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 ~ II Peter 3:8-15a.
Devotional Scripture ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Move over Frozen – your reign in the Miller Household is done.
Joshua is (presently) all about the Genie from Aladdin. Thank you, Robin Williams, for all the giggles and squeals gifted to me from Joshua at listening to your voice bring Genie to life. Joshua especially cackles when Genie describes his experience of being a genie – exploding in and out of the scene over and over again
Poof! What do you need? Poof!! What do YOU need?
POOF!!! What DO YOU need!?
That is what genies do. They are under the control of whoever possesses the lamp. They respond on demand and provide instant gratification until the wish quota is satisfied. This dynamic has (presumably) made all of Genie’s interactions with others purely transactional. Genie’s reality will always be just this until someone sees him as a person rather than a transaction.
Aladdin says he is that person. Aladdin not only recognizes Genie as a person, he considers Genie his friend, and vows to set Genie free. Aladdin’s actions mid-film draw the integrity of his promise to Genie into question... Aladdin lost sight of his friend due to Aladdin’s singular focus on securing his own needs by any means or person necessary. Aladdin’s reverting to transaction-ship over relationship could have cost him personal as well as relational growth. Thankfully – spoiler alert! – it did not! Aladdin loves his friend, and places Genie’s needs before his own. Doing so leads to transformation experiences for both Genie and Aladdin.
Aladdin’s heart is bigger, his care deeper.
And Genie – Genie is free.
Interactions that are purely transactional do not seek – and neither do they satisfy – the heart centered on relationship that God desires we have and share.
A temptation we face – we have faced – we will face – is treating God like a genie. I believe that God wants things – wants life! – to work out in our favor. I believe that God makes all things work together for our good! I believe that God desires us to give thanks in all things.
But we can only give thanks in all things when our happiness is not dependent on things. We can only give thanks in all things when we seek and pursue true relationship with God and others rather than approaching our Lord and/or our neighbors as means to our own ends. Taking on these postures and behaviors that are becoming of the gospel replaces hearts of flesh with hearts of stone. Our inward transformation becomes outward transformation.
Our hearts will be bigger. And our care will be deeper. And we alongside our neighbors will be free of transaction-ship as together we treasure relationship.
God, forgive us for the times that we have used and abused you and our neighbors. Make your Kingdom our sole end. Remind us, remake us, re-member us in the confidence that your Kingdom truly comes as we serve alongside and in the keeping of our sisters and brothers. You are not genie, but Lord. Our neighbors are not pawns, but friends. Love us. Lead us. In the power of your Spirit, we pray. Amen.
Reflection: Write down a few difficult circumstances in your life. Then, below each one, write a reason you can find joy in it. Then, search Scripture for promises about your future. Write out a few verses that encourage you.
Prayer: "Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart."* Amen.
*“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” The United Methodist Hymnal 196.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal