Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 7:11-17.
Devotional Scripture ~ Exodus 2:23.
Earlier this week I entered into a conversation – and therefore, a space – with someone experiencing deep loss and grave pain. Frustration, anger, loneliness, isolation, hopelessness – these words were said and their feelings expressed. We discussed quality of life – what defines quality life, what supports quality of life, what is quality of life. It was a difficult conversation.
It was also a holy and needful conversation.
Our devotional scripture text for this week finds the Israelites in a similar state of misery. They not only felt the emotional weight of their pain, they bore the physical effects of their pain on their bodies. And they, like my conversation partner earlier this week, cried out to God.
Crying out to God can take a number of forms. It can look like railing against God in anger. It can look like weeping. It can look like asking for a specific outcome. It can look like wanting to make a request but not knowing how to wrap language around your request. It can look like walking away from God for a time. It can look like running home. It can be full of words. It can be absolutely silent.
I affirmed my conversation partner from earlier this week, as I have affirmed others, as I would have affirmed the Israelites, and as I affirm myself – God can handle it. God can receive our anger, our wandering, our pain, our loss – God can receive it all and transform those ashes into beauty. That transformation process is hard heart work.
It is another holy and needful conversation that continues throughout our lives – and I trust – on both sides of eternity.
Last weekend I had the privilege to officiate the wedding of my best friend and her husband. My wedding homily reflected on Jesus’ presence at the Wedding at Cana, as told in John 2. I think there were two miracles witnessed that day. Yes, Jesus turned water into wine. But more importantly, Mary knew where to turn in that moment of depletion, nearing emptiness. She knew where to turn to be seen, to be answered, to experience change.
Jesus moved according to his timetable. And Mary was at peace with that, because she was at peace knowing who sees her, answers her, and brings about change in and for her in the appropriate time.
It is hard – so very hard – to wait for answers and change when we are hurting, when we are seeking relief. During those moments our prayers may feel hollow and our words empty. God knows. God knows our hearts and wants to share, and ultimately remove, our burden. We welcome God in by lifting prayers and being vulnerable before one another.
Be encouraged. God is with us. We are not alone.
Reflection: Take some time to write your requests to God. Trust that God hears you. Include requests that remain unanswered. Trust that God is working in ways that we see and do not see, in ways we understand and do not yet understand.
Prayer: “Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices, who wondrous things has done, in whom this world rejoices; who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.”* Amen.
*“Now Thank We All Our God,” The United Methodist Hymnal 102.
Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal