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Lent Day 32: The Lord’s Supper

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job

Day 32: The Lord’s Supper

…The Lord’s Supper is a remarkable sign of the reign of God. Here we have a glimpse into what God intends for all humanity…there is enough for all. No matter how broken, hungry, or needy I am, there is always enough of the bread of life for me.  And my need does not prevent another’s need from being recognized and met.  No one is shortchanged or denied what is needed. ~ Day 32 Reflection by Job

No one is too broken to come to the table.  All are worthy. We can set our scarcity mentality aside, because there is plenty for all our brothers and sisters. Communion is deeply personal and, at the same time, also profoundly communal.

From John Wesley’s Journal (Day 32, Wesley’s Second Reading): Many were comforted and strengthened both at the Lord’s Supper, and at the evening service. I think all jealousies and misunderstandings are vanished, and the whole society is well knit together.  How long will they continue so, considering the unparalleled fickleness of the people in these parts?  That God knows.  However, he does work now and we rejoice therein.

I love this quote.  It speaks to the transformative, uniting power of God’s presence in Holy Communion, as well as the human condition to sin and separate from God and from one another.  Wesley understood his well.  It continues to amaze me that God’s grace flows so freely, like a faucet that this always on, cleansing and loving us, despite our many flaws and propensity toward sin.

What in today’s reading spoke to you?  What questions did I raise?

Pastor Wendy


Lent Day 31: Prayer

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job

Day 31: Prayer

“Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find.  Knock and the door will be opened to you.  Everyone who asks, receives.  Whoever seeks, finds.  To everyone who knocks, the door is opened.” Luke 11:9-10

As I reflect on this scripture, I want to take a survey… is it True with a capital “T”, true with a little “t” or “false?”  Which would you choose?  Survey says…

I know the Truth is that I could do a better job of remaining in an attitude of prayer, asking, seeking, and knocking.  God does listen. Many of us Americans have been taught to take care of everything on our own, rather than asking, seeking, knocking and relying on God.

As we read this scripture in my Wesleyan group last night, I was reminded of a prayer that resulted in what felt to a young, recent college grad, like a miracle.  Many years ago I worked at a homeless shelter in rural KY.  It was a government recognized holiday, but I was working so it could not have been a holiday my employer recognized.  One of our residents for whom I was responsible was rapidly deteriorating, mentally.  I knew she needed to go to the psych hospital.  But, she was not willing to go on her own. And, I knew there was little chance of tracking down a judge to sign an involuntary commitment in my small town on a holiday.  My hands were tied.  Unless she got so bad we had to call the police, all we could do was watch her decline.  I prayed really hard for another option.  Not five minutes later, she came in from the back porch to use the bathroom.  Something clicked in her brain when she flushed the toilet. When she came out, she said, “disease is flowing and I want to go to the hospital.”   So, I promptly took her to the hospital and she was admitted. This was such a powerful experience, it scared me.  I sought help and God provided.  Ask and you shall receive.

What have you asked for that God has provided?  What prevents you from asking more?

Pastor Wendy

 


Lent: Day 29: Silence

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job

Day 29: Silence

In the reflection, Job says: We are given signs and songs even in the darkest night, signs and songs that assure of the presence of the only One who can shatter our silence.

Have you ever experienced literal or figurative isolation in the midst of total darkness and deafening silence?  I have.  When I was in my late 20’s, I lived in East KY, at the end of the holler, surrounded by the Daniel Boon National Forest.  It was a beautiful fall day.  When I got home from work, I took my puppy for a walk in the woods. I hiked a path I had not been on since spring and when I got close to the ridge, I wandered off the path to hike up to top of the ridge.  Seeing a familiar path below, I hiked down to it and looked for a path back to the house, expecting to return well before sunset.  I knew where I was, but I could not find the path I was looking for that would lead me home.  I had no idea that the path had become so overgrown over the summer that I could not recognize it.  It got dark, really, really dark, so I had no choice but to stop walking.  I sat down and tried to use branches to cover up and stay warm.

Thinking about this story reminded me of Pastor Marcus’s Ash Wednesday message. Pastor Marcus talked about how one might live life differently if one wore a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order) bracelet at all times, as a reminder of your mortality. How might this change how one leads one’s life?  How might it change our priorities?  Trust me.  When I was surrounded by silence and darkness, lost in the woods, wondering if I could stay warm enough to survive the night, I had plenty of time to think about who and what was really important in my life.  I prayed without ceasing.  I knew that if I lived, I would make changes in my life to align with my priorities. I knew my life would not be the same. To this day, I cannot hike in the woods on a path that is not well marked without experiencing palpable anxiety. But it was no like that that evening. I was sacred; I knew that I could not control if I lived or died.  I knew I wanted to live.  Remarkably, I did not panic; because in the darkness and silence, I was not totally alone.  I had my puppy who was also my heater.  And, I had assurance of God’s presence.  It still feels a little strange to say, but I was a peace.  I sat there for hours before I was rescued. And, I was not panicked.  I did not know if I would live, but I did know God was with me and I recommitted myself to God.  God’s grace was enough to penetrate the deafening silence.

What about you?  What is your experience with darkness and silence? What stories came to mind as you read the devotion for today?

Pastor Wendy


Lent 2017: Day 19

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Lent 2017 reflection on “40 Days with Wesley” by Rueben P. Job

Day 19: Justifying Grace

I read today’s lesson and I patted myself on the back. I thought, I’m good. Now, what I am going to write about? I am thankful that God has had mercy on me so many times. I give great thanks that I don’t have to “earn” my way into heaven. Faith and accepting God’s grace is sufficient. I also give thanks that God has blessed me with the gift of mercy. I’m good. Time to focus on sermon writing.

But I could not move on. I kept hearing the words, “God is rich in mercy” from the second chapter of Ephesians. If mercy overflows from God and I accept that mercy and I share that mercy with others, why do I not show myself more mercy? Have I fully accepted God’s gift if I don’t more readily bestow it upon myself? I don’t have answers, but some things to continue to ponder today. What about you? What stood out to you in the reading? Where have you experienced mercy today? Where have you shown mercy today?

Pastor Wendy


Lent 2017: Day 18

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job
Day 18: Forgiveness

I admit, I read ahead yesterday and I was delighted to re-read the scripture from the fifth chapter of Luke. This is a comforting and troubling passage which I have been pondering all day. I love to imagine the scene where the men lower the paralyzed man to Jesus. This is community at its best—seeing someone in need, problem-solving, finding a way to overcome obstacles, and doing the necessary work to bring the one in need of healing to the Great Physician. And, it works. The man is healed. This is my kind of community. Where do you see yourself in the story? Most often, I picture myself doing the lowering. How rewarding to see that you have made a difference in the life of someone else!
Sometimes I picture myself as the helpless one on a stretcher waiting for someone to notice I am in need of healing. And, I find joy in thinking about having friends like the men who responded to the one in need. These are the kind of friends I want to have—ones you can count on—ones that will notice and respond when you have a need and don’t have what it takes to get yourself there on your own. They see to it that you get where you need to be, even if it means they have to endure your kicking and screaming along the way.

The scripture says, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven’” and the man was healed. I admit that I find the word ‘their’ a bit troubling. I want Jesus to say, ‘his’—his faith made a difference in his being healed. Was Jesus healing the man because of the faith of his friends? Or because of the faith of his friends? Or because of his friends and his faith? What forgiveness was needed? Did he ask for forgiveness by his mere presence? So many unanswered questions.

I am less troubled by the text when picturing the men doing the lowering as the men and women who have been attending the Lenten Wesleyan classes with me on Wednesday night and Sunday morning. They challenge me to pay attention and to remove obstacles that may prevent me from fully witnessing the power of God at work in my life and in the lives of others. Through their stories and witness of where God is at work in their lives, they draw me closer to Jesus. They bring me face to face with Jesus. And, in those encounters there is love, forgiveness, acceptance and healing. It is mighty powerful!

If you have insights about this scripture, I would love you to leave a comment. We can all learn from one another! Also, feel free to comment about something else in the devotion that spoke to you.

Pastor Wendy


Lent 2017: Day 17

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job
Day 17: Prevenient Grace

God continually seeks me and you and everyone else in the world. God seeks to show us unconditional love and God longs for us to respond, to extend a hand to reach out and accept the gift of God’s perfect love or to open our hearts so God’s love may pour into us. As I think about this, and my varied responses to God over the years, and the responses of others whom I know, I am overwhelmed by the power, patience and determination of God to keep pursing us!

In the reflection section Job says, “God walks with us even when we deny Divine Presence.” As I read this I was reminded of a discussion I had today with someone about the poem, “Footprints in the Sand.” When I looked up the words I learned there are three versions by three different authors (see: http://www.wowzone.com/fprints.htm). The author of the poem questions the absence of God’s footprints in the sand during life’s most difficult moments and she captures God’s response. The footprints that are missing are not God’s but rather the person’s because it is during those times that God is carrying the person.

Today’s reading ends with this sentence, “Don’t let go of what your hands have made.” This is a beautiful prayer. God, please don’t let go of me. You’re hands are much stronger than mine, your grip more powerful, and your endurance unending. In this I find abundant strength and comfort, and I give great thanks and praise. Amen.

What is your prayer today? What scriptures, poems or works of art describe God’s prevenient grace for you?

Pastor Wendy


Len 2017: Day 10

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job
Day 10: A World of Darkness

Today’s reading reminds me of these words from the 23rd Psalm “…Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. (NRSV)” A few years ago I saw a video depiction the 23rd Psalm set in the inner-city. I did several google searches hoping to find it to share with you. I remember the scene where a family was sitting down to eat at a table prepared with a meal and the images of dark shadows of enemies walking past the windows. It reminded me that evil is all around me. And, God is present with me. God sets a table—filled with the sustenance I need—in the midst of the evil of the world that is all around us. Are there scriptures that came to mind to you as you were reading this or another one of the devotions this week?

Pastor Wendy


Lent 2017: Day 9

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job
Day 9: Remembering Who We Are

You are the salt of the earth. Matthew 5:13. Have you ever stopped to think about how prevalent salt is in your life? Or how vital it is to your existence? I googled uses of salt a couple of years ago in preparation for a children’s message and I was surprised to learn about its many uses. Here are a few that come to mind today:
• Salt enhances the taste of food, just like we as disciples of Jesus enhance the world around us by sprinkling in a little love.
• Salt melts ice much like the love of Christ melts anger and hatred.
• The love God pours out to us, and invites us to receive, and calls us to give, has the power to heal brokenness. Salt is used to clean up messes. Likewise, love scrubs away the things that dim the light of God within us and lets the light rays radiate for all the world to see.
• We have to have enough salt in our bodies for all our systems to function properly, much like we need love to sustain life; without enough salt we literally parish; without love, we become dry bones, the walking dead.
• Like salt, love is all around us. Salt is used in the making of products we use every day like paper, plastic and glass. Love can be seen all around us. Today, I have witnessed love in the eyes of a baby staring in awe at its mamma. I saw it in the big smile on the face of the man who thanked me for holding he door open for him as he exited McDonalds with hands full of food. I heard the desire for love from a woman who called me, feeling isolated and alone asking for prayer and I witnessed the cleansing power of love through praying and her response to receiving love. I felt the love a fellow pastor has for God and for her congregation as we discussed her sermon for Sunday. Indeed love is all around us! I give thanks to God for this devotion opening my eyes to see and my ears to hear love that surrounds me this day!

And, there is more…Salt is good for nothing if it loses its saltiness. If it is stripped of what makes it salt, it is useless. Salt is useless as salt if it cannot be salt. Salt has an identity. It has particular properties. Salt is salt no matter where in the world it is found. The devotion today also reminds us that, like salt, we have an identity and a purpose. We are children of God, made in the image of God and we are called to be Christians—ones who spread the love of Christ everywhere we are. This is an identity that is at the core of who we are. It is not a jacket we put on when we need it or when it looks good. We are children of God, it is in our nature to love radically, all of creation. This is powerful stuff! No matter my doubts or no matter how strong the messages of the world ringing in my ear to fear, to retreat, to retaliate, to protect thyself from evil, God gives me the power to respond with love.

Salt can lose its saltiness and we are all well aware that we have the capacity to fail miserably in our call to love. How do we prevent from losing our saltiness? How do we prevent ourselves and our fellow Christians from being stripped of our identity? Job gives us a powerful answer in the reflection: “daily and intimate companionship” with our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. All we need is provided for us. The one who breathed life into us, provides for us all the days of our life.

I would love to hear from you. Where have you experienced love today? What in the reading stood out for you? What is pulling at your heart this day?

Pastor Wendy


Lent 2017: Day 8

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job
Day 8: The Human Condition

Today, at Crucible training Lisa Withrow, Dean at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, ended our day’s work on intercultural competency with the statement: Love your enemy. This statement felt out of place given the context of our work. And, then she said, radical love comes before our ability to fulfill the UMC’s mission to make disciple of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the word. Jesus’ teaching to love your enemy was very radical 2000 years ago and it is radical today. Jesus teaches us to love everyone, even our enemies. I got the connection to the day…if we display such radical love to God, neighbor and self we can do the work needed to become more intercultural competent clergy and more effective in fulfilling our mission.

Today’s devotion reinforced the importance of love and the radical nature of God’s love shown in forming us long before the Spirit gives us our first breath, in knowing our most hidden thoughts and feelings, and in still loving us just as we are—no strings attached. We don’t choose God, God choose us. This is profound. God chose me. I am…we are disciples—not because we choose first, but because God loved us first. We are capable of showing radical love, because we have experienced the radical love God has shown us, is showing us, and will continue to bestow upon us all the days of our lives.

Show radical love today. See what a difference it makes. And, tell me about it!

Pastor Wendy


Lent 2017: Day 7

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Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job

Day7: Becoming a Prayerful People

Job starts the Day 7 reflection with these words: “It is amazing that the disciples did not ask Jesus to teach them how to tell a parable, multiply the loaves, or heal the sick; but they did ask him to teach them how to pray.” I can’t say that I have ever thought about Jesus’ teaching in these terms before…but now that Job mentions it, I do wish Jesus had left us a few more instructions. Imagine if Jesus had taught the disciples these things and they had taught us and we could teach others…imagine the impact! No one would have to go hungry if we could multiple loaves. If we could heal everyone, no one would have to suffer with cancer…when I think about these amazing possibilities, I am reminded of the role of prayer in making the gospel accessible, in feeding the hungry and healing the sick. Prayer offers us an opportunity to develop a deep and profound connection to God is the foundation that makes all these things possible.

Today, I also want to remind you of the invitation Pastor Marcus gave us on Sunday to be in prayer at noon each day using these words:
“God of Love, forgive us for not loving You with our whole hearts. In this time of wilderness, may we listen for the guidance of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to let go of our: self-reliance, certainties, prejudices, rigidity, fear, timidity or whatever holds us back from being whole-hearted. As Jesus’ disciples we are a Resurrection people; flood our imaginations with hope and help us to embrace a hope-full future. Grant us peace and knowing for the next faithful step. In the name of Perfect Love, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Pastor Wendy