Calling On Fire

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 ~ Jonah 4.


Devotional Scripture ~ II Corinthians 7:10.


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Please be in prayer for our SSYouth Worship Team as they lead worship during our 11am Contemporary Service this Sunday. SSUMC's Youth Director, Andrew Miller, will share the message with us this Sunday, drawing on Jonah 4 as his primary text.


Students, we are so proud of you! We are grateful for your leadership and preparation!


I hope you will join us safely in person or participate in our worship broadcast of this service via South Shore UMC's YouTube Channel to support our students!


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In this week's devotional text, the Apostle Paul talks about godly grief or godly sorrow. I believe this to be the occurrence that persons of faith - both new and familiar - experience that draws them towards repentance. Being drawn towards repentance either sets us on the path towards salvation or recalculates our trajectory onto the path towards salvation.


For me, godly sorrow aches in a much deeper place. It feels hollow and it lingers. That hollowness reminds me that in my current state, I am not my fullest self. I am neither the truest expression nor the truest desire of God's heart for my life. Ignoring that ache does not make it go away. Left alone the lingering strengthens. It hones. In my experience, that lingering does not let go...not until I let go...after the example of Jonah...and do what God has been waiting for me to do all along.


Repent.


Repent and then get to work, addressing that hollow place in my own life, which I find, more often than not, addresses and/or alleviates hollownesses experienced by others.


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This past week I was reminded, again, of Frederick Buechner's definition of vocation. Originally published in his volume entitled Wishful Thinking, Buechner writes...


IT COMES FROM the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a [person] is called to by God.

There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Super-ego, or Self-Interest.


By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you've presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you've missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you're bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren't helping your patients much either.


Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.*


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I do not believe that we can fully arrive at the place of our deep gladness that will meet and alleviate the world's deep hunger if we are hollow on the inside. If we have unresolved godly sorrow and godly grief. If we stand in the need of repentance but will not ask God for help.


Before we attend to any of the hard work around us, let us first attend to the heart work within us. Let us first repent. Let us first reconcile our hearts and lives to God. Let us first be made one with God again, so that in tune with the beat of God's heart and the desire of God's will, our service will be more life-giving for our neighbors as well as for ourselves.


Friends, this is transformative work. This is the work of calling on fire from heaven to come set our hearts ablaze - through repentance for the purposes of reconciliation so that we will be renewed.


Even as our hearts may be restless and aching now, even as we seek God in the darkness, our God is faithful.


Our God meets us. Our God holds us close, makes us whole, equips us, and sends us forth, bearing and bathed in the light of God's transformative power.


Reflection: How have you experienced the difference between godly sorrow and earthly sorrow? How have you responded in faith to experiences of godly sorrow?


Prayer: "Holy Spirit, come, confirm us in the truth that Christ makes known; we have faith and understanding through your helping gifts alone. Holy Spirit, come, renew us, come yourself to make us live; holy through your loving presence, holy through the gifts you give."** Amen.


*Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, 1993.

**”Holy Spirit, Come, Confirm Us,” The United Methodist Hymnal 331.

***Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal