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 ~ I Thessalonians 5:1-11.
Devotional Scripture ~ Hebrews 12:28-29.
Last Sunday as I walked Rev. Mark Becker out of the South Shore UMC Worship Center, we reflected on the weirdness of ministry during a pandemic. It is weird to not see people. It is weird to only see people’s eyes and forehead rather than their whole face. It is weird not to shake hands or hug.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg. It is just weird.
I thanked Mark for serving with us…and he turned to walk towards his car. After a few steps he stopped, looked back at me, and said he wanted to share with me about an episode of a PBS program that debuted some years ago. It was a series on the book of Genesis, and Mark recalled one of the panelist’s thoughts on faith. She shared with the others – and those watching at home – that she has faith not for the ‘mountain top moments’ but for the moments she spends in the valley(s). Because she has had and enjoyed ‘mountain top moments’ she knows she will have them again. Her faith is what sustains her through the valleys.
Mark hopes faith – individual and collective – will sustain me (us) through this pandemic valley.
There is no doubt I am (we are) weary. There is no doubt I am (we are) worn. Because I am (we are) weary and worn, there may be doubt concerning God’s goodness and faithfulness. There may be doubt concerning God’s provision and care. As Mark said on Sunday, doubt is an opportunity for faith to grow, for faith to be refined, and for faith to seek surety as the world around us shakes in uncertainty.
The pastor in Hebrews speaks confidently of our receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. While the world feels constantly in flux, while we wonder - sometimes minute to minute - who to believe and what to trust, we need not have any of those fears concerning the Kingdom.
It is true - portions and specifics of the Kingdom remain a mystery. We do not have the entire Kingdom horizon in view. Even so, we do have the Godhead in view. In looking to God, the mystery takes shape as we learn of our Heavenly Parent’s love for us who did not withhold even God’s only Son. In looking to Jesus, the mystery takes shape as we learn from Jesus’ example what it means and looks like to be a neighbor and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In looking to the Holy Spirit, the mystery takes shape as we see the potential and possibilities before the people of God resultant of our shared worship, shared meals, shared resources, and shared hearts.
The writer of James says, "Draw near to God and God will draw near to you" (4:8). Draw near in gratitude. Draw near in reverence and awe, because friends, if we invest in this mystery taking shape, if we walk by faith and not by sight, then we will find that we, too, cannot be shaken.
Reflection: What is currently shaking your faith? What steps can you take this week to seek surety of faith? Share your answer and explore your options with a trusted family member or friend.
Prayer: “All ye who are of tender heart, forgiving others, take your part, O praise ye! Alleluia! Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, praise God and on him cast your care! O praise ye! O praise ye! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”* Amen.
*“All Creatures of Our God and King,” The United Methodist Hymnal 62.
Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal