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2017 Daily Devotions

Monday, February 20, 2017

by
Mark Odhiambo Odieny ( Rev)

Scripture
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because God has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
God has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Luke 4.18-19

A Word of Hope
Christianity as revealed in the Bible, and exemplified by early followers of Jesus Christ, is an action-oriented faith as opposed to confession without practice kind of religion. James in chapter two verse seventeen points out that faith without works is dead. Our faith is seen not so much in what we say as in what we do. It is said that believers were first called Christians in Antioch( Acts 11:26) and this was so because of the kind of life they led. They imitated the Christ of whom they were followers. Over and over again, Jesus Christ in his earthly ministry taught his disciples of the importance of demonstrating their faith through their works. In fact, he points out that our fruits and deeds are what proves to the world that we are his disciples. ( Matt. 5:16) The Christian faith is a lifestyle of submitting our will and action to God. It is a life of total surrender to Christ; it is more of what we do than what we say,
 
Unfortunately, this has not been the case in our circles in the churches, in the communities and country. Many Christians fail to live up to their God-given call, they say more and do less. Their action fails to match up to their words. There is such a huge disconnect between faith and practice. there is a collapse of what is sacred and what is worldly. Prejudice, hate, injustice and corruption thrive under the watch of some so-called " Christians" who on Sunday confesses the Apostle’s creed and fail to abide by the same on Monday. Sections of the church are caught up in cases of abetting crime and propagating injustice. In Africa, the church is known to be the father of negative tribalism and catalyst for hate and discrimination. In Africa, the church is succeeding in distorting the image of God, whom she should portray. God abhors unfair scales

It's not a wonder that the church can not be looked upon for any meaningful change when she is in bed with the authority that is the rock bed of impunity. It is common place in Africa to find men of the cloth jostling for political and governmental positions. And when they are elected or nominated, they champion the very unethical and inhuman environment that they were thought to address. No wonder Mahatma Gandhi remarked " I like your Christ, but i don't like your Christians" for the Christians are so unlike Christ.

The Christian faith as presented to us in the Bible and proclaimed by the early church fathers is under siege, we the Christians must seize the future by going back to what Christ-like really means.  The faith that teaches you to love your neighbor and believes in the words of Christ when he said that all who come to him are a new creation.

The journey of turning to what being a Christian might not be easy.  It can be a lonely long travel. It can be possible, at many times, to doubt if you are right because it is bound to be a deserted path, with a lot of heart breakages and loss of life being a common occurrence. When Jesus says that he will bring recovery of sight to the blind, he actually refers to those who are meant to know the way but have chosen or neglected the way. These are the oppressors who at one point knew the truth but who find comfort in bigotry or are filled with fear to stand for the just and right ways of the Lord.

As one who Christ has chosen, remember that there are a dozen more people out there looking up for you. And any sign of panic in your character effects a lot more people out there than you ever thought of. You are the yardstick.
As you begin your day today, what is that one thing that some will see or hear from you that reflects who Christ is?

May you go out to love and serve the Lord.

Prayer
Lord you never make junk in any of your Creation, use me today in my frailty to stand out as your true instrument of reconciliation and the true image of your love. Amen.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

by
Molly Sutton
CoH Member

 

 

Scripture
Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves. Proverbs 11:17

 

Word of Hope
Today is “Random Acts of Kindness” day. The phrase “random acts of kindness” may originate from the phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” This phrase was written on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982 by Anne Herbert. She later published “Random Acts of Kindness” in February 1993. But the act of offering kindness to friends, family, or even to strangers has been around for much longer than that. Maybe as long as human beings have been around. But why be kind to one another? You have the power to change someone’s life through a random act of kindness. You may never know how much impact an act of kindness may have on another. Have you ever had a really bad day, and then had someone be kind to you, for no apparent reason? I have, and I can tell you that an act of kindness can totally change everything! Also, practicing random acts of kindness can bring you joy. You might feel badly about slighting someone, or about passing up the opportunity to be kind, but you will never feel badly about offering kindness to another. Finally, kindness can be cyclical. Sometimes, when you perform random acts of kindness, they can somehow find their way back to you.

 

When determining what act of kindness you will perform, think outside the box. You don’t always have to spend money. Here are some ideas:

 

-Write positive sticky notes and leave them anywhere that someone might need a little kindness; on a gas pump, at a bus stop, around your home.

 

-Welcome a new neighbor to the neighborhood.

 

-Be kind to your server. Make eye contact, smile, and ask how they are doing. Don’t forget to tip!

 

-Knit a cap for a cancer patient. If you don’t know one, many hospitals accept caps to be given to patients.

 

-Add change to an expired parking meter.

 

-Pick up trash.

 

-Write a handwritten letter to someone to tell them why you appreciate them.

 

-Give out compliments.

 

-On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, check in with a friend who has lost a parent in the past year.

 

-Offer a cold drink to your mail carrier or garbage collectors.

 

-Help an older neighbor to keep up their property.

 

-Visit a friend in the hospital.

 

-Talk to a lonely senior.

 

No matter the kindness you choose to offer, you’ll bring joy to yourself as well as to someone else.

 

Prayer
God, help me to joyously pass on your love by providing service and kindness to my fellow human beings.

 

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

by
Dr. Pat Saxon
Prayer Ministry Volunteer

Scripture
“So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled by the Holy Spirit.’

And indeed something like scales fell from his eyes and his sight was restored.”
Acts 9:17-18

A Word of Hope
Saul’s conversion story is extraordinary and so famous that merely to refer to the Damascus Road is to call up a dramatic encounter with Jesus, an encounter so radical it changes our lives forever.

When he leaves Jerusalem for Damascus, Saul is still “breathing threats of murder against the disciples of the Lord” and consumed by the zealous mission to round up any who followed the Way and imprison them. But while traveling, heavenly light flashes all around and he hears the voice of Jesus ask, “Why do you persecute me?” He spends three days blinded, incapacitated, neither eating nor drinking. How painful and confusing must have been the inner procession of images and the turbulent feelings as he enters the crucible of transformation.

In the meantime Jesus sends Ananias to minister to Saul, to lay hands on him and restore his vision. At the healer’s touch, the scales fall from his eyes.

Many are the sources of our own blindness: We may be consumed by our own ego or a habituated past. Temptation, judgment, or cultural prejudices may film a larger truth.

Sometimes God sends a wise counselor or healer to help cleanse our sight. Consider how Nathan’s parable cuts through David’s self-denial of ill doing and abuse of power after his affair with Bathsheba and his complicity in her husband Uriah’s murder (2 Samuel 12: 1-15). “I have sinned against the Lord,” utters the king contritely as his eyes clear. And Mordechai guides Esther’s understanding that she can’t simply enjoy her privileged life at the king’s court, but must summon the courage to expose the plot to destroy the Jews in Susa. She must step forward for such a time as this.

Today Christ’s voice continues to call us from the disfiguring vision of racism. How long, how long will it take before the scales fall from our eyes and we step forward to do justice in this land.

Prayer
Be thou our vision, Lord—clear and strong for the work ahead. Amen.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

by
Mary Warejcka

Scripture
“Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?’ He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.’” Matthew 19: 3-9

A Word of Hope

Maybe you’ve seen the story about the woman, Gayle McCormick, who is divorcing her husband over voting for Trump? They were married for 22 years but polar opposites politically. She being an almost socialist and he voting for Trump, which shocked her so much, she told Reuters: "I felt like I had been fooling myself. It opened up areas between us I had not faced before. I realized how far I had gone in my life to accept things I would have never accepted when I was younger."

For me and probably a large percentage of other women, this is easy to understand. We are too often taught and asked to be supportive, to subsume our true selves, our ambitions for someone else and the world beyond us. It’s not exclusive to women, and I would imagine anyone who has lived a life not based on your personal truth knows this feeling. And then comes that day when you just can’t take it anymore and you make a decision and a move to be more you. And while the realization that we have not been our best version hits us and we feel the pain of a life not lived and the fear of stepping out, our freedom can quickly become intoxicating in its blissful harmony – and worth the pain of the moment. But that moment before harmony we know can feel like forever and deeply painful. Coming out as a truer version of ourselves – is there anything more frightening and powerful and needed?

But as the Pharisees ask, is this divorcing the situation in line with what God wants? And spoiler alert, we’ve all played the Pharisee at one point or another if we are truthful. Maybe stopping ourselves or others from living life to the fullest because we believe, no we know that God has a rule against it. We know the drill: We must be a certain way and fulfill our role and often conveniently blame our choices all on God’s will. We all know the false tropes: It’s natural that women should subsume their lives to the bolder better gender. It’s natural that man and woman join together, not same-gender couples. Gender always matches biology. But then, if we are lucky and brave, we begin to realize, it’s not natural. It’s not God’s way. And how many of us have been taught that we must stick it out in the relationship (whether a partner, family or friends) no matter how miserable, how horrible? But is that really what Jesus is saying here?

The key, it seems to me, is this idea of becoming one flesh. What does that mean? Of course, a number of people want to take it literally: Man and woman must join together to be one forever, because God said so. But what if that’s not really the point? What if the point is about how we relate to each in a godly way – which means we come to understand that we are not separate from each other. God put us and every living and non living creature here, according to Genesis. We are made of one flesh – one cosmic bang of energy, one explosion of creative energies from the divine one. In Hinduism, they understand this quite well. In fact, becoming enlightened in Hinduism means we remember that we are all part of the oneness. All those deities you see – they are all part of the oneness and so is every human being’s essence. This oneness is called monism, rather than monotheism. Could this be what Jesus is talking about? That we are created to be one flesh – even beyond just married couples? Could all of our laws, even the misguided ones, be our attempts to try to get back to this Edenic oneness, even if it means we must divorce?

But, alas, we seldom know how to be one flesh because we so seldom know how to be our true selves, so we accept lesser states and think because we stay in a bad situation, we are living as one flesh in accord with God’s rules. Until, of course, something so shocking happens and we can no longer accept the lie. It feels like a crisis every time it happens. It is often a time of cognitive dissonance as psychology labels it. Our beliefs are shattered by new realities we must deal with. We awaken to how we have not been our best selves. We have not lived out our gifts. We have been asleep. If we are brave, we pray for this awakening. Or as the great theologian Angela Davis suggests, we come to the point where our soul screams, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept…”

Prayer
May we, may I, remember our radical, fleshy oneness.

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