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 ~ Matthew 25:31-46.
Devotional Scripture ~ Colossians 1:3-4.
Our devotional scripture begins the thanksgiving portion of Paul and Timothy's letter to the Church at Colossae. The Apostle and his apprentice thank the members of this church for their faith, which is displayed in the love they have and hold for the whole of their community.
When I take a moment to think of a person in my life whose love runs deep and wide, whose love have-s and holds all people - I think of my dear friend Holly. Holly welcomed me home to my yoga practice. Holly calls me the only yoga student she ever 'stole' from another studio. Holly calls me her pastor. What touches my heart the most is that Holly calls me friend.
Holly has the spiritual gifts of discernment, exhortation, giving, servanthood, shepherding and wisdom. Her discernment gifts deep intuition and insight. Through exhortation she offers encouragement, wise counsel, sincere support, and empowerment. God leads her in her giving; Holly gives by and in faith because of her confidence in the goodness of God's provision. Holly knows no other activity than doing for others. Her servanthood excludes personal needs; she would rather - and often only does! - give than receive. Holly is a fellow sheep - and a mentoring sheep - in God's fold. She shepherds others as she has been shepherded; this is her duty and responsibility. It is also a source of one of her greatest joys in life. Holly's wisdom is far from sugar-coated, and yet it is always a soft place to land. She desires the best for and in all people. She strives to do no harm. She strives to do good.
Holly, you not only strive; you succeed.
Holly schedules regular phone dates with me. They all start the same, "What's going on - tell me everything." And her request is sincere. She knows ministry is messy. Even if she does not know all that ministry entails, she knows that people are involved - and people are messy. Especially me. She willingly enters that place. She holds space. She interjects humor. She reminds me of the importance of a balanced life - that there are times to be Martha and work with great diligence and that there are times to be Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus. Both are important. Both have their place.
And both have their place in me. And in my ministry.
One of Holly's greatest giftings in my life is her consistent invitation to venture into the topsy-turviness of the Kingdom - where the last is first and the lowly are lifted and the poor are welcomed as guests of honor at Christ's banquet. She welcomes my eyes to see again what Jesus always sees because of his capacity to look beyond the world's jadedness and brokenness. She reminds me to not only have sight, but vision. Jesus looks to us and on us with hope; Jesus invites us to look into the world and toward our neighbors in the very.same.way.
Holly serving as my base while I fly in an acro-yoga supported handstand.
In my yoga practice, Holly often prompts me to get outside my comfort zone, to try on something new, to look at something with a different perspective...or to even literally turn my perspective upside down. In these ventures I am never alone - this is as God intends! This sweet friend of mine, and others like her, is near and present with each hesitant step, which in time, grows in confidence, in part, because of her presence with me.
I am grateful that our friendship journey began with my answering Holly's Star Wars trivia question while we maintained a boat pose I thought would never end. I am grateful to have her in my corner, to hear her laughter, and to connect with God through as well as alongside her. I am grateful to be in her corner, and I look with joy towards how God will continue nurturing our sweet friendship into the future.
(Also Holly, more acro-yoga please! With smoothies afterwards!)
Love you, sweet friend. Thank you. For who you are and for all the ways you reveal God in my life.
Reflection: Who has God brought into your life to encourage and support you? How can you be a better encouragement and support for them? Write this person/one of your persons a thank-you note for the friendship you share and for the spiritual gifts you see in them.
For a description of spiritual gifts - or to explore them! - visit https://www.umc.org/en/content/exploring-your-spiritual-gifts.
Prayer: “Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.”* Amen.
*“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” The United Methodist Hymnal 400.
Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal