Wednesday, June 25, 2014

e-vo for week of June 25

Dearest e-votees-

Welcomes matter.

Who we welcome has consequences.

It is instructive to see who welcomes us.

We should pay close attention to welcoming.



[Jesus speaking:] 40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Matthew 10:40-42, NRSV

Jesus talking to his disciples says that, because of their connection to Jesus, whoever welcomes them welcomes Jesus. And because of Jesus' connection with God the Father whoever welcomes him welcomes God the Father. If we are Jesus disciples then we too are connected as the apostles were. Whoever welcomes us welcomes Jesus and God the Father. We are conduits, if you will, of a divine welcome.

When we welcome prophets as a prophet there is a prophet's reward to be had. When we welcome a righteous person as a righteous person there is a reward to be had. Even in meeting basic needs of slaking thirst and offering hospitality there is a reward to be had.

It seems that Jesus is suggesting that in supporting others as they live into their vocations--callings from God--that we in a real sense participate in their work and are included in the consequences that come their way because of that work. God has a calling on our lives as well. As we grow in those there are consequences of that work. Those who love us and welcome us and support us become a part of living out the calling and into the consequences as well. Who supports you in the calling that God has placed on your life? You would do well to share with them the reward that is yours.

There is a song by Ray Boltz that is simply called Thank You. The gist of the song is that because of this person in heaven who had lived out various callings (Sunday School teacher, supporter of missions, etc., etc.) many had been welcomed into the kingdom of heaven. They received the consequences of the gospel -- salvation in the name of Jesus. And they shared part of their reward with this kind and generous person. The truest reward comes not in the form of money nor fame nor anything else of this world. The truest reward comes in changed lives that are drawn into the glorious good news of the gospel. May our lives be so full of welcoming and being welcomed that our lives and those around us are changed for the better forever.

God, help us welcome all because all are made in your image. Help us share whatever rewards you may send our way. Thank you, Jesus, we are lives that are changed. We are so glad You came. Amen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

e-vo for week of June 18

Dearest e-votees-

When we give a gift we are yielding control to what becomes of it. The recipient gains control or liberty with said gift.

When God gives us salvation by grace God yields a measure of control as well. Grace is ours. What we do with that grace is our choice.

Paul has a few things to say about how we might employ the freedom from sin we have in Christ.



1 Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:1b-11, NRSV

When we are baptized we are connected with Jesus' death. As he died so we die too. As the consequences of sin exacted his life from him the power of sin is put to death in our lives. Because Jesus was bound, beaten and killed we are freed, healed and born anew. When death occurs sin loses its grip. When Jesus died sin could harm him no more. When we are baptized into Christ we are joined into his death and, therefore, into the freedom from the ultimate consequences of sin.

When we are baptized we are connected with Jesus' resurrection. As he lived so we live too. The power of God that worked his resurrection is at work in us too. Because death could not hold Jesus down we will not be forever weighed down with mortality either. When new life occurs sin loses its grip. When Jesus rose from the dead sin could harm him no more. When we are baptized into Christ we are joined into his resurrection and, therefore, into the freedom from the ultimate consequences of death.

God, because Jesus lives we live too. Help us enjoy and glorify you in the freedom have in Christ. Your grace is enough for us. Amen.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

e-vo for week of June 11

Dearest e-votees-

This coming Sunday is the day of the church year where we emphasize the Holy Trinity.

God lives in the community of the Trinity and God is made known to us in the Trinity.

May God bless us as we gather in community and as we make room for others in our communities as well.



11 Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, NRSV

Verse 13 of our appointed epistle lesson is a familiar one. It is featured prominently in many of our liturgical settings. It is one of the relatively few places in scripture where all three persons of the Holy Trinity are mentioned in one breath. It is often one of the very first things we hear when we gather for worship.

We begin with grace which we experience through Jesus. We cannot merit God's favor. We can't do enough to earn God's love. On our own and left to our own devices we fail to live the holiness that is needed. So God comes to us. Jesus enters into our broken places and makes right what we cannot. Jesus brings salvation as pure gift. Because it is gift we cannot lose it by not living holy enough. God's grace is for us and for all. All we can do is accept that gift and offer it to others which is exactly what this invocation in verse 13 does.

We continue on to God's love. God has so many superlative traits but by far the most important is love. God so loved the world that Jesus was sent to us. God loves us and loves all. It is God's nature to love and to be in relationship. The Trinity is a relational reality. We are invited into that reality. There is a well-known icon of the visitors who came to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre and announced that Sarah was to have a child.

You can see it at:

Some see in this icon the Trinity. And in that Trinity and how they are sitting they see an invitation for us to take a place at the table with the three already seated. This is a loving invitation from a loving God. God's love is for us and for all. All we can do is accept that gift and offer to others which is exactly what this invocation in verse 13 does.

We finish this verse with the invitation into communion or fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Because God comes to us through grace we are assured of our acceptance. Because God comes to us in love we receive God's unwavering care. Because we are loved and accepted we can grow in community with God. We are ushered into the divine presence and community. God's community is extended to us and to all. All we can do is enter into that community and extend that invitation to others which is exactly what this invocation in verse 13 does.

God says to us "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." God grant us ears and hearts to hear and to accept that incredible invocation. Amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

e-vo for week of June 4

Dearest e-votees-

This coming Sunday is the day of Pentecost. It is an ancient festival that took on new meaning when the Holy Spirit came into the church deeply and broadly as recounted in Acts 2. We will look at the appointed text from 1 Corinthians as our devotional focus for this week.


------------ one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, NRSV

It is the breath of God (the Spirit) that brings life to the dust in the garden of Eden and life to the dusty bones of Ezekiel's vision. The form and the pieces of the body might be present but it is the divine indwelling that animates us most fully into that divine image in which we were created. When we regard others as anything less than loved by God and formed in God's image we diminish God's body. When we disregard the beauty and the care that God has instilled into us we diminish God's body. When we try to show how our gifts or contributions are more valuable than those of others we diminish God's body.

The body needs all of its parts to exist and function and most fully convey the breadth of life God has given. The church--the community of saints--the spiritual body of Christ needs all of its parts to exist and to convey most fully the breadth of God's love that is for the world. It takes all gifts and passions, all perspectives and sensitivities, all stories and hoped-for futures in order to more fully bear the fullness of Christ.

The Spirit is for us and for all. We should drink of it deeply and invite others to do the same. This isn't to say that all things are equally good or acceptable to God. This isn't to say that we should be whoever our Old Adams and Old Eves imagine without restraint. This is saying that we should allow others to discern about and grow into God as they are moved by the Holy Spirit and we should do the same. We should take the plank out of our own spiritual eyes and let God remove they specks from theirs. If we know anything about God and the Holy Spirit we should know that God can make clear what God needs to say to individuals and communities when God so chooses.

God, blow into our lives again and again. Give us grace to see your body as lacking without others made in your image. Particularly stir us to reach out to those who perplex, annoy and scare us most. What we are not that they are surely conveys some of your majesty. Amen.