Welcome to the Sunday devotion. During this time let’s clear our minds of the things left undone on our to-do list. Clear our minds of those frustrations that distract us. Are we hoarding any anger or disappointment? Focus on breaking free of worries and burdens. Letting go means we can focus our mind and heart on God and open our hearts to experience compassion. And forgiveness. Whether in silence or out loud, say this: “God, I come to you. Help me open my life to you.” Take a breath and say it again. Breathe and say it a third time.
As you open space for God, start allowing yourself to reflect and identify all the good things about yourself and seek to acknowledge your giftedness. Do you accept and acknowledge that you are special and have gifts to offer to the world? Many of us feel we do not have a special gift or talent. Perhaps we‘ve overlooked them. Perhaps we are too focused on wishing for a gift that we see in someone else. Do you fall into one of these categories? In Romans 12:6 we are told “Since our gifts vary depending on the grace poured out on each of us, it is important that we exercise the gifts we have been given.”
I remember speaking at church about sharing our gifts and talents and it caused me to once again wish that I could sing with a clear and beautiful voice. There was a woman at church whose voice I loved. It was magical and I dearly wished to have such an amazing gift. But then I assessed the kinds of things that were my gifts. I do have the gift of creativity. I find ways to incorporate drama, puppetry, poetry, and Christian clowning into my ministry and I realized how much I enjoyed offering this gift. So would I want to trade my creativity for a voice that could sing so beautifully? I realized that the answer was no. I didn’t want to give up my creativity. So I was content and truly appreciative to God for giving me my gifts.
Next I reflected on valuing others for their unique gifts instead of feeling frustrated about their weaknesses. We need all the gifts to make up the body of Christ. “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” So build each other up and help one another recognize and celebrate the value of all persons.
Recently in our congregation we focused on the gift we all have when we share in the ministry of presence. With that gift we enjoy the Blessings of Community, the Unity in Diversity and Worth of All Persons – all part of the Enduring Principles of Community of Christ. (https://cofchrist.org/about-us/)
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10). As we identify and value the gifts of every person, we are building our relationship with Jesus Christ and, in turn, building our relationship with God. Make it a goal to share with someone today, the value of their presence in your life. Make a phone call. Send a text. Recognize and honor them as God recognizes and honors you.
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. As I take a breath and turn my focus to this devotion, I reflect on this week’s worship theme, “Reach Out In Faith”. The scripture that comes to mind immediately is the story of the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. “ Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on.” (Matthew 9:20-22, The Message) How do we relate this to our lives today?”
There are so many examples of people who came to Jesus, reaching out in faith. Have you ever found yourself reaching out in faith to Jesus? Were you sick and needing healing? Or were you facing a situation where you reached out in faith asking for help? What were the outcomes?
How about when others need assistance? Who do you respond to? There are many on the street corners holding up a sign, asking for help. Do you reach out in faith to help? Do you find more comfort when others’ lives seem to align with yours? When an unknown visitor walks into your congregation, do you automatically reach out in welcome? What if the person comes in with a plastic bag or three of their belongings and they obviously haven’t taken a shower in days or weeks? Wouldn’t this also be an act of reaching out in faith? Who do you invite to go to lunch with you after church?
Who are the “sinners” that our society rejects? Do we blame people for their lack of resources? Do we blame the homeless for their homelessness? Are there people in your life’s sphere that suffer mental illness? How can you help? They may need professional help, but they also need your acceptance. They need to feel they are a person of worth. How would Jesus treat those people today? Do our actions show that we are truly followers of Jesus?
One winter season I was working at a homeless shelter dishing up plates of food. At first, the many faces going through the dinner line were quiet, politely responding when I greeted them. On the third day, their responses were more personal about their lives. They recognized me and felt more comfortable about sharing. They began to feel their answers mattered, and I learned how one was trying to drive across several states to get to family but his car broke down and he had no money to get it fixed. A couple men were jobless and working on getting their GED so they could find better work opportunities. I volunteered to tutor them with English grammar, and, in appreciation, they insisted on walking me to my car to ensure my safety. We mattered to each other.
Reach out in faith. Then reach out again, and again. Jesus continued his ministry with those who were poor, marginalized, and rejected. The Worth of All People is one of Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles, in addition to Unity in Diversity and Blessings of Community. As followers of Jesus, we apply what we learned from his example – these are enduring principles for all of us to live by. Live the active life as followers of Jesus, the Peaceful One.
(Author: Bonnie Barber)
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. This Sunday is often referred to as Trinity Sunday in the Lectionary. But what is Trinity? It is God, as the one God, who is experienced in three persons: God the Creator - traditionally identified as the Father, Jesus Christ the Redeemer (the Son), and the Holy Spirit - the Comforter or Sustainer. In other words, God is one and God is three. From Community of Christ Basic Beliefs: “We believe in one living God who meets us in the testimony of Israel, is revealed in Jesus Christ, and moves through all creation as the Holy Spirit. We affirm the Trinity—God who is a community of three persons.” —CofChrist.org/basic-beliefs. How do you view the Trinity? Is there one of the three to whom you feel you have the closest relationship- God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit? Do you have a specific time in your life where you came to understand and accept God as one and three? Or do you struggle with this concept?
I ask that question because I know the concept of Trinity (Three in One)- God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, can be a difficult concept to accept. When explaining this to children, I personally relate to the examples we use to explain it. “The Trinity is like an egg. Just as ONE egg has THREE different parts – the shell, the white, the yoke – ONE God has THREE different Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Similarly, we often hear the Trinity compared to an Apple. ONE apple has three different parts – the skin, the flesh, and the seed.” (https://ahearttoknow.com/) To update the concept for the children of today, I use the triangular fidget spinner. The individuality of the three parts of the fidget spinner blend into one as it spins. And we see the representation of this triangle in the picture offered today.
Each of us may have one part of the three whom we address when we pray, ultimately believing we are talking to our one God. I have observed friends pray directly to Jesus. I’ve seen some speak to the Holy Spirit and others address God directly as our Father (often referred to today as Our Heavenly Parent). How do you address the Divine in your prayers and conversations?
Personally, I pray to God, and see God as my Creator, my Friend, and my Companion in my life’s journey. I find each of these descriptions in the Trinity. God, my Creator, I first find within the history and stories of the Old Testament. God is all powerful and has been with us forever and always. I find the humble and incredible personal love of God in the New Testament walking in human form as Jesus, showing us God through parables and loving peace-filled actions. And I look to the Holy Spirit daily because the Holy Spirit came to walk with us daily as a promise from God when Jesus left this earth.
This is my reflection on how I view God as one and as Three-in-One. How I address God in my prayers today is not the same as it was yesterday and it is not the same as it will be tomorrow. That is because God provides for our needs and will be strength, compassion, love, guidance and whatever I need at any point in my life’s journey. This is what I pray for you – that you find God and all that God has given you in whichever of the three speaks to you. This is what Paul said to the people of Corinth in his letter (2 Corinthians 13:13). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
Author: Bonnie Barber
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.