Catch: Permission to Provoke

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 ~ Hebrews 10:19-25.


Devotional Scripture ~ Galatians 6:2.


Disclaimer: Pastors are people, too. And we get by with a lot of help from our friends that nurture us through grace and accountability.


Recently I met with some friends for lunch. During the course of our conversation we each shared grievance with another colleague of ours. We had each been stung, and while the stinger was gone, the welt remained.


When our food arrived, one of group offered to pray. “Lord, soften our hearts towards her,” she said.


I am still chewing on that prayer more than a week later. That prayer calls for my action, my change, my repentance, my transformation.


Not hers.


While it is true that I want this colleague to change, and to particularly change towards me, it is also true that I am only capable of changing myself, which is possible through the wonder-working power of the Holy Spirit. With God’s help, I will hope for and work towards that change.


Our devotional scripture this week instructs us to “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” The law of Christ is first - to love God with all that you are - and second - to love your neighbor as yourself (Mk 12:29-31).


When we bear one another’s burdens, when we carry one another’s concerns, when we shoulder one another’s sorrows, we show God that we care about what (and who) God cares about. When we bear one another’s burdens, when we carry one another’s concerns, when we shoulder one another’s sorrows, we show Jesus our commitment to do for others what we would do for ourselves.


Instinctively we do for ourselves that which promotes happiness, ensures security, and leads to success. Benefiting a friend, and even more so, benefiting someone with whom you (I) bear a grievance with the kind of care that promotes happiness, ensures security, and leads to success fulfills the law of Christ.

These actions reveal our seeing and our hearing the law of Christ. We make our seeing and hearing visible through our personal fulfilling - our personal living out - the law of Christ.


A few verses earlier the Apostle Paul names how we can bear one another’s burdens - through the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Gal 5:22-23). These fruits grow from and in repentant hearts - especially hearts that seek the softness born of the transformation from grievance-filled griping to grace-filled gratitude.


Lord, soften my heart towards her. So fill me with your grace that I will greet her in gratitude. Continue your transformative work in me, further readying me to fulfill the law of Christ and to bear the fruit of your Spirit. Amen.


Reflection: Recall a time you held a grievance towards someone. How did you act towards them, either in their sight or out of their sight? What would it look like for your heart to soften towards them so that you greet them with grace-filled gratitude rather than grievance-filled griping?


Prayer: "I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do. I love to tell the story, 'twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love."* Amen.


*“I Love to Tell the Story,” The United Methodist Hymnal 156.


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