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!
During the month of October, the South Shore UMCommunity will explore five common images of the ‘spooky season’ as they appear in Scripture – darkness, writing appearing from nowhere, ghosts, demons, and skeletons. These stories are amusing, and their knowledge we will be using! Join us for a spooktacular month of study and song at South Shore!
Sunday's Scripture ~ Matthew 8:28-34.
Devotional Scripture ~ Romans 4:7.
South Shore's Modern Worship Team sings a wonderful rendition of North Point Worship's praise song called "Written." The lyrics of the song include,
By the scars on Your feet and hands Every trace of guilt is gone In Your freedom, here I stand You've renamed me, child of God Yes, in Your freedom, here I stand You've renamed me, child of God
Now on my heart, this word is written Forgiven, forgiven On my heart, this word is written Forgiven, forgiven No guilt or shame can hold me 'Cause I'm covered by Your mercy On my heart, this word is written Forgiven, forgiven Yes, we are forgiven
Through forgiveness we are renamed "Child of God." Friends, that is beautiful and powerful! Sin maligns us with so many other names. Actually, we malign ourselves with so many other names because of our disobedience. Sin does not just happen to us. We sin. Sin is a willful choice.
Those other names? Broken. Ugly. Invaluable. Unworthy. Cursed. Betrayer. Denier. Deserter. Unwanted.
God's forgiveness changes everything. God's forgiveness picks us up, holds us tenderly, cleans our wounds, mends our brokenness, strengthens our hearts, and restores our spirits.
Forgiveness is a function of God's grace. Through faith, God forgives our sin and restores our favor. John Wesley wrote in his sermon, The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God, "God in justifying us (making us right through grace) does something for us: in begetting us again (in making us new through grace) he does the work in us" [Number 2]. God's justifying and regenerating of us occurs in a the same or 'double' moment, according to Wesley. God's justifying grace takes away the guilt of sin. God's regenerating grace takes away the power of sin.
Through the grace of forgiveness, God bestows a new name upon us. And when I think upon that name, one word comes to my strengthened heart - Beloved.
Beloved is both a name and a charge. I am - we are - both cherished by God and purposed to cherish others. Cherishing necessarily includes the work of having hard conversations - of addressing hurt and harm at individual, communal, and systemic levels - and of our prayers falling like tears through the night with the sure hope that joy is coming with the dawn. When we cherish others, we live in and out God's intended belovedness for us and we join God in the powerful ministry of putting sins out of sight.
Reflection: Recall an experience of forgiveness. Who "put your sins out of sight" through the gift of grace? How did that gift alter you? How did that gift alter you in or for your future (present) interactions?
Prayer: O God, "She, too, who touched thee in the press and healing virtue stole, was answered, "Daughter, go in peace: thy faith hath made thee whole." Like her, with hopes and fears we come to touch thee if we may; O send us not despairing home; send none unhealed away."* Amen.
*”Heal Us, Emmanuel, Hear Our Prayer,” The United Methodist Hymnal 266.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Faith Project by Zondervan.