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Jesus' Last Week: New Commandment

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 ~ John 13:31-35.

Devotional Scripture ~ Proverbs 3:5-6.

Earlier this week I enjoyed two days of mid-Lent Sabbath. I read books - not for work. I caught up on a couple of television shows I like to watch. And...

Are you sitting down?

Really? Confirming you are sitting down.

I did not write my sermon on Monday...which feels...out of this world...

If the rapture ensues in the near future, I will accept full and complete responsibility.

In lieu of those hours sermon-izing, I dug my hands into the soil...and by extension felt God’s hands dig into my soul. I edged. I pulled weeds. I trimmed hedges and pruned our beautiful - and aggressive! - rose bushes and bougainvilleas. I planted new salvia and pentas. I absorbed so much Vitamin D...I got sunburned.


I waited to do this work in my yard - hoping we have seen the last of the winter “cold” so that my pruned and new plants will not get bit by a late snap. Feeling confident that spring has sprung, I completed my work.

I decided to plant my new pentas around an oak tree in our yard where - mere days before - the tree was the only plant in the bed. I moved the mulch aside to expose the dirt. And no matter the force of my arm applied through my spade, the ground would not yield.

It had been winter too long.

And so I changed approaches. Instead of my failed attempts of hacking into the ground, I started a stirring motion that loosened the resistant upper crust and finally gave way to the softer soil beneath. Into the ground my pentas went.

As I stirred the dirt, I realized how alive I felt in that moment - dirt under my nails, outside, sun-crisping, skin salty. I realized that for my soul - just like the ground - it had been winter too long.

Late last week - deep within the fog of Zoom-fatigue and spiritual restlessness - God began stirring in my soul. I felt like I needed to rest, but did not think I could afford the time to rest. Well, God was having none of that excuse, and used a friend to speak to me, “Be still and quiet. Just be.”

Thank you, Mary.

In order for there to be Spring in my soul, Winter had to end. God’s stirring would not let me go. God’s gentle hand loosened the resistant upper crust of my heart and exposed the softer depths beneath.

For the next few days my sunburn will be my reminder - and talisman - for what God did in me. It will be a reminder in the days to come of the rest I enjoyed. Of time away from devices. Of connecting with the earth.

Of reconnecting with God.

My sunburn will eventually fade, but I hope what God sowed in me will come into even greater bloom: A refreshed spirit. A reignited heart. A renewed trust.

God knew what I needed before I knew I needed it. Trust, friends, that God knows the same for you. God is stirring your heart. God may even speak to you through your friends! Trust God’s voice. Follow God’s lead. Rest in God’s arms.

It has been winter too long. It is time for God’s Spring.

In you.

Reflection: What is God stirring up in you? How are you responding to the movement and guidance of God's hand and voice? How is God inviting you to trust where God is leading?

Prayer: "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation. O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near; join me in glad adoration!"* Amen.

*”Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” The United Methodist Hymnal 139.

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


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