No Fear In Love: Jesus, The Other

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 ~ Luke 10:25-37 and I John 3:16-18.


Devotional Scripture ~ Proverbs 28:13.


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This Sunday South Shore UMC concludes our sermon series entitled No Fear In Love. This series is framed by Bishop Will Willimon's book Fear Of The Other: No Fear In Love. Each week of the series we will explore a reading from First John and a reading from The Gospel of Matthew or Luke, and place those scriptures in conversation with Willimon. I look forward to this time of learning together!


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This year I made an Easter Resolution. Easter Resolutions are similar to New Year’s Resolutions, except they occur on Easter. As our church celebrated new and eternal life gifted to us through Jesus’ resurrection, I made myself a promise to take better care of myself physically.


And I decided to do that by training for a 5k.


As in running.


Vertical running.


What was I thinking!?


It was the final week of my 8-week ‘couch to 5k’ running program. It was the run before “the run!” I laced up. I started my tracker and my 80s jams. I started my walking warm up and only made it two driveways west of my house before I had to sit down. There was a shard of wood in my sock that was repeatedly poking itself into the side of my foot.


(Note: it is common for shards of wood to take up residence in your socks if you have the pleasure of a woodworker living in your home.)


I love my husband. And I love his woodworking. But there was no way I was about to run three miles with that wood shard attempting to become one with my foot. It had to go.


And so it did.


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The presence of that wood shard nearly derailed my run. I thought about calling it a day and just returning home. But I didn’t. I addressed the problem, retied my shoes, and finished my run.


Unconfessed sin in our lives is like that shard of wood. It hurts. And it annoys. And it pokes us in the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. Left unattended, unconfessed sin can immobilize us. Not only can it delay our doing good, it can also make us question if we are ever again capable of good…it can make us question if we are good.


What can we do? With God’s help, we can remove the sin just as I removed that wood shard. The removal happens through confession. The healing happens as we make reparations - be they to ourselves, to God, and/or to others.


God has big plans for each of us. Plans for us to succeed. Plans for us to experience joy and love. Plans for us to become more whole by becoming more holy. The presence of unconfessed sin in our lives robs us of these gifts and opportunities.


It doesn’t have to be this way. God doesn’t want it to be this way.


If you have unconfessed sin in your life, I invite you this week to sit down and address it. You can do this in the comfort of your own driveway or your neighbor’s two houses to the west! Identify the sin. Seek the root of it. Ask God for the strength to remove it, to be released from it. And let it go. Then, move away. Create physical distance between you and the sin by shortening the distance between you and the person(s) with whom you need to make reparations. Affirm for yourself that your act of confession is good, that moving away from the sin and towards holiness is good, that you are capable of good, and that you are good.


The First Day of Summer is officially this week - though it has felt like summer for nearly two months in Florida! Perhaps this work becomes your Early Days of Summer Resolution. Perhaps this work becomes a daily resolution. This work is good! It is through this work that God draws us towards the greatest good for each of us.


Reflection: Write a letter to God addressing the unconfessed sin in your life. Then create physical space between you and your now confessed sin. Lay it down and do not pick it up again. Tear it into small pieces. Shred it. Carefully and safely burn it in a fireplace or fire pit. Ask God for guidance in how to begin your work of reparations. And affirm the good - the good of your work and the good in and through you.


Prayer: "In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity; in our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity. In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see."* Amen.


*”Hymn of Promise,” The United Methodist Hymnal 707.

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