Celebrating Laity Sunday

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!

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Sunday’s Scripture ~ Micah 6:6-8.

Devotional Scripture ~ Luke 23:39-43.

This Sunday the South Shore UMC Family celebrates Laity Sunday!

Laity Sunday honors of the ministry of all lay Christians. In many local churches, Laity Sunday is observed by having lay persons lead all parts of the worship service.

I am grateful for the strength, commitment, and passion of SSUMC’s Laity as seen in our church leadership, age-level ministries, and outreach. Because of the you, the laity, we are the church together! Sweetest blessings to our laity leading worship this weekend, especially Judi Hamrick who organized and will coordinate our worship services!

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The scene from Luke 23 inspired my tattoo. I have a cross tattoo'd on my right shoulder blade - a cross that was inspired by a necklace pendant my parents gave me for a birthday present one year. It is an infinity cross - the cross has looped and continuous ends - and the detailing within the cross resembles the letter S. Upon receiving this gift, I saw and heard and felt the Galatians 2:19-20 in a whole new and personal way,

For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The conversation of the criminals in the presence of Jesus at Calvary determined the placement of my tattoo. Our Scriptural witness says there was a criminal on the right and left of Jesus; one taunted him and the other defended him...but we do not know which was which. Placing my tattoo on my shoulder blade means I do not see it regularly. I am constantly in the shadow of this cross - if you will. My hope is also that my voice echoes that of the one who defended Jesus, rather than the one that ridiculed him further. Humanity's bent towards sinning, as Charles Wesley penned it, suggests that our voices tend towards the ridicule...by the strength of the Holy Spirit, which we receive through God's incredible grace, may our voices rise in power as we stand in solidarity with our Christ.

"And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Reflection: As Jesus was crucified, a man asked for salvation, and Jesus said yes. Even in that present, enormous, horrific moment of pain and shame, Jesus said yes. Sin has the ability to sit on our chest like a bull elephant; it can feel enormous, horrific, painful, and shame-filled. The good news is that it was never God's intent to leave us under the weight of that pachyderm. It is not God's intent now. Sometimes we feel like we are too far gone - that there is something we have done that cannot be forgiven. My friends, Jesus does not believe that lie, and neither should we. I invite you to find yourself in a safe space - be that alone or with a trusted family member or friend - and share your heart with God. I invite you to release your fear of receiving forgiveness - it is given! I invite you to release your anger and hurt. I add my encouragement to Jesus' invitation - by confessing our sin and receiving Christ's forgiveness, we take a humble and huge step towards Paradise.

Prayer: “O come and sing this song with gladness as your hearts are filled with joy. Lift your hands in sweet surrender to his name. O give him all your tears and sadness; give him all your years of pain, and you'll enter into life in Jesus' name. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.”* Amen.

*“Spirit Song,” The United Methodist Hymnal 347.

Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal

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