions and cycles of the faith life. Help us remember what can so easily be forgotten. Help us remember that Jesus came to repair the breakdowns and fulfill the consequences so that we might have sure and certain hope and life. Amen.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 13 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day thirteen of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. We have now completed Numbers. 4 down, 62 to go.

We enter into Deuteronomy which is a Greek compound word: “deutero-” meaning “2nd” (as in deuterium, the 2nd isotope of hydrogen with an atomic mass of 2) + “-nomos” meaning “law” (as in autonomous, one’s own laws). It recounts the summarizing of the law for the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land at the end of 40 years of wandering.

If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 13 Readings: Numbers 32:20-Deuteronomy 7:26

The founding documents (archival, historical, inspirational, including laws, consequences, boundaries, census data, etc.) continue to be laid out for the people.

In Deuteronomy we get the recounting of the 10 Commandments (hence the “2nd Law” moniker).

Deuteronomy 6:4 is known as the Shema (check out

It sets up what Jesus calls the greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength. (Luke 10:27 adds mind, too). Jesus says that abiding with that commandment coupled with loving your neighbor as yourself fulfills all the law and the prophets. All that we have read and will read up through Day 68 (June 20th) is brought to completion in loving God and loving neighbor as self.

Part of the challenge of today’s texts are reconciling loving neighbor with destroying previous occupants of your new home. The texts are clear about the need to decimate those in the land. How do we abide the tensions of loving neighbor (and Jesus had a broad definition of who was neighbor) with these particular and harsh texts in Numbers and Deuteronomy?

In large part we rest in the truth that Jesus has done what we cannot and that we can take our cues from Jesus and his life. The only things Jesus really got violent with were the moneychangers in the Temple and that time he shriveled up a fig tree. Jesus’ love trumped violence. Jesus’ love trumped (or at least sated) God’s wrath. Jesus’ love is our hope and our sure and certain cornerstone.

God help us learn and know of our spiritual heritage. Help us live, breathe and emulate Jesus’ love. Amen.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 12 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day twelve (a very important Biblical number) of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 12 Readings: Numbers 21:8-32:19

Much about the expansion of the Israelite people into the Promised Land in today’s texts.

Their expansion comes at great cost to the previous inhabitants of the land.

Proper offerings are again rehearsed and the census of the tribes are taken again.

This destructive expansion can be hard for our modern sensibilities. Many of us are aware of our own place in the world coming at great expense to previous inhabitants. Even were it not the case that we were living in the land of a displaced people we have benefited disproportionately from the labor and sacrifices of others.

God has called us to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strengths and to love neighbor as ourselves. As we ponder who our neighbor might be we do well to remember those who came before us and those who bear the brunt of our comfortable lifestyles.

God we so often live in ways that contribute to exploiting others. Teach us to see your image in all and to seek to address injustice that your name might be glorified. Amen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 11 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eleven of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 11 Readings: Numbers 8:16-21:7

Much complaining, challenging and rebelling in our assigned texts for today:

• Grumbling about hardships that brought fire down around the outskirts of camp
• Quail buried the camp in response to grumbling and then the grumblers were buried in the desert
• Miriam and Aaron incur wrath when they grumble against Moses (Miriam becomes leprous for a week, Aaron not so much—hmmm.)
• 10 of the 12 scouts into the Promised Land bring back a fearful report which causes the community to wander in the desert for 40 years
• The 10 scouts were struck down and died of a plague
• A Sabbath breaker is put to death by stoning
• Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their families are swallowed by the earth while Aaron is reaffirmed with a budded almond staff (which became an ark of the covenant keepsake)
• Moses and Aaron incur God’s judgment for being hasty and not honoring God is bringing water from a rock which keeps them from entering Promised Land
• People slow on the uptake complain, yet again, about food and water and venomous snakes set upon the grumblers

It is hard to read these passages of judgment and destruction. It is hard to imagine these people are so slow to realize the consequences that their complaining, challenging and rebelling can have.

Surely were we there we would have chosen better and differently. Right?

Even in the midst of all of this suffering and death there are hints of the Christ that is to come.

Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the source of living waters. Even the snakebites will be healed by one lifted up in the desert which Jesus ties directly to his death on the cross when talking to Nicodemus.

The sad and crushing thing is how slow we are and how often we fail. The good and hopeful thing is that Jesus will crush the head of the serpent once and for all (see one of the first hints of the Gospel in Genesis 4:15).

God we so often live in ways that are contrary to how you have called us to be. Even if we are spared the more decisive judgments as in our readings today we know the pain of our rebellion. Help us amend our ways, trust in your mercy and abide in Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 10 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day ten of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 10 Readings: Leviticus 26:27-Numbers 8:14

Today’s texts start with some stern warnings from God about what will happen to the Israelites should they abandon the pattern of living that God is providing. Leviticus concludes with some instructions about offerings made to God.

Numbers has much to say about the quantities of people, gifts and responsibilities of those tending the tabernacle. By the time our texts for today are done the Levites have all been properly instructed and installed and are ready to lead worship.

We have a section that relates to how a woman expected of unfaithfulness is to be examined. Particularly troubling to our modern sensibilities is that there is no parallel guidelines for what to do with a male who might be unfaithful. It is also troubling that there is no consequence for an incorrect accusation or “spirit of jealousy” about the wife. The man is free to make accusation. The woman must be proven faithful through this test to be relieved from the accusation. I am grateful this burden of fidelity examination has fallen off the job description of the modern pastor.

What we can take from all these verses is that God cares deeply about the relationship between God and God’s people. How we present ourselves, what we bring to the table (or altar) and how we conduct ourselves matter greatly. God longs for relationship with all of God’s people yet there are standards to be met. God will not tolerate being trifled with when it comes to worship and covenant.

It is amazing that the Israelites were able to tend to this relationship as well as they were (which wasn’t always so well)—I’m sure we would do no better.

The good news is that Jesus came and fully tended this relationship. He taught us to love God with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds and all our strengths—and he lived a life that showed us how that looks. He taught us to love our neighbors (and our enemies) as our selves—and he died a death and rose again to show us how that looks. Jesus has done all that was required. “Well done, thou good and faithful savior.”

God we thank you that you have set us apart--made us holy. You have standards of holiness and purity that challenge us to the core. We thank you that Jesus came to do what we could not or would not. Help us live as your holy people in loving and grateful response to the life we find in you—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 9 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day nine of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. Leviticus provides many guidelines for living as God's holy people. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 9 Readings: Leviticus 14:33-26:26

The texts for today lay out how people are to live in relation to one another and to God: how to tend to sins that arise, how to relate sexually, how to handle servant relationships, how and when to gather for festivals and worship and all other manners of how to live holy (set apart) lives.

For so many years the Israelites had structure and choice imposed upon them while in slavery. God is now trying to help them live as a community without Pharaoh's assistance and oppression.

Some of the requirements may seem strange to us today. Some of the punishments may seem harsh. God has God's ways and God's reasons.

God was trying to protect the people from the sin that surrounded them and might come up from them through clear guidelines with being dispatched (metaphorically or literally) as a common consequence of transgression.

The Archaelogical Study Bible (Zondervan) has a nice commentary on the Day of Atonement. They point out that the two goats, the one that is sacrificed (propitiation of the sins--payment of guilt) and the one that is scapegoated (expiation of the sins--carrying away the guilt), are chosen by lot. But we know that Jesus' lot was to serve both these roles for us and for all who would come. Jesus is the high priest, the sacrificed goat, the scapegoat, the way, the truth and the life. In Jesus we find the holiness that eludes us in our own strivings.

God we thank you that you have set us apart--made us holy. Help us seek to live holy and pleasing lives to you. When we falter help us rest in the sure and certain help that comes from Jesus. Thank you for all Jesus did to make us right with you. Amen.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 8 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day eight of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. Leviticus begins in incredible priestly detail. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 8 Readings: Leviticus 1:1-14:32

This assigned reading reminds me of some of my worship and liturgy texts from seminary. There in excruciating detail is what is to be done or not done in worship. Some of the bits make sense (or at least seem to) while others seem to be quite arbitrary. The penalties for coloring outside the lines seem quite steep—death or being isolated or completely cut off from community.

In retrospect there are patterns that are established that Jesus in his life, death and resurrection seemed to complete or fulfill.

It is mind-boggling to ponder how much animal blood was spilled, how much flesh was burned up and all the other materials that were sacrificed in these practices.

Two of Aaron’s sons were killed for not offering the proper sacrifice on the altar. Surely things are not nearly so severe when our worship is lacking. Thanks be to God for that.

It is hard to know how to take something of value for us from this much more primitive, blood-drenched and tedious worship. Thankfully Jesus has brought it to a halt (as did the Romans when they destroyed the Temple in 70 AD).

God your some of your forms and instructions for worship seem so very foreign to us. Thank you that Jesus brought Temple and blood-sacrifice to an end. Help us trust in him declaring us “clean” and stir us to live lives of grateful sacrifice in response to you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 7 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day seven of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. Exodus done, 64 books left to go. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 7 Readings: Exodus 29:1-40:38

There are some who relish in the detailed plans of a building or craft project. Materials, dimensions, procedures and relative positions allow work to be done well and according to expectations.

This latter part of Exodus feels like the ultimate set of assembly instructions from IKEA.

The people of Israel donate their materials, their time and construct this portable tent which foreshadows Solomon’s Temple which foreshadows our very bodies being the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

So tragic that when these plans were being given out the people were already slipping into idolatry. So tragic that Aaron, God’s chosen priest, would so quickly agree to fashion a golden calf from the castoff jewelry of the people to serve as their God. So tragic that Moses turned the first two tablets of the Law into rubble in disgust.

The consequences on the people were immediately tragic (3,000 slain by the sword-wielding Levites) and chronically tragic (idolatry plagued the people in the ensuing years).

Where are we in the scope of this story? Are we eager to give all that we have and share our talents to serve God fully? Are we mindful of the gift of the temple of the Holy Spirit that is our body that is at least as exquisitely designed and fashioned as the sanctuary in the wilderness? Are we quick to dispense with God’s instructions and “buy” our idol of choice and with it all the plagues and ensuing troubles?

God still desires us to worship. God still wants us to do things according to God’s plan. God still affords us ways to be restored when we wander and transgress. God still wants to be in relationship with us.

The object of our worship, the fulfillment of God’s plan, the means of restoration when we wander and transgress and the best means of relationship with God are all found in one person—Jesus of Nazareth.

God your plans are good and right. At times we adhere and at others we flee. Keep sending your presence into our midst to guide and restore us. Thanks and praise and worship be to you. Amen.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 6 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day six of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 6 Readings: Exodus 15:19-28:43

Having been delivered from the hands of the Egyptians God begins to set up provision of food, order and ritual for God’s people:

• Water from the rock and bread from heaven are given (forerunners of baptism and communion?)
• Laws and practices are given (many of which limit abuse and put a hedge of protection around the vulnerable)
• Forms for worship and divination of God’s will are established (tabernacle is forerunner of Temple which is forerunner of our own bodies housing the Holy Spirit)

How quickly we forget God’s provision and seek the delicacies of the oppressor’s land or hoard limited supplies for ourselves and neglect God’s instructions. We grieve God when we so quickly fall into disobedience. God’s mercies and grace are new every morning. Will we wait until morning? Perhaps there is a reason we pray for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer.

How quickly we seek our own advantage and prey upon the most vulnerable taking what is theirs while enslaving them and scapegoating them. God’s heart is with the aliens, the widows and the foreigners. We who have been cut off shouldn’t so quickly forget what that pain was like. God, through Moses, gives the basic guidelines of life in the 10 Commandments and other laws of communal living. Do we receive them as gift or burden?

God gives us ways to make offering, prayer, supplication and seek God’s will. God shows us how to be in relationship. We have always had trouble living into these forms. Jesus revealed these forms were forerunners of relationship with him. Will we let God show us how to let our bodies, our minds, our times and our lives be places where God can dwell and be glorified?

God, you provide for us so very thoroughly and we push back with dissatisfaction and distrust and disdain. Renew our hearts and our lives that we might reflect your heart and the life you intend for us. Amen.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 5 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day five of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. It’s time for the Exodus. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 5 Readings: Exodus 1:1-15:18

God’s deliverance through the hands and office of Joseph has faded into the past. The Hebrew people have been enslaved by Pharaoh. God has chosen Moses to be his agent of deliverance:

· Moses disqualifies himself as “one with trembling lips” and compels Aaron into service
· Moses does what God requires and still Pharaoh rejects the request for 9 plagues (with God’s hardening of his heart involved)
· Moses et al finally depart while celebrating the first Passover (forerunner for communion)
· Moses et al safely escape the clutches of the Egyptians, the pursuing army doesn’t fare nearly so well

God will call us into service (word “vocation” comes from Latin for “calling”). We may disqualify ourselves or press others into service.

We may do exactly as God requires and stirs and see little result. The call is to be faithful and let God worry about the effective.

When God’s time is right the fruits and the celebrations of God’s labor will be made manifest. It is our joy to regularly celebrate what God has and what God will do.

We will escape whatever clutches at us safely. Eternal life has begun and we have already been snatched from the hands of death. Those who beset will have God to contend with.

God, help us to know your calling. Help us to lean on your strengths and giftings and not our own understandings and posturings. Help us trust you for your results, in your time to your glory. Thank you that our fates are securely and graciously in your hands. Amen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 4 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day four of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. Genesis is done; only 65 more books to go. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 4 Readings: Genesis 40:12-50:26

In the aftermath of the horrible dealings with their brother Joseph, Jacob’s other sons experience God’s gracious provision:

• They are received graciously by Joseph (with some chicanery as well, after all Joseph is his father’s son)
• They are restored into family even though they cruelly abandoned Joseph (to a cistern and then to slave traders)
• They are given opportunities to practice self-sacrifice and honor in place of their earlier self-serving cowardice
• They are given land for their families and blessings from their father Jacob

We can treat our brothers and sisters (those created in God’s image) just as cruelly as did Joseph’s brothers. We can take from them what is not ours. We can discard them when their perceived usefulness is spent. We can misrepresent their stories. We can leave them for as good as dead in a cistern or in the hands of foreign slave traders or affixed to a cross.

Yet God is not done writing the story. Joseph forgives and restores.

Yet the author of life adds to the dialogue with “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Jesus forgives and restores.

Perhaps we are part of such a story. We have been treated unjustly. We have been stripped of our dignity or our possessions or our will to live. Perhaps we have been left on some trash heap to breathe our last. Yet God is not done with our stories. We have been called into eternal life which begins now. We are forgiven. We are restored. We are invited to step into the role of Joseph and be gracious to those who would work us harm. We are invited to emulate our Lord and pray for those who behave as our enemies. God would use us as agents of forgiveness and restoration.

God, you have elevated us to places of honor as you did with Joseph. You have called us to take up our cross as you did with Jesus. Your will is that we would be forgiven and restored. Your will is that we would forgive and restore others who are just as needy as we. Help us to abide in your will. Amen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 3 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day three of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 3 Readings: Genesis 28:20-40:11

We continue to see the consequences of those acting in self-serving and deeply sinful ways:

• Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery and ridding themselves of the one they loathed
• Onan refusing to fulfill the duties of a widower’s brother
• Judah hypocritically seeking the comfort of a prostitute and then wanting to have his daughter-in-law killed for illicit sex (which was unbeknownst to him with her)
• Shechem raping Dinah and Dinah’s brothers exacting a horrific revenge
• Potiphar’s wife falsely accusing Joseph and having him imprisoned

God remains true to the promise, as reminded by the rainbow, not to destroy humanity by the flood again.

These horrible stories set up God’s work that will happen through Joseph saving many (“What you intended for evil, God used for good.”). These harsh stories of judgment and false accusation set up the patterns that Jesus will walk through as God come to be with us—Emmanuel. The enslavement that is coming soon in Egypt sets up the Passover which prompts the Seder Meal which becomes Holy Communion. In the midst of the broken and painful parts of life God stays true, God enters and God delivers.

The cost of sin is great as is evidenced in the tragic aftermath of these stories and certainly, too, on the cross. But God’s love is bigger than our sin and in that love and grace we find salvation (healing and saving).

God turn our hearts from our self-serving and deeply sinful ways. Shield us from the full measure of the consequences of our sins and the sins of others. Lead us to take up our crosses and follow after you—all to your glory. Amen.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 2 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Day two of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you care to follow along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 2 Readings: Genesis 17:1-28:19

How quickly into our journey we start to see the broken and fallen parts of our humanity:

* Abraham and Isaac passing their wives off as their sisters
* Jacob conning Esau out of his birthright and their father's blessing
* Sarai sending Hagar and Ishmael away in spite
* Laughing in face of God's promises

Yet in the midst of our broken moments, God continues to break into the world and bring promises to bear.

How is your journey of faith going? Is all well or are your broken and fallen parts all too close to the surface? The good news is that God knows us so very well and continues to love and choose us in spite of our failures. spite of our trying to orchestrate things in our own strength and wisdom. spite of our mocking disbelief.

As demon mentor Screwtape puts it all so well (speaking of God as the Enemy):

For we never forget what is the most repellent inexplicable trait in our Enemy; He really loves the hairless bipeds He has created, and always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left.

God continues to bless and love us in spite of, at times, our worst efforts. May we continue to grow in God's loving and blessing ways.

God shape us into people of your covenant. Give us hearts to be gracious and forgiving to others who are just as broken and fallen as we are. Amen.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 1 of 90 Devotion

Dearest e-votees-

Today marks the first day of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you care to read along you can find links to the assigned Bible passages at:



Day 1 Readings: Genesis 1:1-16:16

In sixteen chapters are chronicled the creation of the world, the origins of humanity, the entrance of sin into the world, the destruction of humanity (less 8, not coincidentally the number of sides of a baptismal font [see 1 Peter 3:20-21]), the spreading of human inhabitation and languages and the covenant made with the forefather of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Scholars and historians have spilled much ink over what is literal and what is figurative in these writings. To all this one might say “I don’t know if this really happened but I know it is true.” In other words, some of this may not be literal but it bears a deep and abiding truth.

Portions of that truth include:

• There is a God and all humanity bears God’s likeness
• There is in us humans a deep and abiding desire to push away from God and God’s plans for us
• God desires, in spite of that rebellion, to be in relationship with us
• Our history is shaped and guided by God’s interactions with our ancestors
• Even in the very earliest moments of our separation from God, God has been providing hints and glimpses of the forthcoming salvation
• Salvation is intended for many as Abram’s family will be plentiful

Jesus coming into the world (prologue of John resonates deeply with prologue of Genesis), striking the serpent’s heel and saving through water are all set up through the first 16 chapters of the Bible. God’s plan has a long arc and God’s desire is that all who would come shall be saved. Thanks be to God.

God, draw us up into your ancient stories. Speak to us and our modern dilemmas. Continue to make us into your people. Amen.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

e-vo for week of April 10

Dearest e-votees-

This week’s appointed gospel text is Jesus appearing to the disciples and restoring Peter.

May Jesus appear to you this day, in many places and people including, I hope and pray, the words of this devotion.

May you find those ways in which Jesus appears to you restorative.




1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No." 6 He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16 A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."

John 20:1-19, NRSV

The disciples have reverted to familiar ways. Peter, James and John (the sons of Zebedee) [and I like to think that one of the two unnamed disciples was Andrew the fourth of the former fishing partners] are out fishing with some of the other disciples. Perhaps they are collecting their thoughts while out fishing. Perhaps they are hungry or out of money and looking to meet a need. Maybe they just need a distraction from the fear, the hurt and the disappointment of the recent events.

For whatever reason they are out fishing. After a not-so-successful night they are engaged by an unfamiliar man on the shore. In the exchange it becomes clear to them that this is Jesus.

They go to shore for a breakfast of fish and bread (familiar foods) over a charcoal fire. In the meal and its aftermath Peter is restored. After he is restored the call on his life (and the call towards his death) is intensified.

Interesting Biblical Greek tidbit: The word for “charcoal fire” is an-thra-kee-uhs which is the linguistic ancestor of “anthracite” which is one of the four stages of coal formation. This word shows up in only one other place in all of the New Testament: John 18:18. In that scene Peter is warming his hands while selling out his Lord over a “charcoal fire”. Jesus reinstates Peter over the same sort of fire by which Peter denied him. What a marvelous and powerful literary and linguistic set of bookends.

To sum up the story:

• The disciples have failed Jesus (either through things done and through things undone—in thought, word and deed)
• Jesus meets them in a familiar meal and offers restoration
• After the meal the call on their lives is reiterated and reinvigorated
• The disciples go on to do things they may have never imagined and bring glory to God

Where might we find resonance in this story?

• We too have fallen short of the high calling that Jesus has put on our lives
• Jesus meets us in Holy Communion (a familiar meal) and offers restoration
• After the meal we may be better able to hear, again, the call on our lives as disciples
• We go out to serve and just may do things we never imagined and bring glory to God.

Jesus is still in the business of appearing to us, bringing restoration and sending us out.

Dear God, thank you for this wonderful gospel text of meal and word, of restoration and sending, of ancient disciples and of us. Have your way. Amen.

As I mentioned last week:

You are invited to join with us as we work our way through the Bible in 90 Days as part of our “Season of Growing” here at Christ the Good Shepherd. You can find links to the readings at For those days I plan to post a brief devotion every day tied to the assigned reading for the day which will take the place of the regular e-vos for that time. My hope and prayer is that Jesus will appear to you often and in new ways as you linger over scripture in these days ahead. If you are planning to be a part of this discipline I would appreciate a note to that end. Peace, Karl

Friday, April 5, 2013

e-vo for week of April 3

Dearest e-votees-

Blessed Easter to you.

Christ is risen!!!

He is risen, indeed!!!



19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:19-31, NRSV

Jesus’ response to fear and cowering is one of “Peace be with you.”

Jesus’ response to doubting and demanding proof of the resurrection is one of “Peace be with you.”

We have things that trouble and beset us. Some of those are of a spiritual nature. Some are much more animal. Some are the results of our faith and our testimony. Some are much more self-inflicted. We have sins that trouble us. We lose sight of the goal. We take our eyes off of our Lord and pay attention to the waves lapping at our feet. We look at the paltry fish and loaves and the enormity of the crowd. We see the one who didn’t live up to his or her promises in the mirror again. We look at our life plan and where we are so far. We are facing our mortality or that of those we love. Relationships and careers and dreams careen off-course. We have all sorts of thing that trouble and beset us.

Jesus looks into our life and says “Peace be with you.”

Sometimes it seems that Jesus is being a bit simplistic speaking peace into our chaos.

We forget who Jesus is and what he has done and what he can do. If we want to believe more strongly we can spend time in “this book” which was written so that we might come to believe in Jesus and through believing have life (and peace) in his name.

I invite you to consider joining us as we work our way through the Bible in 90 Days as part of our “Season of Growing”. We will be working through this at church and the readings are posted at You will be blessed and your faith will be deepened. And peace will be with you.

God, draw us into your peace. We give our chaos to you. We give our hearts to you. Draw us into deeper belief. Amen.