Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. In what directions has your life journey moved recently? Have you pursued new ventures? Have there been times where you felt you were stuck and needed help moving forward? Or perhaps, you just needed a way to keep your head above water. Take a moment now to breathe. Release the tension and just breathe. Allow God’s presence to enter into your space.
In the last few weeks I have had to contend with the tension of thrusting forward in my life’s rush. It seems to be the way I run. I live by “To Do” lists. But I think I need to add my down time to my list. I need to add my time with God. How do you claim your time with God? Is it in brief flitting moments or greater amounts of intentional time?
Jesus knew that he needed the alone time to be with God, to listen and to pray. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) So before I pick up my phone or turn on the TV news program in the morning, that is the time that I need to claim with God. I can rejoice over the new day and seek God’s care, blessings and help.
I also find time when I lay my head down on my pillow at night and reflect on God’s presence during the day. I find God in the friends and strangers whom I encountered. I find God in the blessings. I find God in His comfort and grace as I reflect what has happened.
God’s love and grace is transforming, if we allow it. We can find and make a better world by seeking God intentionally and discerning God’s will in our lives. May we keep and protect our time with God. May we push away the “To Do” lists that feed anxiety and fill our busyness of life. It is our oneness with God offered through Jesus that has the potential to transform us and the world.
Author: Bonnie Barber
Welcome to the Sunday devotion. As we move forward in this new year, we are looking at new ways to face and embrace changes that seem to be happening rapidly in our lives. Even as we engage in pursuing Christ’s mission, we must discern how we go about doing that amidst a new normal that seems to be constantly evolving. When you go to church, what are your expectations? Why do you go? Or why do you choose not to go? What parts of Sunday morning traditional worship speak to your spiritual self? Do you find the music to be the most engaging, or is it prayers, readings, sermon, etc.?
As I reflect on my worship experiences, it is often the music that fills me with the presence of the divine. It is said that those who sing, pray twice. Whether it is the music of the choir, the hymns or special instrumentals, music calms, inspires and fills my heart, mind and soul. It helps nullify the anxieties of my daily life. It awakens my senses and allows the spirit more avenues to enter in. What parts of worship speak to you?
Some people question the value of gathering together for 1 hour a week – what does it really accomplish? In the traditional worship service, it offers a separate time to intentionally spend time worshiping and focusing on our relationship with God. Some may not find this valuable. Others really look forward to it and need it. We must realize that the diverse ways of worship help speak to the unique and diverse souls gathered together. Plus, it brings us together with others who share our basic beliefs and need for community and fellowship with those who share our faith.
I also have to admit, I really like it when worship is ”outside the box” and offers something new. I catches my attention. Perhaps it is something like writing special thoughts of God on strips of cloth and attaching them to a tree in the churchyard to “allow our prayers and thoughts to blow in the wind and into the world.”
But we must also recognize that we are a community that pledges to live Christ’s mission. And that mission exists outside the church walls. As a way to reach out in mission and take advantage of the dedicated Sunday worship time, our congregation has found ways to incorporate service into the worship hour. We’ve created inspirational artwork to send with packages to Ukrainian people, letting them know we are thinking of them. It is amazing the responses we hear about these handmade offerings. We’ve also packed lunches for those experiencing homelessness and cooked meals to be delivered to shelters. This, too, is worship.
May we continue to expand our expectations of what is worship and how we express God’s love to others. May we grow to appreciate the spiritual needs of others and allow the unity of diversity and the blessings of community to be exhibited in our worship time and expanded in living Christ’s mission.
We’d love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to contact the Washington, DC Community of Christ at email@example.com and share with us what worship means or can mean to you.
Author: Bonnie Barber
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. We step out every day, making a new path at times and, at times, retracing the old. Are there significant moments where you have had the good fortune to cross paths with someone who shared their experience and their faith and hopes bolstered your state of mind or resolve? Those moments, those testimonies, big or small, may offer strength or peace, hope or grace, just when you need it. Sit back for a moment and allow yourself to draw those experiences from your memories and reflect on the good feelings they offer.
I can remember when as a young adult I first heard people offer personal testimonies in a church Prayer and Testimony service. In Community of Christ, there is a rich history of these services. I remember being amazed by people’s testimonies. Not necessarily because those testimonies were astounding, but because they gave witness to people seeing and experiencing God during their normal day. It made me aware that every day, God was present in even the simplest of moments. I began to look for those moments in my life where I encountered God. I found my faith expanding as I felt God walking with me, holding me and loving me.
Have you shared such testimonies from your life with someone? We shouldn’t be shy about sharing. Just as another’s testimony spoke to my heart, your testimony and my testimony may also offer a window of hope, love, peace, insight, or any of so many feelings. It builds relationships with each other and with God.
Perhaps as you sit here reading these humble words, you have recalled such testimonies. Even if you don’t remember the details, your heart may remember the sense of a spiritual space where you felt God working in people’s lives.
Make it a point to develop new testimonies where you see God working in the lives around you and in your life. At the end of the day, as you settle your head on your pillow, look back at the course of the day and find your moments where you see God’s presence. And be ready to share your testimony, remembering that not all testimonies are through words; many testimonies are through actions.
Dear God, our Ultimate Companion, help us to approach each day with eyes open to your presence. Help us to share our stories with others so they may find You in their life. May our community of faith grow and reach out to others so that the peace of Jesus is shared throughout the world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Author: Bonnie Barber
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion for 8 January 2023. As of this morning, we have completed 7 days of the year 2023. How have those 7 days been going for you? Have you been able to rewind, refuel and regain a calmer, less stressful life? We can find ourselves so focused on the secular part of Christmas, we get tired and worn out. Let’s take a deep breath and turn our mind’s focus on what we were really celebrating at Christmas – the amazing gift of God coming to earth through the embodiment of Jesus.
As I look through our church’s worship resources, I see “Siyahamb' Ekukhanyen' Kwenkhos' as our weekly worship theme. Being curious about the literal interpretation of these words, I go to Google Translate and find it is Zulu meaning “We walk in the light of the Lord”. We have a song in our Community of Christ’s Sings Hymnal where we sing this song “Siyahamb' Ekukhanyen' Kwenkhos'” - “We are Marching in the Light of God”. I get excited and imagine drumming along on my djembe as the congregation sings with strong rhythm and joy-filled voices. If you are not familiar with this song, listen to it on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyNn5nPW57Y .
"We are marching in the light of God. We are marching, marching, marching. We are marching in the light of God.” This song shines light in my life’s path. It helps me refuel and I can feel God’s spirit swell within me. It draws me to the love of God by reminding me we can live and move and work in the light of God.
How do we walk in the light of God? The Bible states in James 1:17 that light comes from the Lord God, the “Father of the heavenly lights”. In John 1:3-5 John states, “What has come into being [God] is life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.” And “If we walk in the light as He [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)”
The lesson we learn from scripture is that as we walk with God, we walk “in the light of God”, which also means we walk with Jesus whom we consider as “the light” in this world. We “walk” in Jesus’ light by following His teachings, drawing upon His power, and putting his lesson of love and grace into action. In John chapter 8, Jesus said again to the people, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I find refreshing hope, generous love and a blossoming spirit when walking with Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. “Siyahamb' Ekukhanyen' Kwenkhos'” Let us walk in the light of the Lord together. Let’s create testimonies of peace and love, generosity and grace as we claim the peace of Jesus Christ and make Christ’s mission our mission.
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.