Welcome to the Sunday Devotion.
Let me just put this out there. I love rocks. Big ones, small ones, flat ones, round ones. They are all so unique. Rocks are amazing and beautiful. I have a cherished collection of rocks in my garden.
Most of my rocks come from the red clay soil around my house. We discovered them as we dug out new gardens. They came from the same soil, yet all have very different appearances. Some are smooth and some are rough. Some are light and some are dark. Some have streaks of quartz and some have red and gray layers. With so many differences, these rocks obviously didn’t have the same origins, but here they are: together. Their differences are even more obvious and beautiful when they lay together in my rock garden. The patterns of their differences contribute to the overall beauty.
I could go on and on about my rocks. I’ve added new ones occasionally that came from different places. These new additions just add to the beauty of my community of rocks.
Community of rocks? That is a strange way to put it. As I write this description about my rocks, I find myself thinking more and more about community. For you, this might be a stretch, but let me explain my musings.
You see, my pile of rocks is like a community. Within a community there are a diverse and special people who look different, think differently and have their own special characteristics, i.e., gifts and talents. We are all beautiful and unique. Some big, some small, some flat, some round, some smooth, some rough, some light, some dark, some that shine, some with interesting layers. But we are a community, a wonderful, diverse community. We are like my rocks and we experience the blessings of unity and diversity found in communities.
You know, in the middle of the rocks in my garden there is a rock carved with the inscription: Jesus is My Rock. “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust…” (Psalm 18:2) For me, it is significant to have this inscribed rock mixed into the collection of rocks. In it I see the rock of God’s strength and everlasting faithfulness.
In our communities, we must be rocks because rocks are strong. Rocks hold up to the pelting rain and freezing snow. As a community we face the onslaught of external forces that beat upon us. But as a community, I pray we only shift closer together and be more unified. May we nestle around the rock of God which gives us a stronghold. In Matthew 24-25 we are told, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
Yes, I love rocks and I love how they symbolize so many elements of my faith. Rocks are part of many metaphors in the scriptures, and I’d like to leave you with this one from 1 Corinthians 10:4. “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
So I invite you to join me in finding the connection to God and our community as we gaze upon rocks. May we see the beauty in the diversity; and may we be the rocks of our community, in close communion with God. Amen.
Author: Bonnie Barber
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. I have found an energetic peace this last week. In some ways this sounds like opposites: energy and peace. When I tried to resolve these two words in my mind, I did what I always do when faced with a question for which I don’t have the answer. I “googled” it. Surprisingly, I found info on Google that used these 2 words together.
In one search I found a couple of habits that were recommended to protect your peace and energy: 1) Keep your faith larger than your fear. 2) Develop an attitude of gratitude. For the first, I have testimony after testimony of God’s presence when I’m faced with a challenging commitment. With each experience, my faith has grown stronger making it a David vs a Goliath. And that, in turn, has fed my gratitude. Do you have testimony where God has held you up and bolstered you by the faithful act of the Divine?
In today’s world, we often define peace as a state of being without internal or external stresses. However, in the biblical world, peace means “to be complete” or “to be sound” and can only be found through God. Numbers 6:26 claims, “The Lord lifts up His countenance upon you, and gives you peace.”
When relinquishing control to God, we find a special sense of peace. It isn’t a sleepy, feet-up kind of peace. It is the sense of being whole and complete. Think about when you’ve heard the religious expression, “Peace be with you”. These words are a blessing meaning to “live well”, i.e., “Live well with God.” That is the peace I have been feeling, and it is the greatest, richest sense of well-being.
And it is that wonderful sense of well-being in God where I find my energy. When the disciples were behind a locked door after Jesus died on the cross, Jesus appeared to them. In John 20:21 Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Isn’t it ironic that Jesus said I am giving you peace and as a result, I am sending you out? There, right there, is my peace and energy.
Last week I found myself with a multitude of things to do to make our church a warm, welcoming arm of God, ready for visitors from the Interfaith Unity Walk. But then I realized we already were a warm, welcoming arm of God. Peace and energy filled the space around us, mingling with the hosts and the visitors. We were on the path of sharing the peace of Jesus.
I leave you now with these words, “Peace be with you.” Go out and be the instrument of love, hope, joy and peace. Amen.
(Author - Bonnie Barber)
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. Well, I’ve done it again. I’m overtired and overwhelmed. I need this opportunity to let go and take a breath. Do you? Join with me and sit a minute. Take a breath – a deep one. And get comfortable. Stretch out the tense muscles of your neck and back. Let go and “Let God”.
I’ve seen that phrase – Let God – a number of times and it never really sunk in. But at this moment it speaks volumes. These last few weeks life has been a mix of memorable moments visiting family amidst a world still experiencing various levels of COVID. I’ve traveled by car for over 2000 total miles in the last 2 weeks, almost all of it masked and sitting in the back seat, taking utmost precautions because I had been exposed to COVID (but feeling fine). First stop was to visit my sister who had fallen in her home and not been found for 32 hours. She was in the hospital so as a precaution I took a COVID test. I was truly shocked - it was positive. Staying distanced from my husband, I felt alone and rather lost in my personal entry into the unknown world of COVID. I hunkered down in a hotel and my husband was taken in by family until I tested negative. I’m fully vaccinated and boostered, and I fared through COVID better than I had imagined. But the stress of it took its own toll.
I tell all this because it is part of my saga of being overtired. Once I was COVID free, we continued our travels, stopping 3 more times to visit friends and family, one of which included 3 small grandchildren. I tried to bolster up my energy but I struggled. On our return trip home, we stopped at my sister’s because this time I really did get to visit her. Then we drove the 13 hours home and I hit the ground running getting ready for the Interfaith Unity Walk in DC, a 9/11 commemorative activity involving 11 faith traditions along a 2 mile walk. Now I am at the overwhelmed to go with the overtired. And a few hours ago I began to Let God. Do you relate to times when you had so much to do that even your lists had sub lists? Lol.
Let God. Let God seep into your aching muscles and overtired brain. Let God help you take a deep breath. Let God relax your mind so you can review, reduce and reassign the To-Do lists. Let God be part of the decision making. Let God have your focus and give in to the power and strength of the Divine.
I realize that I only “Let God” when I have exhausted my personal store of energy. Why do so many of us do that? Why do we think we’re supposed to do it all by ourselves?
Let God take control. Begin the “Let God” immediately; don’t wait until you are overtired and overwhelmed. Breath in God’s power, strength and wisdom. Let God be part of every decision. Be compassionate to others, but also be compassionate to yourself. Be kind to others but also be kind to yourself. When you believe in the Worth of All Persons, remember, that includes you. Let Go and Let God.
Author: Bonnie Barber
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. I’m attending a wonderful craft fair currently. It’s amazing to see what the artists have created. There are paintings, leather work, jewelry and more, and one of my favorites is seeing the clay creations. I have a very artistic daughter who did some amazing clay art in high school and she wanted to try clay on the potter’s wheel, so I signed us up for a class. I was instantly in love and intrigued with the potter’s wheel. When working at the wheel, the scriptures that come to mind describe God as the Potter and we are the clay.
We are clay in the Potter’s Hands. This fits into my image of every one of us being unique, handcrafted by God. As I sit on a bench and watch people go by, I am fascinated by each one. I wonder what they love to do. Do they have hobbies that really interest them? Are they shy or do they love to interact with people? What are their struggles? Do they feel loved? How would you answer those questions?
In this week’s scripture in Jeremiah 18:1-11, God is the potter. On a potter’s wheel if the clay is not forming well, the potter removes it and starts again. The clay is reformed into a better vessel. As the potter, how does God react to us? If we remain in his hands, do we let him continue to remold us and guide us to be the best person we can be?
In what ways has God been shaping and forming you? In one favorite campfire song we sing “mold me, fill me, use me...”. Do you give yourself to God? Are you a solid vessel? Are you filled or empty? How are you being used? Are you allowing God to remold and reshape you?
Dear God, We come to you today, recognizing you as the Potter and we as the clay. We thank you for your guiding hands and pray that we remain moldable to be what you would like us to be. Forgive us those times when we need to be reworked. May we be vessels of love and compassion, seeing the worth of all persons and the blessings of community. May we all remain as clay in the potter’s hand, allowing God to mold and shape us, making us into a vessel to be used. Amen.
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.